How to scale-up: a comparative case study of scaling up a district health management strengthening intervention in Ghana, Malawi and Uganda


M Kok, M Dieleman, O Onvlee, S Bulthuis

The need to scale up public health interventions in low- and middle-income countries to ensure equitable and sustainable impact is widely acknowledged. However, there has been little understanding of how projects have sought to address the importance of scale-up in the design and implementation of their initiatives. This paper aims to gain insight into the facilitators of the scale-up of a district-level health management strengthening intervention in Ghana, Malawi and Uganda.

The study took a comparative case study approach with two rounds of data collection (2019 and 2021) in which a combination of different qualitative methods was applied. Interviews and group discussions took place with district, regional and national stakeholders who were involved in the implementation and scale-up of the intervention.

A shared vision among the different stakeholders about how to institutionalize the intervention into the existing system facilitated scale-up. The importance of champions was also identified, as they influence buy-in from key decision makers, and when decision makers are convinced, political and financial support for scale-up can increase. In two countries, a specific window of opportunity facilitated scale-up. Taking a flexible approach towards scale-up, allowing adaptations of the intervention and the scale-up strategy to the context, was also identified as a facilitator. The context of decentralization and the politics and power relations between stakeholders involved also influenced scale-up.