Using Epidemiology To Evaluate Health Services In Our Nation
On daily basis, we evaluate how effective our laid down schedules have been. In the evaluation, we look on both sides; whether good or bad side of it. As a nation, because we want the health status of our citizens to be good, there are health facilities available at least at vantage points in our various communities. These health facilities should be evaluated to know whether the intention for the establishment of such facilities are being achieved or otherwise. Through epidemiology, evaluation of these health services can be looked at.
Epidemiology is the study of the distribution, frequency, determinants of health problems and diseases in the human population. The purpose is to obtain, interpret and use health information to promote health and reduce disease. This can be done through collection of data and analyzing the collected data.
There are phases in the epidemiological approach in these evaluations. These are:
Descriptive epidemiology: ask what the problem is, its frequency, who is affected, where (location) and when (time).
Analytical epidemiology: it attempts to analyze the causes of the disease
Intervention or Experimental: necessary procedures, arrangements and solutions are laid down to solve the health issue.
Evaluation: this attempts to measure the effectiveness of the interventions.
Health, on the other hand, is the state of complete physical, social and mental well-being of an individual and not the mere absence of diseases.
Some of the health services rendered are labs, consultation, prescription of medication, general check-ups, health screening, antenatal and postnatal care, surgery among others.
The evaluation can be done through the phases in epidemiological approach stated earlier. It is also explained into details below.
When a patient comes to the hospital, the presenting complaints are noted and are documented and so when there is an increase in the number of patients coming to the hospital within a particular period with a particular symptom(s), since their presenting complaints are taken and documented, the health care giver will be able to notice the increase in prevalence of such cases.
When such is noticed, the descriptive part of epidemiology bring in the idea of who is affected, where and when such outbreak is occurring. With the information of the individuals taken during their appearance at the health facility, tracing such individuals wouldn’t be of a problem.
Analysis of the collected data to know the cause of the disease can’t be left out. With this, healthcare givers will be able to know this by asking the question “what is happening to cause this outbreak?”
Trying to find solutions to this question bring us to the next stage, Intervention/ experimental phase. Here the healthcare professionals try set down solutions, procedures, what needs to be done, what needs to be abated.
To the last phase, which is sometimes not dealt with, is the evaluation of the intervention. The health professionals try to assess how effective the intervention has been. Has the intervention been able to drop the incidence and prevalence, maintained it or probably increased it.
When there is an increase, it means either the cause was wrongly diagnosed so the intervention in effect is wrong or the cause was correctly diagnosed but the intervention itself is not working.
In conclusion, if the health care system is to go by the epidemiological approach above, our health delivery system will always be to the satisfactory of the people it is meant for.
Samuel Young Appiah
A Physician Assistant Student
University of Cape Coast
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