Perceptions and experiences of frontline health managers and providers on accountability in a South African health district
Mukinda, Fidele Kanyimbu
van Belle, Sara B.
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Public primary health care and district health systems play important roles in expanding healthcare access and promoting equity. This study explored and described accountability for this mandate as perceived and experienced by frontline health managers and providers involved in delivering maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) services in a rural South African health district. Methods: This was a qualitative study involving in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of 58 frontline public sector health managers and providers in the district office and two sub-districts, examining the meanings of accountability and related lived experiences. A thematic analysis approach grounded in descriptive phenomenology was used to identify the main themes and organise the findings. Results: Accountability was described by respondents as both an organisational mechanism of answerability and responsibility and an intrinsic professional virtue. Accountability relationships were understood to be multidirectional - upwards and downwards in hierarchies, outwards to patients and communities, and inwards to the 'self'.