PMCC PMCC

Search tips
Search criteria

Advanced
Results 1-25 (935422)

Clipboard (0)
None

Related Articles

1.  Creating a public space and dialogue on sexuality and rights: a case study from Bangladesh 
Health Research Policy and Systems  2011;9(Suppl 1):S12.
This article describes and analyses a research based engagement by a university school of public health in Bangladesh aimed at raising public debate on sexuality and rights and making issues such as discrimination more visible to policy makers and other key stakeholders in a challenging context. The impetus for this work came from participation in an international research programme with a particular interest in bridging international and local understandings of sexual and reproductive rights. The research team worked to create a platform to broaden discussions on sexuality and rights by building on a number of research activities on rural and urban men’s and women’s sexual health concerns, and on changing concepts of sexuality and understandings of sexual rights among specific population groups in Dhaka city, including sexual minorities. Linked to this on-going process of improving the evidence base, there has been a series of learning and capacity building activities over the last four years consisting of training workshops, meetings, conferences and dialogues. These brought together different configurations of stakeholders – members of sexual minorities, academics, service providers, advocacy organisations, media and policy makers. This process contributed to developing more effective advocacy strategies through challenging representations of sexuality and rights in the public domain. Gradually, these efforts brought visibility to hidden or stigmatised sexuality and rights issues through interim outcomes that have created important steps towards changing attitudes and policies. These included creating safe spaces for sexual minorities to meet and strategise, development of learning materials for university students and engagement with legal rights groups on sexual rights. Through this process, it was found to be possible to create a public space and dialogue on sexuality and rights in a conservative and challenging environment like Bangladesh by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders to successfully challenge representations of sexuality in the public arena. A further challenge for BRAC University has been to assess its role as a teaching and research organisation, and find a balance between the two roles of research and activism in doing work on sexuality issues in a very sensitive political context.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-9-S1-S12
PMCID: PMC3121129  PMID: 21679379
2.  Perspective of an advocate: a case and framework for research advocacy in Africa 
Infectious Agents and Cancer  2013;8(Suppl 1):S4.
In making an experience-based case for research advocacy in Africa and suggesting a framework for building it, this paper covers factors such as basic tenets of patient advocacy, key components and urgent needs in building strong research advocacy, concepts and approaches from which guidance might be taken, and the feasibility of its development and growth throughout the continent. Research advocacy is defined as the meaningful engagement of patient advocates and their representatives in the research system.
As the clinical research system in Africa is developing and gaining strength, this is an opportune time for research advocacy to form and take root as an embedded component in the research structures on the continent. That is, the current state of development of the research system and the simultaneous interest in and rise of patient advocacy bode well for the likelihood of developing robust research advocacy, suggesting its feasibility. Even so, several developments are urgently needed to build, shore up, and sustain a framework receptive to maximizing the influence of an active network of patient advocates—many training in the subspecialty of research advocacy—and a research structure that supports and embeds advocate engagement.
doi:10.1186/1750-9378-8-S1-S4
PMCID: PMC3716697  PMID: 23902629
3.  Primary Care Research Team Assessment (PCRTA): development and evaluation. 
BACKGROUND: Since the early 1990s the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Health has explicitly promoted a research and development (R&D) strategy for the National Health Service (NHS). General practitioners (GPs) and other members of the primary care team are in a unique position to undertake research activity that will complement and inform the research undertaken by basic scientists and hospital-based colleagues and lead directly to a better evidence base for decision making by primary care professionals. Opportunities to engage in R&D in primary care are growing and the scope for those wishing to become involved is finally widening. Infrastructure funding for research-active practices and the establishment of a range of support networks have helped to improve the research capacity and blur some of the boundaries between academic departments and clinical practice. This is leading to a supportive environment for primary care research. There is thus a need to develop and validate nationally accepted quality standards and accreditation of performance to ensure that funders, collaborators and primary care professionals can deliver high quality primary care research. Several strategies have been described in national policy documents in order to achieve an improvement in teaching and clinical care, as well as enhancing research capacity in primary care. The development of both research practices and primary care research networks has been recognised as having an important contribution to make in enabling health professionals to devote more protected time to undertake research methods training and to undertake research in a service setting. The recognition and development of primary care research has also brought with it an emphasis on quality and standards, including an approach to the new research governance framework. PRIMARY CARE RESEARCH TEAM ASSESSMENT: In 1998, the NHS Executive South and West, and later the London Research and Development Directorate, provided funding for a pilot project based at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to develop a scheme to accredit UK general practices undertaking primary care R&D. The pilot began with initial consultation on the development of the process, as well as the standards and criteria for assessment. The resulting assessment schedule allowed for assessment at one of two levels: Collaborative Research Practice (Level I), with little direct experience of gaining project or infrastructure funding Established Research Practice (Level II), with more experience of research funding and activity and a sound infrastructure to allow for growth in capacity. The process for assessment of practices involved the assessment of written documentation, followed by a half-day assessment visit by a multidisciplinary team of three assessors. IMPLEMENTATION--THE PILOT PROJECT: Pilot practices were sampled in two regions. Firstly, in the NHS Executive South West Region, where over 150 practices expressed an interest in participating. From these a purposive sample of 21 practices was selected, providing a range of research and service activity. A further seven practices were identified and included within the project through the East London and Essex Network of Researchers (ELENoR). Many in this latter group received funding and administrative support and advice from ELENoR in order to prepare written submissions for assessment. Some sample loss was encountered within the pilot project, which was attributable largely to conflicting demands on participants' time. Indeed, the preparation of written submissions within the South West coincided with the introduction of primary care groups (PCGs) in April 1999, which several practices cited as having a major impact on their participation in the pilot project. A final sample of 15 practices (nine in the South West and six through ELENoR) underwent assessment through the pilot project. EVALUATION: A formal evaluation of the Primary Care Research Team Assessment (PCRTA) pilot was undertaken by an independent researcher (FM). This was supplemented with feedback from the assessment team members. The qualitative aspect of the evaluation, which included face-to-face and telephone interviews with assessors, lead researchers and other practice staff within the pilot research practices, as well as members of the project management group, demonstrated a positive view of the pilot scheme. Several key areas were identified in relation to particular strengths of research practices and areas for development including: Strengths Level II practices were found to have a strong primary care team ethos in research. Level II practices tended to have a greater degree of strategic thinking in relation to research. Development areas Level I practices were found to lack a clear and explicit research strategy. Practices at both levels had scope to develop their communication processes for dissemination of research and also for patient involvement. Practices at both levels needed mechanisms for supporting professional development in research methodology. The evaluation demonstrated that practices felt that they had gained from their participation and assessors felt that the scheme had worked well. Some specific issues were raised by different respondents within the qualitative evaluation relating to consistency of interpretation of standards and also the possible overlap of the assessment scheme with other RCGP quality initiatives. NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PRIMARY CARE RESEARCH TEAM ASSESSMENT: The pilot project has been very successful and recommendations have been made to progress to a UK scheme. Management and review of the scheme will remain largely the same, with a few changes focusing on the assessment process and support for practices entering the scheme. Specific changes include: development of the support and mentoring role of the primary care research networks increased peer and external support and mentoring for research practices undergoing assessment development of assessor training in line with other schemes within the RCGP Assessment Network work to ensure consistency across RCGP accreditation schemes in relation to key criteria, thereby facilitating comparable assessment processes refinement of the definition of the two groups, with Level I practices referred to as Collaborators and Level II practices as Investigator-Led. The project has continued to generate much enthusiasm and support and continues to reflect current policy. Indeed, recent developments include the proposed new funding arrangements for primary care R&D, which refer to the RCGP assessment scheme and recognise it as a key component in the future R&D agenda. The assessment scheme will help primary care trusts (PCTs) and individual practices to prepare and demonstrate their approach to research governance in a systematic way. It will also provide a more explicit avenue for primary care trusts to explore local service and development priorities identified within health improvement programmes and the research priorities set nationally for the NHS.
PMCID: PMC2560501  PMID: 12049028
4.  The Role of Health Systems Factors in Facilitating Access to Psychotropic Medicines: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the WHO-AIMS in 63 Low- and Middle-Income Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(1):e1001166.
In a cross-sectional analysis of WHO-AIMS data, Ryan McBain and colleagues investigate the associations between health system components and access to psychotropic drugs in 63 low and middle income countries.
Background
Neuropsychiatric conditions comprise 14% of the global burden of disease and 30% of all noncommunicable disease. Despite the existence of cost-effective interventions, including administration of psychotropic medicines, the number of persons who remain untreated is as high as 85% in low- and middle-income countries (LAMICs). While access to psychotropic medicines varies substantially across countries, no studies to date have empirically investigated potential health systems factors underlying this issue.
Methods and Findings
This study uses a cross-sectional sample of 63 LAMICs and country regions to identify key health systems components associated with access to psychotropic medicines. Data from countries that completed the World Health Organization Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS) were included in multiple regression analyses to investigate the role of five major mental health systems domains in shaping medicine availability and affordability. These domains are: mental health legislation, human rights implementations, mental health care financing, human resources, and the role of advocacy groups. Availability of psychotropic medicines was associated with features of all five mental health systems domains. Most notably, within the domain of mental health legislation, a comprehensive national mental health plan was associated with 15% greater availability; and in terms of advocacy groups, the participation of family-based organizations in the development of mental health legislation was associated with 17% greater availability. Only three measures were related with affordability of medicines to consumers: level of human resources, percentage of countries' health budget dedicated to mental health, and availability of mental health care in prisons. Controlling for country development, as measured by the Human Development Index, health systems features were associated with medicine availability but not affordability.
Conclusions
Results suggest that strengthening particular facets of mental health systems might improve availability of psychotropic medicines and that overall country development is associated with affordability.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Mental disorders—conditions that involve impairment of thinking, emotions, and behavior—are extremely common. Worldwide, mental illness affects about 450 million people and accounts for 13.5% of the global burden of disease. About one in four people will have a mental health problem at some time in their life. For some people, this will be a short period of mild depression, anxiety, or stress. For others, it will be a serious, long-lasting condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. People with mental health problems need help and support from professionals and from their friends and families to help them cope with their illness but are often discriminated against, which can make their illness worse. Treatments include counseling and psychotherapy (talking therapies), and psychotropic medicines—drugs that act mainly on the brain. Left untreated, many people with serious mental illnesses commit suicide.
Why Was This Study Done?
About 80% of people with mental illnesses live in low- and middle-income countries (LAMICs) where up to 85% of patients remain untreated. Access to psychotropic medicines, which constitute an essential and cost-effective component in the treatment of mental illnesses, is particularly poor in many LAMICs. To improve this situation, it is necessary to understand what health systems factors limit the availability and affordability of psychotropic drugs; a health system is the sum of all the organizations, institutions, and resources that act together to improve health. In this cross-sectional study, the researchers look for associations between specific health system components and access to psychotropic medicines by analyzing data collected from LAMICs using the World Health Organization's Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS). A cross-sectional study analyzes data collected at a single time. WHO-AIMS, which was created to evaluate mental health systems primarily in LAMICs, is a 155-item survey that Ministries of Health and other country-based agencies can use to collect information on mental health indicators.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used WHO-AIMS data from 63 countries/country regions and multiple regression analysis to evaluate the role of mental health legislation, human rights implementation, mental health care financing, human resources, and advocacy in shaping medicine availability and affordability. For each of these health systems domains, the researchers developed one or more summary measurements. For example, they measured financing as the percentage of government health expenditure directed toward mental health. Availability of psychotropic medicines was defined as the percentage of mental health facilities in which at least one psychotropic medication for each therapeutic category was always available. Affordability was measured by calculating the percentage of daily minimum wage needed to purchase medicine by the average consumer. The availability of psychotropic medicines was related to features of all five mental health systems domains, report the researchers. Notably, having a national mental health plan (part of the legislation domain) and the participation (advocacy) of family-based organizations in mental health legislation formulation were associated with 15% and 17% greater availability of medicines, respectively. By contrast, only the levels of human resources and financing, and the availability of mental health care in prisons (part of the human rights domain) were associated with the affordability of psychotropic medicines. Once overall country development was taken into account, most of the associations between health systems factors and medicine availability remained significant, while the associations between health systems factors and medicine affordability were no longer significant. In part, this was because country development was more strongly associated with affordability and explained most of the relationships: for example, countries with greater overall development have higher expenditures on mental health and greater medicine affordability compared to availability.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that access to psychotropic medicines in LAMICs is related to key components within the mental health systems of these countries but that availability and affordability are affected to different extents by these components. They also show that country development plays a strong role in determining affordability but has less effect on determining availability. Because cross-sectional data were used in this study, these findings only indicate associations; they do not imply causality. They are also limited by the relatively small number of observations included in this study, by the methods used to collect mental health systems data in many LAMICs, and by the possibility that some countries may have reported biased results. Despite these limitations, these findings suggest that strengthening specific mental health system features may be an important way to facilitate access to psychotropic medicines but also highlight the role that country wealth and development play in promoting the treatment of mental disorders.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001166.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of mental health (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information on mental health; its Live Well feature provides practical advice on dealing with mental health problems and personal stories
The UK charity Mind provides further information about mental illness, including personal stories
MedlinePlus provides links to many other sources of information on mental health (in English and Spanish)
Information on WHO-AIMS, including versions of the instrument in several languages, and WHO-AIMS country reports are available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001166
PMCID: PMC3269418  PMID: 22303288
5.  Community-based knowledge transfer and exchange: Helping community-based organizations link research to action 
Background
Community-based organizations (CBOs) are important stakeholders in health systems and are increasingly called upon to use research evidence to inform their advocacy, program planning, and service delivery efforts. CBOs increasingly turn to community-based research (CBR) given its participatory focus and emphasis on linking research to action. In order to further facilitate the use of research evidence by CBOs, we have developed a strategy for community-based knowledge transfer and exchange (KTE) that helps CBOs more effectively link research evidence to action. We developed the strategy by: outlining the primary characteristics of CBOs and why they are important stakeholders in health systems; describing the concepts and methods for CBR and for KTE; comparing the efforts of CBR to link research evidence to action to those discussed in the KTE literature; and using the comparison to develop a framework for community-based KTE that builds on both the strengths of CBR and existing KTE frameworks.
Discussion
We find that CBR is particularly effective at fostering a climate for using research evidence and producing research evidence relevant to CBOs through community participation. However, CBOs are not always as engaged in activities to link research evidence to action on a larger scale or to evaluate these efforts. Therefore, our strategy for community-based KTE focuses on: an expanded model of 'linkage and exchange' (i.e., producers and users of researchers engaging in a process of asking and answering questions together); a greater emphasis on both producing and disseminating systematic reviews that address topics of interest to CBOs; developing a large-scale evidence service consisting of both 'push' efforts and efforts to facilitate 'pull' that highlight actionable messages from community relevant systematic reviews in a user-friendly way; and rigorous evaluations of efforts for linking research evidence to action.
Summary
Through this type of strategy, use of research evidence for CBO advocacy, program planning, and service delivery efforts can be better facilitated and continually refined through ongoing evaluations of its impact.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-33
PMCID: PMC2873302  PMID: 20423486
6.  Patient advocacy: barriers and facilitators 
BMC Nursing  2006;5:3.
Background
During the two recent decades, advocacy has been a topic of much debate in the nursing profession. Although advocacy has embraced a crucial role for nurses, its extent is often limited in practice. While a variety of studies have been generated all over the world, barriers and facilitators in the patient advocacy have not been completely identified. This article presents the findings of a study exploring the barriers and facilitators influencing the role of advocacy among Iranian nurses.
Method
This study was conducted by grounded theory method. Participants were 24 Iranian registered nurses working in a large university hospital in Tehran, Iran. Semi-structured interviews were used for data collection. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and simultaneously Constant comparative analysis was used according to the Strauss and Corbin method.
Results
Through data analysis, several main themes emerged to describe the factors that hindered or facilitated patient advocacy. Nurses in this study identified powerlessness, lack of support, law, code of ethics and motivation, limited communication, physicians leading, risk of advocacy, royalty to peers, and insufficient time to interact with patients and families as barriers to advocacy. As for factors that facilitated nurses to act as a patient advocate, it was found that the nature of nurse-patient relationship, recognizing patients' needs, nurses' responsibility, physician as a colleague, and nurses' knowledge and skills could be influential in adopting the advocacy role.
Conclusion
Participants believed that in this context taking an advocacy role is difficult for nurses due to the barriers mentioned. Therefore, they make decisions and act as a patient's advocate in any situation concerning patient needs and status of barriers and facilitators. In most cases, they can not act at an optimal level; instead they accept only what they can do, which we called 'limited advocacy' in this study. It is concluded that advocacy is contextually complex, and is a controversial and risky component of the nursing practice. Further research is needed to determine the possibility of a correlation between identified barriers/ facilitators and the use of advocacy.
doi:10.1186/1472-6955-5-3
PMCID: PMC1420298  PMID: 16509969
7.  The Teen Photovoice Project: A Pilot Study to Promote Health Through Advocacy 
Background
Clinicians, public health practitioners, and policymakers would like to understand how youth perceive health issues and how they can become advocates for health promotion in their communities. 1,2 Traditional research methods can be used to capture these perceptions, but are limited in their ability to activate (excite and engage) youth to participate in health promotion activities.
Objectives
To pilot the use of an adapted version of photovoice as a starting point to engage youth in identifying influences on their health behaviors in a process that encourages the development of health advocacy projects.
Methods
Application of qualitative and quantitative methods to a participatory research project that teaches youth the photovoice method to identify and address health promotion issues relevant to their lives. Participants included 13 students serving on a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) of the UCLA/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion working in four small groups of two to five participants. Students were from the Los Angeles, California, metropolitan area.
Results
Results were derived from photograph sorting activities, analysis of photograph narratives, and development of advocacy projects. Youth frequently discussed a variety of topics reflected in their pictures that included unhealthy food choices, inducers of stress, friends, emotions, environment, health, and positive aspects of family. The advocacy projects used social marketing strategies, focusing on unhealthy dietary practices and inducers of stress. The youths’ focus on obesity-related issues have contributed to the center’s success in partnering with the Los Angeles Unified School District on a new community-based participatory research (CBPR) project.
Conclusion
Youth can engage in a process of identifying community-level health influences, leading to health promotion through advocacy. Participants focused their advocacy work on selected issues addressing the types of unhealthy food available in their communities and stress. This process appears to provide meaningful insight into the youths’ perspective on what influences their health behaviors.
doi:10.1353/cpr.2007.0027
PMCID: PMC2837515  PMID: 20208284
Photovoice; advocacy; health; participatory research; nutrition; stress
8.  Is the Alma Ata vision of comprehensive primary health care viable? Findings from an international project 
Global Health Action  2014;7:10.3402/gha.v7.24997.
Background
The 4-year (2007–2011) Revitalizing Health for All international research program (http://www.globalhealthequity.ca/projects/proj_revitalizing/index.shtml) supported 20 research teams located in 15 low- and middle-income countries to explore the strengths and weaknesses of comprehensive primary health care (CPHC) initiatives at their local or national levels. Teams were organized in a triad comprised of a senior researcher, a new researcher, and a ‘research user’ from government, health services, or other organizations with the authority or capacity to apply the research findings. Multiple regional and global team capacity-enhancement meetings were organized to refine methods and to discuss and assess cross-case findings.
Objective
Most research projects used mixed methods, incorporating analyses of qualitative data (interviews and focus groups), secondary data, and key policy and program documents. Some incorporated historical case study analyses, and a few undertook new surveys. The synthesis of findings in this report was derived through qualitative analysis of final project reports undertaken by three different reviewers.
Results
Evidence of comprehensiveness (defined in this research program as efforts to improve equity in access, community empowerment and participation, social and environmental health determinants, and intersectoral action) was found in many of the cases.
Conclusions
Despite the important contextual differences amongst the different country studies, the similarity of many of their findings, often generated using mixed methods, attests to certain transferable health systems characteristics to create and sustain CPHC practices. These include:  Well-trained and supported community health workers (CHWs) able to work effectively with marginalized communities Effective mechanisms for community participation, both informal (through participation in projects and programs, and meaningful consultation) and formal (though program management structures) Co-partnership models in program and policy development (in which financial and knowledge supports from governments or institutions are provided to communities, which retain decision-making powers in program design and implementation) Support for community advocacy and engagement in health and social systems decision making
These characteristics, in turn, require a political context that supports state responsibilities for redistributive health and social protection measures.
doi:10.3402/gha.v7.24997
PMCID: PMC4141965  PMID: 25150030
primary health care; health for all; community health workers
9.  Global Health Governance and the Commercial Sector: A Documentary Analysis of Tobacco Company Strategies to Influence the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(6):e1001249.
Heide Weishaar and colleagues did an analysis of internal tobacco industry documents together with other data and describe the industry's strategic response to the proposed World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Background
In successfully negotiating the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the World Health Organization (WHO) has led a significant innovation in global health governance, helping to transform international tobacco control. This article provides the first comprehensive review of the diverse campaign initiated by transnational tobacco corporations (TTCs) to try to undermine the proposed convention.
Methods and Findings
The article is primarily based on an analysis of internal tobacco industry documents made public through litigation, triangulated with data from official documentation relating to the FCTC process and websites of relevant organisations. It is also informed by a comprehensive review of previous studies concerning tobacco industry efforts to influence the FCTC. The findings demonstrate that the industry's strategic response to the proposed WHO convention was two-fold. First, arguments and frames were developed to challenge the FCTC, including: claiming there would be damaging economic consequences; depicting tobacco control as an agenda promoted by high-income countries; alleging the treaty conflicted with trade agreements, “good governance,” and national sovereignty; questioning WHO's mandate; claiming the FCTC would set a precedent for issues beyond tobacco; and presenting corporate social responsibility (CSR) as an alternative. Second, multiple tactics were employed to promote and increase the impact of these arguments, including: directly targeting FCTC delegations and relevant political actors, enlisting diverse allies (e.g., mass media outlets and scientists), and using stakeholder consultation to delay decisions and secure industry participation.
Conclusions
TTCs' efforts to undermine the FCTC were comprehensive, demonstrating the global application of tactics that TTCs have previously been found to have employed nationally and further included arguments against the FCTC as a key initiative in global health governance. Awareness of these strategies can help guard against industry efforts to disrupt the implementation of the FCTC and support the development of future, comparable initiatives in global health.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 5 million people die worldwide from tobacco-related causes and, if current trends continue, annual deaths from tobacco-related causes will increase to 10 million by 2030. In response to this global tobacco epidemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed an international instrument for tobacco control called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Negotiations on the FCTC began in 1999, and the international treaty—the first to be negotiated under the auspices of WHO—entered into force on 27 February 2005. To date, 174 countries have become parties to the FCTC. As such, they agree to implement comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship; to ban misleading and deceptive terms on cigarette packaging; to implement health warnings on tobacco packaging; to protect people from tobacco smoke exposure in public spaces and indoor workplaces; to implement taxation policies aimed at reducing tobacco consumption; and to combat illicit trade in tobacco products.
Why Was This Study Done?
Transnational tobacco corporations (TTCs) are sometimes described as “vectors” of the global tobacco epidemic because of their drive to maximize shareholder value and tobacco consumption. Just like conventional disease vectors (agents that carry or transmit infectious organisms), TTCs employ a variety of tactics to ensure the spread of tobacco consumption. For example, various studies have shown that TTCs have developed strategies that attempt to limit the impact of tobacco control measures such as the FCTC. However, to date, studies investigating the influence of TTCs on the FCTC have concentrated on specific countries or documented specific tactics. Here, the researchers undertake a comprehensive review of the diverse tactics employed by TTCs to undermine the development of the FCTC. Such a review is important because its results should facilitate the effective implementation of FCTC measures and could support the development of future tobacco control initiatives and of global initiatives designed to control alcohol-related and food-related disease and death.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed documents retrieved from the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (a collection of internal tobacco industry documents released as a result of US litigation cases) dealing with the strategies employed by TTCs to influence the FCTC alongside data from the websites of industry, consultancy, and other organizations cited in the documents; the official records of the FCTC process; and previous studies of tobacco industry efforts to influence the FCTC. Their analysis reveals that the strategic response of the major TTCs to the proposed FCTC was two-fold. First, the TTCs developed a series of arguments and “frames” (beliefs and ideas that provide a framework for thinking about an issue) to challenge the FCTC. Core frames included claiming that the FCTC would have damaging economic consequences, questioning WHO's mandate to develop a legally binding international treaty by claiming that tobacco was not a cross-border problem, and presenting corporate social responsibility (the commitment by business to affect the environment, consumers, employees, and society positively in addition to making money for shareholders) as an alternative to the FCTC. Second, the TTCs employed multiple strategies to promote and increase the impact of these arguments and frames, such as targeting FCTC delegations and enlisting the help of diverse allies including media outlets and scientists.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings illustrate the variety and complexity of the tobacco industry's efforts to undermine the FCTC and show the extent to which TTCs combined and coordinated tactics on a global stage that they had previously used on a national stage. Indeed, “the comprehensiveness and scale of the tobacco industry's response to the FCTC suggests that it is reasonable to speak of a ‘globalisation of tobacco industry strategy’ in combating the development of effective tobacco control policies,” write the researchers. Awareness of the strategies employed by TTCs to influence the FCTC should help guard against industry efforts to disrupt the implementation of the FCTC and should support the development of future global tobacco control initiatives. More generally, these findings should support the development of global health initiatives designed to tackle cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes – non-communicable diseases that together account for 60% of global deaths and are partly driven by the commercial activities of food, alcohol, and tobacco corporations.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001249.
The World Health Organization provides information about the dangers of tobacco (in several languages) and about the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
For information about the tobacco industry's influence on policy, see the 2009 World Health Organization report Tobacco interference with tobacco control
The Framework Convention Alliance provides more information about the FCTC
The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library is a public, searchable database of tobacco company internal documents detailing their advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and scientific activities
The UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies is a network of UK universities that undertakes original research, policy development, advocacy, and teaching and training in the field of tobacco control
SmokeFree, a website provided by the UK National Health Service, offers advice on quitting smoking and includes personal stories from people who have stopped smoking
Smokefree.gov, from the US National Cancer Institute, offers online tools and resources to help people quit smoking and not start again
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001249
PMCID: PMC3383743  PMID: 22745607
10.  Primary care priorities in addressing health equity: summary of the WONCA 2013 health equity workshop 
Background
Research consistently shows that gaps in health and health care persist, and are even widening. While the strength of a country’s primary health care system and its primary care attributes significantly improves populations’ health and reduces inequity (differences in health and health care that are unfair and unjust), many areas, such as inequity reduction through the provision of health promotion and preventive services, are not explicitly addressed by general practice. Substantiating the role of primary care in reducing inequity as well as establishing educational training programs geared towards health inequity reduction and improvement of the health and health care of underserved populations are needed.
Methods
This paper summarizes the work performed at the World WONCA (World Organization of National Colleges and Academies of Family Medicine) 2013 Meetings’ Health Equity Workshop which aimed to explore how a better understanding of health inequities could enable primary care providers (PCPs)/general practitioners (GPs) to adopt strategies that could improve health outcomes through the delivery of primary health care. It explored the development of a health equity curriculum and opened a discussion on the future and potential impact of health equity training among GPs.
Results
A survey completed by workshop participants on the current and expected levels of primary care participation in various inequity reduction activities showed that promoting access (availability and coverage) to primary care services was the most important priority. Assessment of the gaps between current and preferred priorities showed that to bridge expectations and actual performance, the following should be the focus of governments and health care systems: forming cross-national collaborations; incorporating health equity and cultural competency training in medical education; and, engaging in initiation of advocacy programs that involve major stakeholders in equity promotion policy making as well as promoting research on health equity.
Conclusions
This workshop formed the basis for the establishment of WONCA’s Health Equity Special Interest Group, set up in early 2014, aiming to bring the essential experience, skills and perspective of interested GPs around the world to address differences in health that are unfair, unjust, unnecessary but avoidable.
doi:10.1186/s12939-014-0104-4
PMCID: PMC4226901  PMID: 25376383
Health equity; Disparities; Primary care
11.  Advocacy for eye care 
Indian Journal of Ophthalmology  2012;60(5):376-379.
The effectiveness of eye care service delivery is often dependant on how the different stakeholders are aligned. These stakeholders range from the ministries of health who have the capacity to grant government subsidies for eye care, down to the primary healthcare workers who can be enrolled to screen for basic eye diseases. Advocacy is a tool that can help service providers draw the attention of key stakeholders to a particular area of concern. By enlisting the support, endorsement and participation of a wider circle of players, advocacy can help to improve the penetration and effectiveness of the services provided. There are several factors in the external environmental that influence the eye care services – such as the availability of trained manpower, supply of eye care consumables, government rules and regulations. There are several instances where successful advocacy has helped to create an enabling environment for eye care service delivery. Providing eye care services in developing countries requires the support – either for direct patient care or for support services such as producing trained manpower or for research and dissemination. Such support, in the form of financial or other resources, can be garnered through advocacy.
doi:10.4103/0301-4738.100530
PMCID: PMC3491261  PMID: 22944745
Advocacy; effective service delivery; enabling environment; stakeholders; resources
12.  Representation and Misrepresentation of Scientific Evidence in Contemporary Tobacco Regulation: A Review of Tobacco Industry Submissions to the UK Government Consultation on Standardised Packaging 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001629.
Selda Ulucanlar and colleagues analyze submissions by two tobacco companies to the UK government consultation on standardized packaging.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Standardised packaging (SP) of tobacco products is an innovative tobacco control measure opposed by transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) whose responses to the UK government's public consultation on SP argued that evidence was inadequate to support implementing the measure. The government's initial decision, announced 11 months after the consultation closed, was to wait for ‘more evidence’, but four months later a second ‘independent review’ was launched. In view of the centrality of evidence to debates over SP and TTCs' history of denying harms and manufacturing uncertainty about scientific evidence, we analysed their submissions to examine how they used evidence to oppose SP.
Methods and Findings
We purposively selected and analysed two TTC submissions using a verification-oriented cross-documentary method to ascertain how published studies were used and interpretive analysis with a constructivist grounded theory approach to examine the conceptual significance of TTC critiques. The companies' overall argument was that the SP evidence base was seriously flawed and did not warrant the introduction of SP. However, this argument was underpinned by three complementary techniques that misrepresented the evidence base. First, published studies were repeatedly misquoted, distorting the main messages. Second, ‘mimicked scientific critique’ was used to undermine evidence; this form of critique insisted on methodological perfection, rejected methodological pluralism, adopted a litigation (not scientific) model, and was not rigorous. Third, TTCs engaged in ‘evidential landscaping’, promoting a parallel evidence base to deflect attention from SP and excluding company-held evidence relevant to SP. The study's sample was limited to sub-sections of two out of four submissions, but leaked industry documents suggest at least one other company used a similar approach.
Conclusions
The TTCs' claim that SP will not lead to public health benefits is largely without foundation. The tools of Better Regulation, particularly stakeholder consultation, provide an opportunity for highly resourced corporations to slow, weaken, or prevent public health policies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 6 million people die from tobacco-related diseases and, if current trends continue, annual tobacco-related deaths will increase to more than 8 million by 2030. To reduce this loss of life, national and international bodies have drawn up various conventions and directives designed to implement tobacco control measures such as the adoption of taxation policies aimed at reducing tobacco consumption and bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. One innovative but largely unused tobacco control measure is standardised packaging of tobacco products. Standardised packaging aims to prevent the use of packaging as a marketing tool by removing all brand imagery and text (other than name) and by introducing packs of a standard shape and colour that include prominent pictorial health warnings. Standardised packaging was first suggested as a tobacco control measure in 1986 but has been consistently opposed by the tobacco industry.
Why Was This Study Done?
The UK is currently considering standardised packaging of tobacco products. In the UK, Better Regulation guidance obliges officials to seek the views of stakeholders, including corporations, on the government's cost and benefit estimates of regulatory measures such as standardised packaging and on the evidence underlying these estimates. In response to a public consultation about standardised packaging in July 2013, which considered submissions from several transnational tobacco companies (TTCs), the UK government announced that it would wait for the results of the standardised packaging legislation that Australia adopted in December 2012 before making its final decision about this tobacco control measure. Parliamentary debates and media statements have suggested that doubt over the adequacy of the evidence was the main reason for this ‘wait and see’ decision. Notably, TTCs have a history of manufacturing uncertainty about the scientific evidence related to the harms of tobacco. Given the centrality of evidence to the debate about standardised packaging, in this study, the researchers analyse submissions made by two TTCs, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco International (JTI), to the first UK consultation on standardised packaging (a second review is currently underway and will report shortly) to examine how TTCs used evidence to oppose standardised packaging.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analysed sub-sections of two of the four TTC submissions (those submitted by BAT and JTI) made to the public consultation using verification-oriented cross-documentary analysis, which compared references made to published sources with the original sources to ascertain how these sources had been used, and interpretative analysis to examine the conceptual significance of TTC critiques of the evidence on standardised packaging. The researchers report that the companies' overall argument was that the evidence base in support of standardised packaging was seriously flawed and did not warrant the introduction of such packaging. The researchers identified three ways in which the TTC reports misrepresented the evidence base. First, the TTCs misquoted published studies, thereby distorting the main messages of these studies. For example, the TTCs sometimes omitted important qualifying information when quoting from published studies. Second, the TTCs undermined evidence by employing experts to review published studies for methodological rigor and value in ways that did not conform to normal scientific critique approaches (‘mimicked scientific critique’). So, for example, the experts considered each piece of evidence in isolation for its ability to support standardised packaging rather than considering the cumulative weight of the evidence. Finally, the TTCs engaged in ‘evidential landscaping’. That is, they promoted research that deflected attention from standardised packaging (for example, research into social explanations of smoking behaviour) and omitted internal industry research on the role of packaging in marketing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the TTC critique of the evidence in favour of standardised packaging that was presented to the UK public consultation on this tobacco control measure is highly misleading. However, because the researchers' analysis only considered subsections of the submissions from two TTCs, these findings may not be applicable to the other submissions or to other TTCs. Moreover, their analysis only considered the efforts made by TTCs to influence public health policy and not the effectiveness of these efforts. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the claim of TTCs that standardised packaging will not lead to public health benefits is largely without foundation. More generally, these findings highlight the possibility that the tools of Better Regulation, particularly stakeholder consultation, provide an opportunity for wealthy corporations to slow, weaken, or prevent the implementation of public health policies.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001629.
The World Health Organization provides information about the dangers of tobacco (in several languages) and an article about first experiences with Australia's tobacco plain packaging law; for information about the tobacco industry's influence on policy, see the 2009 World Health Organization report ‘Tobacco industry interference with tobacco control’
A UK parliamentary briefing on standardised packaging of tobacco products, a press release about the consultation, and a summary report of the consultation are available; the ideas behind the UK's Better Regulation guidance are described in a leaflet produced by the Better Regulation Task Force
Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has a web page with information on standardised packaging and includes videos
Wikipedia has a page on standardised packaging of tobacco products (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies is a network of UK universities that undertakes original research, policy development, advocacy, and teaching and training in the field of tobacco control
TobaccoTactics.org, an online resource managed by the University of Bath, provides up-to-date information on the tobacco industry and the tactics it uses to influence tobacco regulation
SmokeFree, a website provided by the UK National Health Service, offers advice on quitting smoking and includes personal stories from people who have stopped smoking
Smokefree.gov, from the US National Cancer Institute, offers online tools and resources to help people quit smoking
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001629
PMCID: PMC3965396  PMID: 24667150
13.  Community capacity to acquire, assess, adapt, and apply research evidence: a survey of Ontario's HIV/AIDS sector 
Background
Community-based organizations (CBOs) are important stakeholders in health systems and are increasingly called upon to use research evidence to inform their advocacy, program planning, and service delivery. To better support CBOs to find and use research evidence, we sought to assess the capacity of CBOs in the HIV/AIDS sector to acquire, assess, adapt, and apply research evidence in their work.
Methods
We invited executive directors of HIV/AIDS CBOs in Ontario, Canada (n = 51) to complete the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation's "Is Research Working for You?" survey.
Findings
Based on responses from 25 organizations that collectively provide services to approximately 32,000 clients per year with 290 full-time equivalent staff, we found organizational capacity to acquire, assess, adapt, and apply research evidence to be low. CBO strengths include supporting a culture that rewards flexibility and quality improvement, exchanging information within their organization, and ensuring that their decision-making processes have a place for research. However, CBO Executive Directors indicated that they lacked the skills, time, resources, incentives, and links with experts to acquire research, assess its quality and reliability, and summarize it in a user-friendly way.
Conclusion
Given the limited capacity to find and use research evidence, we recommend a capacity-building strategy for HIV/AIDS CBOs that focuses on providing the tools, resources, and skills needed to more consistently acquire, assess, adapt, and apply research evidence. Such a strategy may be appropriate in other sectors and jurisdictions as well given that CBO Executive Directors in the HIV/AIDS sector in Ontario report low capacity despite being in the enviable position of having stable government infrastructure in place to support them, benefiting from long-standing investment in capacity building, and being part of an active provincial network. CBOs in other sectors and jurisdictions that have fewer supports may have comparable or lower capacity. Future research should examine a larger sample of CBO Executive Directors from a range of sectors and jurisdictions.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-54
PMCID: PMC3123230  PMID: 21619682
14.  Role of Primary Health Care in Ensuring Access to Medicines 
Croatian Medical Journal  2010;51(3):181-190.
To examine ways of ensuring access to health services within the framework of primary health care (PHC), since the goal of PHC to make universal health care available to all people has become increasingly neglected amid emerging themes of globalization, trade, and foreign policy. From a public health point of view, we argue that the premise of PHC can unlock barriers to health care services and contribute greatly to determining collective health through the promotion of universal basic health services. PHC has the most sophisticated and organized infrastructure, theories, and political principles, with which it can deal adequately with the issues of inequity, inequality, and social injustice which emerge from negative economic externalities and neo-liberal economic policies. Addressing these issues, especially the complex social and political influences that restrict access to medicines, may require the integration of different health initiatives into PHC. Based on current systems, PHC remains the only conventional health delivery service that can deal with resilient public health problems adequately. However, to strengthen its ability to do so, we propose the revitalization of PHC to incorporate scholarship that promotes human rights, partnerships, research and development, advocacy, and national drug policies. The concept of PHC can improve access; however, this will require the urgent interplay among theoretical, practical, political, and sociological influences arising from the economic, social, and political determinants of ill health in an era of globalization.
doi:10.3325/2010.51.181
PMCID: PMC2897088  PMID: 20564760
15.  On the Lack of Consensus over the Meaning of Openness: An Empirical Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23420.
This study set out to explore the views and motivations of those involved in a number of recent and current advocacy efforts (such as open science, computational provenance, and reproducible research) aimed at making science and scientific artifacts accessible to a wider audience. Using a exploratory approach, the study tested whether a consensus exists among advocates of these initiatives about the key concepts, exploring the meanings that scientists attach to the various mechanisms for sharing their work, and the social context in which this takes place. The study used a purposive sampling strategy to target scientists who have been active participants in these advocacy efforts, and an open-ended questionnaire to collect detailed opinions on the topics of reproducibility, credibility, scooping, data sharing, results sharing, and the effectiveness of the peer review process. We found evidence of a lack of agreement on the meaning of key terminology, and a lack of consensus on some of the broader goals of these advocacy efforts. These results can be explained through a closer examination of the divergent goals and approaches adopted by different advocacy efforts. We suggest that the scientific community could benefit from a broader discussion of what it means to make scientific research more accessible and how this might best be achieved.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023420
PMCID: PMC3157385  PMID: 21858110
16.  Transnational Tobacco Company Interests in Smokeless Tobacco in Europe: Analysis of Internal Industry Documents and Contemporary Industry Materials 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(9):e1001506.
In light lobbying by transnational tobacco companies to remove the European Union ban on the sale of snus (a smokeless tobacco product), Silvy Peeters and Anna Gilmore explore the motivation behind tobacco companies' interests in smokeless tobacco products in Europe.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
European Union (EU) legislation bans the sale of snus, a smokeless tobacco (SLT) which is considerably less harmful than smoking, in all EU countries other than Sweden. To inform the current review of this legislation, this paper aims to explore transnational tobacco company (TTC) interests in SLT and pure nicotine in Europe from the 1970s to the present, comparing them with TTCs' public claims of support for harm reduction.
Methods and Results
Internal tobacco industry documents (in total 416 documents dating from 1971 to 2009), obtained via searching the online Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, were analysed using a hermeneutic approach. This library comprises documents obtained via litigation in the US and does not include documents from Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, or Swedish Match. To help overcome this limitation and provide more recent data, we triangulated our documentary findings with contemporary documentation including TTC investor presentations. The analysis demonstrates that British American Tobacco explored SLT opportunities in Europe from 1971 driven by regulatory threats and health concerns, both likely to impact cigarette sales negatively, and the potential to create a new form of tobacco use among those no longer interested in taking up smoking. Young people were a key target. TTCs did not, however, make SLT investments until 2002, a time when EU cigarette volumes started declining, smoke-free legislation was being introduced, and public health became interested in harm reduction. All TTCs have now invested in snus (and recently in pure nicotine), yet both early and recent snus test markets appear to have failed, and little evidence was found in TTCs' corporate materials that snus is central to their business strategy.
Conclusions
There is clear evidence that BAT's early interest in introducing SLT in Europe was based on the potential for creating an alternative form of tobacco use in light of declining cigarette sales and social restrictions on smoking, with young people a key target. We conclude that by investing in snus, and recently nicotine, TTCs have eliminated competition between cigarettes and lower-risk products, thus helping maintain the current market balance in favour of (highly profitable) cigarettes while ensuring TTCs' long-term future should cigarette sales decline further and profit margins be eroded.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 5 million people die from cancer, heart disease, and other tobacco-related diseases. In recent years, to reduce this growing loss of life, international and national bodies have drawn up various tobacco control conventions and directives. For example, the European Union (EU) Directives on tobacco control call for member states to ban tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship and to adopt taxation policies aimed at reducing tobacco consumption. The 2001 EU Tobacco Products Directive also bans the sale of snus, a form of smokeless tobacco (SLT), in all EU countries except Sweden. Snus, which originated in Sweden in the early 19th century, is a moist tobacco product that is placed under the upper lip. Although snus is considerably less harmful than smoking, the sale of snus was banned in the EU in 1992 because of fears that it might cause cancer and was being marketed to young people. When Sweden joined the EU in 1994, exemption from the ban was made a condition of the membership treaty.
Why Was This Study Done?
Transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) have been investing in European snus manufacturers since 2002 and more recently in pure nicotine products, and it has been suggested that, faced with declining cigarette markets in Europe and elsewhere, TTCs are preparing for a “post-cigarette era”. Since 2008, TTCs have been lobbying EU member states and the European Commission to remove the ban on snus sales, arguing that public health would be improved if governments allowed potentially reduced-harm products like snus onto the market. At the end of 2012, however, the European Commission proposed that the ban on snus sales should be continued. Here, to help inform this controversial policy debate, the researchers explore the interest of TTCs in SLT and pure nicotine in Europe from the 1970s to the present by examining internal tobacco documents and compare these interests with public claims of support for harm reduction made by TTCs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
By searching the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (internal tobacco industry documents released following US litigation cases), the researchers identified 416 documents that detail the historical interest of TTCs in SLT and pure nicotine and their efforts to enter European markets, and to influence national and EU public-health policy. The researchers analyzed these documents using a “hermeneutic” approach—methodical reading and re-reading of the documents to identify themes and sub-themes. Finally, they used TTC investor presentations and other documents to confirm these themes and to provide recent data on TTC investment in SLT. British American Tobacco (BAT) explored the opportunities for marketing SLT products in Europe from 1971 onwards. This exploration was driven by regulatory threats and health concerns, both of which were likely to impact tobacco sales, and by the potential to create a new form of tobacco use among people no longer interested in taking up smoking. TTCs did not begin to invest in SLT, however, until 2002, a time when EU cigarette sale volumes started to decline, smoke-free legislation was being introduced, and tobacco harm reduction first became a major public-health issue. All the TTCs have now invested in snus even though snus test markets appear to have failed and even though there is little evidence in corporate materials that snus is central to the business strategy of TTCs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that BAT's early interest in SLT in Europe was driven by business concerns and was based on the potential for creating an alternative form of tobacco use among people—particularly young people—who would no longer take up smoking because of health concerns. They also suggest that TTC investments in snus were defensive—by buying up snus manufacturers and more recently nicotine producers, TTCs have eliminated competition between cigarettes and lower-risk products, thereby helping to maintain the current market balance in favor of cigarettes while ensuring the long-term future of TTCs should cigarette sales decline further. Although these findings are limited by the possibility that some relevant documents may have been omitted from this analysis, they nevertheless raise the concern that, if TTC investment in SLT continues, competition between cigarettes and SLT will reduce the potential for harm reduction to benefit public health. Legalization of snus sales in the European Union may therefore have considerably less benefit than envisaged.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001506.
The World Health Organization provides information about the dangers of tobacco (in several languages) and about the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty for tobacco control; for information about the tobacco industry's influence on policy, see the 2009 World Health Organization report Tobacco interference with tobacco control
Details of European Union legislation on the manufacture, presentation, and sale of tobacco products is available (in several languages)
Wikipedia has pages on tobacco harm reduction and on snus (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library is a searchable public database of tobacco company internal documents detailing their advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and scientific activities
The UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies is a network of UK universities that undertakes original research, policy development, advocacy, and teaching and training in the field of tobacco control
SmokeFree, a website provided by the UK National Health Service, offers advice on quitting smoking and includes personal stories from people who have stopped smoking
Smokefree.gov, from the US National Cancer Institute, offers online tools and resources to help people quit smoking
TobaccoTactics.org, an online resource managed by the University of Bath, provides up-to-date information on the tobacco industry and their tactics to influence tobacco regulation
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001506
PMCID: PMC3769209  PMID: 24058299
17.  Global Estimates of Syphilis in Pregnancy and Associated Adverse Outcomes: Analysis of Multinational Antenatal Surveillance Data 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(2):e1001396.
Using multinational surveillance data, Lori Newman and colleagues estimate global rates of active syphilis in pregnant women, adverse effects, and antenatal coverage and treatment needed to meet WHO goals.
Background
The World Health Organization initiative to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of syphilis aims for ≥90% of pregnant women to be tested for syphilis and ≥90% to receive treatment by 2015. We calculated global and regional estimates of syphilis in pregnancy and associated adverse outcomes for 2008, as well as antenatal care (ANC) coverage for women with syphilis.
Methods and Findings
Estimates were based upon a health service delivery model. National syphilis seropositivity data from 97 of 193 countries and ANC coverage from 147 countries were obtained from World Health Organization databases. Proportions of adverse outcomes and effectiveness of screening and treatment were from published literature. Regional estimates of ANC syphilis testing and treatment were examined through sensitivity analysis. In 2008, approximately 1.36 million (range: 1.16 to 1.56 million) pregnant women globally were estimated to have probable active syphilis; of these, 80% had attended ANC. Globally, 520,905 (best case: 425,847; worst case: 615,963) adverse outcomes were estimated to be caused by maternal syphilis, including approximately 212,327 (174,938; 249,716) stillbirths (>28 wk) or early fetal deaths (22 to 28 wk), 91,764 (76,141; 107,397) neonatal deaths, 65,267 (56,929; 73,605) preterm or low birth weight infants, and 151,547 (117,848; 185,245) infected newborns. Approximately 66% of adverse outcomes occurred in ANC attendees who were not tested or were not treated for syphilis. In 2008, based on the middle case scenario, clinical services likely averted 26% of all adverse outcomes. Limitations include missing syphilis seropositivity data for many countries in Europe, the Mediterranean, and North America, and use of estimates for the proportion of syphilis that was “probable active,” and for testing and treatment coverage.
Conclusions
Syphilis continues to affect large numbers of pregnant women, causing substantial perinatal morbidity and mortality that could be prevented by early testing and treatment. In this analysis, most adverse outcomes occurred among women who attended ANC but were not tested or treated for syphilis, highlighting the need to improve the quality of ANC as well as ANC coverage. In addition, improved ANC data on syphilis testing coverage, positivity, and treatment are needed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Syphilis—a sexually transmitted bacterial infection caused by Treponema pallidum—can pass from a mother who is infected to her unborn child. Screening pregnant women for syphilis during routine antenatal care by looking for a reaction to T. pallidum in the blood (seropositivity) and then treating any detected infections with penicillin injections has been feasible for many years, even in low-resource settings. However, because coverage of testing and treatment of syphilis remains low in many countries, mother-to-child transmission of syphilis—“congenital syphilis”—is still a global public health problem. In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that there were 2 million syphilis infections among pregnant women annually, 65% of which resulted in adverse pregnancy outcomes: the baby's death during early or late pregnancy (fetal death and stillbirth, respectively) or soon after birth (neonatal death), or the birth of an infected baby. Babies born with syphilis often have a low birth weight and develop problems such as blindness, deafness, and seizures if not treated.
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2007, WHO launched an initiative to eliminate congenital syphilis that set targets of at least 90% of pregnant women being tested for syphilis and at least 90% of seropositive pregnant women receiving adequate treatment by 2015. To assess the initiative's progress and to guide policy and advocacy efforts, accurate global data on the burden of syphilis in pregnancy and on associated adverse outcomes are needed. Unfortunately, even in developed countries with good laboratory facilities, definitive diagnosis of congenital syphilis is difficult. Estimates of the global burden can be obtained, however, using mathematical models. In this study, the researchers generate global and regional estimates of the burden of syphilis in pregnancy and associated adverse outcomes for 2008 using a health services delivery model.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed a mathematical model to estimate the number of syphilis-infected pregnant women in each country and in each region, and to estimate the regional and global numbers of adverse pregnancy outcomes associated with syphilis. They used national syphilis seropositivity data and information on antenatal care coverage from WHO and estimates of the effectiveness of screening and treatment from published literature. Using these data and their model, the researchers estimated that, in 2008, 1.4 million pregnant women, 80% of whom had attended antenatal care services, had an active syphilis infection. Assuming a scenario in which the percentage of pregnant women tested for syphilis and adequately treated ranged from 30% for Africa and the Mediterranean region to 70% for Europe (a scenario defined in consultation with WHO advisors), the researchers estimated that maternal syphilis caused 520,000 adverse outcomes in 2008, including 215,000 stillbirths or fetal deaths, 90,000 neonatal deaths, 65,000 preterm or low birth weight infants, and 150,000 infants with congenital disease. About 66% of these adverse effects occurred in women who had attended antenatal care but were either not tested or not treated for syphilis. Finally, the researchers estimated that in 2008, clinical services averted 26% of all adverse outcomes.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings, which update and extend previous estimates of the global burden of congenital syphilis, indicate that syphilis continues to affect a large number of pregnant women and their offspring. The current findings, which cannot be directly compared to previous estimates because of the different methodologies used, are likely to be affected by the accuracy of the data fed into the researchers' model. In particular, the data on the percentage of the population infected with syphilis in individual countries used in this study came from the HIV Universal Access reporting system and may not be nationally representative. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that syphilis continues to be an important cause of adverse outcomes of pregnancy, partly because pregnant women often do not receive syphilis screening and prompt treatment during routine antenatal care. The researchers recommend, therefore, that all countries should ensure that all pregnant women receive an essential package of high-quality antenatal care services that includes routine and easy access to syphilis testing and treatment. Congenital syphilis, they conclude, can only be eliminated if decision-makers at all levels prioritize the provision, quality, and monitoring of this basic antenatal care service, which has the potential to reduce infant mortality and improve maternal health.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001396.
The World Health Organization provides information on sexually transmitted diseases, including details of its strategy for the global elimination of congenital syphilis, the investment case for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of syphilis, and regional updates on progress towards elimination (some information is available in several languages)
The Pan American Health Organization provides information on efforts to eliminate congenital syphilis in Latin America (in English and Spanish), and the Asia-Pacific Prevention of Parent-to-Child Transmission Task Force provides information on efforts to eliminate congenital syphilis in Asia Pacific
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a fact sheet on syphilis (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also has a page on syphilis
MedlinePlus provides information on congenital syphilis and links to additional syphilis resources (in English and Spanish)
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine provides a toolkit for the introduction of rapid syphilis tests
Haiti: Congenital Syphilis on the Way Out is a YouTube video describing the introduction of rapid diagnostic tests for syphilis in remote parts of Haiti
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001396
PMCID: PMC3582608  PMID: 23468598
18.  Ovarian Cancer Survivors’ Experiences of Self-Advocacy: A Focus Group Study 
Oncology nursing forum  2013;40(2):140-147.
Purpose/Objectives
To explore ovarian cancer survivors’ experiences of self-advocacy in symptom management.
Research Approach
Descriptive, qualitative.
Setting
A public café in an urban setting.
Participants
13 ovarian cancer survivors aged 26–69 years with a mean age of 51.31.
Methodologic Approach
Five focus groups were formed. Focus group discussions were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. The content was analyzed using the constant comparison method with axial coding. In-depth interviews with 5 of the 13 participants occurred via telephone one to five months after each focus group meeting to clarify and expand on identified themes. Preliminary findings were shared with all participants for validation.
Findings
Two major themes emerged from the data: (a) knowing who I am and keeping my psyche intact, and (b) knowing what I need and fighting for it. Exemplar quotations illustrate the diverse dimensions of self-advocacy. In addition, a working female-centric definition of self-advocacy was attained.
Conclusions
Women have varying experiences with cancer- and treatment-related symptoms, but share a common process for recognizing and meeting their needs. Self-advocacy was defined as a process of learning one’s needs and priorities as a cancer survivor and negotiating with healthcare teams, social supports, and other survivors to meet these needs.
Interpretation
This phenomenologic process identified key dimensions and a preliminary definition of self-advocacy that nurses can recognize and support when patients seek and receive care consistent with their own needs and preferences.
Knowledge Translation
Self-advocacy among female cancer survivors is a process of recognizing one’s needs and priorities and fighting for them within their cancer care and life. Practitioners can support female cancer survivors through the process of self-advocacy by providing them with skills and resources in making informed choices for themselves.
doi:10.1188/13.ONF.A12-A19
PMCID: PMC4021021  PMID: 23454476
19.  Scaling up the delivery of refractive error services within a district health system: the KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa experience 
Background
In South Africa, the health service is based on a Primary Health Care (PHC) philosophy with the District Health System (DHS) as the locus of delivery. However eye care services, particularly primary eye care, refractive error and low vision, have not been prioritised accordingly. Hence the aim of the Giving Sight to KwaZulu-Natal (GSKZN) project was to integrate the delivery of eye care services into the district health system, with emphasis on addressing the need for uncorrected refractive error and low vision services.
The project was implemented in the KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, to scale up the delivery of refractive error services utilising a four pronged approach; including advocacy, human resource development, equipment provision and research.
Methods
This paper is a description of the project and a retrospective analysis of data received through the course of the project from July 2007 to June 2011. Data were collected from training registers, equipment schedules and service delivery reports from institutions. Reports from the data base were then analysed and achievements in training and trends in service delivery were determined.
Results
Over a four year period (July 2007 and July 2011) 1004 persons received training in rendering eye health services appropriate to their level of deployment within the DHS. During the course of the project, these 1004 persons examined 1 064 087 patients. Furthermore, the total number of clinics offering primary eye care, refractive error and low vision services increased from 96 (10%) to 748 (76%). With increased numbers of PHC Nurses trained in primary eye care, a subsequent decrease of 51.08 percent was also observed in the number of patients seeking services at higher levels of care, thus streamlining eye health service delivery.
Conclusion
This project has shown that scaling up can occur in delivering eye health services within a health district, through a multi-faceted approach that encompasses focused training, advocacy, development of appropriate infrastructure and the development of referral criteria with clear guidelines for the management of patients.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-361
PMCID: PMC3852626  PMID: 24074239
Public health; Primary eye health; Refractive error; Service delivery; District health system
20.  Self-reported evaluation of competencies and attitudes by physicians-in-training before and after a single day legislative advocacy experience 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:47.
Background
Advocacy is increasingly being recognized as a core element of medical professionalism and efforts are underway to incorporate advocacy training into graduate and undergraduate medical school curricula. While limited data exist to quantify physician attitudes toward advocacy, even less has been done to assess the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of future physicians. The purpose of this study was to assess students’ experiences and attitudes toward legislative advocacy, cutting out using a convience sample.
Methods
A paper survey based on previously validated surveys was administered to a convenience sample of premedical and medical student participants attending a National Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, in March 2011, both before and after their advocacy experiences. Responses were anonymous and either categorical ( or ordinal, using a 5-point Likert scale. Data were analyzed statistically to evaluate demographics and compare changes in pre- and post-experience attitude and skills.
Results
Data from 108 pre-advocacy and 50 post-advocacy surveys were analyzed yielding a response rate of 46.3%. Following a single advocacy experience, subjects felt they were more likely to contact their legislators about healthcare issues (p = 0.03), to meet in person with their legislators (p < 0.01), and to advocate for populations' health needs (p = 0.04). Participants endorsed an increased perception of the role of a physician advocate extending beyond individual patients (p = 0.03). Participants disagreed with the statement that their formal curricula adequately covered legislative healthcare advocacy. Additionally, respondents indicated that they plan to engage in legislative advocacy activities in the future (p < 0.01).
Conclusions
A one-time practical advocacy experience has a positive influence on students’ knowledge, skills and attitudes towards legislative advocacy. Practical experience is an important method of furthering medical education in advocacy and further research is necessary to assess its impact in a broader population.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-47
PMCID: PMC3418180  PMID: 22726361
21.  Tobacco Industry Manipulation of Tobacco Excise and Tobacco Advertising Policies in the Czech Republic: An Analysis of Tobacco Industry Documents 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(6):e1001248.
Risako Shirane and colleagues examined the the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library and found evidence of transnational tobacco company influence over tobacco advertising and excise policy in the Czech Republic, a country with one of the poorest tobacco control records in Europe.
Background
The Czech Republic has one of the poorest tobacco control records in Europe. This paper examines transnational tobacco companies' (TTCs') efforts to influence policy there, paying particular attention to excise policies, as high taxes are one of the most effective means of reducing tobacco consumption, and tax structures are an important aspect of TTC competitiveness.
Methods and Findings
TTC documents dating from 1989 to 2004/5 were retrieved from the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library website, analysed using a socio-historical approach, and triangulated with key informant interviews and secondary data. The documents demonstrate significant industry influence over tobacco control policy. Philip Morris (PM) ignored, overturned, and weakened various attempts to restrict tobacco advertising, promoting voluntary approaches as an alternative to binding legislation. PM and British American Tobacco (BAT) lobbied separately on tobacco tax structures, each seeking to implement the structure that benefitted its own brand portfolio over that of its competitors, and enjoying success in turn. On excise levels, the different companies took a far more collaborative approach, seeking to keep tobacco taxes low and specifically to prevent any large tax increases. Collective lobbying, using a variety of arguments, was successful in delaying the tax increases required via European Union accession. Contrary to industry arguments, data show that cigarettes became more affordable post-accession and that TTCs have taken advantage of low excise duties by raising prices. Interview data suggest that TTCs enjoy high-level political support and continue to actively attempt to influence policy.
Conclusion
There is clear evidence of past and ongoing TTC influence over tobacco advertising and excise policy. We conclude that this helps explain the country's weak tobacco control record. The findings suggest there is significant scope for tobacco tax increases in the Czech Republic and that large (rather than small, incremental) increases are most effective in reducing smoking.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 5 million people die from tobacco-related diseases and, if current trends continue, annual tobacco-related deaths will increase to 10 million by 2030. Faced with this global tobacco epidemic, national and international bodies have drawn up conventions and directives designed to control tobacco. For example, European Union (EU) Directives on tobacco control call for member states to ban tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship and to adopt taxation policies (for example, high levels of tobacco excise tax) aimed at reducing tobacco consumption. Within the EU, implementation of tobacco control policies varies widely but the Czech Republic, which was formed in 1993 when Czechoslovakia split following the 1989 collapse of communism, has a particularly poor record. The Czech Republic, which joined the EU in 2004, is the only EU Member State not to have ratified the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which entered into force in 2005, and its tobacco control policies were the fourth least effective in Europe in 2010.
Why Was This Study Done?
During the communist era, state-run tobacco monopolies controlled the supply of cigarettes and other tobacco products in Czechoslovakia. Privatization of these monopolies began in 1991 and several transnational tobacco companies (TTCs)—in particular, Philip Morris and British American Tobacco—entered the tobacco market in what was to become the Czech Republic. In this socio-historical study, which aims to improve understanding of both effective tobacco excise policy and the ways in which TTCs seek to influence policy in emerging markets, the researchers analyze publically available internal TTC documents and interview key informants to examine efforts made by TTCs to influence tobacco advertising and tobacco excise tax policies in the Czech Republic. A socio-historical study examines the interactions between individuals and groups in a historical context.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed 511 documents (dated 1989 onwards) in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library website (a collection of internal tobacco industry documents released through US litigation cases) that mentioned tobacco control policies in the Czech Republic. They also analyzed information obtained from sources such as tobacco industry journals and data obtained in 2010 in interviews with key Czech informants (including a tobacco industry representative and a politician). The researchers' analysis of the industry documents indicates that Philip Morris ignored, overturned, and weakened attempts to restrict tobacco advertising and promoted voluntary approaches as an alternative to binding legislation. Importantly, while the internal documents show that Philip Morris lobbied for a specific excise tax (a fixed amount of tax per cigarette, a tax structure that favors the expensive brands that Philip Morris mainly markets), the European strategy employed at that time by British American Tobacco was to lobby for a mixed excise structure that combined an “ad valorem” tax (a tax levied as a proportion of price) and a specific tax, an approach that favors a mixed portfolio of tobacco brands. By contrast, the documents show that TTCs collaborated in trying to keep tobacco taxes low and in trying to prevent any large tax increases. This collective lobbying successfully delayed the tobacco tax increases required as a condition of the Czech Republic's accession to the EU. Finally, the interview data suggest that TTCs had high-level political support in the Czech Republic and continue actively to attempt to influence policy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide clear evidence that Philip Morris and British American Tobacco (the two TTCs that have dominated the Czech market since privatization of the tobacco industry) have significantly influenced tobacco advertising and excise policy in the Czech Republic since 1989. The findings, which also suggest that this influence is ongoing, help to explain the Czech Republic's poor tobacco control record, which was reflected in a fall in the real price of cigarettes between 1990 and 2000. More generally, this study provides valuable insight into how TTCs might try to influence policy in other emerging markets. Improvements in global tobacco control, the researchers conclude, will be possible only if efforts are made to protect tobacco control policies from the vested interests of the tobacco industry, a principle enshrined in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco control, and if public and political attitudes to the industry shift.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001248.
The World Health Organization provides information about the dangers of tobacco (in several languages) and about its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
For information about the tobacco industry's influence on policy, see the 2009 World Health Organization report Tobacco interference with tobacco control
The Framework Convention Alliance more information about the FCTC
Details of European Union legislation on excise duty applied to manufactured tobacco and on the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products are available (in several languages)
The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library is a searchable public database of tobacco company internal documents detailing their advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and scientific activities
The UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies is a network of UK universities that undertakes original research, policy development, advocacy, and teaching and training in the field of tobacco control
SmokeFree, a website provided by the UK National Health Service, offers advice on quitting smoking and includes personal stories from people who have stopped smoking
Smokefree.gov, from the US National Cancer Institute, offers online tools and resources to help people quit smoking and not start again
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001248
PMCID: PMC3383744  PMID: 22745606
22.  Health-related rehabilitation services: assessing the global supply of and need for human resources 
Background
Human resources for rehabilitation are often a neglected component of health services strengthening and health workforce development. This may be partly related to weaknesses in the available research and evidence to inform advocacy and programmatic strategies. The objective of this study was to quantitatively describe the global situation in terms of supply of and need for human resources for health-related rehabilitation services, as a basis for strategy development of the workforce in physical and rehabilitation medicine.
Methods
Data for assessing supply of and need for rehabilitative personnel were extracted and analyzed from statistical databases maintained by the World Health Organization and other national and international health information sources. Standardized classifications were used to enhance cross-national comparability of findings.
Results
Large differences were found across countries and regions between assessed need for services requiring health workers associated to physical and rehabilitation medicine against estimated supply of health personnel skilled in rehabilitation services. Despite greater need, low- and middle-income countries tended to report less availability of skilled health personnel, although the strength of the supply-need relationship varied across geographical and economic country groupings.
Conclusion
The evidence base on human resources for health-related rehabilitation services remains fragmented, the result of limited availability and use of quality, comparable data and information within and across countries. This assessment offered the first global baseline, intended to catalyze further research that can be translated into evidence to support human resources for rehabilitation policy and practice.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-276
PMCID: PMC3207892  PMID: 22004560
23.  Evaluation of resident attitudes and self-reported competencies in health advocacy 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:82.
Background
The CanMEDS Health Advocate role, one of seven roles mandated by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Canada, pertains to a physician's responsibility to use their expertise and influence to advance the wellbeing of patients, communities, and populations. We conducted our study to examine resident attitudes and self-reported competencies related to health advocacy, due to limited information in the literature on this topic.
Methods
We conducted a pilot experience with seven internal medicine residents participating in a community health promotion event. The residents provided narrative feedback after the event and the information was used to generate items for a health advocacy survey. Face validity was established by having the same residents review the survey. Content validity was established by inviting an expert physician panel to review the survey. The refined survey was then distributed to a cohort of core Internal Medicine residents electronically after attendance at an academic retreat teaching residents about advocacy through didactic sessions.
Results
The survey was completed by 76 residents with a response rate of 68%. The majority agreed to accept an advocacy role for societal health needs beyond caring for individual patients. Most confirmed their ability to identify health determinants and reaffirmed the inherent requirements for health advocacy. While involvement in health advocacy was common during high school and undergraduate studies, 76% of residents reported no current engagement in advocacy activity, and 36% were undecided if they would engage in advocacy during their remaining time as residents, fellows or staff. The common barriers reported were insufficient time, rest and stress.
Conclusions
Medical residents endorsed the role of health advocate and reported proficiency in determining the medical and bio-psychosocial determinants of individuals and communities. Few residents, however, were actively involved in health advocacy beyond an individual level during residency due to multiple barriers. Further studies should address these barriers to advocacy and identify the reasons for the discordance we found between advocacy endorsement and lack of engagement.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-82
PMCID: PMC2999597  PMID: 21087495
24.  The U.S. training institute for dissemination and implementation research in health 
Background
The science of dissemination and implementation (D&I) is advancing the knowledge base for how best to integrate evidence-based interventions within clinical and community settings and how to recast the nature or conduct of the research itself to make it more relevant and actionable in those settings. While the field is growing, there are only a few training programs for D&I research; this is an important avenue to help build the field’s capacity. To improve the United States’ capacity for D&I research, the National Institutes of Health and Veterans Health Administration collaborated to develop a five-day training institute for postdoctoral level applicants aspiring to advance this science.
Methods
We describe the background, goals, structure, curriculum, application process, trainee evaluation, and future plans for the Training in Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health (TIDIRH).
Results
The TIDIRH used a five-day residential immersion to maximize opportunities for trainees and faculty to interact. The train-the-trainer-like approach was intended to equip participants with materials that they could readily take back to their home institutions to increase interest and further investment in D&I. The TIDIRH curriculum included a balance of structured large group discussions and interactive small group sessions.
Thirty-five of 266 applicants for the first annual training institute were accepted from a variety of disciplines, including psychology (12 trainees); medicine (6 trainees); epidemiology (5 trainees); health behavior/health education (4 trainees); and 1 trainee each from education & human development, health policy and management, health services research, public health studies, public policy and social work, with a maximum of two individuals from any one institution. The institute was rated as very helpful by attendees, and by six months after the institute, a follow-up survey (97% return rate) revealed that 72% had initiated a new grant proposal in D&I research; 28% had received funding, and 77% had used skills from TIDIRH to influence their peers from different disciplines about D&I research through building local research networks, organizing formal presentations and symposia, teaching and by leading interdisciplinary teams to conduct D&I research.
Conclusions
The initial TIDIRH training was judged successful by trainee evaluation at the conclusion of the week’s training and six-month follow-up, and plans are to continue and possibly expand the TIDIRH in coming years. Strengths are seen as the residential format, quality of the faculty and their flexibility in adjusting content to meet trainee needs, and the highlighting of concrete D&I examples by the local host institution, which rotates annually. Lessons learned and plans for future TIDIRH trainings are summarized.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-12
PMCID: PMC3564839  PMID: 23347882
Training; Dissemination; Implementation
25.  Feasibility and acceptability of home-based management of malaria strategy adapted to Sudan's conditions using artemisinin-based combination therapy and rapid diagnostic test 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:39.
Background
Malaria remains a major public health problem especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the efforts exerted to provide effective anti-malarial drugs, still some communities suffer from getting access to these services due to many barriers. This research aimed to assess the feasibility and acceptability of home-based management of malaria (HMM) strategy using artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for treatment and rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for diagnosis.
Methods
This is a study conducted in 20 villages in Um Adara area, South Kordofan state, Sudan. Two-thirds (66%) of the study community were seeking treatment from heath facilities, which were more than 5 km far from their villages with marked inaccessibility during rainy season. Volunteers (one per village) were trained on using RDTs for diagnosis and artesunate plus sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine for treating malaria patients, as well as referral of severe and non-malaria cases. A system for supply and monitoring was established based on the rural health centre, which acted as a link between the volunteers and the health system. Advocacy for the policy was done through different tools. Volunteers worked on non-monetary incentives but only a consultation fee of One Sudanese Pound (equivalent to US$0.5).
Pre- and post-intervention assessment was done using household survey, focus group discussion with the community leaders, structured interview with the volunteers, and records and reports analysis.
Results and discussion
The overall adherence of volunteers to the project protocol in treating and referring cases was accepted that was only one of the 20 volunteers did not comply with the study guidelines. Although the use of RDTs seemed to have improved the level of accuracy and trust in the diagnosis, 30% of volunteers did not rely on the negative RDT results when treating fever cases. Almost all (94.7%) the volunteers felt that they were satisfied with the spiritual outcome of their new tasks. As well, volunteers have initiated advocacy campaigns supported by their village health committees which were found to have a positive role to play in the project that proved their acceptability of the HMM design. The planned system for supply was found to be effective. The project was found to improve the accessibility to ACTs from 25% to 64.7% and the treatment seeking behaviour from 83.3% to 100% before- and after the HMM implementation respectivly.
Conclusion
The evaluation of the project identified the feasibility of the planned model in Sudan's condition. Moreover, the communities as well as the volunteers found to be satisfied with and supportive to the system and the outcome. The problem of treating other febrile cases when diagnosis is not malaria and other non-fever cases needs to be addressed as well.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-8-39
PMCID: PMC2660358  PMID: 19272157

Results 1-25 (935422)