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1.  Women's Access and Provider Practices for the Case Management of Malaria during Pregnancy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(8):e1001688.
Jenny Hill and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of women’s access and healthcare provider adherence to WHO case-management policy of malaria during pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
WHO recommends prompt diagnosis and quinine plus clindamycin for treatment of uncomplicated malaria in the first trimester and artemisinin-based combination therapies in subsequent trimesters. We undertook a systematic review of women's access to and healthcare provider adherence to WHO case management policy for malaria in pregnant women.
Methods and Findings
We searched the Malaria in Pregnancy Library, the Global Health Database, and the International Network for the Rational Use of Drugs Bibliography from 1 January 2006 to 3 April 2014, without language restriction. Data were appraised for quality and content. Frequencies of women's and healthcare providers' practices were explored using narrative synthesis and random effect meta-analysis. Barriers to women's access and providers' adherence to policy were explored by content analysis using NVivo. Determinants of women's access and providers' case management practices were extracted and compared across studies. We did not perform a meta-ethnography. Thirty-seven studies were included, conducted in Africa (30), Asia (4), Yemen (1), and Brazil (2). One- to three-quarters of women reported malaria episodes during pregnancy, of whom treatment was sought by >85%. Barriers to access among women included poor knowledge of drug safety, prohibitive costs, and self-treatment practices, used by 5%–40% of women. Determinants of women's treatment-seeking behaviour were education and previous experience of miscarriage and antenatal care. Healthcare provider reliance on clinical diagnosis and poor adherence to treatment policy, especially in first versus other trimesters (28%, 95% CI 14%–47%, versus 72%, 95% CI 39%–91%, p = 0.02), was consistently reported. Prescribing practices were driven by concerns over side effects and drug safety, patient preference, drug availability, and cost. Determinants of provider practices were access to training and facility type (public versus private). Findings were limited by the availability, quality, scope, and methodological inconsistencies of the included studies.
Conclusions
A systematic assessment of the extent of substandard case management practices of malaria in pregnancy is required, as well as quality improvement interventions that reach all providers administering antimalarial drugs in the community. Pregnant women need access to information on which anti-malarial drugs are safe to use at different stages of pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasite, kills about 600,000 people every year. Most of these deaths occur among young children in sub-Saharan Africa, but pregnant women and their unborn babies are also vulnerable to malaria. Infection with malaria during pregnancy can cause severe maternal anemia, miscarriages, and preterm births, and kills about 10,000 women and 100,000 children each year. Since 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that uncomplicated malaria (an infection that causes a fever but does not involve organ damage or severe anemia) should be treated with quinine and clindamycin if it occurs during the first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy and with an artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) if it occurs during the second or third trimester; ACTs should be used during the first trimester only if no other treatment is immediately available because their safety during early pregnancy has not been established. Since 2010, WHO has also recommended that clinical diagnosis of malaria should be confirmed before treatment by looking for parasites in patients' blood (parasitology).
Why Was This Study Done?
Prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria in pregnancy in regions where malaria is always present (endemic regions) is extremely important, yet little is known about women's access to the recommended interventions for malaria in pregnancy or about healthcare providers' adherence to the WHO case management guidelines. In this systematic review and meta-analysis of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies, the researchers explore the factors that affect women's access to treatment and healthcare provider practices for case management of malaria during pregnancy. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic. Meta-analysis is a statistical method for combining the results of several studies. A qualitative study collects non-quantitative data such as reasons for refusing an intervention, whereas a qualitative study collects numerical data such as the proportion of a population receiving an intervention.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 37 studies (mostly conducted in Africa) that provided data on the range of healthcare providers visited, antimalarials used, and the factors influencing the choice of healthcare provider and medicines among pregnant women seeking treatment for malaria and/or the type and quality of diagnostic and case management services offered to them by healthcare providers. The researchers explored the data in these studies using narrative synthesis (which summarizes the results from several qualitative studies) and content analysis (which identifies key themes within texts). Among the studies that provided relevant data, one-quarter to three-quarters of women reported malaria episodes during pregnancy. More than 85% of the women who reported a malaria episode during pregnancy sought some form of treatment. Barriers to access to WHO-recommended treatment among women included poor knowledge about drug safety, and the use of self-treatment practices such as taking herbal remedies. Factors that affected the treatment-seeking behavior of pregnant women (“determinants”) included prior use of antenatal care, education, and previous experience of a miscarriage. Among healthcare providers, reliance on clinical diagnosis of malaria was consistently reported, as was poor adherence to the treatment policy. Specifically, 28% and 72% of healthcare providers followed the treatment guidelines for malaria during the first and second/third trimesters of pregnancy, respectively. Finally, the researchers report that concerns over side effects and drug safety, patient preference, drug availability, and cost drove the prescribing practices of the healthcare providers, and that the determinants of provider practices included the type (cadre) of heathcare worker, access to training, and whether they were based in a public or private facility.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal important limitations in the implementation of the WHO policy on the treatment of malaria in pregnancy across many parts of Africa and in several other malaria endemic regions. Notably, they show that women do not uniformly seek care within the formal healthcare system and suggest that, when they do seek care, they may not be given the appropriate treatment because healthcare providers frequently fail to adhere to the WHO diagnostic and treatment guidelines. Although limited by the sparseness of data and by inconsistencies in study methodologies, these findings nevertheless highlight the need for further systematic assessments of the extent of substandard case management of malaria in pregnancy in malaria endemic countries, and the need to develop interventions to improve access to and delivery of quality case management of malaria among pregnant women.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001688.
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages) and on malaria in pregnancy; the 2010 Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria are available; the World Malaria Report 2013 provides details of the current global malaria situation
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on malaria; a personal story about malaria in pregnancy is available
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on all aspects of global malaria control, including information on malaria in pregnancy
The Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium is undertaking research into the prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy and provides links to the consortium's publications and an online library on malaria in pregnancy
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001688
PMCID: PMC4122360  PMID: 25093720
2.  An Ethnographic Study of the Social Context of Migrant Health in the United States 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e448.
Background
Migrant workers in the United States have extremely poor health. This paper aims to identify ways in which the social context of migrant farm workers affects their health and health care.
Methods and Findings
This qualitative study employs participant observation and interviews on farms and in clinics throughout 15 months of migration with a group of indigenous Triqui Mexicans in the western US and Mexico. Study participants include more than 130 farm workers and 30 clinicians. Data are analyzed utilizing grounded theory, accompanied by theories of structural violence, symbolic violence, and the clinical gaze. The study reveals that farm working and housing conditions are organized according to ethnicity and citizenship. This hierarchy determines health disparities, with undocumented indigenous Mexicans having the worst health. Yet, each group is understood to deserve its place in the hierarchy, migrant farm workers often being blamed for their own sicknesses.
Conclusions
Structural racism and anti-immigrant practices determine the poor working conditions, living conditions, and health of migrant workers. Subtle racism serves to reduce awareness of this social context for all involved, including clinicians. The paper concludes with strategies toward improving migrant health in four areas: health disparities research, clinical interactions with migrant laborers, medical education, and policy making.
A qualitative study of migrant Triqui Mexicans in the western US and Mexico shows that structural racism and anti-immigrant practices lead to poor working and living conditions, and poor health.
Editors' Summary
Background.
For centuries, recent immigrants have experienced poorer living and working conditions than more established inhabitants, which in turn means that the health of immigrants is often worse. Immigrants often take on the very lowest-paid jobs. One might suppose that in more recent years the increasing prosperity of countries such as the United States and those of western Europe would have reversed this trend. But as recently as 2005 the New York–based Human Rights Watch published a report entitled “Blood, Sweat and Fear,” which documented appalling conditions for the mostly immigrant workers in the US meat and poultry industry. In the UK also, legislation has recently been introduced to try to regulate the activity of “gang masters” who control large groups of immigrant workers. This legislation was triggered by public horror about the deaths in 2004 of 21 immigrant cockle pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay in Lancashire. A group of workers at particular risk of poor conditions because of the seasonal and uncertain patterns of work are those who work as farm laborers.
Why Was This Study Done?
There are relatively few studies that have looked in detail at the pattern of health problems among migrant farm workers in the US. Understanding the working conditions of these workers would be of help in understanding more about their health problems and, in particular, how to prevent them. One problem is that few of these workers are seen in the usual health-care settings; few of them have health insurance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The paper's author spent 15 months with a group of indigenous Triqui Mexicans as they migrated around the western US and Mexico working on farms. He used a type of research called qualitative research, which involved observing and interviewing more than 130 farm workers and 30 health workers on farms and in clinics. He found that working and housing conditions were organized according to ethnicity and citizenship, and that there was an unofficial hierarchy, with undocumented indigenous Mexicans having the worst health. Even worse, migrant farm workers were often blamed for their sicknesses by those in charge of them or those from whom they sought help.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The author concludes that “structural racism and anti-immigrant practices determine the poor working conditions, living conditions, and health of migrant workers.” Furthermore, it seems that “subtle” racism among all involved, including clinicians, reduces awareness and perhaps even allows tacit acceptance of these patterns of health. It seems that targets for specific health interventions for these workers will need to be closely integrated with a broader approach to improving migrant health including medical education and policymaking.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030448.
Migration Dialogue regularly consolidates news related to immigration around the world
Global Exchange has information related to fair trade, CAFTA, and other related current events
United Farm Workers has information related to working conditions of migrant laborers
PCUN has information related to migrant laborers in the Pacific Northwest
The Border Action Network has information related to the US-Mexico border
Border Links provides education and experiential learning related to the US-Mexico Border
Tierra Nueva and the Peoples Seminary provide social services for migrant laborers in the Pacific Northwest and education related to the lives of migrant workers
The Pesticide Action Network of North America provides information related to pesticides and health
The Pesticide Education Center provides detailed lists of the contents of pesticides and their health effects
The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies conducts research and education projects related to international migration
Human Rights Watch publishes and campaigns on many issues, including conditions for workers, such as that on the US meat-packing industry
European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations has a range of information concerning migrants
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030448
PMCID: PMC1621098  PMID: 17076567
3.  Public-sector Maternal Health Programmes and Services for Rural Bangladesh 
Achieving Millennium Development Goal 5 in Bangladesh calls for an appreciation of the evolution of maternal healthcare within the national health system to date plus a projection of future needs. This paper assesses the development of maternal health services and policies by reviewing policy and strategy documents since the independence in 1971, with primary focus on rural areas where three-fourths of the total population of Bangladesh reside. Projections of need for facilities and human resources are based on the recommended standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1996 and 2005. Although maternal healthcare services are delivered from for-profit and not-for-profit (NGO) subsectors, this paper is focused on maternal healthcare delivery by public subsector. Maternal healthcare services in the public sector of Bangladesh have been guided by global policies (e.g. Health for All by the Year 2000), national policies (e.g. population and health policy), and plans (e.g. five- or three-yearly). The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), through its two wings—Health Services and Family Planning—sets policies, develops implementation plans, and provides rural public-health services. Since 1971, the health infrastructure has developed though not in a uniform pattern and despite policy shifts over time. Under the Family Planning wing of the MoHFW, the number of Maternal and Child Welfare Centres has not increased but new services, such as caesarean-section surgery, have been integrated. The Health Services wing of the MoHFW has ensured that all district-level public-health facilities, e.g. district hospitals and medical colleges, can provide comprehensive essential obstetric care (EOC) and have targeted to upgrade 132 of 407 rural Upazila Health Complexes to also provide such services. In 2001, they initiated a programme to train the Government's community workers (Family Welfare Assistants and Female Health Assistants) to provide skilled birthing care in the home. However, these plans have been too meagre, and their implementation is too weak to fulfill expectations in terms of the MDG 5 indicator—increased use of skilled birth attendants, especially for poor rural women. The use of skilled birth attendants, institutional deliveries, and use of caesarean section remain low and are increasing only slowly. All these indicators are substantially lower for those in the lower three socioeconomic quintiles. A wide variation exists in the availability of comprehensive EOC facilities in the public sector among the six divisions of the country. Rajshahi division has more facilities than the WHO 1996 standard (1 comprehensive EOC for 500,000 people) whereas Chittagong and Sylhet divisions have only 64% of their need for comprehensive EOC facilities. The WHO 2005 recommendation (1 comprehensive EOC for 3,500 births) suggests that there is a need for nearly five times the existing national number of comprehensive EOC facilities. Based on the WHO standard 2005, it is estimated that 9% of existing doctors and 40% of nurses/midwives were needed just for maternal healthcare in both comprehensive EOC and basic EOC facilities in 2007. While the inability to train and retain skilled professionals in rural areas is the major problem in implementation, the bifurcation of the MoHFW (Health Services and Family Planning wings) has led to duplication in management and staff for service-delivery, inefficiencies as a result of these duplications, and difficulties of coordination at all levels. The Government of Bangladesh needs to functionally integrate the Health Services and Family Planning wings, move towards a facility-based approach to delivery, ensure access to key maternal health services for women in the lower socioeconomic quintiles, consider infrastructure development based on the estimation of facilities using the WHO 1996 recommendation, and undertake a human resource-development plan based on the WHO 2005 recommendation.
PMCID: PMC2761780  PMID: 19489411
Maternal health; Maternal health services; Rural health services; Bangladesh
4.  Healthcare-seeking behaviour in rural Ethiopia: evidence from clinical vignettes 
BMJ Open  2014;4(2):e004020.
Objectives
To investigate the determinants of healthcare-seeking behaviour using five context-relevant clinical vignettes. The analysis deals with three issues: whether and where to seek modern care and when to seek care.
Setting
This study is set in 96 villages located in four main regions of Ethiopia. The participants of this study are 1632 rural households comprising 9455 individuals.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Probability of seeking modern care for symptoms related to acute respiratory infections/pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, tetanus and tuberculosis. Conditional on choosing modern healthcare, where to seek care (health post, health centre, clinic and hospital). Conditional on choosing modern healthcare, when to seek care (seek care immediately, the next day, after 2 days, between 3 days to 1 week, a week or more).
Results
We find almost universal preference for modern care. Foregone care ranges from 0.6% for diarrhoea to 2.5% for tetanus. There is a systematic relationship between socioeconomic status and choice of providers mainly for adult-related conditions with households in higher consumption quintiles more likely to seek care in health centres, private/Non-Government Organization (NGO) clinics as opposed to health posts. Delays in care-seeking behaviour are apparent mainly for adult-related conditions and among poorer households.
Conclusions
The analysis suggests that the lack of healthcare utilisation is not driven by the inability to recognise health problems or due to a low perceived need for modern care.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004020
PMCID: PMC3927812  PMID: 24525391
Health Economics; Primary Care
5.  Impact of Community-Based Maternal Health Workers on Coverage of Essential Maternal Health Interventions among Internally Displaced Communities in Eastern Burma: The MOM Project 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(8):e1000317.
Mullany and colleagues report outcomes from a project involving delivery of community-based maternal health services in eastern Burma, and report substantial increases in coverage of care.
Background
Access to essential maternal and reproductive health care is poor throughout Burma, but is particularly lacking among internally displaced communities in the eastern border regions. In such settings, innovative strategies for accessing vulnerable populations and delivering basic public health interventions are urgently needed.
Methods
Four ethnic health organizations from the Shan, Mon, Karen, and Karenni regions collaborated on a pilot project between 2005 and 2008 to examine the feasibility of an innovative three-tiered network of community-based providers for delivery of maternal health interventions in the complex emergency setting of eastern Burma. Two-stage cluster-sampling surveys among ever-married women of reproductive age (15–45 y) conducted before and after program implementation enabled evaluation of changes in coverage of essential antenatal care interventions, attendance at birth by those trained to manage complications, postnatal care, and family planning services.
Results
Among 2,889 and 2,442 women of reproductive age in 2006 and 2008, respectively, population characteristics (age, marital status, ethnic distribution, literacy) were similar. Compared to baseline, women whose most recent pregnancy occurred during the implementation period were substantially more likely to receive antenatal care (71.8% versus 39.3%, prevalence rate ratio [PRR] = 1.83 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.64–2.04]) and specific interventions such as urine testing (42.4% versus 15.7%, PRR = 2.69 [95% CI 2.69–3.54]), malaria screening (55.9% versus 21.9%, PRR = 2.88 [95% CI 2.15–3.85]), and deworming (58.2% versus 4.1%, PRR = 14.18 [95% CI 10.76–18.71]. Postnatal care visits within 7 d doubled. Use of modern methods to avoid pregnancy increased from 23.9% to 45.0% (PRR = 1.88 [95% CI 1.63–2.17]), and unmet need for contraception was reduced from 61.7% to 40.5%, a relative reduction of 35% (95% CI 28%–40%). Attendance at birth by those trained to deliver elements of emergency obstetric care increased almost 10-fold, from 5.1% to 48.7% (PRR = 9.55 [95% CI 7.21–12.64]).
Conclusions
Coverage of maternal health interventions and higher-level care at birth was substantially higher during the project period. The MOM Project's focus on task-shifting, capacity building, and empowerment at the community level might serve as a model approach for similarly constrained settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every minute, somewhere in the world, a woman dies of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Access to essential maternal and reproductive health care (including family planning) is particularly bad in war-torn countries. In Burma, for example, where there have been decades of conflict between the military junta and ethnic minority resistance groups, the maternal mortality rate (the number of deaths among women from pregnancy-related causes per 100,000 live births) is around 380, whereas in neighboring Thailand it is only 44. Maternal health is even worse in the Shan, Mon, Karen, and Karenni regions of eastern Burma where ethnic conflicts and enforced village relocations have internally displaced more than half a million people. Here, the maternal mortality rate is around 1,200. In an effort to improve access to maternal health services in these regions, community-based organizations in Burma, the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights, and the Global Health Access Program undertook an innovative pilot project—the Mobile Obstetric Medics (MOM) project—between 2005 and 2008. Local health workers from 12 communities in eastern Burma received training in antenatal care, obstetrics (the care of women during childbirth), postnatal care, and family planning at the Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand. These “maternal health workers” then returned to Burma where they trained local health workers and traditional birth attendants to provide maternal health care to their communities.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before the MOM project started, nearly 3,000 women living in the study communities were surveyed to evaluate the coverage of essential antenatal care interventions such as urine testing for infections during pregnancy, screening for malaria, and deworming; Urinary tract infections, malaria, and hookworm infections all increase the risk of poor maternal and neonatal outcomes. The preproject survey also evaluated how many births were attended by people able to deal with complications, and the provision of postnatal care and family planning services. In this study, the researchers undertake a similar postproject survey to evaluate the impact of MOM on the coverage of essential maternal health interventions among internally displaced communities in eastern Burma.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between October 2008 and December 2008, trained survey workers asked nearly 2,500 ever-married women of reproductive age from the project's study communities about their access to antenatal and postnatal care, skilled birth attendants, and family planning. The results of the postproject survey were then compared with those of the “baseline,” preproject survey. The general characteristics (age, marital status, ethnicity, and literacy) of the women included in the two surveys were very similar. However, 71.8% of the women whose most recent pregnancy occurred during the implementation period of the MOM project had received antenatal care compared to only 39.3% of women surveyed at baseline. Similarly, among the women questioned during the postproject survey, 42.4% had had their urine tested and 55.9% had been screened for malaria during pregnancy compared to only 15.7% and 21.9%, respectively, of the women questioned in the preproject survey. Deworming had increased from 4.1% to 58.2% during the project, postnatal care visits within 7 days had doubled, and attendance at birth by people trained to deal with obstetric emergencies had increased 10-fold from 5.1% to 48.7%. Finally, the use of modern contraception methods (slow-release contraceptives, oral contraceptives, and condoms) had increased from 23.9% to 45.0%.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal a substantial improvement in access to maternal and reproductive health care in the study communities during the MOM project. However, because the study compared two independent groups of women before and after implementation of the MOM project rather than concurrently comparing groups of women who did and did not receive the services provided by the MOM project, this study does not prove that the MOM approach was the cause of the changes in the coverage of essential maternal health care. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the type of approach used in the MOM project—the expansion of interventions (including components of emergency obstetric care) delivered outside healthcare facilities by community-based providers—might be an effective way to deliver maternal and reproductive health services in other parts of Burma and in other places where there are ongoing conflicts.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000317.
More information about the MOM project is available in previous publications by the researchers in PLoS Medicine, in Reproductive Health Matters, and in Social Science and Medicine
Additional resources are also available on the MOM Project
The Reproductive Health Response in Conflict Consortium provides information on how conflicts affect reproductive health
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of health in Burma (in several languages)
The Mae Tao clinic also provides general information about Burma and its health services
The Burma Campaign UK and Human Rights Watch both provide detailed information about human rights violations, including those that affect maternal health in Burma
The United Nations Population Fund provides information about safe motherhood and maternal and reproductive health during conflicts and among refugees (in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000317
PMCID: PMC2914639  PMID: 20689805
6.  Reaching the Unreachable: Barriers of the Poorest to Accessing NGO Healthcare Services in Bangladesh 
The NGO Service Delivery Program (NSDP), a USAID-funded programme, is the largest NGO programme in Bangladesh. Its strategic flagship activity is the essential services package through which healthcare services are administered by NGOs in Bangladesh. The overall goal of the NSDP is to increase access to essential healthcare services by communities, especially the poor. Recognizing that the poorest in the community often have no access to essential healthcare services due to various barriers, a study was conducted to identify what the real barriers to access by the poor are. This included investigations to further understand the perceptions of the poor of real or imagined barriers to accessing healthcare; ways for healthcare centres to maximize services to the poor; how healthcare providers can maximize service-use; inter-personal communication between healthcare providers and those seeking healthcare among the poor; and ways to improve the capacity of service providers to reach the poorest segment of the community. The study, carried out in two phases, included 24 static and satellite clinics within the catchment areas of eight NGOs under the NSDP in Bangladesh, during June-September 2003. Participatory urban and rural appraisal techniques, focus-group discussions, and in-depth interviews were employed as research methods in the study. The target populations in the study included males and females, service-users and non-users, and special groups, such as fishermen, sex workers, potters, Bedes (river gypsies), and lower-caste people—all combined representing a heterogeneous community. The following four major categories of barriers emerged as roadblocks to accessing quality healthcare for the poor: (a) low income to be able to afford healthcare, (b) lack of awareness of the kind of healthcare services available, (c) deficiencies and inconsistencies in the quality of services, and (d) lack of close proximity to the healthcare facility. Those interviewed perceived their access problems to be: (a) a limited range of NGO services available as they felt what are available do not meet their demands; (b) a high service-charge for the healthcare services they sought; (c) higher prices of drugs at the facility compared to the market place; (d) a belief that the NGO clinics are primarily to serve the rich people, (e) lack of experienced doctors at the centres; and (f) the perception that the facility and its services were more oriented to women and children, but not to males. Others responded that they should be allowed to get treatment with credit and, if needed, payment should be waived for some due to their poverty level. While the results of the study revealed many perceptions of barriers to healthcare services by the poor, the feedback provided by the study indicates how important it is to learn from the poorest segment of society. This will assist healthcare providers and the healthcare system itself to become more sensitized to the needs and problems faced by this segment of the society and to make recommendations to remove barriers and improvement of access. Treatment with credit and waived payment for the poorest were also recommended as affordable alternative private healthcare services for the poor.
PMCID: PMC3001149  PMID: 17591342
Health services; Healthcare; Poor; Perceptions; Bangladesh
7.  Understanding Tuberculosis: Perspectives and Experiences of the People of Sabah, East Malaysia 
Malaysia is a country with the intermediate burden of tuberculosis (TB). TB is still a public-health problem in Sabah, one of the two states in East Malaysia. In 2007, the state of Sabah contributed slightly more than 3,000 of 16,129 new and relapse cases reported in the country. It has a notification rate of two and a half times that of the country's. Very few studies on TB have been conducted in Sabah, and there is little documentation on the perceptions of TB patients and the community about TB, healthcare-seeking behaviour, and impact of TB on the people of Sabah. A qualitative study was conducted in 2006 in seven districts in Sabah to assess the knowledge and perceptions of TB patients and the community about TB, also to know the experiences of healthcare services, and to examine the impact of TB on patients and families. Purposive sampling identified 27 TB patients and 20 relatives and community members who were interviewed using a set of questions on knowledge, perceptions about TB, healthcare-seeking behaviour, and impact of TB. A further 11 health staff attended informal discussions and feedback sessions. Most interviews were taped and later translated. Data were analyzed using thematic content analysis. Ninety-six percent of the respondents did not know the cause of TB. Some thought that TB occurred due to a ‘tear’ in the body or due to hard work or inflammation while others thought that it occurred due to eating contaminated food or due to sharing utensils or breathing space with TB patients. Although the germ theory was not well-known, 98% of the respondents believed that TB was infectious. Some patients did not perceive the symptoms they had as those of TB. The prevailing practice among the respondents was to seek modern medicine for cure. Other forms of treatment, such as traditional medicine, were sought if modern medicine failed to cure the disease. TB was still a stigmatizing disease, and the expression of this was in both perceived and enacted ways. TB also affected the patients in various aspects of their lives, such as psychosocial, physical, financial and life practices. Patients who were farmers complained that they did not recover fully from their disease and were not, thus, able to continue with their previous work. Patients changed their life practices, such as not sharing their utensils, had a separate sleeping area, and practised social distancing. On the other hand, most health workers were unaware of the effects of TB on their patients and that knowledge of their patients on TB was inadequate. There is a need to understand the reasons for the misconceptions about TB and to address the lack of knowledge on TB through health education. Patients need to recognize the symptoms of TB early so that prompt treatment can be initiated, and patients need to be convinced of its curability.
PMCID: PMC2980872  PMID: 20411673
Knowledge, attitudes, and practices; Qualitative studies; Perceptions; Tuberculosis; Malaysia
8.  Sex and Socioeconomic Differentials in Child Health in Rural Bangladesh: Findings from a Baseline Survey for Evaluating Integrated Management of Childhood Illness 
This paper reports on a population-based sample survey of 2,289 children aged less than five years (under-five children) conducted in 2000 as a baseline for the Bangladesh component of the Multi-country Evaluation (MCE) of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness strategy. Of interest were rates and differentials by sex and socioeconomic status for three aspects of child health in rural Bangladesh: morbidity and hospitalizations, including severity of illness; care-seeking for childhood illness; and home-care for illness. The survey was carried out among a population of about 380,000 in Matlab upazila (subdistrict). Generic MCE Household Survey tools were adapted, translated, and pretested. Trained interviewers conducted the survey in the study areas. In total, 2,289 under-five children were included in the survey. Results showed a very high prevalence of illness among Bangladeshi children, with over two-thirds reported to have had at least one illness during the two weeks preceding the survey. Most sick children in this population had multiple symptoms, suggesting that the use of the IMCI clinical guidelines will lead to improved quality of care. Contrary to expectations, there were no significant differences in the prevalence of illness either by sex or by socioeconomic status. About one-third of the children with a reported illness did not receive any care outside the home. Of those for whom outside care was sought, 42% were taken to a village doctor. Only 8% were taken to an appropriate provider, i.e. a health facility, a hospital, a doctor, a paramedic, or a community-based health worker. Poorer children than less-poor children were less likely to be taken to an appropriate healthcare provider. The findings indicated that children with severe illness in the least poor households were three times more likely to seek care from a trained provider than children in the poorest households. Any evidence of gender inequities in child healthcare, either in terms of prevalence of illness or care-seeking patterns, was not found. Care-seeking patterns were associated with the perceived severity of illness, the presence of danger signs, and the duration and number of symptoms. The results highlight the challenges that will need to be addressed as IMCI is implemented in health facilities and extended to address key family and community practices, including extremely low rates of use of the formal health sector for the management of sick children. Child health planners and researchers must find ways to address the apparent population preference for untrained and traditional providers which is determined by various factors, including the actual and perceived quality of care, and the differentials in care-seeking practices that discriminate against the poorest households.
PMCID: PMC2740675  PMID: 18637525
Child care; Child health; Hospitalizations; Integrated Management of Childhood Illness; Morbidity; Socioeconomic status; Bangladesh
9.  Infection Control and Practice of Standard Precautions Among Healthcare Workers in Northern Nigeria 
Background:
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) have been reported to be a serious problem in the healthcare services as they are common causes of illness and mortality among hospitalized patients including healthcare workers (HCWs). Compliance with these standard precautions has been shown to reduce the risk of exposure to blood and body fluids.
Aims:
This study therefore assesses the level of knowledge and compliance with standard precautions by the various cadre of HCWs and the factors influencing compliance in hospital environment in Nasarawa State, Northern Nigeria.
Settings and Design:
Nasarawa State has a current human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) prevalence rate of 10.0%, which was higher than most states in Nigeria with a high level of illiteracy and ignorance. Majority of the people reside in the rural areas while a few are found in the towns, informal settlements with no direct access to healthcare facilities are common.
Materials and Methods:
This study is an analytical, cross-sectional study. Proportional sampling technique was used to obtain a representative sample and a structured self-administered questionnaire was used to collect relevant information from the healthcare providers working in Nasarawa State from January to February 2009.
Statistical analysis used:
To describe patient characteristics, we calculated proportions and medians. For categorical variables, we compared proportions using chi-square tests. A logistic regression model was produced with infection control as outcome variable to identify associated factors.
Results:
A total of 421 HCWs were interviewed, Majority (77.9%) correctly describe universal precaution and infection control with 19.2, 19.2, and 28.0%, respectively unable to recognize vaccination, postexposure prophylaxis, and surveillance for emerging diseases as standard precaution for infection control. About 70.1% usually wear gloves before handling patients or patients’ care products, 12.6% reported wash their hand before wearing the gloves, 10.7% washed hands after removal of gloves, and 72.4% changed gloves after each patient. Only 3.3% had a sharp disposal system in their various workplaces. Majority (98.6%) of the respondents reported that the major reason for noncompliance to universal precautions is the nonavailability of the equipments. There was a statistically significant difference in the practice of standard precaution among those that were exposed to blood products and body fluid compared to those that had not been exposed in the last 6 months (χ2 = 3.96, P = 0.03), public healthcare providers when compared to private health workers (χ2 = 22.32, P = 0.001), among those working in secondary and tertiary facilities compared to primary healthcare centers (χ2 = 14.64, P = 0.001) and urban areas when compared to rural areas (χ2 = 4.06, P = 0.02). The only predictor of practice of standard precaution was exposure to blood and body fluid in the last 6 months odds ratio (OR) = 4.56 (confidence interval (CI) = 1.00-21.28).
Conclusions:
This study implies that inadequate workers’ knowledge and environment related problems, including the lack of protective materials and other equipments and utilities required to ensure safety of HCWs is a crucial issue that need urgent attention. Institution of a surveillance system for hospital acquired infection to improve consistent use of standard precautions among health workers is recommended in Nigeria and other low income countries in Africa.
doi:10.4103/0974-777X.122010
PMCID: PMC3958986  PMID: 24672178
Health workers; Infection control; Northern Nigeria; Standard precaution practice
10.  Universal health coverage in ‘One ASEAN’: are migrants included? 
Global Health Action  2015;8:10.3402/gha.v8.25749.
Background
As the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) gears toward full regional integration by 2015, the cross-border mobility of workers and citizens at large is expected to further intensify in the coming years. While ASEAN member countries have already signed the Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, the health rights of migrants still need to be addressed, especially with ongoing universal health coverage (UHC) reforms in most ASEAN countries. This paper seeks to examine the inclusion of migrants in the UHC systems of five ASEAN countries which exhibit diverse migration profiles and are currently undergoing varying stages of UHC development.
Design
A scoping review of current migration trends and policies as well as ongoing UHC developments and migrant inclusion in UHC in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand was conducted.
Results
In general, all five countries, whether receiving or sending, have schemes that cover migrants to varying extents. Thailand even allows undocumented migrants to opt into its Compulsory Migrant Health Insurance scheme, while Malaysia and Singapore are still yet to consider including migrants in their government-run UHC systems. In terms of predominantly sending countries, the Philippines's social health insurance provides outbound migrants with portable insurance yet with limited benefits, while Indonesia still needs to strengthen the implementation of its compulsory migrant insurance which has a health insurance component. Overall, the five ASEAN countries continue to face implementation challenges, and will need to improve on their UHC design in order to ensure genuine inclusion of migrants, including undocumented migrants. However, such reforms will require strong political decisions from agencies outside the health sector that govern migration and labor policies. Furthermore, countries must engage in multilateral and bilateral dialogue as they redefine UHC beyond the basis of citizenship and reimagine UHC systems that transcend national borders.
Conclusions
By enhancing migrant coverage, ASEAN countries can make UHC systems truly ‘universal’. Migrant inclusion in UHC is a human rights imperative, and it is in ASEAN's best interest to protect the health of migrants as it pursues the path toward collective social progress and regional economic prosperity.
doi:10.3402/gha.v8.25749
PMCID: PMC4308585  PMID: 25626624
migrant health; migrant workers; ASEAN; Southeast Asia; universal health coverage; health financing
11.  Mental health, duration of unemployment, and coping strategy: a cross-sectional study of unemployed migrant workers in eastern china during the economic crisis 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:597.
Background
20 million migrant workers in China lost their jobs during the economic crisis of 2008. Both urban migration and unemployment have long been documented to be associated with vulnerability to mental problems. This study aims to examine the mental health of unemployed migrant workers in Eastern China and its relation to duration of unemployment and coping strategy during the recent economic crisis.
Methods
The data were collected through interview-based survey with a sample of 210 unemployed migrant workers in Zhejiang Province of China from 2008 to 2009. Symptom Checklist-90-Revised, Coping Strategies Questionnaire, and seven short demographic questions were used.
Results
The majority of the unemployed migrant workers were found to be young male manufacturing industry workers with short-term unemployment and a relatively low education level. Nearly 50% of unemployed migrant workers were classified as mentally unhealthy and the most frequently reported symptom was depression. Compared with the adult norm of 1986, 2003, and 2007 in China, unemployed migrants had more mental problems. Long-term unemployed migrant workers had more psychiatric symptoms than the short-term unemployed workers and employed migrant workers. Unemployed migrant workers with immature coping strategies expressed significantly more psychiatric symptoms than those with mixed and mature coping strategies. Duration of unemployment and two coping strategies, problem-solving and self-blaming, predicted the mental problems of unemployed migrant workers.
Conclusions
The results indicated that mental health status of unemployed migrant workers in Eastern China was poorer than the national adult norm. More psychiatric symptoms are evidenced among unemployed migrant workers who lost their jobs for a long term and who had immature coping strategies. These findings can be used for prevention and intervention of mental illness among unemployed migrant workers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-597
PMCID: PMC3490784  PMID: 22856556
Mental health; Duration of unemployment; Coping strategy; Unemployed migrant workers; Economic crisis
12.  Socio-economic differences and health seeking behaviour for the diagnosis and treatment of malaria: a case study of four local government areas operating the Bamako initiative programme in south-east Nigeria 
Background
Malaria is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in Nigeria. It is not known how user fees introduced under the Bamako Initiative (BI) system affect healthcare seeking among different socio-economic groups in Nigeria for diagnosis and treatment of malaria. Reliable information is needed to initiate new policy thrusts to protect the poor from the adverse effect of user fees.
Methods
Structured questionnaires were used to collect information from 1594 female household primary care givers or household head on their socio-economic and demographic status and use of malaria diagnosis and treatment services. Principal components analysis was used to create a socio-economic status index which was decomposed into quartiles and chi-square for trends was used to calculate for any statistical difference.
Results
The study showed that self diagnosis was the commonest form of diagnosis by the respondents. This was followed by diagnosis through laboratory tests, community health workers, family members and traditional healers. The initial choice of care for malaria was a visit to the patent medicine dealers for most respondents. This was followed by visit to the government hospitals, the BI health centres, traditional medicine healers, private clinics, community health workers and does nothing at home. Furthermore, the private health facilities were the initial choice of treatment for the majority with a decline among those choosing them as a second source of care and an increase in the utilization of public health facilities as a second choice of care. Self diagnosis was practiced more by the poorer households while the least poor used the patent medicine dealers and community health workers less often for diagnosis of malaria. The least poor groups had a higher probability of seeking treatment at the BI health centres (creating equity problem in BI), hospitals, and private clinics and in using laboratory procedures. The least poor also used the patent medicine dealers and community health workers less often for the treatment of malaria. The richer households complained more about poor staff attitude and lack of drugs as their reasons for not attending the BI health centres. The factors that encourage people to use services in BI health centres were availability of good services, proximity of the centres to the homes and polite health workers.
Conclusions
Factors deterring people from using BI centres should be eliminated. The use of laboratory services for the diagnosis of malaria by the poor should be encouraged through appropriate information, education and communication which at the long run will be more cost effective and cost saving for them while devising means of reducing the equity gap created. This could be done by granting a properly worked out and implemented fee exemptions to the poor or completely abolishing user fees for the diagnosis and treatment of malaria in BI health centres.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-3-6
PMCID: PMC544024  PMID: 15202941
Socio-economic differences; health seeking behaviour; Malaria; Bamako Initiative; Nigeria
13.  Migration and mental health in Europe (the state of the mental health in Europe working group: appendix 1) 
Background
This paper is a part of the work of the group that carried out the report "The state of the mental health in Europe" (European Commission, DG Health and Consumer Protection, 2004) and deals with the mental health issues related to the migration in Europe.
Methods
The paper tries to describe the social, demographical and political context of the emigration in Europe and tries to indicate the needs and (mental) health problems of immigrants. A review of the literature concerning mental health risk in immigrant is also carried out. The work also faces the problem of the health policy toward immigrants and the access to health care services in Europe.
Results
Migration during the 1990s has been high and characterised by new migrations. Some countries in Europe, that have been traditionally exporters of migrants have shifted to become importers. Migration has been a key force in the demographic changes of the European population. The policy of closed borders do not stop migration, but rather seems to set up a new underclass of so-called "illegals" who are suppressed and highly exploited. In 2000 there were also 392.200 asylum applications.
The reviewed literature among mental health risk in some immigrant groups in Europe concerns: 1) highest rate of schizophrenia; suicide; alcohol and drug abuse; access of psychiatric facilities; risk of anxiety and depression; mental health of EU immigrants once they returned to their country; early EU immigrants in today disadvantaged countries; refugees and mental health
Due to the different condition of migration concerning variables as: motivation to migrations (e.g. settler, refugees, gastarbeiters); distance for the host culture; ability to develop mediating structures; legal residential status it is impossible to consider "migrants" as a homogeneous group concerning the risk for mental illness. In this sense, psychosocial studies should be undertaken to identify those factors which may under given conditions, imply an increased risk of psychiatric disorders and influence seeking for psychiatric care.
Comments and Remarks
Despite in the migrants some vulnerable groups were identified with respect to health problems, in many European countries there are migrants who fall outside the existing health and social services, something which is particularly true for asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants. In order to address these deficiencies, it is necessary to provide with an adequate financing and a continuity of the grants for research into the multicultural health demand. Finally, there is to highlight the importance of adopting an integrated approach to mental health care that moves away from psychiatric care only.
doi:10.1186/1745-0179-1-13
PMCID: PMC1236945  PMID: 16135246
14.  Analysis of changes in the association of income and the utilization of curative health services in Mexico between 2000 and 2006 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:771.
Background
A common characteristic of health systems in most developing countries is unequal access to health services. As a result, members of the poorest population groups often do not receive formal attention for health services, because they cannot afford it. In 2001 in Mexico, to address income-related differences in the use of health services, the government launched a major healthcare reform, which includes a health insurance program called Seguro Popular, aimed at improving healthcare access among poor, uninsured residents. This paper analyzes the before and after changes in the demand for curative ambulatory health services focusing on the association of income-related characteristics and the utilization of formal healthcare providers vs. no healthcare service utilization.
Methods
By using two nationally representative health surveys (ENSA-2000 and ENSANUT-2006), we modeled an individual's decision when experiencing an illness to use services provided by the (1) Ministry of Health (MoH), (2) social security, (3) private entities, or (4) to not use formal services (no healthcare service utilization).
Results
Poorer individuals were more likely in 2006 than in 2000 to respond to an illness by using formal healthcare providers. Trends in provider selection differed, however. The probability of using public services from the MoH increased among the poorest population, while the findings indicated an increase in utilization of private health services among members of low- and middle-income groups. No significant change was seen among formal workers -covered by social security services-, regardless of socioeconomic status.
Conclusions
Overall, for 2006 the Mexican population appears less differentiated in using healthcare across economic groups than in 2000. This may be related, in part, to the implementation of Seguro Popular, which seems to be stimulating healthcare demand among the poorest and previously uninsured segment of the population. Still, public health authorities need to address the remaining income-related healthcare utilization differences, the differences in quality between public and private health services, and the general perception that MoH facilities offer inferior services.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-771
PMCID: PMC3203078  PMID: 21978183
15.  Willingness to pay for social health insurance among informal sector workers in Wuhan, China: a contingent valuation study 
Background
Most of the about 140 million informal sector workers in urban China do not have health insurance. A 1998 central government policy leaves it to the discretion of municipal governments to offer informal sector workers in cities voluntary participation in a social health insurance for formal sector workers, the so-called 'basic health insurance' (BHI).
Methods
We used the contingent valuation method to assess the maximum willingness to pay (WTP) for BHI among informal sector workers, including unregistered rural-to-urban migrants, in Wuhan City, China. We selected respondents in a two-stage self-weighted cluster sampling scheme.
Results
On average, informal sector workers were willing to pay substantial amounts for BHI (30 Renminbi (RMB), 95% confidence interval (CI) 27-33) as well as substantial proportions of their incomes (4.6%, 95% CI 4.1-5.1%). Average WTP increased significantly when any one of the copayments of the BHI was removed in the valuation: to 51 RMB (95% CI 46-56) without reimbursement ceiling; to 43 RMB (95% CI 37-49) without deductible; and to 47 RMB (95% CI 40-54) without coinsurance. WTP was higher than estimates of the cost of BHI based on past health expenditure or on premium contributions of formal sector workers. Predicted coverage with BHI declined steeply with the premium contribution at low contribution levels.
When we applied equity weighting in the aggregation of individual WTP values in order to adjust for inequity in the distribution of income, mean WTP for BHI increased with inequality aversion over a plausible range of the aversion parameter. Holding other factors constant in multiple regression analysis, for a 1% increase in income WTP for BHI with different copayments increased by 0.434-0.499% (all p < 0.0001), and for a 1% increase in past health care expenditure WTP increased by 0.076-0.148% (all p < 0.0004). Being male, a migrant, or without permanent employment significantly decreased WTP for BHI. Education was not a significant determinant of WTP for BHI.
Conclusion
Our results suggest that Chinese municipal governments should allow informal sector workers to participate in the BHI. From a normative perspective, BHI for informal sector workers is likely to increase social welfare because average WTP for BHI is significantly higher than estimates of the average cost of BHI. We further find that informal sector workers do not value the BHI as a mechanism to recover the relatively frequent but small financial losses associated with common illnesses, but because it protects against the rare but large financial losses associated with catastrophic care. From a behavioural perspective, our results predict that at a price equal to the average premium contribution of formal sector workers 35% of informal sector workers will enrol in the BHI. Subsidies and changes in insurance attributes (e.g. including catastrophic care and portability) should be effective in increasing BHI coverage. In addition, coverage should expand with rising incomes among informal sector workers in China. Finally, adverse selection will be unlikely to be a large problem, if the BHI is offered to informal sector workers.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-7-114
PMCID: PMC2065868  PMID: 17659084
16.  Factors associated with health-seeking behavior among migrant workers in Beijing, China 
Background
Migrant workers are a unique phenomenon in the process of China's economic transformation. The household registration system classifies them as temporary residents in cities, putting them in a vulnerable state with an unfair share of urban infrastructure and social public welfare. The amount of pressure inflicted by migrant workers in Beijing, as one of the major migration destinations, is currently at a threshold. This study was designed to assess the factors associated with health-seeking behavior and to explore feasible solutions to the obstacles migrant workers in China faced with when accessing health-care.
Methods
A sample of 2,478 migrant workers in Beijing was chosen by the multi-stage stratified cluster sampling method. A structured questionnaire survey was conducted via face-to-face interviews between investigators and subjects. The multilevel methodology (MLM) was used to demonstrate the independent effects of the explanatory variables on health seeking behavior in migrant workers.
Results
The medical visitation rate of migrant workers within the past two weeks was 4.8%, which only accounted for 36.4% of those who were ill. Nearly one-third of the migrant workers chose self-medication (33.3%) or no measures (30.3%) while ill within the past two weeks. 19.7% of the sick migrants who should have been hospitalized failed to receive medical treatment within the past year. According to self-reported reasons, the high cost of health service was a significant obstacle to health-care access for 40.5% of the migrant workers who became sick. However, 94.0% of the migrant workers didn't have any insurance coverage in Beijing. The multilevel model analysis indicates that health-seeking behavior among migrants is significantly associated with their insurance coverage. Meanwhile, such factors as household monthly income per capita and working hours per day also affect the medical visitation rate of the migrant workers in Beijing.
Conclusion
This study assesses the influence of socio-demographic characteristics on the migrant workers' decision to seek health care services when they fall ill, and it also indicates that the current health service system discourages migrant workers from seeking appropriate care of good quality. Relevant policies of public medical insurance and assistance program should be vigorously implemented for providing affordable health care services to the migrants. Feasible measures need to be taken to reduce the health risks associated with current hygiene practices and equity should be assured in access to health care services among migrant workers.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-69
PMCID: PMC2848137  PMID: 20298613
17.  Impact of children's migration on health and health care-seeking behavior of elderly left behind 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:143.
Background
Many countries are facing the burden of accelerated population aging and a lack of institutional support to meet the needs of older individuals. In developing countries, adult children are primarily responsible for the care of their elderly parents. However, out-migration of adult children is common in these countries. This study aims to explore the impact of migration on the health of the elderly left behind and their health care-seeking behavior.
Methods
This paper uses data from a national survey of older persons in Thailand conducted in 2007. The analysis is confined to those who were aged 60 years or above and who had at least one child (biological or step/adopted) (n = 28,677). Logistic regression was used to assess the net effect of migration of adult children on the health of the elderly left behind and their health care-seeking behavior, after controlling for other socio-demographic and economic variables.
Results
More than two-thirds of the elderly (67%) had at least one migrant child. About three-fifths (58%) reported that they had at least one symptom of poor mental health. Almost three in five elderly (56%) rated their health as poor, and 44% had experienced at least one chronic disease. About two-thirds of the elderly (65%) got sick during the 5 years preceding the survey. An overwhelming majority of elderly (88%) who got sick during the five years preceding the survey had sought treatment for their last illness.
After controlling for socio-demographic and economic variables, our study found that those elderly who had a migrant child were more likely (OR = 1.10; 95% CI 1.05-1.17) to have symptoms of poor mental health than those whose children had not migrated. However, no significant association was observed among physical health, such as experience of chronic disease, perceived poor health, and illness of the elderly left behind. Interestingly, however, out-migration of adult children was independently associated with higher utilization of health services. The elderly who had migrant children were more likely (odds ratio = 1.22, CI 1.11-1.33) than those whose children had not migrated to seek treatment for their most recent illness, after controlling for socio-demographic and economic variables.
Conclusion
Our study provides novel evidence on an issue of special importance to countries affected by heavy out-migration of adult children, an issue that has received little attention. Out-migration of adult children was highly associated with poor mental health but it was not associated with the physical health of the elderly left behind. Out-migration of children was also highly associated with higher utilization of health facilities by the elderly. Thus, in order to decrease morbidity among the elderly as well as to maintain and enhance the well-being of families, programs should focus on alleviating the symptoms of poor mental health among the elderly left behind and aim to reduce the differences in utilization of health care-seeking behavior among elderly with children present in the community and elderly left behind.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-143
PMCID: PMC3056748  PMID: 21366920
18.  Towards Universal Voluntary HIV Testing and Counselling: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Community-Based Approaches 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001496.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Amitabh Suthar and colleagues describe the evidence base for different HIV testing and counseling services provided outside of health facilities.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Effective national and global HIV responses require a significant expansion of HIV testing and counselling (HTC) to expand access to prevention and care. Facility-based HTC, while essential, is unlikely to meet national and global targets on its own. This article systematically reviews the evidence for community-based HTC.
Methods and Findings
PubMed was searched on 4 March 2013, clinical trial registries were searched on 3 September 2012, and Embase and the World Health Organization Global Index Medicus were searched on 10 April 2012 for studies including community-based HTC (i.e., HTC outside of health facilities). Randomised controlled trials, and observational studies were eligible if they included a community-based testing approach and reported one or more of the following outcomes: uptake, proportion receiving their first HIV test, CD4 value at diagnosis, linkage to care, HIV positivity rate, HTC coverage, HIV incidence, or cost per person tested (outcomes are defined fully in the text). The following community-based HTC approaches were reviewed: (1) door-to-door testing (systematically offering HTC to homes in a catchment area), (2) mobile testing for the general population (offering HTC via a mobile HTC service), (3) index testing (offering HTC to household members of people with HIV and persons who may have been exposed to HIV), (4) mobile testing for men who have sex with men, (5) mobile testing for people who inject drugs, (6) mobile testing for female sex workers, (7) mobile testing for adolescents, (8) self-testing, (9) workplace HTC, (10) church-based HTC, and (11) school-based HTC. The Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale and the Cochrane Collaboration's “risk of bias” tool were used to assess the risk of bias in studies with a comparator arm included in pooled estimates.
 117 studies, including 864,651 participants completing HTC, met the inclusion criteria. The percentage of people offered community-based HTC who accepted HTC was as follows: index testing, 88% of 12,052 participants; self-testing, 87% of 1,839 participants; mobile testing, 87% of 79,475 participants; door-to-door testing, 80% of 555,267 participants; workplace testing, 67% of 62,406 participants; and school-based testing, 62% of 2,593 participants. Mobile HTC uptake among key populations (men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, female sex workers, and adolescents) ranged from 9% to 100% (among 41,110 participants across studies), with heterogeneity related to how testing was offered. Community-based approaches increased HTC uptake (relative risk [RR] 10.65, 95% confidence interval [CI] 6.27–18.08), the proportion of first-time testers (RR 1.23, 95% CI 1.06–1.42), and the proportion of participants with CD4 counts above 350 cells/µl (RR 1.42, 95% CI 1.16–1.74), and obtained a lower positivity rate (RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.37–0.96), relative to facility-based approaches. 80% (95% CI 75%–85%) of 5,832 community-based HTC participants obtained a CD4 measurement following HIV diagnosis, and 73% (95% CI 61%–85%) of 527 community-based HTC participants initiated antiretroviral therapy following a CD4 measurement indicating eligibility. The data on linking participants without HIV to prevention services were limited. In low- and middle-income countries, the cost per person tested ranged from US$2–US$126. At the population level, community-based HTC increased HTC coverage (RR 7.07, 95% CI 3.52–14.22) and reduced HIV incidence (RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.73–1.02), although the incidence reduction lacked statistical significance. No studies reported any harm arising as a result of having been tested.
Conclusions
Community-based HTC achieved high rates of HTC uptake, reached people with high CD4 counts, and linked people to care. It also obtained a lower HIV positivity rate relative to facility-based approaches. Further research is needed to further improve acceptability of community-based HTC for key populations. HIV programmes should offer community-based HTC linked to prevention and care, in addition to facility-based HTC, to support increased access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment.
Review Registration
International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews CRD42012002554
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Three decades into the AIDS epidemic, about 34 million people (most living in resource-limited countries) are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Every year another 2.2 million people become infected with HIV, usually through unprotected sex with an infected partner, and about 1.7 million people die. Infection with HIV, which gradually destroys the CD4 lymphocytes and other immune system cells that provide protection from life-threatening infections, is usually diagnosed by looking for antibodies to HIV in the blood or saliva. Disease progression is subsequently monitored in HIV-positive individuals by counting the CD4 cells in their blood. Initiation of antiretroviral drug therapy—a combination of drugs that keeps HIV replication in check but that does not cure the infection—is recommended when an individual's CD4 count falls below 500 cells/µl of blood or when he or she develops signs of severe or advanced disease, such as unusual infections.
Why Was This Study Done?
As part of intensified efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS, United Nations member states recently set several HIV-related targets to be achieved by 2015, including reduced transmission of HIV and increased delivery of antiretroviral therapy. These targets can only be achieved if there is a large expansion in HIV testing and counseling (HTC) and increased access to HIV prevention and care services. The World Health Organization currently recommends that everyone attending a healthcare facility in regions where there is a generalized HIV epidemic (defined as when 1% or more of the general population is HIV-positive) should be offered HTC. However, many people rarely visit healthcare facilities, and others refuse “facility-based” HTC because they fear stigmatization and discrimination. Thus, facility-based HTC alone is unlikely to be sufficient to enable national and global HIV targets to be reached. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers evaluate the performance of community-based HTC approaches such as index testing (offering HTC to the sexual and injecting partners and household members of people with HIV), mobile testing (offering HTC through a service that visits shopping centers and other public facilities), and door-to-door testing (systematically offering HTC to homes in a catchment area). A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; meta-analysis combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 117 studies (most undertaken in Africa and North America) involving 864,651 participants that evaluated community-based HTC approaches. Among these studies, the percentage of people offered community-based HTC who accepted it (HTC uptake) was 88% for index testing, 87% for self-testing, 80% for door-to-door testing, 67% for workplace testing, and 62% for school-based testing. Compared to facility-based approaches, community-based approaches increased the chances of an individual's CD4 count being above 350 cells/µl at diagnosis (an important observation because early diagnosis improves subsequent outcomes) but had a lower positivity rate, possibly because people with symptoms of HIV are more likely to visit healthcare facilities than healthy individuals. Importantly, 80% of participants in the community-based HTC studies had their CD4 count measured after HIV diagnosis, and 73% of the participants initiated antiretroviral therapy after their CD4 count fell below national eligibility criteria; both these observations suggest that community-based HTC successfully linked people to care. Finally, offering community-based HTC approaches in addition to facility-based approaches increased HTC coverage seven-fold at the population level.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that community-based HTC can achieve high HTC uptake rates and can reach HIV-positive individuals earlier, when they still have high CD4 counts. Importantly, they also suggest that the level of linkage to care of community-based HTC is similar to that of facility-based HTC. Although the lower positivity rate of community-based HTC approaches means that more people need to be tested with these approaches than with facility-based HTC to identify the same number of HIV-positive individuals, this downside of community-based HTC is likely to be offset by the earlier identification of HIV-positive individuals, which should improve life expectancy and reduce HIV transmission at the population level. Although further studies are needed to evaluate community-based HTC in other regions of the world, these findings suggest that offering community-based HTC in HIV programs in addition to facility-based testing should support the increased access to HIV prevention and care that is required for the intensification of HIV/AIDS elimination efforts.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001496.
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on counseling and testing (in several languages)
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, on HIV testing, and on HIV transmission and testing (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including personal stories) about HIV and AIDS
The World AIDS Day Report 2012 provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert; the nonprofit website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV, including stories about getting a diagnosis
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001496
PMCID: PMC3742447  PMID: 23966838
19.  Knowledge about childhood autism and opinion among healthcare workers on availability of facilities and law caring for the needs and rights of children with childhood autism and other developmental disorders in Nigeria 
BMC Pediatrics  2009;9:12.
Background
In designing programs to raise the community level of awareness about childhood autism in sub-Saharan Africa, it is logical to use the primary healthcare workers as contact point for education of the general public. Tertiary healthcare workers could play the role of trainers on childhood autism at primary healthcare level. Assessing their baseline knowledge about childhood autism to detect areas of knowledge gap is an essential ingredient in starting off such programs that would be aimed at early diagnosis and interventions. Knowledge of the healthcare workers on availability of facilities and law that would promote the required interventions is also important. This study assessed the baseline knowledge about childhood autism and opinion among Nigerian healthcare workers on availability of facilities and law caring for the needs and rights of children with childhood autism and other developmental disorders.
Method
A total of one hundred and thirty four (134) consented healthcare workers working in tertiary healthcare facilities located in south east and south-south regions of Nigeria were interviewed with Socio-demographic, Knowledge about Childhood Autism among Health Workers (KCAHW) and Opinion on availability of Facilities and Law caring for the needs and rights of children with Childhood Autism and other developmental disorders (OFLCA) questionnaires.
Results
The total mean score of participated healthcare workers on KCAHW questionnaire was 12.35 ± 4.40 out of a total score of 19 possible. Knowledge gap was found to be higher in domain 3 (symptoms of obsessive and repetitive pattern of behavior), followed by domains 1 (symptoms of impairments in social interaction), 4 (type of disorder autism is and associated co-morbidity) and 2 (symptoms of communication impairments) of KCAHW respectively among the healthcare workers. Knowledge about childhood autism (KCA) as measured by scores on KCAHW questionnaire was significantly associated with age group distribution of the healthcare workers, with those age group of fourth decades and above more likely to have higher mean score (p = 0.004) and previous experience of managing children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (p = 0.000). KCA showed near significant association with area of specialty, with those healthcare workers in psychiatry compared to pediatrics having higher mean score (p = 0.071) and also with years of working experience of the healthcare workers (p = 0.056). More than half of the healthcare workers subscribed to the opinion that facilities and law caring for the needs and rights of children with childhood autism and other developmental disorders are lacking in Nigeria.
Conclusion
The correlates of KCA may help in selection of those tertiary healthcare workers that would best fit the role of trainers. It is important to update the knowledge gaps of those healthcare workers who scored low in different domains of KCAHW questionnaire. It is imperative for policy makers in Nigeria to advocate and implement multidisciplinary healthcare service system that would ensure early diagnosis and interventions. Nationally representative baseline epidemiological data that would guide policy and planning are also desirable.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-9-12
PMCID: PMC2650693  PMID: 19216754
20.  Factors Affecting the Delivery, Access, and Use of Interventions to Prevent Malaria in Pregnancy in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001488.
Jenny Hill and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies to explore the factors that affect the delivery, access, and use of interventions to prevent malaria in pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria in pregnancy has important consequences for mother and baby. Coverage with the World Health Organization–recommended prevention strategy for pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) and insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) is low. We conducted a systematic review to explore factors affecting delivery, access, and use of IPTp and ITNs among healthcare providers and women.
Methods and Results
We searched the Malaria in Pregnancy Library and Global Health Database from 1 January 1990 to 23 April 2013, without language restriction. Data extraction was performed by two investigators independently, and data was appraised for quality and content. Data on barriers and facilitators, and the effect of interventions, were explored using content analysis and narrative synthesis. We conducted a meta-analysis of determinants of IPTp and ITN uptake using random effects models, and performed subgroup analysis to evaluate consistency across interventions and study populations, countries, and enrolment sites. We did not perform a meta-ethnography of qualitative data.
Ninety-eight articles were included, of which 20 were intervention studies. Key barriers to the provision of IPTp and ITNs were unclear policy and guidance on IPTp; general healthcare system issues, such as stockouts and user fees; health facility issues stemming from poor organisation, leading to poor quality of care; poor healthcare provider performance, including confusion over the timing of each IPTp dose; and women's poor antenatal attendance, affecting IPTp uptake. Key determinants of IPTp coverage were education, knowledge about malaria/IPTp, socio-economic status, parity, and number and timing of antenatal clinic visits. Key determinants of ITN coverage were employment status, education, knowledge about malaria/ITNs, age, and marital status. Predictors showed regional variations.
Conclusions
Delivery of ITNs through antenatal clinics presents fewer problems than delivery of IPTp. Many obstacles to IPTp delivery are relatively simple barriers that could be resolved in the short term. Other barriers are more entrenched within the overall healthcare system or socio-economic/cultural contexts, and will require medium- to long-term strategies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Half the world's population is at risk of malaria, a mosquito-borne parasite that kills a million people every year. Most of these deaths occur among young children in sub-Saharan Africa, but pregnant women and their unborn babies are also vulnerable to malaria. Infection with malaria during pregnancy can cause maternal death, severe maternal anemia, miscarriages, and pre-term and low-birth-weight babies. Malaria in pregnancy is responsible for about 100,000 babies and 10,000 women dying every year but is preventable by simple, inexpensive interventions that have been available for many years. The World Health Organization recommends a three-pronged approach to the prevention of malaria in pregnancy in areas with stable malaria transmission in Africa—delivery of the antimalarial drug sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine to pregnant women during antenatal clinic visits (intermittent preventative treatment in pregnancy; IPTp), the use of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) to protect pregnant women from the bites of infected mosquitoes, and effective diagnosis and case management of pregnant women with malarial illness.
Why Was This Study Done?
Coverage with this prevention strategy is currently very low. Recent survey data from sub-Saharan African countries suggest that only about a quarter of pregnant women receive two doses of IPTp and only about a third use ITNs. To improve coverage, public health experts need to understand why coverage is so low, and they need to know the factors (determinants) that are associated with the uptake of IPTp and ITNs. In this systematic review and meta-analysis of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies, the researchers explore the factors that affect delivery, access, and use of IPTp and ITNs among pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic. Meta-analysis is a statistical method for combining the results of several studies. Qualitative studies collect non-quantitative data such as reasons for not accepting an intervention, whereas quantitative studies collect numerical data such as the proportion of a population accepting an intervention.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers' search of the Malaria in Pregnancy Library (a resource maintained by the Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium) and the Global Health Database identified 98 studies that provided data on barriers to and determinants of IPTp and ITN uptake and/or data on interventions designed to increase IPTp and ITN uptake. The researchers explored these data using content analysis (a research methodology that examines words and phrases within texts) and narrative synthesis (a method for summarizing results drawn from several qualitative studies). Key barriers to the provision and uptake of IPTp and ITNs included unclear policy and guidance on IPTp, general healthcare system issues such as drug shortages, healthcare facility issues such as unavailability of water for the provision of IPTp by directly observed therapy, poor healthcare provider performance such as confusion about the timing of IPTp doses, and the delayed antenatal care-seeking practices of pregnant women. The researchers' meta-analysis identified education, knowledge about malaria, socio-economic status, number and timing of antenatal clinic visits, and number of pregnancies as key determinants of IPTp uptake, and employment status, education, knowledge, age, and marital status as key determinants of coverage of ITN use. So, for example, highly educated women were more likely to receive IPTp or ITNs than poorly educated women.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings identify key interacting barriers to access, delivery, and use of IPTp and ITNs in sub-Saharan Africa and show that these barriers are relatively consistent across countries. Moreover, they suggest that there are fewer barriers to the delivery of ITNs through antenatal clinics than to the delivery of IPTp. Importantly, some of the barriers to IPTp uptake can be resolved in the short term (for example, simplification of country policies and guidance on IPTp might increase its uptake), but barriers to uptake that are entrenched within the overall healthcare system will only be resolved with medium- to long-term strategies that aim to improve the quality of antenatal services and to encourage antenatal clinic use among women. Overall, this analysis provides a checklist of factors that policy-makers involved in national malaria programs may be able to use to help them decide which interventions to prioritize. However, the researchers warn, multi-country studies are nevertheless urgently needed to evaluate targeted or multifaceted interventions designed to increase delivery and uptake of IPTp and ITNs, to reduce the adverse consequences of malaria in pregnancy.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001488.
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages) and on IPTp; the World Malaria Report 2012 provides details of the current global malaria situation
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on malaria and on IPTp; a personal story about malaria in pregnancy is available
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on all aspects of global malaria control, including information on malaria in pregnancy
The Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium is undertaking research into the prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001488
PMCID: PMC3720261  PMID: 23935459
21.  Socio-cultural factors explaining timely and appropriate use of health facilities for degedege in south-eastern Tanzania 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:144.
Background
Convulsions is one of the key signs of severe malaria among children under five years of age, potentially leading to serious complications or death. Several studies of care-seeking behaviour have revealed that local illness concepts linked to convulsions (referred to as degedege in Tanzanian Kiswahili) called for traditional treatment practices while modern treatment was preferred for common fevers. However, recent studies found that even children with convulsions were first brought to health facilities. This study integrated ethnographic and public health approaches in order to investigate this seemingly contradictory evidence. Carefully drawn random samples were used to maximize the representativity of the results.
Methods
The study used a cultural epidemiology approach and applied a locally adapted version of the Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue (EMIC), which ensures a comprehensive investigation of disease perception and treatment patterns. The tool was applied in three studies; i) the 2004 random sample cross-sectional community fever survey (N = 80), ii) the 2004–2006 longitudinal degedege study (N = 129), and iii) the 2005 cohort study on fever during the main farming season (N = 29).
Results
71.1% of all convulsion cases were brought to a health facility in time, i.e. within 24 hours after onset of first symptoms. This compares very favourably with a figure of 45.6% for mild fever cases in children. The patterns of distress associated with less timely health facility use and receipt of anti-malarials among children with degedege were generalized symptoms, rather than the typical symptoms of convulsions. Traditional and moral causes were associated with less timely health facility use and receipt of anti-malarials. However, the high rate of appropriate action indicates that these ideas were not so influential any more as in the past. Reasons given by caretakers who administered anti-malarials to children without attending a health facility were either that facilities were out of stock, that they lacked money to pay for treatment, or that facilities did not provide diagnosis.
Conclusion
The findings from this sample from a highly malaria-endemic area give support to the more recent studies showing that children with convulsions are more likely to use health facilities than traditional practices. This study has identified health system and livelihood factors, rather than local understandings of symptoms and causes relating to degedege as limiting health-seeking behaviours. Improvements on the supply side and the demand side are necessary to ensure people's timely and appropriate treatment: Quality of care at health facilities needs to be improved by making diagnosis and provider compliance with treatment guidelines more accurate and therapies including drugs more available and affordable to communities. Treatment seeking needs to be facilitated by strengthening livelihoods including economic capabilities.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-8-144
PMCID: PMC2712476  PMID: 19563640
22.  Health care utilisation amongst Shenzhen migrant workers: does being insured make a difference? 
Background
As one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the Pearl River Delta of South China, Shenzhen attracts millions of migrant workers annually. The objectives of this study were to compare health needs, self-reported health and healthcare utilisation of insured and uninsured migrant workers in Shenzhen, China, where a new health insurance scheme targeting at migrant workers was initiated.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey using multi-staged sampling was conducted to collect data from migrant factory workers. Statistical tests included logistic regression analysis were used.
Results
Among 4634 subjects (96.54%) who responded to the survey, 55.11% were uninsured. Disease patterns were similar irrespective of insurance status. The uninsured were more likely to be female, single, younger and less educated unskilled labourers with a lower monthly income compared with the insured. Out of 1136 who reported illness in the previous two weeks, 62.15% did not visit a doctor. Of the 296 who were referred for inpatient care, 48.65% did not attend because of inability to pay. Amongst those who reported sickness, 548 were insured and 588 were uninsured.
Those that were insured, and had easier access to care were more likely to make doctor visits than those who were uninsured.
Conclusion
Health care utilisation patterns differ between insured and uninsured workers and insurance status appears to be a significant factor. The health insurance system is inequitably distributed amongst migrant workers. Younger less educated women who are paid less are more likely to be uninsured and therefore to pay out of pocket for their care. For greater equity this group need to be included in the insurance schemes as they develop.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-214
PMCID: PMC2788549  PMID: 19930580
23.  Etiological explanation, treatability and preventability of childhood autism: a survey of Nigerian healthcare workers' opinion 
Background
Because of their peculiar sociocultural background, healthcare workers in sub-Saharan African subcultures may have various conceptions on different aspects of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), such as etiology, treatment and issues of prognosis. These various conceptions, if different from current knowledge in literature about ASD, may negatively influence help-seeking behavior of parents of children with ASD who seek advice and information from the healthcare workers. This study assessed the opinions of healthcare workers in Nigeria on aspects of etiology, treatability and preventability of childhood autism, and relates their opinions to the sociodemographic variables.
Methods
Healthcare workers working in four tertiary healthcare facilities located in the south-east and south-south regions of Nigeria were interviewed with a sociodemographic questionnaire, personal opinion on etiology, treatability and preventability of childhood autism (POETPCA) questionnaire and knowledge about childhood autism among health workers (KCAHW) questionnaire to assess their knowledge and opinions on various aspects of childhood autism.
Results
A total of 134 healthcare workers participated in the study. In all, 78 (58.2%), 19 (14.2%) and 36 (26.9%) of the healthcare workers were of the opinion that the etiology of childhood autism can be explained by natural, preternatural and supernatural causes, respectively. One (0.7%) of the healthcare workers was unsure of the explanation of the etiology. Knowledge about childhood autism as measured by scores on the KCAHW questionnaire was the only factor significantly associated with the opinions of the healthcare workers on etiology of childhood autism. In all, 73 (54.5%) and 43 (32.1%), of the healthcare workers subscribed to the opinion that childhood autism is treatable and preventable respectively. Previous involvement with managing children with ASD significantly influenced the opinion of the healthcare workers in subscribing to treatability of childhood autism, while working experience of less than 6 years among the healthcare workers significantly influenced the opinion of the healthcare workers in admitting to believing in the preventability of childhood autism.
Conclusion
In designing policies and programs to change negative opinions or beliefs of healthcare workers about childhood autism, there is a need for baseline information such as this survey. Changing the negative opinions or beliefs of the healthcare workers about childhood autism should encourage appropriate help-seeking behavior among parents of children with ASD who may be seeking advice or information from the healthcare workers. This would encourage early interventions, which are essential to prognosis of childhood autism.
doi:10.1186/1744-859X-8-6
PMCID: PMC2646731  PMID: 19216745
24.  Prevalence, risk factors and treatment-seeking behaviour for malaria: the results of a case study from the Terai region of West Bengal, India 
India is among the countries that are worse affected by human malaria, one of the major vector-borne diseases that continue to affect vast populations across the world. In a recent household survey in the Terai region of eastern India, the factors that might explain the occurrence and clustering of human malaria and the consequent healthcare-seeking behaviour of the human population were explored. The topography and geo-climatic conditions in Terai appear to intensify the risks of malaria but some socio–economic attributes, such as engagement in agricultural occupations, poor economic status and congested household environments, were also identified as significant risk factors for the disease. In the study area, public health facilities predominate as sources of medical care for malaria, although, at least in the early stages of treatment seeking, informal providers and pharmacies are also often involved. Unfortunately, despite the high frequency of malarial outbreaks, the local public health facilities were found to be ill-equipped to tackle and contain the spread of malaria. Preventive public-health measures, health education on malaria and malaria-awareness exercises were found to be scarce and irregular. The reliance on a reactive strategy of offering curative care to the affected led to overcrowding in healthcare facilities and shortages of medicines and diagnostic procedures. Along with a more efficient and reliable emergency system to deal with major outbreaks of malaria, more effective convergent interventions, by the local government and other stakeholders, should be developed to help prevent the disease.
doi:10.1179/136485911X12987676649548
PMCID: PMC4090793  PMID: 21801498
25.  Tuberculosis among Health-Care Workers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e494.
Background
The risk of transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from patients to health-care workers (HCWs) is a neglected problem in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Most health-care facilities in these countries lack resources to prevent nosocomial transmission of tuberculosis (TB).
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review to summarize the evidence on the incidence and prevalence of latent TB infection (LTBI) and disease among HCWs in LMICs, and to evaluate the impact of various preventive strategies that have been attempted. To identify relevant studies, we searched electronic databases and journals, and contacted experts in the field. We identified 42 articles, consisting of 51 studies, and extracted data on incidence, prevalence, and risk factors for LTBI and disease among HCWs. The prevalence of LTBI among HCWs was, on average, 54% (range 33% to 79%). Estimates of the annual risk of LTBI ranged from 0.5% to 14.3%, and the annual incidence of TB disease in HCWs ranged from 69 to 5,780 per 100,000. The attributable risk for TB disease in HCWs, compared to the risk in the general population, ranged from 25 to 5,361 per 100,000 per year. A higher risk of acquiring TB disease was associated with certain work locations (inpatient TB facility, laboratory, internal medicine, and emergency facilities) and occupational categories (radiology technicians, patient attendants, nurses, ward attendants, paramedics, and clinical officers).
Conclusions
In summary, our review demonstrates that TB is a significant occupational problem among HCWs in LMICs. Available evidence reinforces the need to design and implement simple, effective, and affordable TB infection-control programs in health-care facilities in these countries.
A systematic review demonstrates that tuberculosis is an important occupational problem among health care workers in low and middle-income countries.
Editors' Summary
Background.
One third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). In many people, the bug causes no health problems—it remains latent. But about 10% of infected people develop active, potentially fatal TB, often in their lungs. People with active pulmonary TB readily spread the infection to other people, including health-care workers (HCWs), in small airborne droplets produced when they cough or sneeze. In high-income countries such as the US, guidelines are in place to minimize the transmission of TB in health-care facilities. Administrative controls (for example, standard treatment plans for people with suspected or confirmed TB) aim to reduce the exposure of HCWs to people with TB. Environmental controls (for example, the use of special isolation rooms) aim to prevent the spread and to reduce the concentration of infectious droplets in the air. Finally, respiratory-protection controls (for example, personal respirators for nursing staff) aim to reduce the risk of infection when exposure to M. tuberculosis is unavoidably high. Together, these three layers of control have reduced the incidence of TB in HCWs (the number who catch TB annually) in high-income countries.
Why Was This Study Done?
But what about low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where more than 90% of the world's cases of TB occur? Here, there is little money available to implement even low-cost strategies to reduce TB transmission in health-care facilities—so how important an occupational disease is TB in HCWs in these countries? In this study, the researchers have systematically reviewed published papers to find out the incidence and prevalence (how many people in a population have a specific disease) of active TB and latent TB infections (LTBIs) in HCWs in LMICs. They have also investigated whether any of the preventative strategies used in high-income countries have been shown to reduce the TB burden in HCWs in poorer countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To identify studies on TB transmission to HCWs in LMICs, the researchers searched electronic databases and journals, and also contacted experts on TB transmission. They then extracted and analyzed the relevant data on TB incidence, prevalence, risk factors, and control measures. Averaged-out over the 51 identified studies, 54% of HCWs had LTBI. In most of the studies, increasing age and duration of employment in health-care facilities, indicating a longer cumulative exposure to infection, was associated with a higher prevalence of LTBI. The same trend was seen in a subgroup of medical and nursing students. After accounting for the incidence of TB in the relevant general population, the excess incidence of TB in the different studies that was attributable to being a HCW ranged from 25 to 5,361 cases per 100, 000 people per year. In addition, a higher risk of acquiring TB was associated with working in specific locations (for example, inpatient TB facilities or diagnostic laboratories) and with specific occupations, including nurses and radiology attendants; most of the health-care facilities examined in the published studies had no specific TB infection-control programs in place.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all systematic reviews, the accuracy of these findings may be limited by some aspects of the original studies, such as how the incidence of LTBI was measured. In addition, the possibility that the researchers missed some relevant published studies, or that only studies where there was a high incidence of TB in HCWs were published, may also affect the findings of this study. Nevertheless, they suggest that TB is an important occupational disease in HCWs in LMICs and that the HCWs most at risk of TB are those exposed to the most patients with TB. Reduction of that risk should be a high priority because occupational TB leads to the loss of essential, skilled HCWs. Unfortunately, there are few data available to indicate how this should be done. Thus, the researchers conclude, well-designed field studies are urgently needed to evaluate whether the TB-control measures that have reduced TB transmission to HCWs in high-income countries will work and be affordable in LMICs.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030494.
• US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases patient fact sheet on tuberculosis
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information for patients and professionals on tuberculosis
• MedlinePlus encyclopedia entry on tuberculosis
• NHS Direct Online, from the UK National Health Service, patient information on tuberculosis
• US National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, information about tuberculosis for health-care workers
• American Lung Association information on tuberculosis and health-care workers
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030494
PMCID: PMC1716189  PMID: 17194191

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