By Matthias Wentzlaff-Eggebert
‘It is not enough to do the right things, we need to ‘do the right things right’
Are we focussing on the right target groups? Are we using the most promising approach? Is the scale of our program or project large enough? Have we included all important stakeholders? Evidence to inform these decisions is difficult to come by but we do the best we can and conduct a wide range of HIV prevention interventions to improve health outcomes.
When the impact is lower than expected, how do we know why? Was it a good plan implemented poorly or a poor plan implemented well? And if the results are excellent, can we pinpoint why? Quality in implementation as a key factor in effectiveness is attracting increasing attention. This EU co-funded Joint Action aims to increase the quality of HIV prevention in Europe.
Quality Action – Improving Quality in HIV Prevention shows how well the work is done so that results can be confidently linked to the chosen approach. Because HIV prevention interventions target human behaviour, which is influenced by complex psychosocial, socio-political, economic and structural factors, applying QA/QI here is not always straightforward.
Quality Action takes an empowering approach to quality, encouraging HIV prevention teams to self-reflect on their work and increase the participation of their stakeholders. Improving quality is already part of the project cycle in most teams. But often it takes place inside the minds of individuals; it isn’t shared, checked or documented. Good ideas are lost because there is no time or structure to capture them and apply them more widely. This is what Quality Action’s five practical QA/QI tools are for.
They are questionnaires and facilitation guides to help teams improve quality consciously, deliberately and systematically. More than 100 people working in HIV prevention across Europe have registered for Quality Action capacity building workshops. They will become trainers/facilitators who can apply these QA/QI tools to their own programs and projects as well as offer technical assistance to others.
Quality Action will document the results in a ‘Charter for Quality in HIV Prevention’. Literature and practical experience already identify some common factors for quality, e.g. involving the target group and defining measurable and achievable goals and objectives. The Charter will include additional principles and criteria that emerge from different teams applying the tools to their programs and projects across Europe. A policy kit with recommendations and strategic will also complement the Charter. Partners aim to influence current HIV policy development in member states by recommending the inclusion of QA/QI at the level of strategic and action planning.
The German Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) in Cologne, Germany, acts as coordinating partner and works in close collaboration with 24 further associated and 17 collaborating project partners in 25 member states. BZgA is a statutory body under the Ministry of Health that implements national disease prevention and health promotion strategies, including HIV prevention.
EuroHealthNet is an associated partner in Quality Action, leads the Dissemination work package and is a partner in the Policy Development work package.
For further information and downloadable resources on the Join Action, visit the Quality Action website www.qualityaction.eu
You can benefit from Quality Action in a range of ways, from subscribing to the newsletter or simply using one of the tools to joining as a collaborating partner and contributing to the results and the Charter.
Further information about the EU Health Programme from DG SANCO can be found here.
A database of all funded projects can be found on the website of the Executive Agency for Health and Consumers (EAHC)
Matthias has been active in HIV Prevention within NGOs as well as government organisations since 1996. He became involved in the field in Australia as a peer educator, project officer and then program manager of an NGO-based HIV/STI prevention program working with gay/MSM. Later he managed the HIV/Hepatitis C Policy and Programs Unit at the South Australian Department of Health. Since 2010 he has been working in Europe on a range of HIV-related projects, including as coordinator of the EU project AIDS&Mobility. Currently he is the coordinator for Quality Action at the German Federal Centre of Health Education (BZgA) as well as a freelance consultant and translator.