INTRODUCTION: Learning is a key attribute of a resilient health system and, therefore, is central to health system strengthening. The main objective of this study was to analyse how Guinea's health system has learnt from the response to outbreaks between 2014 and 2021.
METHODS: We used a retrospective longitudinal single embedded case study design, applying the framework conceptualised by Sheikh and Abimbola for analysing learning health systems. Data were collected employing a mixed methods systematic review carried out in March 2022 and an online survey conducted in April 2022.
RESULTS: The 70 reports included in the evidence synthesis were about the 2014-2016 Ebola virus disease (EVD), Measles, Lassa Fever, COVID-19, 2021 EVD and Marburg virus disease. The main lessons were from 2014 to 2016 EVD and included: early community engagement in the response, social mobilisation, prioritising investment in health personnel, early involvement of anthropologists, developing health infrastructure and equipment and ensuring crisis communication. They were learnt through information (research and experts' opinions), action/practice and double-loop and were progressively incorporated in the response to future outbreaks through deliberation, single-loop, double-loop and triple-loop learning. However, advanced learning aspects (learning through action, double-loop and triple-loop) were limited within the health system. Nevertheless, the health system successfully controlled COVID-19, the 2021 EVD and Marburg virus disease. Survey respondents' commonly reported that enablers were the creation of the national agency for health security and support from development partners. Barriers included cultural and political issues and lack of funding. Common recommendations included establishing a knowledge management unit within the Ministry of Health with representatives at regional and district levels, investing in human capacities and improving the governance and management system.
CONCLUSION: Our study highlights the importance of learning. The health system performed well and achieved encouraging and better outbreak response outcomes over time with learning that occurred.
- Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola/epidemiology
- Learning Health System
- Marburg Virus Disease
- Retrospective Studies
- Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control