Development of Minimum Care Standards for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Zambia
The USAID Health Care Improvement Project (HCI) was invited by USAID/Zambia to provide technical assistance to facilitate the process of developing OVC standards in Zambia in partnership with U.S. Government implementing partners, government departments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and community-based organizations (CBOs), in an effort to improve the quality of services offered to vulnerable children and families affected by HIV. The technical assistance in Zambia focused on building consensus among stakeholders (targeting service delivery partners) on a set of standards to define quality at the point of service delivery. The guiding principles of the work were to engage stakeholders to reflect on the essential questions about the measurable differences that programs have made in the lives of children.
The activities in Zambia focused on six objectives, four of which achieved partial results. The project was launched in April 2011 with a stakeholder workshop that involved a mix of government and non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives drawn from the OVC sector. The team was later constituted as a national QI Task Team whose mandate was to oversee the development of OVC standards and guidance of the piloting phase. In June 2011, HCI organized a children’s workshop that provided valuable input from the perspective of vulnerable children, which was later incorporated into the standards document. The QI Task Team worked throughout the project to refine the OVC standards document, aligning it to the National Child Policy, Southern African Development Community (SADC) minimum standards, National Child Health Policy, and National Plan of Action, among others. The OVC standards document outlined eight topics: 1) education and vocational training, 2) psychosocial care and support, 3) food and nutrition, 4) coordination of care, 5) child protection, 6) health care, 7) economic strengthening, and 8) water and sanitation. In January 2012, a coaches’ training was held with the participation of government officers at provincial, district, and community levels, as well as NGO representatives and caregivers. Implementing partners then began to prepare for the pilot by conducting a baseline assessment and recruiting QI teams at the community level. The QI Task Team also developed a strategy to pilot the standards to determine whether the standards document was feasible and effective. The pilot was tested in seven of the eight topics, excluding coordination of care, in Chipata, Nyimba, Chongwe, Kafue, and Senanga districts.
This report includes the challenges observed by the implementing partners that resulted in delays in implementing the pilot and concludes with recommendations to assist the new Zambia Orphans and Vulnerable Children Systems Strengthening (ZOVSS) Project in further piloting and finalizing the standards document.