Improving viral load testing using a quality improvement approach in Blantyre, Malawi Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
  • Kamwendo, Angella J.
    • Other Affiliation: University of the Witwatersrand
  • Hosseinipour, Mina C.
    • Affiliation: School of Medicine, Department of Medicine
  • Kagura, Juliana
    • Other Affiliation: University of the Witwatersrand
  • Background Viral load (VL) testing coverage remains low particularly in resource limited countries despite recommendation by World Health Organization, and Malawi is no exception. A quality improvement (QI) approach was used to improve VL testing coverage from 27% to a target of 80% at an urban health facility in Malawi. Methods A QI study employing a time-series quasi-experimental design with no comparison group was conducted at Chilomoni health centre in Blantyre from April 2020 to July 2020. A retrospective record review of all patient records (257) from 8 weeks before the study was conducted to determine baseline VL testing coverage. Root cause analysis of low VL testing coverage was done using fish-bone tool and factors prioritized using a Pareto-chart. Priority factors included inadequate capacity to update electronic medical records and competing tasks. Change ideas were identified and prioritized using an effort-impact matrix. Two change ideas; re-orienting ART providers on VL test order in EMR and dedicated ART provider to serve VL tested patients were implemented and tested in 5 Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles from the Model for Improvement (MFI), each lasting one week. The latter was tested, and adapted in 3 cycles, and eventually adopted for monitoring for another 5 weeks. VL testing coverage was tracked throughout the study using run charts and p-charts. Results VL testing coverage increased from 27% to 71% by the end of the study, with children aged 0 to 14 years having the lowest coverage throughout the study. Conclusion The MFI as a QI approach improved VL testing coverage through implementation of contextualized change ideas. A reliable data system, leadership buy-in and commitment are important for sustained improvement. Future research should focus on evaluating sustainability of improved VL testing coverage at the health facility and assessing barriers to VL testing among the paediatric population.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Article
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Attribution 4.0 International
Journal title
Journal volume
  • 17
Journal issue
  • 6
Page start
  • e0269062
  • English
  • Publisher
  • 1932-6203

This work has no parents.

In Collection: