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Health promotion capacity and institutional systems: an assessment of the South African Department of Health

Summary Health promotion (HP) capacity of staff and institutions is critical for health-promoting programmes to address social determinants of health and effectively contribute to disease prevention. HP capacity mapping initiatives are the first step to identify gaps to guide capacity strengthening and inform resource allocation. In low-and-middle-income countries, there is limited evidence on HP capacity. We assessed collective and institutional capacity to prioritize, plan, deliver, monitor and evaluate HP within the South African Department of Health (DoH). A concurrent mixed methods study that drew on data collected using a participatory HP capacity assessment tool. We held five 1-day workshops (one national, two provincial and two districts) with DoH staff (n = 28). Participants completed self-assessments of collective capacity across three areas: technical, coordinating and systems capacity using a four-point Likert scale. HP capacity scores were analysed and presented as means with standard deviations (SDs). Thematic analysis of verbatim transcripts of audio-recorded group discussions that provided rationale and evidence for scores were conducted using deductive and inductive codes. At all levels, groups revealed that capacity to develop long-term, sustainable HP interventions was limited. We found limited collaboration between national and provincial HP levels. There was limited monitoring of HP indicators in the health information system. Coordination of HP efforts across different sectors was largely absent. Lack of capacity in budgeting emerged as a major challenge, with few resources available to conduct HP activities at any level. Overall, the capacity mean score was 2.08/4.00 (SD = 0.83). There is need to overcome institutional barriers, and strengthen capacity for HP implementation, support and evaluation within the South African DoH.

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Journal Article
Rwafa-Ponela T
Christofides N
Eyles J
Goudge J
Year of Publication
Health Promotion International
ISSN Number
0957-4824, 1460-2245
Publication Language