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1.  How countries cope with competing demands and expectations: perspectives of different stakeholders on priority setting and resource allocation for health in the era of HIV and AIDS 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1071.
Health systems have experienced unprecedented stress in recent years, and as yet no consensus has emerged as to how to deal with the multiple burden of disease in the context of HIV and AIDS and other competing health priorities. Priority setting is essential, yet this is a complex, multifaceted process. Drawing on a study conducted in five African countries, this paper explores different stakeholders′ perceptions of health priorities, how priorities are defined in practice, the process of resource allocation for HIV and Health and how different stakeholders perceive this.
A sub-analysis was conducted of selected data from a wider qualitative study that explored the interactions between health systems and HIV and AIDS responses in five sub-Saharan countries (Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Madagascar and Malawi). Key background documents were analysed and semi-structured interviews (n = 258) and focus group discussions (n = 45) were held with representatives of communities, health personnel, decision makers, civil society representatives and development partners at both national and district level.
Health priorities were expressed either in terms of specific health problems and diseases or gaps in service delivery requiring a strengthening of the overall health system. In all five countries study respondents (with the exception of community members in Ghana) identified malaria and HIV as the two top health priorities. Community representatives were more likely to report concerns about accessibility of services and quality of care. National level respondents often referred to wider systemic challenges in relation to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Indeed, actual priority setting was heavily influenced by international agendas (e.g. MDGs) and by the ways in which development partners were supporting national strategic planning processes. At the same time, multi-stakeholder processes were increasingly used to identify priorities and inform sector-wide planning, whereby health service statistics were used to rank the burden of disease. However, many respondents remarked that health system challenges are not captured by such statistics.
In all countries funding for health was reported to fall short of requirements and a need for further priority setting to match actual resource availability was identified. Pooled health sector funds have been established to some extent, but development partners′ lack of flexibility in the allocation of funds according to country-generated priorities was identified as a major constraint.
Although we found consensus on health priorities across all levels in the study countries, current funding falls short of addressing these identified areas. The nature of external funding, as well as programme-specific investment, was found to distort priority setting. There are signs that existing interventions have had limited effects beyond meeting the needs of disease-specific programmes. A need for more comprehensive health system strengthening (HSS) was identified, which requires a strong vision as to what the term means, coupled with a clear strategy and commitment from national and international decision makers in order to achieve stated goals. Prospective studies and action research, accompanied by pilot programmes, are recommended as deliberate strategies for HSS.
PMCID: PMC3549279  PMID: 23231820
HIV and AIDS; Health systems strengthening; Priority setting; Needs and priorities; Sector-wide approaches; Sub-Saharan Africa
2.  The challenges of developing an instrument to assess health provider motivation at primary care level in rural Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania 
Global Health Action  2012;5:10.3402/gha.v5i0.19120.
The quality of health care depends on the competence and motivation of the health workers that provide it. In the West, several tools exist to measure worker motivation, and some have been applied to the health sector. However, none have been validated for use in sub-Saharan Africa. The complexity of such tools has also led to concerns about their application at primary care level.
To develop a common instrument to monitor any changes in maternal and neonatal health (MNH) care provider motivation resulting from the introduction of pilot interventions in rural, primary level facilities in Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Tanzania.
Initially, a conceptual framework was developed. Based upon this, a literature review and preliminary qualitative research, an English-language instrument was developed and validated in an iterative process with experts from the three countries involved. The instrument was then piloted in Ghana. Reliability testing and exploratory factor analysis were used to produce a final, parsimonious version.
Results and discussion
This paper describes the actual process of developing the instrument. Consequently, the concepts and items that did not perform well psychometrically at pre-test are first presented and discussed. The final version of the instrument, which comprises 42 items for self-assessment and eight for peer-assessment, is then shown. This is followed by a presentation and discussion of the findings from first use of the instrument with MNH providers from 12 rural, primary level facilities in each of the three countries.
It is possible to undertake work of this nature at primary health care level, particularly if the instruments are kept as straightforward as possible and well introduced. However, their development requires very lengthy preparatory periods. The effort needed to adapt such instruments for use in different countries within the region of sub-Saharan Africa should not be underestimated.
PMCID: PMC3464065  PMID: 23043816
health personnel; motivation; performance; maternal–neonatal health services; developing countries
3.  Mapping the Risk of Anaemia in Preschool-Age Children: The Contribution of Malnutrition, Malaria, and Helminth Infections in West Africa 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(6):e1000438.
Ricardo Soares Magalhães and colleagues used national cross-sectional household-based demographic health surveys to map the distribution of anemia risk in preschool children in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Mali.
Childhood anaemia is considered a severe public health problem in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa. We investigated the geographical distribution of prevalence of anaemia and mean haemoglobin concentration (Hb) in children aged 1–4 y (preschool children) in West Africa. The aim was to estimate the geographical risk profile of anaemia accounting for malnutrition, malaria, and helminth infections, the risk of anaemia attributable to these factors, and the number of anaemia cases in preschool children for 2011.
Methods and Findings
National cross-sectional household-based demographic health surveys were conducted in 7,147 children aged 1–4 y in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Mali in 2003–2006. Bayesian geostatistical models were developed to predict the geographical distribution of mean Hb and anaemia risk, adjusting for the nutritional status of preschool children, the location of their residence, predicted Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate in the 2- to 10-y age group (Pf PR2–10), and predicted prevalence of Schistosoma haematobium and hookworm infections. In the four countries, prevalence of mild, moderate, and severe anaemia was 21%, 66%, and 13% in Burkina Faso; 28%, 65%, and 7% in Ghana, and 26%, 62%, and 12% in Mali. The mean Hb was lowest in Burkina Faso (89 g/l), in males (93 g/l), and for children 1–2 y (88 g/l). In West Africa, severe malnutrition, Pf PR2–10, and biological synergisms between S. haematobium and hookworm infections were significantly associated with anaemia risk; an estimated 36.8%, 14.9%, 3.7%, 4.2%, and 0.9% of anaemia cases could be averted by treating malnutrition, malaria, S. haematobium infections, hookworm infections, and S. haematobium/hookworm coinfections, respectively. A large spatial cluster of low mean Hb (<80 g/l) and maximal risk of anaemia (>95%) was predicted for an area shared by Burkina Faso and Mali. We estimate that in 2011, approximately 6.7 million children aged 1–4 y are anaemic in the three study countries.
By mapping the distribution of anaemia risk in preschool children adjusted for malnutrition and parasitic infections, we provide a means to identify the geographical limits of anaemia burden and the contribution that malnutrition and parasites make to anaemia. Spatial targeting of ancillary micronutrient supplementation and control of other anaemia causes, such as malaria and helminth infection, can contribute to efficiently reducing the burden of anaemia in preschool children in Africa.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Global estimates for the time period 1993–2005 suggest that that worldwide, nearly 300 million children had anemia, that is, hemoglobin levels less than 110 g/l. In sub-Saharan Africa, two-thirds of all children were anemic, representing 83.5 million children. These statistics are important because anemia in infancy and childhood is associated with poor cognitive development, reduced growth, problems with immune function—and ultimately, decreased survival. Malnutrition (including micronutrient deficiency, especially of iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate), undernutrition, and infectious diseases, particularly HIV, malaria, and helminth infections (caused by hookworm and Schistosoma haematobium—which causes urinary schistosomiasis), are major causes of anemia in children. Although iron supplementation can often correct anemia, in some circumstances, iron deficiency can protect against common infectious agents, and giving iron can, on occasion, increase the severity of infectious disease in some children. Focusing on the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases that cause anemia is therefore an important alternative strategy in the treatment of anemia.
Why Was This Study Done?
Control tools for targeting interventions for malaria and helminth infection in sub-Saharan Africa include modern spatial risk prediction methods that combine statistical models with geographical information systems (similar to those used in car navigation systems). However, to date no studies have used these tools to spatially predict the risk of anemia. Furthermore, the contribution that malnutrition and infections make to the overall anemia burden in Africa is largely unknown. In this study the researchers used these tools to predict the prevalence of anemia in three West African countries and to estimate the attributable risk of anemia due to malnutrition, malaria, and helminth infections.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used geographically linked data from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) in Burkina Faso (2003), Ghana (2003), and Mali (2006), which included capillary blood sampling and testing and detailed anthropometric (height and weight) measurements. A total of 7,147 children aged 1–4 years (3,477 girls and 3,670 boys) in the three countries were included in the analysis. The researchers mapped DHS survey locations in the three study countries using DHS cluster coordinates in a geographic information system. Using data from the Malaria Atlas Project, the researchers extracted spatially predicted values of Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate for each DHS cluster using a geographical information system and used previously reported parasitological survey data of hookworm and S. haematobium infections to predict helminth infection risk across the region. Then the researchers developed spatial prediction models using Bayesian statistics to estimate of the population attributable fraction for specific predictors for anemia. Data from the DHS showed that the prevalence of mild, moderate, and severe anemia was 21%, 66%, and 13% in Burkina Faso; 28%, 65%, and 7% in Ghana, and 26%, 62%, and 12% in Mali. The prevalence of stunting, wasting, and being underweight in the study area was 87.8%, 89.7%, and 71.2%, respectively, and the mean P. falciparum parasite rate, and rates of S. haematobium infection, hookworm infection, and S. haematobium/hookworm coinfection for the study area were 52.0%, 26.8%, 8.2%, and 3.6%, respectively. The overall results indicate that in the three countries, approximately 6.7 million children aged 1–4 years have anemia. Severe malnutrition, P. falciparum infection, hookworm infection, S. haematobium infection, and hookworm/S. haematobium coinfection were responsible for an estimated 2.5 million, 1.0 million, 250,000, 285,000, and 61,000 anemia cases, respectively. Central Burkina Faso and southern Ghana had the highest number of anemic children.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results add insight and detail to anemia prevalence and anemia severity within different geographical areas in three West African countries. The combination of anemia and mean hemoglobin predictive maps identifies communities in West Africa where preschool-age children are at increased risk of morbidity. The use of anemia maps has important practical implications for targeted control in these countries, such as guiding the efficient allocation of nutrient supplements and fortified foods, and enabling risk assessment of anemia due to different causes, which would in turn constitute an evidence base to calculate the best balance between interventions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Abdisalan Noor
The WHO Web site has comprehensive information on the worldwide prevalence of anemia
More information on Demographic Health Surveys is available
More information on global predictions of malaria is available
PMCID: PMC3110251  PMID: 21687688
4.  Quality of Antenatal Care and Obstetrical Coverage in Rural Burkina Faso 
Improving maternal health is one of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. Despite the efforts to promote maternal and neonatal care to achieve this goal, the use of delivery care remains below expectations in Burkina Faso. This situation raises the question of the quality of care offered in maternity wards. The aim of this study was to identify primary healthcare facility and antenatal care characteristics predictive of an assisted delivery in rural Burkina Faso. A cross-sectional study was carried out in Gnagna province (North-East Burkina Faso) in November 2003. The operational capacities of health facilities were assessed, and a non-participating observation of the antenatal care (ANC) procedure was undertaken to evaluate their quality. Scores were established to summarize the information gathered. The rate of professional childbirth (obstetrical coverage) was derived from the number of childbirths registered in the health facility compared to the size of the population. The established scores were related to the obstetrical coverage using non-parametric tests (Kendall). In total, 17 health facilities were visited, and 81 antenatal consultations were observed. Insufficiencies were observed at all steps of ANC (mean total score for the quality of ANC=10.3±3.0, ranging from 6 to 16, out of a maximum of 20). Health facilities are poorly equipped, and the availability of qualified staff remained low (mean total score for the provision of care was 22.9±4.2, ranging from 14 to 33). However, these scores were not significantly related to the rate of professional childbirth (tau Kendall=0.27: p=0.14 and 0.01, p=0.93 respectively). The ability of the primary health centres to provide good antenatal care remains low in rural Burkina Faso. The key factors involved in the limited use of professional childbirth relating to maternal health services may be the quality of ANC.
PMCID: PMC2975848  PMID: 20214088
Antenatal care; Cross-sectional studies; Deliveries; Developing countries; Maternal health services; Obstetric care; Quality of care; Burkina Faso; Africa
5.  Barriers to antenatal syphilis screening in Burkina Faso 
The Pan African Medical Journal  2014;17(Suppl 1):12.
Despite advances in treatment and management, syphilis remains a major public health problem in Burkina Faso. Syphilis in pregnancy poses major health risks for the mother and the fetus and also increases the risk for HIV transmission. Despite its potential benefits, antenatal syphilis screening is often poorly implemented in many sub-Saharan African countries. The purpose of the study is to identify and understand barriers affecting health system performance for syphilis screening among pregnant women in Burkina Faso.
We conducted in-depth interviews and observations in the Kaya health district, Burkina Faso. Participants were purposively selected to capture a range of perspectives across different actors with different roles and responsibilities. Seventy-five interviews were conducted with health providers, district managers, facility managers, traditional healers, pregnant women, community health workers, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) managers. Interviews were transcribed and organized into codes and categories using NVivo software.
Participants identified multiple barriers at health providers and community levels. Key barriers at provider level included fragmentation of services, poor communication, low motivation for prescription, and low awareness of syphilis burden. Cost of testing, distance to laboratory and lack of knowledge about syphilis were identified as barriers at community level.
The study highlights barriers such as distance, cost of testing, and knowledge about syphilis. The introduction of point of care testing for syphilis could be an entry point for improving coverage of antenatal syphilis screening.
PMCID: PMC3946229  PMID: 24624245
Screening; syphilis; barriers; antenatal; Burkina Faso
6.  Malaria and anemia prevention in pregnant women of rural Burkina Faso 
Pregnant women are a major risk group for malaria in endemic areas. Only little information exists on the compliance of pregnant women with malaria and anaemia preventive drug regimens in the rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In this study, we collected information on malaria and anaemia prevention behaviour in pregnant women of rural Burkina Faso.
Cross-sectional qualitative and quantitative survey among 225 women of eight villages in rural northwestern Burkina Faso. Four of the villages had a health centre offering antenatal care (ANC) services while the other four were more than five kilometers away from a health centre.
Overall ANC coverage (at least one visit) was 71% (95% in health centre villages vs 50% in remote villages). Malaria and anaemia were considered as the biggest problems during pregnancy in this community. ANC using women were quite satisfied with the quality of services, and compliance with malaria and anaemia prevention regimens (chloroquine and iron/folic acid) was high in this population. Knowledge on the benefit of bed nets and good nutrition was less prominent. Distance, lack of money and ignorance were the main reasons for women to not attend ANC services.
There is an urgent need to improve access of rural SSA women to ANC services, either through increasing the number of rural health centres or establishing functioning outreach services. Moreover, alternative malaria and anaemia prevention programmes such as intermittent preventive treatment with effective antimalarials and the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets need to become implemented on a large scale.
PMCID: PMC516443  PMID: 15333138
7.  Firm-Level Perspectives on Public Sector Engagement with Private Healthcare Providers: Survey Evidence from Ghana and Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27194.
Health systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are in urgent need of improvement. The private health sector is a major provider of care in the region and it will remain a significant actor in the future. Any efforts by SSA governments to improve health systems performance therefore has to account for the private health sector. Regional and international actors increasingly recognize importance of effectively engaging with the private health sector, and initiatives to improve engagement are underway in several countries. However, there is little systematic analysis of private health providers' view and experience with engagement.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study we surveyed private health facilities in Kenya and Ghana to understand the extent to which and how governments interact and engage with these facilities. The results suggest that government engagement with private health facilities is quite limited. The primary focus of this engagement is “command-and-control” type regulations to improve the quality of care. There is little attention paid to building the capacity of health care businesses through either technical or financial assistance. The vast majority of these facilities also receive no government assistance in meeting public health and social goals. Finally, government engagement with private pharmacies is often neglected and clinics receive a disproportionate share of government assistance.
Overall, our findings suggest that there may be considerable untapped potential for greater engagement with private health facilities—particularly pharmacies. Improving engagement will likely help governments with limited resources to better take advantage of the private sector capacity to meet access and equity objectives and to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
PMCID: PMC3223165  PMID: 22132092
8.  Informal support to first-parents after childbirth: a qualitative study in low-income suburbs of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 
In Tanzania, and many sub-Saharan African countries, postpartum health programs have received less attention compared to other maternity care programs and therefore new parents rely on informal support. Knowledge on how informal support is understood by its stakeholders to be able to improve the health in families after childbirth is required. This study aimed to explore discourses on health related informal support to first-time parents after childbirth in low-income suburbs of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Thirteen focus group discussions with first-time parents and female and male informal supporters were analysed by discourse analysis.
The dominant discourse was that after childbirth a first time mother needed and should be provided with support for care of the infant, herself and the household work by the maternal or paternal mother or other close and extended family members. In their absence, neighbours and friends were described as reconstructing informal support. Informal support was provided conditionally, where poor socio-economic status and non-adherence to social norms risked poor support. Support to new fathers was constructed as less prominent, provided mainly by older men and focused on economy and sexual matters. The discourse conveyed stereotypic gender roles with women described as family caretakers and men as final decision-makers and financial providers. The informal supporters regulated the first-time parents' contacts with other sources of support.
Strong and authoritative informal support networks appear to persist. However, poverty and non-adherence to social norms was understood as resulting in less support. Family health in this context would be improved by capitalising on existing informal support networks while discouraging norms promoting harmful practices and attending to the poorest. Upholding stereotypic notions of femininity and masculinity implies great burden of care for the women and delimited male involvement. Men's involvement in reproductive and child health programmes has the potential for improving family health after childbirth. The discourses conveyed contradicting messages that may be a source of worry and confusion for the new parents. Recognition, respect and raising awareness for different social actors' competencies and limitations can potentially create a health-promoting environment among families after childbirth.
PMCID: PMC3252242  PMID: 22126899
9.  Maternal and perinatal guideline development in hospitals in South East Asia: results from the SEA-ORCHID project 
Recognising the potential of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) to improve practice, one of the strategies of the SEA-ORCHID project was to facilitate the development of evidence-based CPGs, and to support clinical staff in each of the four countries to build their skills in development of CPGs in the nine participating hospitals in Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia. This study was undertaken to investigate the impact of the SEA-ORCHID project on development of evidence-based CPGs.
Data on the CPGs available to support maternal and perinatal healthcare were collected by SEA-ORCHID team members at each hospital before and after the intervention period of the project.
There were only a few evidence-based CPGs available in the SEA-ORCHID hospitals before the intervention period. After the intervention period, in the SEA-ORCHID hospitals in Malaysia and Indonesia there was no change in evidence-based CPG development activity in maternal and perinatal care. In Thailand and The Philippines there was a small increase in evidence-based CPG development activity in maternal and perinatal care.
Despite the wide range of interventions to support evidence-based CPG development implemented in the hospitals participating in the SEA-ORCHID, very little change was seen in the development of evidence-based CPGs.
PMCID: PMC2683834  PMID: 19422715
10.  User fee exemptions and excessive household spending for normal delivery in Burkina Faso: the need for careful implementation 
In 2006, the Parliament of Burkina Faso passed a policy to reduce the direct costs of obstetric services and neonatal care in the country’s health centres, aiming to lower the country’s high national maternal mortality and morbidity rates. Implementation was via a “partial exemption” covering 80% of the costs. In 2008 the German NGO HELP launched a pilot project in two health districts to eliminate the remaining 20% of user fees. Regardless of any exemptions, women giving birth in Burkina Faso’s health centres face additional expenses that often represent an additional barrier to accessing health services. We compared the total cost of giving birth in health centres offering partial exemption versus those with full exemption to assess the impact on additional out-of-pocket fees.
A case–control study was performed to compare medical expenses. Case subjects were women who gave birth in 12 health centres located in the Dori and Sebba districts, where HELP provided full fee exemption for obstetric services and neonatal care. Controls were from six health centres in the neighbouring Djibo district where a partial fee exemption was in place. A random sample of approximately 50 women per health centre was selected for a total of 870 women.
There was an implementation gap regarding the full exemption for obstetric services and neonatal care. Only 1.1% of the sample from Sebba but 17.5% of the group from Dori had excessive spending on birth related costs, indicating that women who delivered in Sebba were much less exposed to excessive medical expenses than women from Dori. Additional out-of-pocket fees in the full exemption health districts took into account household ability to pay, with poorer women generally paying less.
We found that the elimination of fees for facility-based births benefits especially the poorest households. The existence of excessive spending related to direct costs of giving birth is of concern, making it urgent for the government to remove all direct fees for obstetric and neonatal care. However, the policy of completely abolishing user fees is insufficient; the implementation process must have a thorough monitoring system to reduce implementation gaps.
PMCID: PMC3512510  PMID: 23171417
11.  An implementation evaluation of a policy aiming to improve financial access to maternal health care in Djibo district, Burkina Faso 
To bring down its high maternal mortality ratio, Burkina Faso adopted a national health policy in 2007 that designed to boost the assisted delivery rate and improving quality of emergency obstetrical and neonatal care. The cost of transportation from health centres to district hospitals is paid by the policy. The worst-off are exempted from all fees.
The objectives of this paper are to analyze perceptions of this policy by health workers, assess how this health policy was implemented at the district level, identify difficulties faced during implementation, and highlight interactional factors that have an influence on the implementation process. A multiple site case study was conducted at 6 health centres in the district of Djibo in Burkina Faso. The following sources of data were used: 1) district documents (n = 23); 2) key interviews with district health managers (n = 10), health workers (n = 16), traditional birth attendants (n = 7), and community management committees (n = 11); 3) non-participant observations in health centres; 4) focus groups in communities (n = 62); 5) a feedback session on the findings with 20 health staff members.
All the activities were implemented as planned except for completely subsidizing the worst-off, and some activities such as surveys for patients and the quality assurance service team aiming to improve quality of care. District health managers and health workers perceived difficulties in implementing this policy because of the lack of clarity on some topics in the guidelines. Entering the data into an electronic database and the long delay in reimbursing transportation costs were the principal challenges perceived by implementers. Interactional factors such as relations between providers and patients and between health workers and communities were raised. These factors have an influence on the implementation process. Strained relations between the groups involved may reduce the effectiveness of the policy.
Implementation analysis in the context of improving financial access to health care in African countries is still scarce, especially at the micro level. The strained relations of the providers with patients and the communities may have an influence on the implementation process and on the effects of this health policy. Therefore, power relations between actors of the health system and the community should be taken into consideration. More studies are needed to better understand the influence of power relations on the implementation process in low-income countries.
PMCID: PMC3538061  PMID: 23216874
Implementation; Evaluation; Health policy; Micro interaction; Burkina Faso
12.  Out-of-pocket costs for facility-based maternity care in three African countries 
Health Policy and Planning  2009;24(4):289-300.
Objective To estimate out-of-pocket medical expenses to women and families for maternity care at all levels of the health system in Burkina Faso, Kenya and Tanzania.
Methods In a population-based survey in 2003, 6345 women who had given birth in the previous 24 months were interviewed about the costs incurred during childbirth. Three years later, in 2006, an additional 8302 women with recent deliveries were interviewed in the same districts to explore their maternity care-seeking experiences and associated costs.
Findings The majority of women interviewed reported paying out-of-pocket costs for facility-based deliveries. Out-of-pocket costs were highest in Kenya (a mean of US$18.4 for normal and complicated deliveries), where 98% of women who delivered in a health facility had to pay some fees. In Burkina Faso, 92% of women reported paying some fees (mean of US$7.9). Costs were lowest in Tanzania, where 91% of women reported paying some fees (mean of US$5.1). In all three countries, women in the poorest wealth quintile did not pay significantly less for maternity costs than the wealthiest women. Costs for complicated delivery were double those for normal delivery in Burkina Faso and Kenya, and represented more than 16% of mean monthly household income in Burkina Faso, and 35% in Kenya. In Tanzania and Burkina Faso most institutional births were at mid-level government health facilities (health centres or dispensaries). In contrast, in Kenya, 42% of births were at government hospitals, and 28% were at private or mission facilities, contributing to the overall higher costs in this country compared with Burkina Faso and Tanzania. However, among women delivering in government health facilities in Kenya, reported out-of-pocket costs were significantly lower in 2006 than in 2003, indicating that a 2004 national policy eliminating user fees at mid- and lower-level government health facilities was having some impact.
PMCID: PMC2699243  PMID: 19346273
Maternal health care; costs; Kenya; Tanzania; Burkina Faso
13.  LiST as a catalyst in program planning: experiences from Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi 
International Journal of Epidemiology  2010;39(Suppl 1):i40-i47.
Background African countries are working to achieve rapid reductions in maternal and child mortality and meet their targets for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Partners in the Catalytic Initiative to Save One Million Lives (CI) are assisting them by providing funding and technical assistance to increase and accelerate coverage for proven interventions. Here we describe how the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) was used as part of an early assessment of the expected impact of CI plans in Malawi, Burkina Faso and Ghana.
Methods LiST builds on country-specific demographic and cause-of-death profiles, and models the effect of changes in coverage for proven interventions on future levels of mortality among children less than 5 years of age. We worked with representatives of Ministries of Health and their development partners to apply LiST to assess the potential impact of CI plans and coverage targets, generating a short list of the highest-priority interventions for additional scale-up to achieve rapid reductions in under-5 mortality.
Results The results show that in each country, achieving national coverage targets for just four or five high-impact interventions could reduce under-5 mortality by at least 20% by 2011, relative to 2006 levels. Even greater gains could be obtained in Burkina Faso and Ghana by scaling up these high-impact interventions to 80%.
Discussion LiST can contribute to the development of stronger programmes by identifying the highest-impact interventions in a given epidemiological setting. The quality of LiST estimates is dependent on the available data on coverage levels and causes of death, and assumes that the target levels of coverage are feasible in a given context while maintaining service quality. Further experience is needed in the feasibility and usefulness of LiST as part of the program planning process at district and subdistrict levels.
PMCID: PMC2845859  PMID: 20348125
Child survival; child mortality; millennium development goals; coverage; community case management; effectiveness evaluation
14.  Maternal and perinatal guideline development in hospitals in South East Asia: the experience of the SEA-ORCHID project 
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) are commonly used to support practitioners to improve practice. However many studies have raised concerns about guideline quality. The reasons why guidelines are not developed following the established development methods are not clear.
The SEA-ORCHID project aims to increase the generation and use of locally relevant research and improve clinical practice in maternal and perinatal care in four countries in South East Asia. Baseline data highlighted that development of evidence-based CPGs according to recommended processes was very rare in the SEA-ORCHID hospitals. The project investigators suggested that there were aspects of the recommended development process that made it very difficult in the participating hospitals.
We therefore aimed to explore the experience of guideline development and particularly the enablers of and barriers to developing evidence-based guidelines in the nine hospitals in South East Asia participating in the SEA-ORCHID project, so as to better understand how evidence-based guideline development could be facilitated in these settings.
Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were undertaken with senior and junior healthcare providers (nurses, midwives, doctors) from the maternal and neonatal services at each of the nine participating hospitals. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and a thematic analysis undertaken.
Seventy-five individual, 25 pair and eleven group interviews were conducted. Participants clearly valued evidence-based guidelines. However they also identified several major barriers to guideline development including time, lack of awareness of process, difficulties searching for evidence and arranging guideline development group meetings, issues with achieving multi-disciplinarity and consumer involvement. They also highlighted the central importance of keeping guidelines up-to-date.
Healthcare providers in the SEA-ORCHID hospitals face a series of barriers to developing evidence-based guidelines. At present, in many hospitals, several of these barriers are insurmountable, and as a result, rigorous, evidence-based guidelines are not being developed. Given the acknowledged benefits of evidence-based guidelines, perhaps a new approach to supporting their development in these contexts is needed.
PMCID: PMC2683833  PMID: 19422716
15.  Women's views on consent, counseling and confidentiality in PMTCT: a mixed-methods study in four African countries 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:26.
Ambitious UN goals to reduce the mother-to-child transmission of HIV have not been met in much of Sub-Saharan Africa. This paper focuses on the quality of information provision and counseling and disclosure patterns in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda to identify how services can be improved to enable better PMTCT outcomes.
Our mixed-methods study draws on data obtained through: (1) the MATCH (Multi-country African Testing and Counseling for HIV) study's main survey, conducted in 2008-09 among clients (N = 408) and providers at health facilities offering HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC) services; 2) semi-structured interviews with a sub-set of 63 HIV-positive women on their experiences of stigma, disclosure, post-test counseling and access to follow-up psycho-social support; (3) in-depth interviews with key informants and PMTCT healthcare workers; and (4) document study of national PMTCT policies and guidelines. We quantitatively examined differences in the quality of counseling by country and by HIV status using Fisher's exact tests.
The majority of pregnant women attending antenatal care (80-90%) report that they were explained the meaning of the tests, explained how HIV can be transmitted, given advice on prevention, encouraged to refer their partners for testing, and given time to ask questions. Our qualitative findings reveal that some women found testing regimes to be coercive, while disclosure remains highly problematic. 79% of HIV-positive pregnant women reported that they generally keep their status secret; only 37% had disclosed to their husband.
To achieve better PMTCT outcomes, the strategy of testing women in antenatal care (perceived as an exclusively female domain) when they are already pregnant needs to be rethought. When scaling up HIV testing programs, it is particularly important that issues of partner disclosure are taken seriously.
PMCID: PMC3295711  PMID: 22236097
PMTCT; Africa; HIV testing; Counseling; Consent; Disclosure
16.  No Evidence of Association between HIV-1 and Malaria in Populations with Low HIV-1 Prevalence 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23458.
The geographic overlap between HIV-1 and malaria has generated much interest in their potential interactions. A variety of studies have evidenced a complex HIV-malaria interaction within individuals and populations that may have dramatic effects, but the causes and implications of this co-infection at the population level are still unclear. In a previous publication, we showed that the prevalence of malaria caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum is associated with HIV infection in eastern sub-Saharan Africa. To complement our knowledge of the HIV-malaria co-infection, the objective of this work was to assess the relationship between malaria and HIV prevalence in the western region of sub-Saharan Africa.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Population-based cross-sectional data were obtained from the HIV/AIDS Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Liberia and Cameroon, and the malaria atlas project. Using generalized linear mixed models, we assessed the relationship between HIV-1 and Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate (PfPR) adjusting for important socio-economic and biological cofactors. We found no evidence that individuals living in areas with stable malaria transmission (PfPR>0.46) have higher odds of being HIV-positive than individuals who live in areas with PfPR≤0.46 in western sub-Saharan Africa (estimated odds ratio 1.14, 95% confidence interval 0.86–1.50). In contrast, the results suggested that PfPR was associated with being infected with HIV in Cameroon (estimated odds ratio 1.56, 95% confidence interval 1.23–2.00).
Contrary to our previous research on eastern sub-Saharan Africa, this study did not identify an association between PfPR and infection with HIV in western sub-Saharan Africa, which suggests that malaria might not play an important role in the spread of HIV in populations where the HIV prevalence is low. Our work highlights the importance of understanding the epidemiologic effect of co-infection and the relevant factors involved in this relationship for the implementation of effective control strategies.
PMCID: PMC3155564  PMID: 21858127
17.  Potential Risk of Regional Disease Spread in West Africa through Cross-Border Cattle Trade 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75570.
Transboundary animal movements facilitate the spread of pathogens across large distances. Cross-border cattle trade is of economic and cultural importance in West Africa. This study explores the potential disease risk resulting from large-scale, cross-border cattle trade between Togo, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, and Nigeria for the first time.
Methods and Principal Findings
A questionnaire-based survey of livestock movements of 226 cattle traders was conducted in the 9 biggest cattle markets of northern Togo in February-March 2012. More than half of the traders (53.5%) operated in at least one other country. Animal flows were stochastically simulated based on reported movements and the risk of regional disease spread assessed. More than three quarters (79.2%, range: 78.1–80.0%) of cattle flowing into the market system originated from other countries. Through the cattle market system of northern Togo, non-neighbouring countries were connected via potential routes for disease spread. Even for diseases with low transmissibility and low prevalence in a given country, there was a high risk of disease introduction into other countries.
By stochastically simulating data collected by interviewing cattle traders in northern Togo, this study identifies potential risks for regional disease spread in West Africa through cross-border cattle trade. The findings highlight that surveillance for emerging infectious diseases as well as control activities targeting endemic diseases in West Africa are likely to be ineffective if only conducted at a national level. A regional approach to disease surveillance, prevention and control is essential.
PMCID: PMC3794041  PMID: 24130721
18.  Production and quality of clinical practice guidelines in Argentina (1994–2004): a cross-sectional study 
In the last decades, a sustained increment of Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) production in the world has been accompanied by a growing concern about their quality. Many studies related to quality assessment of guidelines produced in High Income Countries were published; however, evidence on this topic is scarce in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC). The objectives of this research were: a) to describe guideline production in Argentina at different levels of the health system (macro, meso and micro) from 1994 to 2004; and b) to assess their quality by using the AGREE instrument.
A cross-sectional study was undertaken to describe guidelines production in Argentina between 1994 and 2004. CPG were identified through Internet and electronic databases (MEDLINE and LILACS). Explicit inclusion and exclusion criteria were used to select guidelines. Each CPG was independently assessed by two reviewers using the AGREE instrument. Domain scores were calculated as recommended by the AGREE Collaboration. The internal consistency of each domain was evaluated using Cronbach's alpha and inter-observer agreement by the Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC).
A total amount of 431 potential CPG were identified, but only 144 were considered CPG. At the end, 101 CPG were included for further assessment. Median standardized score for each domain were: scope = 39%; stakeholder involvement = 13%; rigour of development = 10%; clarity = 42%; applicability = 6%; editorial independence = 0%. Only 22 CPG were recommended with modifications by both appraisers. ICC and Cronbach's alpha for each domain were in all cases moderate or high (greater than 0.40), except for editorial independence.
This study has systematically employed the AGREE instrument for the critical assessment of guidelines produced in a LMIC. Guideline development and diffusion in Argentina from 1994 to 2004 shows a constant increment, although quality of reporting did not improve; moreover, in some aspects it seemed to decline. Much room for improvement of the guideline development process was found at all levels of the health system.
PMCID: PMC2572637  PMID: 18851739
19.  Falciparum malaria in young children of rural Burkina Faso: comparison of survey data in 1999 with 2009 
Malaria Journal  2011;10:296.
Roll Back Malaria (RBM) interventions such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITN) and artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) have become implemented with different velocities in the endemic countries of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in recent years. There is conflicting evidence on how much can be achieved under real life conditions with the current interventions in the highly endemic savannah areas of SSA.
The study took place in a rural area of north-western Burkina Faso, which was defined as holoendemic in 1999. Clinical and parasitological data were compared in two cohorts of young children of the same age range from eight villages. Surveys took place in June and December of the year 1999 and 2009 respectively.
Prevalence of mosquito net use increased from 22% in 1999 to 73% in 2009, with the majority of nets being ITNs in 2009. In 2009, P. falciparum prevalence was significantly lower compared to 1999 (overall reduction of 22.8%).
The reduction in malaria prevalence in young children observed between 1999 and 2009 in a rural and formerly malaria holoendemic area of Burkina Faso is likely attributable to the increase in ITN availability and utilization over time.
PMCID: PMC3200185  PMID: 21989335
20.  Applying the Net-Benefit Framework for Analyzing and Presenting Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of a Maternal and Newborn Health Intervention 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40995.
Coverage of maternal and newborn health (MNH) interventions is often influenced by important determinants and decision makers are often concerned with equity issues. The net-benefit framework developed and applied alongside clinical trials and in pharmacoeconomics offers the potential for exploring how cost-effectiveness of MNH interventions varies at the margin by important covariates as well as for handling uncertainties around the ICER estimate.
We applied the net-benefit framework to analyze cost-effectiveness of the Skilled Care Initiative and assessed relative advantages over a standard computation of incremental cost effectiveness ratios.
Household and facility surveys were carried out from January to July 2006 in Ouargaye district (where the Skilled Care Initiative was implemented) and Diapaga (comparison site) district in Burkina Faso. Pregnancy-related and perinatal mortality were retrospectively assessed and data were collected on place of delivery, education, asset ownership, place, and distance to health facilities, costs borne by households for institutional delivery, and cost of standard provision of maternal care. Descriptive and regression analyses were performed.
There was a 30% increase in institutional births in the intervention district compared to 10% increase in comparison district, and a significant reduction of perinatal mortality rates (OR 0.75, CI 0.70−0.80) in intervention district. The incremental cost for achieving one additional institutional delivery in Ouargaye district compared to Diapaga district was estimated to be 170 international dollars and varied significantly by covariates. However, the joint probability distribution (net-benefit framework) of the effectiveness measure (institutional delivery), the cost data and covariates indicated distance to health facilities as the single most important determinant of the cost-effectiveness analysis with implications for policy making.
The net-benefit framework, the application of which requires household-level effects and cost data, has proven more insightful (than traditional ICER) in presenting and interpreting cost-effectiveness results of the Skilled Care Initiative.
PMCID: PMC3400570  PMID: 22829906
21.  Development of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs): comparing approaches 
While the potential of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) to support implementation of evidence has been demonstrated, it is not currently being achieved. CPGs are both poorly developed and ineffectively implemented. To improve clinical practice and health outcomes, both well-developed CPGs and effective methods of CPG implementation are needed. We sought to establish whether there is agreement on the fundamental characteristics of an evidence-based CPG development process and to explore whether the level of guidance provided in CPG development handbooks is sufficient for people using these handbooks to be able to apply it.
CPG development handbooks were identified through a broad search of published and grey literature. Documents published in English produced by national or international organisations purporting to support development of evidence-based CPGs were included. A list of 14 key elements of a CPG development process was developed. Two authors read each handbook. For each handbook a judgement was made as to how it addressed each element; assigned as: 'mentioned and clear guidance provided', 'mentioned but limited practical detail provided ', or 'not mentioned'.
Six CPG development handbooks were included. These were produced by the Council of Europe, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the UK, the New Zealand Guidelines Group, the Scottish Intercollegiate Guideline Network, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
There was strong concordance between the handbooks on the key elements of an evidence-based CPG development process. All six of the handbooks require and provide guidance on establishment of a multidisciplinary guideline development group, involvement of consumers, identification of clinical questions or problems, systematic searches for and appraisal of research evidence, a process for drafting recommendations, consultation with others beyond the guideline development group, and ongoing review and updating of the CPG.
The key elements of an evidence-based CPG development process are addressed with strong concordance by existing CPG development handbooks. Further research is required to determine why these key elements are often not addressed by CPG developers.
PMCID: PMC2584093  PMID: 18954465
22.  How Current Clinical Practice Guidelines for Low Back Pain Reflect Traditional Medicine in East Asian Countries: A Systematic Review of Clinical Practice Guidelines and Systematic Reviews 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88027.
The aims of this study were to investigate whether there is a gap between evidence of traditional medicine (TM) interventions in East-Asian countries from the current Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) and evidence from current systematic reviews and meta-analyses (SR-MAs) and to analyze the impact of this gap on present CPGs.
We examined 5 representative TM interventions in the health care systems of East-Asian countries. We searched seven relevant databases for CPGs to identify whether core CPGs included evidence of TM interventions, and we searched 11 databases for SR-MAs to re-evaluate current evidence on TM interventions. We then compared the gap between the evidence from CPGs and SR-MAs.
Thirteen CPGs and 22 SR-MAs met our inclusion criteria. Of the 13 CPGs, 7 CPGs (54%) mentioned TM interventions, and all were for acupuncture (only one was for both acupuncture and acupressure). However, the CPGs did not recommend acupuncture (or acupressure). Of 22 SR-MAs, 16 were for acupuncture, 5 for manual therapy, 1 for cupping, and none for moxibustion and herbal medicine. Comparing the evidence from CPGs and SR-MAs, an underestimation or omission of evidence for acupuncture, cupping, and manual therapy in current CPGs was detected. Thus, applying the results from the SR-MAs, we moderately recommend acupuncture for chronic LBP, but we inconclusively recommend acupuncture for (sub)acute LBP due to the limited current evidence. Furthermore, we weakly recommend cupping and manual therapy for both (sub)acute and chronic LBP. We cannot provide recommendations for moxibustion and herbal medicine due to a lack of evidence.
The current CPGs did not fully reflect the evidence for TM interventions. As relevant studies such as SR-MAs are conducted and evidence increases, the current evidence on acupuncture, cupping, and manual therapy should be rigorously considered in the process of developing or updating the CPG system.
PMCID: PMC3914865  PMID: 24505363
23.  Inclusion of Ethical Issues in Dementia Guidelines: A Thematic Text Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001498.
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) aim to improve professionalism in health care. However, current CPG development manuals fail to address how to include ethical issues in a systematic and transparent manner. The objective of this study was to assess the representation of ethical issues in general CPGs on dementia care.
Methods and Findings
To identify national CPGs on dementia care, five databases of guidelines were searched and national psychiatric associations were contacted in August 2011 and in June 2013. A framework for the assessment of the identified CPGs' ethical content was developed on the basis of a prior systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Thematic text analysis and a 4-point rating score were employed to assess how ethical issues were addressed in the identified CPGs. Twelve national CPGs were included. Thirty-one ethical issues in dementia care were identified by the prior systematic review. The proportion of these 31 ethical issues that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% to 77%, with a median of 49.5%. National guidelines differed substantially with respect to (a) which ethical issues were represented, (b) whether ethical recommendations were included, (c) whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and (d) to what extent the ethical issues were explained.
Ethical issues were inconsistently addressed in national dementia guidelines, with some guidelines including most and some including few ethical issues. Guidelines should address ethical issues and how to deal with them to help the medical profession understand how to approach care of patients with dementia, and for patients, their relatives, and the general public, all of whom might seek information and advice in national guidelines. There is a need for further research to specify how detailed ethical issues and their respective recommendations can and should be addressed in dementia guidelines.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
In the past, doctors tended to rely on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with dementia (a brain disorder that affects short-term memory and the ability tocarry out normal daily activities), for example, a doctor would use his/her own experience to help decide whether the patient should remain at home or would be better cared for in a nursing home. Similarly, the doctor might have to decide whether antipsychotic drugs might be necessary to reduce behavioral or psychological symptoms such as restlessness or shouting. However, over the past two decades, numerous evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations that aim to improve standards of clinical competence and professionalism in health care. During the development of each guideline, experts search the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluate the quality of that evidence, and then make recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, CPG development manuals do not address how to include ethical issues in CPGs. A health-care professional is ethical if he/she behaves in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the medical profession. More specifically, medical professionalism is based on a set of binding ethical principles—respect for patient autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance (the “do no harm” principle), and justice. In particular, CPG development manuals do not address disease-specific ethical issues (DSEIs), clinical ethical situations that are relevant to the management of a specific disease. So, for example, a DSEI that arises in dementia care is the conflict between the ethical principles of non-malfeasance and patient autonomy (freedom-to-move-at-will). Thus, healthcare professionals may have to decide to physically restrain a patient with dementia to prevent the patient doing harm to him- or herself or to someone else. Given the lack of guidance on how to address ethical issues in CPG development manuals, in this thematic text analysis, the researchers assess the representation of ethical issues in CPGs on general dementia care. Thematic text analysis uses a framework for the assessment of qualitative data (information that is word-based rather than number-based) that involves pinpointing, examining, and recording patterns (themes) among the available data.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 12 national CPGs on dementia care by searching guideline databases and by contacting national psychiatric associations. They developed a framework for the assessment of the ethical content in these CPGs based on a previous systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Of the 31 DSEIs included by the researchers in their analysis, the proportion that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% (Switzerland) to 77% (USA); on average the CPGs explicitly addressed half of the DSEIs. Four DSEIs—adequate consideration of advanced directives in decision making, usage of GPS and other monitoring techniques, covert medication, and dealing with suicidal thinking—were not addressed in at least 11 of the CPGs. The inclusion of recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs ranged from 10% of DSEIs covered in the Swiss CPG to 71% covered in the US CPG. Overall, national guidelines differed substantially with respect to which ethical issues were included, whether ethical recommendations were included, whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and to what extent the ethical issues were clearly explained.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that national CPGs on dementia care already address clinical ethical issues but that the extent to which the spectrum of DSEIs is considered varies widely within and between CPGs. They also indicate that recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs often lack the evidence that health-care professionals use to justify their clinical decisions. The researchers suggest that this situation can and should be improved, although more research is needed to determine how ethical issues and recommendations should be addressed in dementia guidelines. A more systematic and transparent inclusion of DSEIs in CPGs for dementia (and for other conditions) would further support the concept of medical professionalism as a core element of CPGs, note the researchers, but is also important for patients and their relatives who might turn to national CPGs for information and guidance at a stressful time of life.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia contains a page on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on national guidelines, including CPGs for dementia
The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
The American Medical Association provides information about medical ethics; the British Medical Association provides information on all aspects of ethics and includes an essential tool kit that introduces common ethical problems and practical ways to deal with them
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about dementia, including a personal story about dealing with dementia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about dementia and about Alzheimers disease, a specific type of dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics provides the report Dementia: ethical issues and additional information on the public consultation on ethical issues in dementia care
PMCID: PMC3742442  PMID: 23966839
24.  Care Decision Making of Frontline Providers of Maternal and Newborn Health Services in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55610.
To explore the “how” and “why” of care decision making by frontline providers of maternal and newborn services in the Greater Accra region of Ghana and determine appropriate interventions needed to support its quality and related maternal and neonatal outcomes.
A cross sectional and descriptive mixed method study involving a desk review of maternal and newborn care protocols and guidelines availability, focus group discussions and administration of a structured questionnaire and observational checklist to frontline providers of maternal and newborn care.
Tacit knowledge or ‘mind lines’ was an important primary approach to care decision making. When available, protocols and guidelines were used as decision making aids, especially when they were simple handy tools and in situations where providers were not sure what their next step in management had to be. Expert opinion and peer consultation were also used through face to face discussions, phone calls, text messages, and occasional emails depending on the urgency and communication medium access. Health system constraints such as availability of staff, essential medicines, supplies and equipment; management issues (including leadership and interpersonal relations among staff), and barriers to referral were important influences in decision making. Frontline health providers welcomed the idea of interventions to support clinical decision making and made several proposals towards the development of such an intervention. They felt such an intervention ought to be multi-faceted to impact the multiple influences simultaneously. Effective interventions would also need to address immediate challenges as well as more long-term challenges influencing decision-making.
Supporting frontline worker clinical decision making for maternal and newborn services is an important but neglected aspect of improved quality of care towards attainment of MDG 4 & 5. A multi-faceted intervention is probably the best way to make a difference given the multiple inter-related issues.
PMCID: PMC3572062  PMID: 23418446
25.  Cost analysis of an integrated disease surveillance and response system: case of Burkina Faso, Eritrea, and Mali 
Communicable diseases are the leading causes of illness, deaths, and disability in sub-Saharan Africa. To address these threats, countries within the World Health Organization (WHO) African region adopted a regional strategy called Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR). This strategy calls for streamlining resources, tools, and approaches to better detect and respond to the region's priority communicable disease. The purpose of this study was to analyze the incremental costs of establishing and subsequently operating activities for detection and response to the priority diseases under the IDSR.
We collected cost data for IDSR activities at central, regional, district, and primary health care center levels from Burkina Faso, Eritrea, and Mali, countries where IDSR is being fully implemented. These cost data included personnel, transportation items, office consumable goods, media campaigns, laboratory and response materials and supplies, and annual depreciation of buildings, equipment, and vehicles.
Over the period studied (2002–2005), the average cost to implement the IDSR program in Eritrea was $0.16 per capita, $0.04 in Burkina Faso and $0.02 in Mali. In each country, the mean annual cost of IDSR was dependent on the health structure level, ranging from $35,899 to $69,920 at the region level, $10,790 to $13,941 at the district level, and $1,181 to $1,240 at the primary health care center level. The proportions spent on each IDSR activity varied due to demand for special items (e.g., equipment, supplies, drugs and vaccines), service availability, distance, and the epidemiological profile of the country.
This study demonstrates that the IDSR strategy can be considered a low cost public health system although the benefits have yet to be quantified. These data can also be used in future studies of the cost-effectiveness of IDSR.
PMCID: PMC2632984  PMID: 19133149

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