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Background: Globally, good governance is increasingly recognised as an important factor in health systems. Governance is a key determinant of performance, particularly towards achieving targets that ultimately affect economic and social development. However, conceptually and practically, governance is poorly understood by decision makers at various levels. Governance is also difficult to measure, but it is critical in assessing responsive, inclusive, effective, and efficient services. We examined the extent to which governance attributes have been implemented within the Department of Health in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya.
Methods: A cross-sectional research design was adopted, with 108 decision makers forming the target population. The study period was between April and July 2016. Select documents relating to governance were reviewed; subsequently, data were collected using a self-administered, semi-structured questionnaire, with 5-point Likert-type questions and open-ended questions. We calculated proportions related to agreement levels to establish the decision makers’ perceptions on the implementation of governance attributes. Cronbach’s α for the items was between 0.72 and 0.84. Qualitative data were coded and categorised using a framework approach.
Results: Of the 93 decision makers who responded, most (n=64, 68.8%) had been in their current position for less than 5 years. Regarding governance attributes, over half of the participants agreed on the implementation of good governance in terms of strategic vision as well as regulation and oversight. Around half of the participants were undecided on the implementation of good governance in terms of intelligence and information, transparency, participation, and consensus orientation. Almost two-thirds believed that accountability and equity were poorly implemented. A minority rated the overall governance score as good, while two-thirds considered governance to be poor. Corruption, nepotism, lack of transparency, political interference, and inadequate use of information were all reported to affect the implementation of good governance.
Conclusion: Decision makers reported poor implementation of governance attributes at public health facilities, especially in terms of accountability, equity, community participation, consensus orientation, strategic vision, and regulation and oversight. It is feasible and critical to evaluate implementation of governance attributes to help improve governance; the successful implementation of each attribute depends on the successful implementation of all others.