oa South African Medical Journal - Systems thinking : a turning point for improving respectful obstetric care in South African health districts - in practice - healthcare delivery

Volume 108 Number 11
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Poorly functioning health systems and local health systems barriers affect many women giving birth in low- and middle-income countries. The district clinical specialist teams in South Africa are uniquely positioned to provide facilitation and mentoring during interventions for improving the weak primary healthcare system. To ensure success, four key principles should be considered during scale-up of interventions: systems thinking and awareness of contexts and barriers; a focus on sustainability; harnessing factors known to enhance scalability; and respect for human rights and equity. Asking the right questions about the responsibilities of health systems at the micro-, meso- and macrolevels will benefit scale-up processes and sustain innovative pathways to high-quality obstetric care in communities.

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