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1.  Why caretakers bypass Primary Health Care facilities for child care - a case from rural Tanzania 
Background
Research on health care utilization in low income countries suggests that patients frequently bypass PHC facilities in favour of higher-level hospitals - despite substantial additional time and financial costs. There are limited number of studies focusing on user's experiences at such facilities and reasons for bypassing them. This study aimed to identify factors associated with bypassing PHC facilities among caretakers seeking care for their underfive children and to explore experiences at such facilities among those who utilize them.
Methods
The study employed a mixed-method approach consisting of an interviewer administered questionnaires and in-depth interviews among selected care-takers seeking care for their underfive children at Korogwe and Muheza district hospitals in north-eastern Tanzania.
Results
The questionnaire survey included 560 caretakers. Of these 30 in-depth interviews were conducted. Fifty nine percent (206/348) of caretakers had not utilized their nearer PHC facilities during the index child's sickness episode. The reasons given for bypassing PHC facilities were lack of possibilities for diagnostic facilities (42.2%), lack of drugs (15.5%), closed health facility (10.2%), poor services (9.7%) and lack of skilled health workers (3.4%). In a regression model, the frequency of bypassing a PHC facility for child care increased significantly with decreasing travel time to the district hospital, shorter duration of symptoms and low disease severity.
Findings from the in-depth interviews revealed how the lack of quality services at PHC facilities caused delays in accessing appropriate care and how the experiences of inadequate care caused users to lose trust in them.
Conclusion
The observation that people are willing to travel long distances to get better quality services calls for health policies that prioritize quality of care before quantity. In a situation with limited resources, utilizing available resources to improve quality of care at available facilities could be more appropriate for improving access to health care than increasing the number of facilities. This would also improve equity in health care access since the poor who can not afford travelling costs will then get access to quality services at their nearer PHC facilities.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-315
PMCID: PMC3234197  PMID: 22094076
2.  Decreasing incidence of severe malaria and community-acquired bacteraemia among hospitalized children in Muheza, north-eastern Tanzania, 2006-2010 
Malaria Journal  2011;10:320.
Background
The annual incidence and temporal trend of severe malaria and community-acquired bacteraemia during a four-year period in Muheza, Tanzania was assessed.
Methods
Data on severely ill febrile children aged 2 months to 14 years from three prospective studies conducted at Muheza District Hospital from 2006 to 2010 was pooled and analysed. On admission, each enrolled child had a thin and thick blood film and at least one rapid diagnostic test for falciparum malaria, as well as a blood culture. The annual incidence of bacteraemia and severe malaria among children coming from Muheza was calculated and their temporal trend was assessed.
Results
Overall, 1, 898 severe falciparum malaria and 684 bacteraemia cases were included. Of these, 1, 356 (71%) and 482 (71%), respectively, were from the referral population of Muheza. The incidence of falciparum malaria and all-cause bacteraemia in Muheza decreased five-fold and three-fold, respectively, from the first to the fourth year of surveillance (p < 0.0001). During this period, the median ages of children from Muheza admitted with severe malaria increased from 1.7 to 2.5 years (p < 0.0001). The reduction in all-cause bacteraemia was mainly driven by the 11-fold decline in the incidence of non-typhoidal salmonellosis. The annual incidences of Haemophilus influenzae and pneumococcal invasive bacterial infections decreased as well but were much fewer in number.
Conclusions
These results add to the growing evidence of the decline in malaria associated with a decrease in non-typhoidal salmonellosis and possibly other bacteraemias. Malarial prevention and control strategies may provide a greater benefit than the mere reduction of malaria alone.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-320
PMCID: PMC3219788  PMID: 22029477
Bacteraemia; malaria; invasive non-typhoidal salmonellosis; typhoid fever
3.  Is Housing Quality Associated with Malaria Incidence among Young Children and Mosquito Vector Numbers? Evidence from Korogwe, Tanzania 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87358.
Background
Several studies conducted in Northeast Tanzania have documented declines in malaria transmission even before interventions were scaled up. One explanation for these reductions may be the changes in socio-environmental conditions associated with economic development, and in particular improvements in housing construction.
Objective
This analysis seeks to identify (1) risk factors for malaria incidence among young children and (2) household and environmental factors associated with mosquito vector numbers collected in the child’s sleeping area. Both analyses focus on housing construction quality as a key determinant.
Methodology
For 435 children enrolled in a larger trial of intermittent preventive treatment for malaria in infants in the Korogwe District in Tanga, Northeastern Tanzania, detailed information on their dwelling characteristics were collected in the last year of the trial. Principal components analysis was used to construct an index of housing structure quality and converted to quintile units for regression analysis. Univariate and multivariate random effects negative binomial regressions were used to predict risk factors for child malaria incidence and the mean total number of indoor female Anopheles gambiae and funestus mosquitoes collected per household across three occasions.
Findings
Building materials have substantially improved in Korogwe over time. Multivariate regressions showed that residing in rural areas (versus urban) increased malaria incidence rates by over three-fold and mean indoor female A. gambiae and funestus numbers by nearly two-fold. Compared to those residing in the lowest quality houses, children residing in the highest quality houses had one-third lower malaria incidence rates, even when wealth and rural residence were controlled for. Living in the highest quality houses reduced vector numbers while having cattle near the house significantly increased them.
Conclusions
Results corroborate findings from other studies that show associations between malaria incidence and housing quality; associations were concentrated amongst the highest quality houses.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087358
PMCID: PMC3914816  PMID: 24505285
4.  Care-Seeking and Management of Common Childhood Illnesses in Tanzania – Results from the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58789.
Background
Malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea continue to kill millions of children in Africa despite the available and effective treatments. Correct diagnosis and prompt treatment with effective drugs at the first option consulted for child care is crucial for preventing severe disease and death from these illnesses. Using the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey data, the present study aims to assess care-seeking and management of suspected malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea at various health care facilities in Tanzania.
Methods
We analyzed data for 8176 children born within a 5 years period preceding the survey.The information was collected by interviewing 5519 women aged 15–49 years in 10,300 households selected from 475 sample points throughout Tanzania.
Results
The most common first option for child care was PHC facilities (54.8%), followed by private pharmacies (23.4%). These were more commonly utilized in rural compared to urban areas: 61.2% versus 34.5% for PHC facilities, and 26.5% versus 17.7% for pharmacies. Women in urban areas and those with higher level of education more commonly utilized higher level hospitals and private facilities as their first option for child care. Only one in four children with fever had received a blood test during the illness with lowest proportion being reported among children solely attended at PHC facilities. Use of abandoned antimalarial drugs for the treatment of suspected malaria was also observed in public health facilities and antibiotics use for diarrhoea treatment was high (49.0%).
Conclusions
PHC facilities and pharmacies most commonly provided sub-optimal care. These facilities were more commonly utilized as the first option for child care in rural areas and among the poor and non-educated families. These are groups with the highest child mortality, which calls for interventions’ targeting improvement of care at these facilities to further reduce child mortality from treatable illnesses in Tanzania.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058789
PMCID: PMC3595288  PMID: 23554926
5.  WHO guidelines for antimicrobial treatment in children admitted to hospital in an area of intense Plasmodium falciparum transmission: prospective study 
Objectives To assess the performance of WHO’s “Guidelines for care at the first-referral level in developing countries” in an area of intense malaria transmission and identify bacterial infections in children with and without malaria.
Design Prospective study.
Setting District hospital in Muheza, northeast Tanzania.
Participants Children aged 2 months to 13 years admitted to hospital for febrile illness.
Main outcome measures Sensitivity and specificity of WHO guidelines in diagnosing invasive bacterial disease; susceptibility of isolated organisms to recommended antimicrobials.
Results Over one year, 3639 children were enrolled and 184 (5.1%) died; 2195 (60.3%) were blood slide positive for Plasmodium falciparum, 341 (9.4%) had invasive bacterial disease, and 142 (3.9%) were seropositive for HIV. The prevalence of invasive bacterial disease was lower in slide positive children (100/2195, 4.6%) than in slide negative children (241/1444, 16.7%). Non-typhi Salmonella was the most frequently isolated organism (52/100 (52%) of organisms in slide positive children and 108/241 (45%) in slide negative children). Mortality among children with invasive bacterial disease was significantly higher (58/341, 17%) than in children without invasive bacterial disease (126/3298, 3.8%) (P<0.001), and this was true regardless of the presence of P falciparum parasitaemia. The sensitivity and specificity of WHO criteria in identifying invasive bacterial disease in slide positive children were 60.0% (95% confidence interval 58.0% to 62.1%) and 53.5% (51.4% to 55.6%), compared with 70.5% (68.2% to 72.9%) and 48.1% (45.6% to 50.7%) in slide negative children. In children with WHO criteria for invasive bacterial disease, only 99/211(47%) of isolated organisms were susceptible to the first recommended antimicrobial agent.
Conclusions In an area exposed to high transmission of malaria, current WHO guidelines failed to identify almost a third of children with invasive bacterial disease, and more than half of the organisms isolated were not susceptible to currently recommended antimicrobials. Improved diagnosis and treatment of invasive bacterial disease are needed to reduce childhood mortality.
doi:10.1136/bmj.c1350
PMCID: PMC2847687  PMID: 20354024
6.  Candidate Human Genetic Polymorphisms and Severe Malaria in a Tanzanian Population 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47463.
Human genetic background strongly influences susceptibility to malaria infection and progression to severe disease and death. Classical genetic studies identified haemoglobinopathies and erythrocyte-associated polymorphisms, as protective against severe disease. High throughput genotyping by mass spectrometry allows multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to be examined simultaneously. We compared the prevalence of 65 human SNP's, previously associated with altered risk of malaria, between Tanzanian children with and without severe malaria. Five hundred children, aged 1–10 years, with severe malaria were recruited from those admitted to hospital in Muheza, Tanzania and compared with matched controls. Genotyping was performed by Sequenom MassArray, and conventional PCR was used to detect deletions in the alpha-thalassaemia gene. SNPs in two X-linked genes were associated with altered risk of severe malaria in females but not in males: heterozygosity for one or other of two SNPs in the G6PD gene was associated with protection from all forms of severe disease whilst two SNPs in the gene encoding CD40L were associated with respiratory distress. A SNP in the adenyl cyclase 9 (ADCY9) gene was associated with protection from acidosis whilst a polymorphism in the IL-1α gene (IL1A) was associated with an increased risk of acidosis. SNPs in the genes encoding IL-13 and reticulon-3 (RTN3) were associated with increased risk of cerebral malaria. This study confirms previously known genetic associations with protection from severe malaria (HbS, G6PD). It identifies two X-linked genes associated with altered risk of severe malaria in females, identifies mutations in ADCY9, IL1A and CD40L as being associated with altered risk of severe respiratory distress and acidosis, both of which are characterised by high serum lactate levels, and also identifies novel genetic associations with severe malaria (TRIM5) and cerebral malaria(IL-13 and RTN3). Further studies are required to test the generality of these associations and to understand their functional consequences.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047463
PMCID: PMC3483265  PMID: 23144702
7.  Distinguishing Malaria from Severe Pneumonia among Hospitalized Children who Fulfilled Integrated Management of Childhood Illness Criteria for Both Diseases: A Hospital-Based Study in Mozambique 
Malaria and severe pneumonia in hospitalized young children may show striking clinical similarities, making differential diagnosis challenging. We investigated ways to increase diagnostic accuracy in patients hospitalized with clinical symptoms compatible with malaria and severe pneumonia, in an area with high a prevalence of infection with human immunodeficiency virus. A total of 646 children admitted at the Manhiça District Hospital in Manhiça, Mozambique who met the World Health Organization clinical criteria for severe pneumonia and malaria were recruited for 12 months and thoroughly investigated to ascertain an accurate diagnosis. Although symptom overlap between malaria and severe pneumonia was frequent among hospitalized children, true disease overlap was uncommon. Clinical presentation and laboratory determinations were ineffective in reliably distinguishing between the two diseases. Infection with human immunodeficiency virus differentially influenced the epidemiology and clinical presentation of these two infectious diseases, further challenging their discrimination on clinical grounds, and having a greater impact on the current burden and prognosis of severe pneumonia.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2011.11-0223
PMCID: PMC3183767  PMID: 21976562
8.  Malaria risk factors in north-east Tanzania 
Malaria Journal  2011;10:98.
Background
Understanding the factors which determine a household's or individual's risk of malaria infection is important for targeting control interventions at all intensities of transmission. Malaria ecology in Tanzania appears to have reduced over recent years. This study investigated potential risk factors and clustering in face of changing infection dynamics.
Methods
Household survey data were collected in villages of rural Muheza district. Children aged between six months and thirteen years were tested for presence of malaria parasites using microscopy. A multivariable logistic regression model was constructed to identify significant risk factors for children. Geographical information systems combined with global positioning data and spatial scan statistic analysis were used to identify clusters of malaria.
Results
Using an insecticide-treated mosquito net of any type proved to be highly protective against malaria (OR 0.75, 95% CI 0.59-0.96). Children aged five to thirteen years were at higher risk of having malaria than those aged under five years (OR 1.71, 95% CI 1.01-2.91). The odds of malaria were less for females when compared to males (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.39-0.98). Two spatial clusters of significantly increased malaria risk were identified in two out of five villages.
Conclusions
This study provides evidence that recent declines in malaria transmission and prevalence may shift the age groups at risk of malaria infection to older children. Risk factor analysis provides support for universal coverage and targeting of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) to all age groups. Clustering of cases indicates heterogeneity of risk. Improved targeting of LLINs or additional supplementary control interventions to high risk clusters may improve outcomes and efficiency as malaria transmission continues to fall under intensified control.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-98
PMCID: PMC3094229  PMID: 21507217
9.  Two treatments, one disease: childhood malaria management in Tanga, Tanzania 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:240.
Background
In the Tanga District of coastal Tanzania, malaria is one of the primary causes of mortality for children under the age of five. While some children are treated with malaria medications in biomedical facilities, as the World Health Organization recommends, others receive home-care or treatment from traditional healers. Recognition of malaria is difficult because symptoms can range from fever with uncomplicated malaria to convulsions with severe malaria. This study explores why caregivers in the Tanga District of Tanzania pursue particular courses of action to deal with malaria in their children.
Methods
Qualitative data were collected through interviews with three samples: female caregivers of children under five (N = 61), medical practitioners (N = 28), and traditional healers (N = 18) in urban, peri-urban, and rural areas. The female caregiver sample is intentionally stratified to reflect the greater population of the Tanga District in level of education, marital status, gender of household head, religion, and tribal group affiliation. Qualitative data were counted, coded and analysed using NVivo7 software.
Results
Results indicate that a variety of factors influence treatment choice, including socio-cultural beliefs about malaria symptoms, associations with spiritual affliction requiring traditional healing, knowledge of malaria, and fear of certain anti-malaria treatment procedures. Most notably, some caregivers identified convulsions as a spiritual condition, unrelated to malaria. While nearly all caregivers reported attending biomedical facilities to treat children with fever (N = 60/61), many caregivers stated that convulsions are best treated by traditional healers (N = 26/61). Qualitative interviews with medical practitioners and traditional healers confirmed this belief.
Conclusion
Results offer insight into current trends in malaria management and have implications in healthcare policy, educational campaigns, and the importance of integrating traditional and biomedical approaches.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-8-240
PMCID: PMC2779815  PMID: 19860900
10.  Accuracy of malaria rapid diagnostic tests in community studies and their impact on treatment of malaria in an area with declining malaria burden in north-eastern Tanzania 
Malaria Journal  2011;10:176.
Background
Despite some problems related to accuracy and applicability of malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), they are currently the best option in areas with limited laboratory services for improving case management through parasitological diagnosis and reducing over-treatment. This study was conducted in areas with declining malaria burden to assess; 1) the accuracy of RDTs when used at different community settings, 2) the impact of using RDTs on anti-malarial dispensing by community-owned resource persons (CORPs) and 3) adherence of CORPs to treatment guidelines by providing treatment based on RDT results.
Methods
Data were obtained from: 1) a longitudinal study of passive case detection of fevers using CORPs in six villages in Korogwe; and 2) cross-sectional surveys (CSS) in six villages of Korogwe and Muheza districts, north-eastern, Tanzania. Performance of RDTs was compared with microscopy as a gold standard, and factors affecting their accuracy were explored using a multivariate logistic regression model.
Results
Overall sensitivity and specificity of RDTs in the longitudinal study (of 23,793 febrile cases; 18,154 with microscopy and RDTs results) were 88.6% and 88.2%, respectively. In the CSS, the sensitivity was significantly lower (63.4%; χ2 = 367.7, p < 0.001), while the specificity was significantly higher (94.3%; χ2 = 143.1, p < 0.001) when compared to the longitudinal study. As determinants of sensitivity of RDTs in both studies, parasite density of < 200 asexual parasites/μl was significantly associated with high risk of false negative RDTs (OR≥16.60, p < 0.001), while the risk of false negative test was significantly lower among cases with fever (axillary temperature ≥37.5°C) (OR ≤ 0.63, p ≤ 0.027). The risk of false positive RDT (as a determinant of specificity) was significantly higher in cases with fever compared to afebrile cases (OR≥2.40, p < 0.001). Using RDTs reduced anti-malarials dispensing from 98.9% to 32.1% in cases aged ≥5 years.
Conclusion
Although RDTs had low sensitivity and specificity, which varied widely depending on fever and parasite density, using RDTs reduced over-treatment with anti-malarials significantly. Thus, with declining malaria prevalence, RDTs will potentially identify majority of febrile cases with parasites and lead to improved management of malaria and non-malaria fevers.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-176
PMCID: PMC3145609  PMID: 21703016
11.  Intermittent preventive treatment of malaria during pregnancy: a qualitative study of knowledge, attitudes and practices of district health managers, antenatal care staff and pregnant women in Korogwe District, North-Eastern Tanzania 
Malaria Journal  2005;4:31.
Background
Intermittent preventive treatment of malaria during pregnancy (IPTp) is a key intervention in the national strategy for malaria control in Tanzania. SP, the current drug of choice, is recommended to be administered in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy during antenatal care (ANC) visits. To allow for a proper design of planned scaling up of IPT services in Tanzania it is useful to understand the IPTp strategy's acceptability to health managers, ANC service providers and pregnant women. This study assesses the knowledge, attitudes and practices of these groups in relation to malaria control with emphasis on IPTp services.
Methods
The study was conducted in February 2004, in Korogwe District, Tanzania. It involved in-depth interviews with the district medical officer (DMO), district hospital medical officer in charge and relevant health service staff at two peripheral dispensaries, and separate focus group discussions (FGDs) with district Council Health Management Team members at district level and pregnant women at dispensary and community levels.
Results
Knowledge of malaria risks during pregnancy was high among pregnant women although some women did not associate coma and convulsions with malaria. Contacting traditional healers and self-medication with local herbs for malaria management was reported to be common. Pregnant women and ANC staff were generally aware of SP as the drug recommended for IPTp, albeit some nurses and the majority of pregnant women expressed concern about the use of SP during pregnancy. Some pregnant women testified that sometimes ANC staff allow the women to swallow SP tablets at home which gives a room for some women to throw away SP tablets after leaving the clinic. The DMO was sceptical about health workers' compliance with the direct observed therapy in administering SP for IPTp due to a shortage of clean water and cups at ANC clinics. Intensified sensitization of pregnant women about the benefits of IPTp was suggested by the study participants as an important approach for improving IPTp compliance.
Conclusion
The successful implementation of the IPTp strategy in Tanzania depends on the proper planning of, and support to, the training of health staff and sustained sensitization of pregnant women at health facility and community levels about the benefits of IPTp for the women and their unborn babies.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-4-31
PMCID: PMC1187919  PMID: 16033639
12.  Epidemiology of malaria in an area prepared for clinical trials in Korogwe, north-eastern Tanzania 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:165.
Background
Site preparation is a pre-requesite in conducting malaria vaccines trials. This study was conducted in 12 villages to determine malariometric indices and associated risk factors, during long and short rainy seasons, in an area with varying malaria transmission intensities in Korogwe district, Tanzania. Four villages had passive case detection (PCD) of fever system using village health workers.
Methods
Four malariometric cross-sectional surveys were conducted between November 2005 and May 2007 among individuals aged 0–19 years, living in lowland urban, lowland rural and highland strata. A total of 10,766 blood samples were collected for malaria parasite diagnosis and anaemia estimation. Blood smears were stained with Giemsa while haemoglobin level was measured by HaemoCue. Socio-economic data were collected between Jan-Apr 2006.
Results
Adjusting for the effect of age, the risk of Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia was significantly lower in both lowland urban, (OR = 0.26; 95%CI: 0.23–0.29, p < 0.001) and highlands, (OR = 0.21; 95%CI: 0.17–0.25, p < 0.001) compared to lowland rural. Individuals aged 6–9 years in the lowland rural and 4–19 years in both lowland urban and highlands had the highest parasite prevalence, whilst children below five years in all strata had the highest parasite density. Prevalence of splenomegaly and gametocyte were also lower in both lowland urban and highlands than in lowland rural. Anaemia (Hb <11 g/dl) prevalence was lowest in the lowland urban. Availability of PCD and higher socio-economic status (SES) were associated with reduced malaria and anaemia prevalence.
Conclusion
Higher SES and use of bed nets in the lowland urban could be the important factors for low malaria infections in this stratum. Results obtained here were used together with those from PCD and DSS in selecting a village for Phase 1b MSP3 vaccine trial, which was conducted in the study area in year 2008.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-8-165
PMCID: PMC2720983  PMID: 19615093
13.  Users' and health service providers' perception on quality of laboratory malaria diagnosis in Tanzania 
Malaria Journal  2011;10:78.
Background
Correct diagnosis of malaria is crucial for proper treatment of patients and surveillance of the disease. However, laboratory diagnosis of malaria in Tanzania is constrained by inadequate infrastructure, consumables and insufficient skilled personnel. Furthermore, the perceptions and attitude of health service providers (laboratory personnel and clinicians) and users (patients/care-takers) on the quality of laboratory services also present a significant challenge in the utilization of the available services. This study was conducted to assess perceptions of users and health-care providers on the quality and utilization of laboratory malaria diagnostic services in six districts from three regions in Tanzania.
Methods
Questionnaires were used to collect information from laboratory personnel, clinicians and patients or care-takers.
Results
A total of 63 laboratory personnel, 61 clinicians and 753 patients/care-takers were interviewed. Forty-six (73%) laboratory personnel claimed to be overworked, poorly motivated and that their laboratories were under-equipped. About 19% (N = 12) of the laboratory personnel were lacking professional qualification. Thirty-seven clinicians (60.7%) always requested for blood smear examination to confirm malaria. Only twenty five (41.0%) clinicians considered malaria microscopy results from their respective laboratories to be reliable. Forty-five (73.8%) clinicians reported to have been satisfied with malaria diagnostic services provided by their respective laboratories. Majority (90.2%, N = 679) of the patients or care-takers were satisfied with the laboratory services.
Conclusion
The findings show that laboratory personnel were not satisfied with the prevailing working conditions, which were reported to undermine laboratory performance. It was evident that there was no standard criteria for ordering malaria laboratory tests and test results were under-utilized. Majority of the clinicians and patients or care-takers were comfortable with the overall performance of laboratories, but laboratory results were having less impact on patient management.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-78
PMCID: PMC3084175  PMID: 21470427
14.  Healthcare seeking for diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia among children in four poor rural districts in Sierra Leone in the context of free health care: results of a cross-sectional survey 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:157.
Background
To plan for a community case management (CCM) program after the implementation of the Free Health Care Initiative (FHCI), we assessed health care seeking for children with diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia in 4 poor rural districts in Sierra Leone.
Methods
In July 2010 we undertook a cross-sectional household cluster survey and qualitative research. Caregivers of children under five years of age were interviewed about healthcare seeking. We evaluated the association of various factors with not seeking health care by obtaining adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence limits using a multivariable logistic regression model. Focus groups and in-depth interviews of young mothers, fathers and older caregivers in 12 villages explored household recognition and response to child morbidity.
Results
The response rate was 93% (n=5951). Over 85% of children were brought for care for all conditions. However, 10.8% of those with diarrhoea, 36.5% of those with presumed pneumonia and 41.0% of those with fever did not receive recommended treatment. In the multivariable models, use of traditional treatments was significantly associated with not seeking outside care for all three conditions. Qualitative data showed that traditional treatments were used due to preferences for locally available treatments and barriers to facility care that remain even after FHCI.
Conclusion
We found high healthcare seeking rates soon after the FHCI; however, many children do not receive recommended treatment, and some are given traditional treatment instead of seeking outside care. Facility care needs to be improved and the CCM program should target those few children still not accessing care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-157
PMCID: PMC3598532  PMID: 23425576
15.  Effect of HIV infection on the acute antibody response to malaria antigens in children: an observational study 
Malaria Journal  2011;10:55.
Background
In sub-Saharan Africa, the distributions of malaria and HIV widely overlap. Among pregnant and non-pregnant adults, HIV affects susceptibility to malaria, its clinical course and impairs antibody responses to malaria antigens. However, the relationship between the two diseases in childhood, when most deaths from malaria occur, is less clear. It was previously reported that HIV is associated with admission to hospital in rural Kenya with severe malaria among children, except in infancy. HIV-infected children with severe malaria were older, had higher parasite density and increased mortality, raising a hypothesis that HIV interferes with naturally acquired immunity to malaria, hence with little effect at younger ages (a shorter history of exposure). To test this hypothesis, levels of anti-merozoite and schizont extract antibodies were compared between HIV-infected and uninfected children who participated in the original study.
Methods
IgG responses to malaria antigens that are potential targets for immunity to malaria (AMA1, MSP2, MSP3 and schizont extract) were compared between 115 HIV-infected and 115 age-matched, HIV-uninfected children who presented with severe malaria. The children were classified as high and low responders for each antigen and assigned antibody-response breadth scores according to the number of antigens to which they were responsive. A predictive logistic regression model was used to test if HIV was an effect modifier on the age-related acquisition of antibody responses, with age as a continuous variable.
Results
Point estimates of the responses to all antigens were lower amongst HIV-infected children, but this was only statistically significant for AMA1 (P = 0.028). HIV-infected children were less likely to be high responders to AMA1 [OR 0.44 (95%CI, 0.2-0.90) P = 0.024]. HIV was associated with a reduced breadth of responses to individual merozoite antigens (P = 0.02). HIV strongly modified the acquisition of antibodies against schizont extract with increasing age (P < 0.0001), but did not modify the rate of age-related acquisition of responses to individual merozoite antigens.
Conclusions
In children with severe malaria, HIV infection is associated with a lower magnitude and narrower breadth of IgG responses to merozoite antigens and stunting of age-related acquisition of the IgG antibody response to schizont extract.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-55
PMCID: PMC3066111  PMID: 21375768
16.  Proximate Family Biosocial Variables Associated with Severe Malaria Disease among Under-Five Children in Resource-Poor Setting of a Rural Hospital in Eastern Nigeria 
Background:
Malaria threatens the life of under-five in rural Nigerian families. Although, factors that influence malaria in under-five are manifold. However, family biosocial factors may contribute to the variability of the clinical picture.
Aim:
To determine proximate family biosocial variable associated with severe malaria among under-five children in a resource-poor setting of a rural hospital in Eastern Nigeria.
Materials and Methods:
A cross-sectional study carried out on the families of under-five managed for malaria. Data extracted included family biosocial variables and diagnosis. An under-five child was defined to have malaria if the mother gave complaints of fever, vomiting, and other symptoms suggestive of malaria, had body temperature exceeding 37.5°C with the asexual forms of Plasmodium falciparum detected on the peripheral blood film. Severe malaria is the malaria that presents with life-threatening features like severe anemia and cerebral malaria.
Results:
The prevalence of severe malaria was 31.8% The family biosocial variables significantly associated with severe malaria were maternal low level of education (P = 0.031), family size >4 (P = 0.044), low social class of the family (P = 0.025), nonliving together of parents (P = 0.011), and poor access to health facilities (P = 0.038). The most significant predictor of severe malaria was nonliving together of parents (P = 0.000, odds ratio = 3.08, confidence interval = 1.64-5.10).
Conclusion:
This study has demonstrated that some family biosocial variables are associated with severe malaria. These families should constitute at risk families that could be targeted for malaria interventional programs.
doi:10.4103/2249-4863.120739
PMCID: PMC3902682  PMID: 24479093
Family variables; hospital; Nigeria; rural; severe malaria; under-five
17.  IgG Responses to Anopheles gambiae Salivary Antigen gSG6 Detect Variation in Exposure to Malaria Vectors and Disease Risk 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e40170.
Assessment of exposure to malaria vectors is important to our understanding of spatial and temporal variations in disease transmission and facilitates the targeting and evaluation of control efforts. Recently, an immunogenic Anopheles gambiae salivary protein (gSG6) was identified and proposed as the basis of an immuno-assay determining exposure to Afrotropical malaria vectors. In the present study, IgG responses to gSG6 and 6 malaria antigens (CSP, AMA-1, MSP-1, MSP-3, GLURP R1, and GLURP R2) were compared to Anopheles exposure and malaria incidence in a cohort of children from Korogwe district, Tanzania, an area of moderate and heterogeneous malaria transmission. Anti-gSG6 responses above the threshold for seropositivity were detected in 15% (96/636) of the children, and were positively associated with geographical variations in Anopheles exposure (OR 1.25, CI 1.01–1.54, p = 0.04). Additionally, IgG responses to gSG6 in individual children showed a strong positive association with household level mosquito exposure. IgG levels for all antigens except AMA-1 were associated with the frequency of malaria episodes following sampling. gSG6 seropositivity was strongly positively associated with subsequent malaria incidence (test for trend p = 0.004), comparable to malaria antigens MSP-1 and GLURP R2. Our results show that the gSG6 assay is sensitive to micro-epidemiological variations in exposure to Anopheles mosquitoes, and provides a correlate of malaria risk that is unrelated to immune protection. While the technique requires further evaluation in a range of malaria endemic settings, our findings suggest that the gSG6 assay may have a role in the evaluation and planning of targeted and preventative anti-malaria interventions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040170
PMCID: PMC3387013  PMID: 22768250
18.  Who Gets Prompt Access to Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapy? A Prospective Community-Based Study in Children from Rural Kilosa, Tanzania 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12104.
Background
Effective and timely case management remains one of the fundamental pillars for control of malaria. Tanzania introduced artemisinin-combination therapy [ACT] for uncomplicated malaria; however, the policy change is challenged by limited availability of ACTs due to high cost. This study aimed to determine factors influencing prompt access to ACTs among febrile children in rural Kilosa, Tanzania.
Methods and Findings
In a community-based study, 1,235 randomly selected children under five were followed up weekly for six months, in 2008. Using a structured questionnaire, children's caretakers were asked about the child's febrile history in the last seven days, and treatment actions including timing, medicines used and source of care. Caretakers' knowledge about malaria and socioeconomic and demographic data were also obtained. About half of followed-up children had at least one episode of fever. Less than half (44.8%) of febrile children were taken to government facilities. Almost one-third (37.6%; 95% CI 33.1–42.1) of febrile children had prompt access to ACT. Care-seeking from a government facility was the overriding factor, increasing the likelihood of prompt access to an ACT 18 times (OR 17.7; 95% CI 10.55–29.54; adjusted OR 16.9; 95% CI 10.06–28.28). Caretakers from the better-off household (3rd–5th quintiles) were more likely to seek care from government facilities (OR 3.66; 95% CI 2.56–5.24; adjusted OR 1.80; 95% CI 1.18–2.76). The majority of antimalarials accessed by the poor were ineffective [86.0%; 295/343], however, they paid more for them (median Tsh 500) compared to the better-offs (median Tsh 0).
Conclusions
Prompt access to ACT among febrile children was unacceptably low, due mainly to limited availability of subsidised ACT at the location where most caretakers sought care. There is urgent need to accelerate implementation of strategies that will ensure availability of ACT at an affordable price in remote rural areas, where the burden of malaria is highest.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012104
PMCID: PMC2938374  PMID: 20856897
19.  Viral etiology of severe pneumonia among Kenyan young infants and children 
Context
Pneumonia is the leading cause of childhood death in sub-Saharan Africa. Comparative estimates of the contribution of causative pathogens to the burden of disease are essential for targeted vaccine development.
Objective
To determine the viral etiology of severe pneumonia among infants and children at a rural Kenyan hospital using comprehensive and sensitive molecular diagnostic techniques.
Design, Setting & Participants
Prospective observational and case control study during 2007 in a rural Kenyan district hospital. We recruited children age 1 day to 12 years who were resident in a systematically enumerated catchment area: i) those admitted to Kilifi District Hospital meeting WHO clinical criteria for ‘severe pneumonia’ or ‘very severe pneumonia’; ii) those presenting with mild upper respiratory tract infection but not admitted and iii) well infants and children attending for immunization.
Main Outcome Measures
The presence of respiratory viruses and the odds ratio for admission with severe disease.
Results
759/922 (83%) eligible admissions were sampled (median age 9 months). One or more respiratory viruses were detected in 425/759 (56%, 95% CI 52 to 60%). Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was detected in 260 (34%, 95% CI 31 to 38%) and other respiratory viruses in 219 (29%, 95% CI 26 to 32%), the commonest being human coronavirus 229E (n=51, 6.7%, 95% CI 5.0 to 8.7%), influenza type A (n=44, 5.8%, 95% CI 4.2 to 7.7%), parainfluenza type 3 (n=29, 3.8%, 95% CI 2.6 to 5.4%), adenovirus (n=29, 3.8%, 95% CI 2.6 to 5.4%) and human metapneumovirus (n=23, 3.0%, 95% CI 1.9 to 4.5%). Compared to well controls, detection of RSV was associated with severe disease (4% in controls, adjusted odds Ratio 6.11 [95% CI 1.65 to 22.6]) whilst collectively, other respiratory viruses were not (23% in controls, adjusted odds Ratio 1.27 [95% CI 0.64 to 2.52]).
Conclusions
In a sample of Kenyan infants and children admitted with severe pneumonia to a rural hospital, RSV was the predominant viral pathogen.
doi:10.1001/jama.2010.675
PMCID: PMC2968755  PMID: 20501927
20.  Systemic bacteraemia in children presenting with clinical pneumonia and the impact of non-typhoid salmonella (NTS) 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:319.
Background
The diagnosis and antimicrobial treatment of pneumonia in African children in the absence of diagnostic means such as x-ray facilities or microbiological laboratories relies primarily on clinical symptoms presented by the patients. In order to assess the spectrum of bacterial pathogens, blood cultures were performed in children fulfilling the clinical criteria of pneumonia.
Methods
In total, 1032 blood cultures were taken from children between 2 months and 5 years of age who were admitted to a rural hospital in Ghana between September 2007 and July 2009. Pneumonia was diagnosed clinically and according to WHO criteria classified as "non-severe pneumonia" and "severe pneumonia" ("severe pneumonia" includes the WHO categories "severe pneumonia" and "very severe pneumonia").
Results
The proportion of bacteriaemia with non-typhoid salmonella (NTS) was similar in children with pneumonia (16/173, 9.2%) compared to children hospitalized for other reasons (112/859, 13%). NTS were the predominant organisms isolated from children with clinical pneumonia and significantly more frequent than Streptococcus pneumoniae (8/173, 4.6%). Nine percent (9/101) of children presenting with severe pneumonia and 10% (7/72) of children with non-severe pneumonia were infected with NTS. Nineteen out of 123 NTS isolates (15%) were susceptible to aminopenicillins (amoxycillin/ampicillin), 23/127 (18%) to chlorampenicol, and 23/98 (23%) to co-trimoxazole. All NTS isolates were sensitive to ceftriaxone and ciprofloxacin.
Conclusion
In Sub-saharan Africa, sepsis with NTS should be considered in children with symptoms of pneumonia and aminopenicillins might often not be the adequate drugs for treatment.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-319
PMCID: PMC2991321  PMID: 21050455
21.  Quality of hospital care for sick newborns and severely malnourished children in Kenya: A two-year descriptive study in 8 hospitals 
Background
Given the high mortality associated with neonatal illnesses and severe malnutrition and the development of packages of interventions that provide similar challenges for service delivery mechanisms we set out to explore how well such services are provided in Kenya.
Methods
As a sub-component of a larger study we evaluated care during surveys conducted in 8 rural district hospitals using convenience samples of case records. After baseline hospitals received either a full multifaceted intervention (intervention hospitals) or a partial intervention (control hospitals) aimed largely at improving inpatient paediatric care for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea/dehydration. Additional data were collected to: i) examine the availability of routine information at baseline and their value for morbidity, mortality and quality of care reporting, and ii) compare the care received against national guidelines disseminated to all hospitals.
Results
Clinical documentation for neonatal and malnutrition admissions was often very poor at baseline with case records often entirely missing. Introducing a standard newborn admission record (NAR) form was associated with an increase in median assessment (IQR) score to 25/28 (22-27) from 2/28 (1-4) at baseline. Inadequate and incorrect prescribing of penicillin and gentamicin were common at baseline. For newborns considerable improvements in prescribing in the post baseline period were seen for penicillin but potentially serious errors persisted when prescribing gentamicin, particularly to low-birth weight newborns in the first week of life. Prescribing essential feeds appeared almost universally inadequate at baseline and showed limited improvement after guideline dissemination.
Conclusion
Routine records are inadequate to assess newborn care and thus for monitoring newborn survival interventions. Quality of documented inpatient care for neonates and severely malnourished children is poor with limited improvement after the dissemination of clinical practice guidelines. Further research evaluating approaches to improving care for these vulnerable groups is urgently needed. We also suggest pre-service training curricula should be better aligned to help improve newborn survival particularly.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-307
PMCID: PMC3236590  PMID: 22078071
newborns; child malnutrition; quality of health care
22.  Clinical Factors for Severity of Plasmodium falciparum Malaria in Hospitalized Adults in Thailand 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71503.
Plasmodium falciparum is a major cause of severe malaria in Southeast Asia, however, there is limited information regarding clinical factors associated with the severity of falciparum malaria from this region. We performed a retrospective case-control study to compare clinical factors and outcomes between patients with severe and non-severe malaria, and to identify clinical factors associated with the requirement for intensive care unit (ICU) admission of patients with severe falciparum malaria among hospitalized adults in Southeast Asia. A total of 255 patients with falciparum malaria in the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Bangkok, Thailand between 2006 and 2012 were included. We identified 104 patients with severe malaria (cases) and 151 patients with non-severe malaria (controls). Patients with falciparum malaria with following clinical and laboratory characteristics on admission (1) referrals, (2) no prior history of malaria, (3) body temperature of >38.5°C, (4) white blood cell counts >10×109/µL, (5) presence of schizonts in peripheral blood smears, and (6) albumin concentrations of <3.5 g/dL, were more likely to develop severe malaria (P<0.05). Among patients with severe malaria, patients who met ≥3 of the 2010 WHO criteria had sensitivity of 79.2% and specificity of 81.8% for requiring ICU admission. Multivariate analysis identified the following as independent associated factors for severe malaria requiring ICU admission; (1) ethnicity of Thai [odds ratio (OR) = 3.601, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.011–12.822] or Myanmar [OR = 3.610, 95% CI = 1.138–11.445]; (2) referrals [OR = 3.571, 95% CI = 1.306–9.762]; (3) no prior history of malaria [OR = 5.887, 95% CI = 1.354–25.594]; and (4) albumin concentrations of <3.5 g/dL [OR = 7.200, 95% CI = 1.802–28.759]. Our findings are important for the clinical management of patients with malaria because it can help early identification of patients that could develop severe malaria and require ICU admission. Early identification and the timely initiation of appropriate treatments may well improve the outcomes and reduce the mortality of these patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071503
PMCID: PMC3741184  PMID: 23951178
23.  Assessment of providers' referral decisions in Rural Burkina Faso: a retrospective analysis of medical records 
Background
A well-functioning referral system is fundamental to primary health care delivery. Understanding the providers' referral decision-making process becomes critical. This study's aim was to assess the correctness of diagnoses and appropriateness of the providers' referral decisions from health centers (HCs) to district hospitals (DHs) among patients with severe malaria and pneumonia.
Methods
A record review of twelve months of consultations was conducted covering eight randomly selected HCs to identify severe malaria (SM) cases among children under five and pneumonia cases among adults. The correctness of the diagnosis and appropriateness of providers' referral decisions were determined using the National Clinical Guidebook as a 'gold standard'.
Results
Among the 457 SM cases affecting children under five, only 66 cases (14.4%) were correctly diagnosed and of those 66 correctly diagnosed cases, 40 cases (60.6%) received an appropriate referral decision from their providers. Within these 66 correctly diagnosed SM cases, only 60.6% were appropriately referred. Among the adult pneumonia cases, 5.9% (79/1331) of the diagnoses were correctly diagnosed; however, the appropriateness rate of the provider's referral decision was 98.7% (78/79). There was only one case that should not have been referred but was referred.
Conclusions
The adherence to the National Guidelines among the health center providers when making a diagnosis was low for both severe malaria cases and pneumonia cases. The appropriateness of the referral decisions was particularly poor for children with severe malaria. Health center providers need to be better trained in the diagnostic process and in disease management in order to improve the performance of the referral system in rural Burkina Faso.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-54
PMCID: PMC3330016  PMID: 22397326
Diagnostic errors; Compliance; Healthcare quality improvement; Patient safety; Primary care
24.  Using community-owned resource persons to provide early diagnosis and treatment and estimate malaria burden at community level in north-eastern Tanzania 
Malaria Journal  2012;11:152.
Background
Although early diagnosis and prompt treatment is an important strategy for control of malaria, using fever to initiate presumptive treatment with expensive artemisinin combination therapy is a major challenge; particularly in areas with declining burden of malaria. This study was conducted using community-owned resource persons (CORPs) to provide early diagnosis and treatment of malaria, and collect data for estimation of malaria burden in four villages of Korogwe district, north-eastern Tanzania.
Methods
In 2006, individuals with history of fever within 24 hours or fever (axillary temperature ≥37.5°C) at presentation were presumptively treated using sulphadoxine/pyrimethamine. Between 2007 and 2010, individuals aged five years and above, with positive rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) were treated with artemether/lumefantrine (AL) while under-fives were treated irrespective of RDT results. Reduction in anti-malarial consumption was determined by comparing the number of cases that would have been presumptively treated and those that were actually treated based on RDTs results. Trends of malaria incidence and slide positivity rates were compared between lowlands and highlands.
Results
Of 15,729 cases attended, slide positivity rate was 20.4% and declined by >72.0% from 2008, reaching <10.0% from 2009 onwards; and the slide positivity rates were similar in lowlands and highlands from 2009 onwards. Cases with fever at presentation declined slightly, but remained at >40.0% in under-fives and >20.0% among individuals aged five years and above. With use of RDTs, cases treated with AL decreased from <58.0% in 2007 to <11.0% in 2010 and the numbers of adult courses saved were 3,284 and 1,591 in lowlands and highlands respectively. Malaria incidence declined consistently from 2008 onwards; and the highest incidence of malaria shifted from children aged <10 years to individuals aged 10–19 years from 2009.
Conclusions
With basic training, supervision and RDTs, CORPs successfully provided early diagnosis and treatment and reduced consumption of anti-malarials. Progressively declining malaria incidence and slide positivity rates suggest that all fever cases should be tested with RDTs before treatment. Data collected by CORPs was used to plan phase 1b MSP3 malaria vaccine trial and will be used for monitoring and evaluation of different health interventions. The current situation indicates that there is a remarkable changing pattern of malaria and these areas might be moving from control to pre-elimination levels.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-152
PMCID: PMC3517357  PMID: 22554149
25.  Risk Factors for Death among Children Less than 5 Years Old Hospitalized with Diarrhea in Rural Western Kenya, 2005–2007: A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001256.
A hospital-based surveillance study conducted by Ciara O'Reilly and colleagues describes the risk factors for death amongst children who have been hospitalized with diarrhea in rural Kenya.
Background
Diarrhea is a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. Data on risk factors for mortality are limited. We conducted hospital-based surveillance to characterize the etiology of diarrhea and identify risk factors for death among children hospitalized with diarrhea in rural western Kenya.
Methods and Findings
We enrolled all children <5 years old, hospitalized with diarrhea (≥3 loose stools in 24 hours) at two district hospitals in Nyanza Province, western Kenya. Clinical and demographic information was collected. Stool specimens were tested for bacterial and viral pathogens. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses were carried out to identify risk factors for death. From May 23, 2005 to May 22, 2007, 1,146 children <5 years old were enrolled; 107 (9%) children died during hospitalization. Nontyphoidal Salmonella were identified in 10% (118), Campylobacter in 5% (57), and Shigella in 4% (42) of 1,137 stool samples; rotavirus was detected in 19% (196) of 1,021 stool samples. Among stools from children who died, nontyphoidal Salmonella were detected in 22%, Shigella in 11%, rotavirus in 9%, Campylobacter in 5%, and S. Typhi in <1%. In multivariable analysis, infants who died were more likely to have nontyphoidal Salmonella (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 6·8; 95% CI 3·1–14·9), and children <5 years to have Shigella (aOR = 5·5; 95% CI 2·2–14·0) identified than children who survived. Children who died were less likely to be infected with rotavirus (OR = 0·4; 95% CI 0·2–0·8). Further risk factors for death included being malnourished (aOR = 4·2; 95% CI 2·1–8·7); having oral thrush on physical exam (aOR = 2·3; 95% CI 1·4–3·8); having previously sought care at a hospital for the illness (aOR = 2·2; 95% CI 1·2–3·8); and being dehydrated as diagnosed at discharge/death (aOR = 2·5; 95% CI 1·5–4·1). A clinical diagnosis of malaria, and malaria parasites seen on blood smear, were not associated with increased risk of death. This study only captured in-hospital childhood deaths, and likely missed a substantial number of additional deaths that occurred at home.
Conclusion
Nontyphoidal Salmonella and Shigella are associated with mortality among rural Kenyan children with diarrhea who access a hospital. Improved prevention and treatment of diarrheal disease is necessary. Enhanced surveillance and simplified laboratory diagnostics in Africa may assist clinicians in appropriately treating potentially fatal diarrheal illness.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Diarrhea—passing three or more loose or liquid stools per day—kills about 1.5 million young children every year, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. Globally, it is the second leading cause of death in under-5-year olds, causing nearly one in five child deaths. Diarrhea, which can lead to life-threatening dehydration, is a common symptom of gastrointestinal infections. The pathogens (viruses, bacteria, and parasites) that cause diarrhea spread through contaminated food or drinking water, and from person to person through poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation (unsafe disposal of human excreta). Interventions that prevent diarrhea include improvements in water supplies, sanitation and hygiene, the promotion of breast feeding, and vaccination against rotavirus (a major viral cause of diarrhea). Treatments for diarrhea include oral rehydration salts, which prevent and treat dehydration, zinc supplementation, which decreases the severity and duration of diarrhea, and the use of appropriate antibiotics when indicated for severe bacterial diarrhea.
Why Was This Study Done?
Nearly half of deaths from diarrhea among young children occur in Africa where diarrhea is the single largest cause of death among under 5-year-olds and a major cause of childhood illness. Unfortunately, although some of the risk factors for death from diarrhea in children in sub-Saharan Africa have been identified (for example, having other illnesses, poor nutrition, and not being breastfed), little is known about the relative contributions of different diarrhea-causing pathogens to diarrheal deaths. Clinicians need to know which of these pathogens are most likely to cause death in children so that they can manage their patients appropriately. In this cohort study, the researchers characterize the causes and risk factors associated with death among young children hospitalized for diarrhea in Nyanza Province, western Kenya, an area where most households have no access to safe drinking water and a quarter lack latrines. In a cohort study, a group of people with a specific condition is observed to identify which factors lead to different outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled all the children under 5 years old who were hospitalized over a two-year period for diarrhea at two district hospitals in Nyanza Province, tested their stool samples for diarrhea-causing viral and bacterial pathogens, and recorded which patients died in-hospital. They then used multivariable regression analysis (a statistical method) to determine which risk factors and diarrheal pathogens were associated with death among the children. During the study, 1,146 children were hospitalized, 107 of whom died in the hospital. 10% of all the stool samples contained nontyphoidal Salmonella, 4% contained Shigella (two types of diarrhea-causing bacteria), and 19% contained rotavirus. By contrast, 22% of the samples taken from children who died contained nontyphoidal Salmonella, 11% contained Shigella, 9% contained rotavirus, and 5% contained Campylobacter (another bacterial pathogen that causes diarrhea). Compared to survivors, infants (children under 1 year of age) who died were nearly seven times more likely to have nontyphoidal Salmonella in their stools and children under 5 years old who died were five and half times more likely to have Shigella in their stools but less likely to have rotavirus in their stools. Other factors associated with death included being malnourished, having oral thrush (a fungal infection of the mouth), having previously sought hospital care for diarrhea, and being dehydrated.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, among young children admitted to the hospital in western Kenya with diarrhea, infections with nontyphoidal Salmonella and with Shigella (but not with rotavirus) were associated with an increased risk of death. Because this study only captured deaths in hospital and most diarrheal deaths in developing countries occur at home, these results may not accurately reflect the pathogens associated with overall childhood diarrheal deaths. In addition, they may not be generalizable to other geographical regions. Nevertheless, given that that there are currently no vaccines available for most bacterial diarrheal diseases, these findings highlight the importance of Kenya and other developing countries implementing effective strategies for the prevention and management of diarrheal diseases in children such as increasing access to improved water, sanitation, and hygiene, and community-level promotion of the use of oral rehydration solution and zinc supplements. They also suggest that enhanced surveillance and simplified laboratory diagnostics for diarrheal pathogens could help clinicians identify those children presenting to hospital with diarrhea who are at high risk of death and prioritize their treatment.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001256.
The World Health Organization provides information on diarrhea (in several languages); its 2009 report with UNICEF Diarrhea: why children are still dying and what can be done, which includes the WHO/UNICEF recommendations for the treatment and prevention of diarrhea in children, can be downloaded from the Internet
The children's charity UNICEF, which protects the rights of children and young people around the world, provides information on diarrhea (in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001256
PMCID: PMC3389023  PMID: 22802736

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