Essential packages of health services (EPHS) are a critical tool for achieving universal health coverage, especially in low-income and lower middle-income countries. However, there is a lack of guidance and standards for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of EPHS implementation. This paper is the final in a series of papers reviewing experiences using evidence from the Disease Control Priorities, third edition publications in EPHS reforms in seven countries. We assess current approaches to EPHS M&E, including case studies of M&E approaches in Ethiopia and Pakistan. We propose a step-by-step process for developing a national EPHS M&E framework. Such a framework would start with a theory of change that links to the specific health system reforms the EPHS is trying to accomplish, including explicit statements about the ‘what’ and ‘for whom’ of M&E efforts. Monitoring frameworks need to consider the additional demands that could be placed on weak and already overstretched data systems, and they must ensure that processes are put in place to act quickly on emergent implementation challenges. Evaluation frameworks could learn from the field of implementation science; for example, by adapting the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation and Maintenance framework to policy implementation. While each country will need to develop its own locally relevant M&E indicators, we encourage all countries to include a set of core indicators that are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 3 targets and indicators. Our paper concludes with a call to reprioritise M&E more generally and to use the EPHS process as an opportunity for strengthening national health information systems. We call for an international learning network on EPHS M&E to generate new evidence and exchange best practices.
Danforth K, Ahmad AM, Blanchet K, et al. Monitoring and evaluating the implementation of essential packages of health services. BMJ Global Health 2023;8:e010726. doi:10.1136/ bmjgh-2022-010726