BioScience Trends. 2009;3(6):239-246.

Developing institutional capacity of health service system management at the district level in rural Cambodia.

Okamoto M, Nhea S, Akashi H, Kawaguchi L, Ui S, Kinoshita M, Aoyama A


The implementation of decentralization policies in the health sector of many developing countries has been a major issue in international health. The objectives were to focus on health sector reform, health financing system, and human resource development. However, less attention has been paid to the institutional capacity development of health systems. In this paper, institutional capacity refers to the abilities of organizations to make effective management in order to build local capacity and to achieve goals with local ownership. The aims of this paper were to explore the developmental process of districts institutional capacity by assistance of an NGO in Cambodia, and to identify the key factors influencing this development. We chose five operational districts (ODs) and two of them were contracted to NGO for management assistance. We conducted semi-structured in-depth interview to 17 managers and 16 key informant interviews. For analysis, we used qualitative analysis based on a grounded theory approach to clarify a conceptual framework for understanding management practices at district health institutions. There is a 4-stage capacity developmental process at the district-level institution. Supportive supervision and widening of decision-making authority were identified as key factors for sustainable institutional capacity development. They have complementary function each other. External agencies such as NGOs can use these key factors to develop local management capacities, and also this capacity development can be done internally within institutions such as OD health offices and by upper authorities such as the PHD.

KEYWORDS: Institutional capacity, decentralization, supportive supervision, decision-making authority, Cambodia

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