|A physician working in a community health centre in KwaZulu-Natal
Levels of infant, child and maternal mortality in South Africa are unacceptably high. To reverse this, the government is establishing teams of clinical specialists in every health district.
The role of district clinical specialist teams (DCSTs) is to strengthen clinical governance of maternal, neonatal and child health services at district hospitals and primary health care facilities. They will ensure that the correct treatment guidelines and clinical protocols will be used and that essential equipment is available and being used correctly. Other tasks will be to ensure that good quality mortality review meetings are held and that recommendations from these meetings are implemented. The specialist teams will also supervise and mentor clinicians and monitor health outcomes.
The teams comprise four experienced medical specialists (family physician, obstetrician and gynaecologist, paediatrician and anaesthetist) and three advanced nursing professionals (advanced primary health care nurse, advanced midwife and advanced paediatric nurse).
Each health district will have a DCST. The family physician and advanced primary health care nurse are to provide support at midwifery obstetrics units, primary health care clinics, community health care clinics, primary health care outreach teams and communities. This includes engaging with private sector facilities working in primary health care (e.g. general practitioners and the mining sector).
The primary focus of the other team members in the DCST is to improve services within the district hospitals. Their secondary focus will be to provide support to the community and primary health care facilities and outreach teams.
The effectiveness of DCST’s will be measured by their impact on health outcomes; improvement in clinical processes and improvement in health system performance.
SARRAH has supported the National Department of Health to establish the DSCTS. By December 2012, 43% of posts had been filled and by July 2013, 185 members had been recruited and their induction and orientation was underway.
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