Objective To explore the experiences and perceptions of health system stakeholders of a rural district of Sindh, Pakistan regarding the barriers to effective surveillance of communicable diseases. Design This qualitative descriptive exploratory design comprised in-depth interviews. Both inductive and deductive thematic analysis was applied to identify key themes from the data. Settings The study was conducted in public sector healthcare facilities and the district health office of the rural district of Thatta, in Sindh province, Pakistan. Participants Fifteen healthcare managers and healthcare providers working in the eight public sector primary and secondary healthcare facilities were interviewed using an open-ended in-depth interview guide. Results Key themes that emerged from the data were: poor governance and absence of surveillance policy framework; fragmentation in the health system leading to lack of uniform reporting; inadequate (human) resources that weakened the infrastructure for disease surveillance; hospital-based reporting of cases that led to a predominantly passive surveillance system; paper-based surveillance system as the key determinant of delayed reporting; non-utilisation of surveillance data for decision making; absence of local laboratory capacity to complement the detection of disease outbreaks and lack of private sector integration in disease surveillance. Conclusions Poor governance and lack of policy framework were perceived to be responsible for weak surveillance infrastructure. Resource deficiencies including inadequate human resource, paper-based reporting and the absence of local laboratory capacity were considered to result in delayed, poor quality and incomplete reporting. The lack of private sector engagement was identified as a major gap.
- International health services
- Organisation of health services
- Public health
- Quality in health care