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1.  The Role of HIV-Related Stigma in Utilization of Skilled Childbirth Services in Rural Kenya: A Prospective Mixed-Methods Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001295.
Janet Turan and colleagues examined the role of the perception of women in rural Kenya of HIV-related stigma during pregnancy on their subsequent utilization of maternity services.
Background
Childbirth with a skilled attendant is crucial for preventing maternal mortality and is an important opportunity for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The Maternity in Migori and AIDS Stigma Study (MAMAS Study) is a prospective mixed-methods investigation conducted in a high HIV prevalence area in rural Kenya, in which we examined the role of women's perceptions of HIV-related stigma during pregnancy in their subsequent utilization of maternity services.
Methods and Findings
From 2007–2009, 1,777 pregnant women with unknown HIV status completed an interviewer-administered questionnaire assessing their perceptions of HIV-related stigma before being offered HIV testing during their first antenatal care visit. After the visit, a sub-sample of women was selected for follow-up (all women who tested HIV-positive or were not tested for HIV, and a random sample of HIV-negative women, n = 598); 411 (69%) were located and completed another questionnaire postpartum. Additional qualitative in-depth interviews with community health workers, childbearing women, and family members (n = 48) aided our interpretation of the quantitative findings and highlighted ways in which HIV-related stigma may influence birth decisions. Qualitative data revealed that health facility birth is commonly viewed as most appropriate for women with pregnancy complications, such as HIV. Thus, women delivering at health facilities face the risk of being labeled as HIV-positive in the community. Our quantitative data revealed that women with higher perceptions of HIV-related stigma (specifically those who held negative attitudes about persons living with HIV) at baseline were subsequently less likely to deliver in a health facility with a skilled attendant, even after adjusting for other known predictors of health facility delivery (adjusted odds ratio = 0.44, 95% CI 0.22–0.88).
Conclusions
Our findings point to the urgent need for interventions to reduce HIV-related stigma, not only for improving quality of life among persons living with HIV, but also for better health outcomes among all childbearing women and their families.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, nearly 350,000 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications. Almost all these “maternal” deaths occur in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the maternal mortality ratio (the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is 500 whereas in industrialized countries it is only 12. Most maternal deaths are caused by hemorrhage (severe bleeding after childbirth), post-delivery infections, obstructed (difficult) labor, and blood pressure disorders during pregnancy. All these conditions can be prevented if women have access to adequate reproductive health services and if trained health care workers are present during delivery. Notably, in sub-Saharan Africa, infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) is an increasingly important contributor to maternal mortality. HIV infection causes maternal mortality directly by increasing the occurrence of pregnancy complications and indirectly by increasing the susceptibility of pregnant women to malaria, tuberculosis, and other “opportunistic” infections—HIV-positive individuals are highly susceptible to other infections because HIV destroys the immune system.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although skilled delivery attendants reduce maternal mortality, there are many barriers to their use in developing countries including cost and the need to travel long distances to health facilities. Fears and experiences of HIV-related stigma and discrimination (prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse, and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV) may also be a barrier to the use of skilled childbirth service. Maternity services are prime locations for HIV testing and for the provision of interventions for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, so pregnant women know that they will have to “deal with” the issue of HIV when visiting these services. In this prospective mixed-methods study, the researchers examine the role of pregnant women's perceptions of HIV-related stigma in their subsequent use of maternity services in Nyanza Province, Kenya, a region where 16% women aged 15–49 are HIV-positive and where only 44.2% of mothers give birth in a health facility. A mixed-methods study combines qualitative data—how people feel about an issue—with quantitative data—numerical data about outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the Maternity in Migori and AIDS Stigma (MAMAS) study, pregnant women with unknown HIV status living in rural regions of Nyanza Province answered questions about their perceptions of HIV-related stigma before being offered HIV testing during their first antenatal clinic visit. After delivery, the researchers asked the women who tested HIV positive or were not tested for HIV and a sample of HIV-negative women where they had delivered their baby. They also gathered qualitative information about barriers to maternity and HIV service use by interviewing childbearing women, family members, and community health workers. The qualitative data indicate that labor in a health facility is commonly viewed as being most appropriate for women with pregnancy complications such as HIV infection. Thus, women delivering at health facilities risk being labeled as HIV positive, a label that the community associates with promiscuity. The quantitative data indicate that women with more negative attitudes about HIV-positive people (higher perceptions of HIV-related stigma) at baseline were about half as likely to deliver in a health facility with a skilled attendant as women with more positive attitudes about people living with HIV.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that HIV-related stigma is associated with the low rate of delivery by skilled attendants in rural areas of Nyanza Province and possibly in other rural regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Community mobilization efforts aimed at increasing the use of PMTCT services may be partly responsible for the strong perception that delivery in a health facility is most appropriate for women with HIV and other pregnancy complications and may have inadvertently strengthened the perception that women who give birth in such facilities are likely to be HIV positive. The researchers suggest, therefore, that health messages should stress that delivery in a health facility is recommended for all women, not just HIV-positive women or those with pregnancy complications, and that interventions should be introduced to reduce HIV-related stigma. This combined strategy has the potential to increase the use of maternity services by all women and the use of HIV and PMTCT services, thereby reducing some of the most pressing health problems facing women and their children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001295.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provides information on maternal mortality, including the WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA/World Bank 2008 country estimates of maternal mortality; a UNICEF special report tells the stories of seven mothers living with HIV in Lesotho
The World Health Organization provides information on maternal health, including information about Millennium Development Goal 5, which aims to reduce maternal mortality (in several languages); the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed by world leaders in 2000, are designed to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide by 2015
Immpact is a global research initiative for the evaluation of safe motherhood intervention strategies
Maternal Death: The Avoidable Crisis is a briefing paper published by the independent humanitarian medical aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in March 2012
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on women, HIV and AIDS, on HIV and pregnancy, on HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination, and on HIV in Kenya (in English and Spanish); Avert also has personal stories from women living with HIV
The Stigma Action Network (SAN) is a collaborative endeavor that aims to comprehensively coordinate efforts to develop and expand program, research, and advocacy strategies for reducing HIV stigma worldwide, including mobilizing stakeholders, delivering program and policy solutions, and maximizing investments in HIV programs and services globally
The People Living with Stigma Index aims to address stigma relating to HIV and advocate on key barriers and issues perpetuating stigma; it has recently published Piecing it together for women and girls, the gender dimensions of HIV-related stigma
The Health Policy Project http://www.healthpolicyproject.com has prepared a review of the academic and programmatic literature on stigma and discrimination as barriers to achievement of global goals for maternal health and the elimination of new child HIV infections (see under Resources)
More information on the MAMAS study is available from the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001295
PMCID: PMC3424253  PMID: 22927800
2.  The sexual health of pupils in years 4 to 6 of primary schools in rural Tanzania 
Background/objectives: There is an urgent need for effective interventions to improve the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents. Reliable data on the sexual health of adolescents are needed to guide the development of such interventions. The aim was to describe the sexual health of pupils in years 4 to 6 of 121 rural primary schools in north western Tanzania, before the implementation of an innovative sexual health intervention in 58 of the schools.
Methods: A cross sectional survey of primary school pupils in rural Tanzania was carried out. The study population comprised pupils registered in years 4 to 6 of 121 primary schools in 20 rural communities in 1998. Basic demographic information was collected from all pupils seen. Those born before 1 January 1985 (aged approximately 14 years and over) were invited to participate in the survey, and asked about their knowledge and attitudes towards sexual health issues, and their sexual experience. A urine specimen was requested and tested for HIV, Chlamydia trachomatis (CT), Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG) and, for females, pregnancy.
Results: 9283 pupils born before 1 January 1985 were enrolled and provided demographic information and a urine sample. Male pupils were significantly older than females (mean age 15.5 years v 14.8 years, p<0.001), but all other demographic characteristics were similar between the sexes. 14 (0.2%) of the enrolled pupils (four male and 10 female) were HIV positive, 83 (0.9%) were positive for CT, and 12 (0.1%) for NG. 32 female pupils (0.8%) were positive by pregnancy test. Sexual experience was reported by one fifth of primary school girls, and by almost half of boys. Only 45/114 (39%) girls with biological markers of sexual activity reported having had sex.
Conclusions: HIV, CT, NG, and pregnancy were present though at relatively low levels among pupils in years 4 to 6 of primary school. A high proportion of pupils with a biological marker of sexual activity denied ever having had sex. Alternative ways of collecting sensitive data about the sexual behaviour of school pupils should be explored.
doi:10.1136/sti.2003.005413
PMCID: PMC1758384  PMID: 14755033
3.  Long-Term Biological and Behavioural Impact of an Adolescent Sexual Health Intervention in Tanzania: Follow-up Survey of the Community-Based MEMA kwa Vijana Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(6):e1000287.
David Ross and colleagues conduct a follow-up survey of the community-based MEMA kwa Vijana (“Good things for young people”) trial in rural Tanzania to assess the long-term behavioral and biological impact of an adolescent sexual health intervention.
Background
The ability of specific behaviour-change interventions to reduce HIV infection in young people remains questionable. Since January 1999, an adolescent sexual and reproductive health (SRH) intervention has been implemented in ten randomly chosen intervention communities in rural Tanzania, within a community randomised trial (see below; NCT00248469). The intervention consisted of teacher-led, peer-assisted in-school education, youth-friendly health services, community activities, and youth condom promotion and distribution. Process evaluation in 1999–2002 showed high intervention quality and coverage. A 2001/2 intervention impact evaluation showed no impact on the primary outcomes of HIV seroincidence and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) seroprevalence but found substantial improvements in SRH knowledge, reported attitudes, and some reported sexual behaviours. It was postulated that the impact on “upstream” knowledge, attitude, and reported behaviour outcomes seen at the 3-year follow-up would, in the longer term, lead to a reduction in HIV and HSV-2 infection rates and other biological outcomes. A further impact evaluation survey in 2007/8 (∼9 years post-intervention) tested this hypothesis.
Methods and Findings
This is a cross-sectional survey (June 2007 through July 2008) of 13,814 young people aged 15–30 y who had attended trial schools during the first phase of the MEMA kwa Vijana intervention trial (1999–2002). Prevalences of the primary outcomes HIV and HSV-2 were 1.8% and 25.9% in males and 4.0% and 41.4% in females, respectively. The intervention did not significantly reduce risk of HIV (males adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] 0.91, 95%CI 0.50–1.65; females aPR 1.07, 95%CI 0.68–1.67) or HSV-2 (males aPR 0.94, 95%CI 0.77–1.15; females aPR 0.96, 95%CI 0.87–1.06). The intervention was associated with a reduction in the proportion of males reporting more than four sexual partners in their lifetime (aPR 0.87, 95%CI 0.78–0.97) and an increase in reported condom use at last sex with a non-regular partner among females (aPR 1.34, 95%CI 1.07–1.69). There was a clear and consistent beneficial impact on knowledge, but no significant impact on reported attitudes to sexual risk, reported pregnancies, or other reported sexual behaviours. The study population was likely to have been, on average, at lower risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections compared to other rural populations, as only youth who had reached year five of primary school were eligible.
Conclusions
SRH knowledge can be improved and retained long-term, but this intervention had only a limited effect on reported behaviour and no significant effect on HIV/STI prevalence. Youth interventions integrated within intensive, community-wide risk reduction programmes may be more successful and should be evaluated.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00248469
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 2.5 million people become infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is most often spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner, so individuals can reduce their risk of HIV infection by abstaining from sex, by delaying first sex, by having few partners, and by always using a condom. And, because nearly half of new HIV infections occur among youths (15- to 24-year-olds), programs targeted at adolescents that encourage these protective behaviors could have a substantial impact on the HIV epidemic. One such program is the MEMA kwa Vijana (“Good things for young people”) program in rural Tanzania. This program includes in-school sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education for pupils in their last three years of primary education (12- to 15-year-olds) that provides them with the knowledge and skills needed to delay sexual debut and to reduce sexual risk taking. Between 1999 and 2002, the program was trialed in ten randomly chosen rural communities in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania; ten similar communities that did not receive the intervention acted as controls. Since 2004, the program has been scaled up to cover more communities.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the quality and coverage of the MEMA kwa Vijana program was good, a 2001/2002 evaluation found no evidence that the intervention had reduced the incidence of HIV (the proportion of the young people in the trial who became HIV positive during the follow-up period) or the prevalence (the proportion of the young people in the trial who were HIV positive at the end of the follow-up period) of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2, another sexually transmitted virus). However, the evaluation found improvements in SRH knowledge, in reported sexual attitudes, and in some reported sexual behaviors. Evaluations of other HIV prevention programs in other developing countries have also failed to provide strong evidence that such programs decrease the risk of HIV infection or other biological outcomes such as the frequency of other sexually transmitted infections or pregnancies, even when SRH knowledge improves. One possibility is that it takes some time for improved SRH knowledge to be reflected in true changes in sexual behavior and in HIV prevalence. In this follow-up study, therefore, researchers investigate the long-term impact of the MEMA kwa Vijana program on HIV and HSV-2 prevalence and ask whether the improvement in knowledge, reported attitudes and sexual risk behaviours seen at the 3-year follow up has persisted.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In 2007/8, the researchers surveyed nearly 14,000 young people who had attended the trial schools between 1999 and 2002. Each participant had their HIV and HSV-2 status determined and answered questions (for example, “can HIV be caught by sexual intercourse (making love) with someone,” and “if a girl accepts a gift from a boy, must she agree to have sexual intercourse (make love) with him?”) to provide three composite sexual knowledge scores and one composite attitude score. 1.8% of the male and 4.0% of the female participants were HIV positive; 25.9% and 41.4% of the male and female participants, respectively, were HSV-2 positive. The prevalences were similar among the young people whose trial communities had been randomly allocated to receive the MEMA kwa Vijana Program and those whose communities had not received it, indicating that the MEMA kwa Vijana intervention program had not reduced the risk of HIV or HSV-2. The intervention program was associated, however, with a reduction in the proportion of men reporting more than four sexual partners in their lifetime and with an increase in reported condom use at last sex with a non-regular partner among women. Finally, although the intervention had still increased SRH knowledge, it now had had no impact on reported attitudes to sexual risk, reported pregnancies, or other reported risky sexual behaviors beyond what might have happened due to chance.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in the MEMA kwa Vijana trial, SRH knowledge improved and that this improved knowledge was retained for many years. Disappointingly, however, this intervention program had only a limited effect on reported sexual behaviors and no effect on HIV and HSV-2 prevalence at the 9-year follow-up. Although these findings may not be generalizable to other adolescent populations, they suggest that intervention programs that target only adolescents might not be particularly effective. Young people might find it hard to put their improved skills and knowledge into action when challenged, for example, by widespread community attitudes such as acceptance of older male–younger female relationships. Thus, the researchers suggest that the integration of youth HIV prevention programs within risk reduction programs that tackle sexual norms and expectations in all age groups might be a more successful approach and should be evaluated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000287.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Rachel Jewkes
More information about the MEMA kwa Vijana program is available at their Web site
Information is available from the Programme for Research and Capacity Building in Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV in Developing Countries on recent and ongoing research on HIV infection and other STIs
Information is available from the World Health Organization on HIV and on the health of young people
Information on HIV is available from UNAIDS
Information on HIV in children and adolescents is available from UNICEF
Information on HIV prevention interventions in the education sector is available from UNESCO
Information on HIV infection and AIDS is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on HIV/AIDS and on HIV/AIDS among youth (in English and Spanish)
HIV InSitehas comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including links to information on the prevention of HIV/AIDS
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV and AIDS prevention and AIDS and sex education (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000287
PMCID: PMC2882431  PMID: 20543994
4.  The Long-Term Effects of a Peer-Led Sex Education Programme (RIPPLE): A Cluster Randomised Trial in Schools in England 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(11):e224.
Background
Peer-led sex education is widely believed to be an effective approach to reducing unsafe sex among young people, but reliable evidence from long-term studies is lacking. To assess the effectiveness of one form of school-based peer-led sex education in reducing unintended teenage pregnancy, we did a cluster (school) randomised trial with 7 y of follow-up.
Methods and Findings
Twenty-seven representative schools in England, with over 9,000 pupils aged 13–14 y at baseline, took part in the trial. Schools were randomised to either peer-led sex education (intervention) or to continue their usual teacher-led sex education (control). Peer educators, aged 16–17 y, were trained to deliver three 1-h classroom sessions of sex education to 13- to 14-y-old pupils from the same schools. The sessions used participatory learning methods designed to improve the younger pupils' skills in sexual communication and condom use and their knowledge about pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), contraception, and local sexual health services. Main outcome measures were abortion and live births by age 20 y, determined by anonymised linkage of girls to routine (statutory) data. Assessment of these outcomes was blind to sex education allocation. The proportion of girls who had one or more abortions before age 20 y was the same in each arm (intervention, 5.0% [95% confidence interval (CI) 4.0%–6.3%]; control, 5.0% [95% CI 4.0%–6.4%]). The odds ratio (OR) adjusted for randomisation strata was 1.07 (95% CI 0.80–1.42, p = 0.64, intervention versus control). The proportion of girls with one or more live births by 20.5 y was 7.5% (95% CI 5.9%–9.6%) in the intervention arm and 10.6% (95% CI 6.8%–16.1%) in the control arm, adjusted OR 0.77 (0.51–1.15). Fewer girls in the peer-led arm self-reported a pregnancy by age 18 y (7.2% intervention versus 11.2% control, adjusted OR 0.62 [95% CI 0.42–0.91], weighted for non-response; response rate 61% intervention, 45% control). There were no significant differences for girls or boys in self-reported unprotected first sex, regretted or pressured sex, quality of current sexual relationship, diagnosed sexually transmitted diseases, or ability to identify local sexual health services.
Conclusion
Compared with conventional school sex education at age 13–14 y, this form of peer-led sex education was not associated with change in teenage abortions, but may have led to fewer teenage births and was popular with pupils. It merits consideration within broader teenage pregnancy prevention strategies.
Trial registration:
ISRCTN (ISRCTN94255362).
Judith Stephenson and colleagues report on a cluster randomized trial in London of school-based peer-led sex education and whether it reduced unintended teenage pregnancy.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Teenage pregnancies are fraught with problems. Children born to teenage mothers are often underweight, which can affect their long-term health; young mothers have a high risk of poor mental health after the birth; and teenage parents and their children are at increased risk of living in poverty. Little wonder, then, that faced with one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Western Europe, the Department of Health in England launched a national Teenage Pregnancy Strategy in 2000 to reduce teenage pregnancies. The main goal of the strategy is to halve the 1998 under-18 pregnancy rate—there were 46.6 pregnancies for every 1,000 young women in this age group in that year—by 2010. Approaches recommended in the strategy to achieve this goal include the provision of effective sexual health advice services for young people, active engagement of health, social, youth support, and other services in the reduction of teenage pregnancies, and the improvement of sex and relationships education (SRE).
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the annual under-18 pregnancy rate in England is falling, it is still very high, and it is extremely unlikely that the main goal of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy will be achieved. Experts are, therefore, looking for better ways to reduce both teenage pregnancy rates and the high rates of sexual transmitted diseases among teenagers. Many believe that peer-led SRE—the teaching (sharing) of sexual health information, values, and behaviours by people of a similar age or status group—might be a good approach to try. Peers, they suggest, might convey information about sexual health and relationships better than teachers. However, little is known about the long-term effectiveness of peer-led SRE. In this randomized cluster trial, the researchers compare the effects of a peer-led SRE program and teacher-led sex education given to13- to 14-y-old pupils on abortion and live birth numbers among young women up to age 20 y. In a cluster randomized trial, participants are randomly assigned to the interventions being compared in “clusters”; in this trial, each “cluster” is a school.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Twenty-seven schools in England (about 9,000 13- to 14-y-old pupils) participated in the RIPPLE (Randomized Intervention of PuPil-Led sex Education) trial. Each school was randomly assigned to peer-led SRE (the intervention arm) or to existing teacher-led SRE (the control arm). For peer-led SRE, trained 16- to 17-y-old peer educators gave three 1-h SRE sessions to the younger pupils in their schools. These sessions included practice with condoms, role play to improve sexual negotiating skills, and exercises to improve knowledge about sexual health. The researchers then used routine data on abortions and live births to find out how many female study participants had had an unintended pregnancy before the age of 20 y. One in 20 girls in both study arms had had one or more abortions. Slightly more girls in the control arm than in the intervention arm had had live births, but the difference was small and might have occurred by chance. However, significantly more girls in the intervention arm (11.2%) self-reported a pregnancy by age 18 than in the intervention arm (7.2%). There were no differences between the two arms for girls or boys in any other aspect of sexual health, including sexually transmitted diseases.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the peer-led SRE program used in this trial had no effect on the number of teenage abortions but may have led to slightly fewer live births among the young women in the study. This particular peer-led SRE program was very short so a more extended program might have had a more marked effect on teenage pregnancy rates; this possibility needs to be tested, particularly since the pupils preferred peer-led SRE to teacher-led SRE. Even though peer-led SRE requires more resources than teacher-led SRE, this form of SRE should probably still be considered as part of a broad teenage prevention strategy, suggest the researchers. But, they warn, their findings should also “temper high expectations about the long-term impact of peer-led approaches” on young people's sexual health.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050224.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by David Ross
Every Child Matters, a Web site produced by the UK government, includes information on teenage pregnancy, the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, and teenage pregnancy statistics in England
Directgov, an official government Web site for UK citizens, provides advice for parents on talking to children about sex and teenage pregnancyand advice for young people on sexual health and preventing pregnancy
Teachernet, a UK source of online publications for schools, also provides information for parents about sex and relationships education and the UK government's current guidance on SRE in schools
Avert, an international AIDS charity, also provides a fact sheet on sex education
The Sex Education Forum in the UK is the national authority on Sex and Relationships Education
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050224
PMCID: PMC2586352  PMID: 19067478
5.  Effectiveness of community based safe motherhood promoters in improving the utilization of obstetric care. The case of Mtwara Rural District in Tanzania 
Background
In Tanzania, maternal mortality ratio remains unacceptably high at 578/100,000 live births. Despite a high coverage of antenatal care (96%), only 44% of deliveries take place within the formal health services. Still, "Ensure skilled attendant at birth" is acknowledged as one of the most effective interventions to reduce maternal deaths. Exploring the potential of community-based interventions in increasing the utilization of obstetric care, the study aimed at developing, testing and assessing a community-based safe motherhood intervention in Mtwara rural District of Tanzania.
Method
This community-based intervention was designed as a pre-post comparison study, covering 4 villages with a total population of 8300. Intervention activities were implemented by 50 trained safe motherhood promoters (SMPs). Their tasks focused on promoting early and complete antenatal care visits and delivery with a skilled attendant. Data on all 512 deliveries taking place from October 2004 to November 2006 were collected by the SMPs and cross-checked with health service records. In addition 242 respondents were interviewed with respect to knowledge on safe motherhood issues and their perception of the SMP's performance. Skilled delivery attendance was our primary outcome; secondary outcomes included antenatal care attendance and knowledge on Safe Motherhood issues.
Results
Deliveries with skilled attendant significantly increased from 34.1% to 51.4% (ρ < 0.05). Early ANC booking (4 to 16 weeks) rose significantly from 18.7% at baseline to 37.7% in 2005 and 56.9% (ρ < 0.001) at final assessment. After two years 44 (88%) of the SMPs were still active, 79% of pregnant women were visited. Further benefits included the enhancement of male involvement in safe motherhood issues.
Conclusion
The study has demonstrated the effectiveness of community-based safe motherhood intervention in promoting the utilization of obstetric care and a skilled attendant at delivery. This improvement is attributed to the SMPs' home visits and the close collaboration with existing community structures as well as health services.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-14
PMCID: PMC2858713  PMID: 20359341
6.  Knowledge of safe motherhood among women in rural communities in northern Nigeria: implications for maternal mortality reduction 
Reproductive Health  2013;10:57.
Background
Most developed countries have made considerable progress in addressing maternal mortality, but it appears that countries with high maternal mortality burdens like Nigeria have made little progress in improving maternal health outcomes despite emphasis by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Knowledge about safe motherhood practices could help reduce pregnancy related health risks. This study examines knowledge of safe motherhood among women in selected rural communities in northern Nigeria.
Methods
This was a cross-sectional study carried out in two states (Kaduna and Kano States) within northern Nigeria. Pretested, interviewer-administered questionnaires were applied by female data collectors to 540 randomly selected women who had recently delivered within the study site. Chi-square tests were used to determine possible association between variables during bivariate analysis. Variables significant in the bivariate analysis were subsequently entered into a multivariate logistic regression analysis. The degree of association was estimated by odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) between knowledge of maternal danger signs and independent socio-demographic as well as obstetric history variables which indicated significance at p< 0.05.
Results
Over 90% of respondents in both states showed poor knowledge of the benefits of health facility delivery by a skilled birth attendant. More than 80% of respondents in both states displayed poor knowledge of the benefits of ANC visits. More than half of the respondents across both states had poor knowledge of maternal danger signs. According to multivariate regression analysis, ever attending school by a respondent increased the likelihood of knowing maternal danger signs by threefold (OR 2.63, 95% CI: 1.2-5.8) among respondents in Kaduna State. While attendance at ANC visits during most recent pregnancy increased the likelihood of knowing maternal danger signs by twofold among respondents in Kano State (OR 2.05, 95% CI: 1.1-3.9) and threefold among respondents in Kaduna State (OR 3.33, 95% CI: 1.6-7.2).
Conclusion
This study found generally poor knowledge about safe motherhood practices among female respondents within selected rural communities in northern Nigeria. Knowledge of safe pregnancy practices among some women in rural communities is strongly associated with attendance at ANC visits, being employed or acquiring some level of education. Increasing knowledge about safe motherhood practices should translate into safer pregnancy outcomes and subsequently lead to lower maternal mortality across the developing world.
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-10-57
PMCID: PMC4176136  PMID: 24160692
Safe motherhood; Maternal mortality; Millennium Development Goals; Northern Nigeria
7.  Internet Use among Ugandan Adolescents: Implications for HIV Intervention 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(11):e433.
Background
The Internet is fast gaining recognition as a powerful, low-cost method to deliver health intervention and prevention programs to large numbers of young people across diverse geographic regions. The feasibility and accessibility of Internet-based health interventions in resource-limited settings, where cost-effective interventions are most needed, is unknown. To determine the utility of developing technology-based interventions in resource-limited settings, availability and patterns of usage of the Internet first need to be assessed.
Methods and Findings
The Uganda Media and You Survey was a cross-sectional survey of Internet use among adolescents (ages 12–18 years) in Mbarara, Uganda, a municipality mainly serving a rural population in sub-Saharan Africa. Participants were randomly selected among eligible students attending one of five participating secondary day and boarding schools in Mbarara, Uganda. Of a total of 538 students selected, 93% (500) participated.
Of the total respondents, 45% (223) reported ever having used the Internet, 78% (175) of whom reported going online in the previous week. As maternal education increased, so too did the odds of adolescent Internet use. Almost two in five respondents (38% [189]) reported already having used a computer or the Internet to search for health information. Over one-third (35% [173]) had used the computer or Internet to find information about HIV/AIDS, and 20% (102) had looked for sexual health information. Among Internet users, searching for HIV/AIDS information on a computer or online was significantly related to using the Internet weekly, emailing, visiting chat rooms, and playing online games. In contrast, going online at school was inversely related to looking for HIV/AIDS information via technology. If Internet access were free, 66% (330) reported that they would search for information about HIV/AIDS prevention online.
Conclusions
Both the desire to use, and the actual use of, the Internet to seek sexual health and HIV/AIDS information is high among secondary school students in Mbarara. The Internet may be a promising strategy to deliver low-cost HIV/AIDS risk reduction interventions in resource-limited settings with expanding Internet access.
A survey among 500 adolescent pupils in rural Uganda suggests widespread interest in online information about sexual health and HIV/AIDS. Over one-third of Internet users had already searched for relevant information online, and many of the others said they would like to educate themselves about HIV/AIDS online.
Editors' Summary
Background.
HIV/AIDS is a major health burden in sub-Saharan Africa, including Uganda. Despite a recent reduction of the number of HIV-infected individuals, HIV transmission remains a problem among Ugandan adolescents. Recent surveys suggest that about half of sexually active adolescents do not consistently use condoms, and that young people are less knowledgeable about HIV than they were 15 years ago.
Why Was This Study Done?
The Internet has a number of characteristics that make it an attractive tool in health education and HIV prevention, especially for adolescents—including interactivity, privacy, the overlap between education and play, and the ability to individualize information based on an initial assessment of background conditions, interest, and knowledge. It is also thought that despite these advantages, the Internet's potential in resource-poor settings with higher HIV infection rates and limited access to other health care resources has not been explored much. This study was done to gain some initial insights on the desired and actual use of the Internet to seek sexual health and HIV/AIDS information among adolescents in Uganda.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They did a survey of 500 adolescent pupils randomly selected from five participating boarding schools in Mbarara, a small town in a rural part of Uganda. They asked three questions: To what extent are the adolescents exposed to computers and the Internet? Are they interested in accessing health information online? Who uses the Internet and how? Almost half of the participants said they had used the Internet at least once, and the majority said they had been online during the previous week. Most Internet users (82%) reported going online at school; 57% said they use Internet cafes, 17% access the Internet at home; and 11% at someone else's house. More than a third of all participants reported having used the Internet or computer to look up health information, and many had been looking for information on sexual health and HIV/AIDS. About two-thirds of the participants said that if Internet use were free, they would search for information on sexual health and HIV/AIDS prevention. The researchers analyzed the responses further to identify the most influential factors in whether one of the Internet users would go online to educate themselves about HIV/AIDS. They found that those participants who used the Internet more often and those who engaged in online activities like chat rooms, games, and e-mail, were more likely to search for HIV/AIDS information. On the other hand, those who went online only at school were less likely to do so.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Approximately the same proportion—roughly one-third—of adolescents in a rural setting in Uganda reported having used the Internet to look up health-related information as of young people in the United States. Together with the result that an additional third said that they would go online to educate themselves about HIV/AIDS if Internet use was free, this study suggests that initiatives in Africa to improve online access for adolescents as well as to develop content tailored for young people in specific settings would make a difference.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030433
Links page for adolescents and youth from HIV InSite at UCSF
Africa Initiative
HIV/AIDS education module from the US Public Broadcasting System
Lesson plan for “Using the Internet to Access Sexual Health Information” from the Information Institute of Syracuse
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030433
PMCID: PMC1630714  PMID: 17090211
8.  Behavioural intervention trials for HIV/STD prevention in schools: are they feasible? 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  1998;74(6):405-408.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the feasibility of conducting a large randomised controlled trial (RCT) of peer led intervention in schools to reduce the risk of HIV/STD and promote sexual health. METHODS: Four secondary schools in Greater London were randomly assigned to receive peer led intervention (two experimental schools) or to act as control schools. In the experimental schools, trained volunteers aged 16-17 years (year 12) delivered the peer led intervention to 13-14 year old pupils (year 9). In the control schools, year 9 pupils received the usual teacher led sex education. Questionnaire data collected from year 9 pupils at baseline included views on the quality of sex education/intervention received, and knowledge and attitudes about HIV/AIDS and other sexual matters. Focus groups were also conducted with peer educators and year 9 pupils. Data on the process of delivering sex education/intervention and on attitudes to the RCT were collected for each of the schools. Analysis focused on the acceptability of a randomised trial to schools, parents, and pupils. RESULTS: Nearly 500 parents were informed about the research and invited to examine the study questionnaire; only nine raised questions and only one pupil was withdrawn from the study. Questionnaire completion rates were around 90% in all schools. At baseline, the majority of year 9 pupils wanted more information about a wide range of sexual matters. Focus group work indicated considerable enthusiasm for peer led education, among peer educators and year 9 pupils. Class discipline was the most frequently noted problem with the delivery of the peer led intervention. CONCLUSION: Evaluation of a peer led behavioural intervention through an RCT can be acceptable to schools, pupils, and parents and is feasible in practice. In general, pupils who received the peer led intervention responded more positively than those in control schools. A large RCT of the long term (5-7 year) effects of this novel intervention on sexual health outcomes is now under way. 



PMCID: PMC1758164  PMID: 10195048
9.  Why Do Women Not Use Antenatal Services in Low- and Middle-Income Countries? A Meta-Synthesis of Qualitative Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(1):e1001373.
In a synthesis of 21 qualitative studies representing the views of more than 1,230 women from 15 countries, Kenneth Finlayson and Soo Downe examine the reasons why many women in low- and middle-income countries do not receive adequate antenatal care.
Background
Almost 50% of women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) don't receive adequate antenatal care. Women's views can offer important insights into this problem. Qualitative studies exploring inadequate use of antenatal services have been undertaken in a range of countries, but the findings are not easily transferable. We aimed to inform the development of future antenatal care programmes through a synthesis of findings in all relevant qualitative studies.
Methods and Findings
Using a predetermined search strategy, we identified robust qualitative studies reporting on the views and experiences of women in LMICs who received inadequate antenatal care. We used meta-ethnographic techniques to generate themes and a line-of-argument synthesis. We derived policy-relevant hypotheses from the findings. We included 21 papers representing the views of more than 1,230 women from 15 countries. Three key themes were identified: “pregnancy as socially risky and physiologically healthy”, “resource use and survival in conditions of extreme poverty”, and “not getting it right the first time”. The line-of-argument synthesis describes a dissonance between programme design and cultural contexts that may restrict access and discourage return visits. We hypothesize that centralised, risk-focused antenatal care programmes may be at odds with the resources, beliefs, and experiences of pregnant women who underuse antenatal services.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest that there may be a misalignment between current antenatal care provision and the social and cultural context of some women in LMICs. Antenatal care provision that is theoretically and contextually at odds with local contextual beliefs and experiences is likely to be underused, especially when attendance generates increased personal risks of lost family resources or physical danger during travel, when the promised care is not delivered because of resource constraints, and when women experience covert or overt abuse in care settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Although maternal deaths worldwide have almost halved since 1990, according to the latest figures, every day roughly 800 women and adolescent girls still die from the complications of pregnancy or childbirth: in 2010, 287,000 women died during or following pregnancy and childbirth, with almost all of these deaths (99%) occurring in low-resource settings. Most maternal deaths are avoidable, as the interventions to prevent or manage the most common complications (severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and unsafe abortion) are well known. Furthermore, many of these complications can be prevented, detected, or treated during antenatal care visits with trained health workers.
Why Was This Study Done?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a minimum of four antenatal visits per pregnancy, but according to WHO figures, between 2005 and 2010 only 53% of pregnant women worldwide attended the recommended four antenatal visits; in low-income countries, this figure was a disappointing 36%. Unfortunately, despite huge international efforts to promote and provide antenatal care, there has been little improvement in these statistics over the past decade. It is therefore important to investigate the reasons for poor antenatal attendance and to seek the views of users of antenatal care. In this study, the researchers combined studies from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) that included women's views on antenatal care in a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies (qualitative research uses techniques, such as structured interviews, to gather an in-depth understanding of human behaviour, and a meta-synthesis combines and interprets information across studies, contexts, and populations).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched several medical, sociological, and psychological databases to find appropriate qualitative studies published between January 1980 and February 2012 that explored the antenatal care experiences, attitudes, and beliefs of women from LMICs who had chosen to access antenatal care late (after 12 weeks' gestation), infrequently (less than four times), or not at all. The researchers included 21 studies (out of the 2,997 initially identified) in their synthesis, representing the views of 1,239 women from 15 countries (Bangladesh, Benin, Cambodia, Gambia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda) who were either interviewed directly or gave their opinion as part of a focus group.
The researchers identified three main themes. The first theme reflects women's views that pregnancy is a healthy state and so saw little reason to visit health professionals when they perceived no risk to their well-being—the researchers called this theme, “pregnancy as socially contingent and physiologically healthy.” The second theme relates to women's limited financial resources, so that even when antenatal care was offered free of charge, the cost of transport to get there, the loss of earnings associated with the visit, and the possibility of having to pay for medicines meant that women were unable to attend—the researchers called this theme “resource use and survival in conditions of extreme poverty.” The third theme the researchers identified related to women's views that the antenatal services were inadequate and that the benefits of attending did not outweigh any potential harms. For example, pregnant women who initially recognized the benefits of antenatal care were often disappointed by the lack of resources they found when they got there and, consequently, decided not to return. The researchers called this theme “not getting it right the first time.”
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that there may be a misalignment between the principles that underpin the provision of antenatal care and the beliefs and socio-economic contexts of pregnant women in LMICs, meaning that even high-quality antenatal care may not be used by some pregnant women unless their views and concerns are addressed. The themes identified in this meta-synthesis could provide the basis for a new approach to the design and delivery of antenatal care that takes local beliefs and values and resource availability into account. Such programs might help ensure that antenatal care meets pregnant women's expectations and treats them appropriately so that they want to regularly attend antenatal care.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001373.
Wikipedia describes antenatal care (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The World Health Organization has a wealth of information relating to pregnancy, including antenatal care
The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has evidence-based guidelines on antenatal care
The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood has a series of web pages and links relating to respectful maternity care in LMICs
International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics is an international organization with connections to various maternity initiatives in LMICs
International Confederation of Midwives has details of the Millennium Development Goals relating to maternity care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001373
PMCID: PMC3551970  PMID: 23349622
10.  Burden of HIV among primary school children and feasibility of primary school-linked HIV testing in Harare, Zimbabwe: A mixed methods study 
AIDS Care  2013;25(12):1520-1526.
Population-based surveys in Southern Africa suggest a substantial burden of undiagnosed HIV-infected long-term survivors of mother-to-child transmission. We conducted an HIV prevalence survey of primary school pupils in Harare, Zimbabwe, and evaluated school-linked HIV counselling and testing (HCT) for pupils, their families and schoolteachers. Population-weighted cluster sampling was used to select six primary schools. Randomly selected class-grade pupils underwent anonymous HIV testing, with concurrent school-linked family HCT offered during the survey. Focus group discussions and interviews were conducted with pupils, parents/ guardians, counsellors, and schoolteachers. About 4386 (73%) pupils provided specimens for anonymous HIV testing. Median age was 9 years (IQR 8–11), and 54% were female. HIV prevalence was 2.7% (95% CI: 2.2–3.1) with no difference by gender. HIV infection was significantly associated with orphanhood, stunting, wasting, and being one or more class grades behind in school due to illness (p <0.001). After adjusting for covariates, orphanhood and stunting remained significantly associated with being HIV positive (p <0.001). Uptake of diagnostic HIV testing by pupils was low with only 47/4386 (1%) pupils undergoing HCT. The HIV prevalence among children under 15 years who underwent HIV testing was 6.8%. The main barrier to HIV testing was parents’ fear of their children experiencing stigma and of unmasking their own HIV status should the child test HIV positive. Most guardians believed that a child's HIV-positive result should not be disclosed and the child could take HIV treatment without knowing the reason. Increased recognition of the high burden of undiagnosed HIV infection in children is needed. Despite awareness of the benefits of HIV testing, HIV-related stigma still dominates parents/guardians' psychological landscape. There is need for comprehensive information and support for families to engage with HIV testing services.
doi:10.1080/09540121.2013.780120
PMCID: PMC3898087  PMID: 23528004
Africa; HIV; HCT; primary school pupils; stigma
11.  Adolescent and adult first time mothers' health seeking practices during pregnancy and early motherhood in Wakiso district, central Uganda 
Reproductive Health  2008;5:13.
Background
Maternal health services have a potentially critical role in the improvement of reproductive health. In order to get a better understanding of adolescent mothers'needs we compared health seeking practices of first time adolescent and adult mothers during pregnancy and early motherhood in Wakiso district, Uganda.
Methods
This was a cross-sectional study conducted between May and August, 2007 in Wakiso district. A total of 762 women (442 adolescents and 320 adult) were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. We calculated odds ratios with their 95% CI for antenatal and postnatal health care seeking, stigmatisation and violence experienced from parents comparing adolescents to adult first time mothers. STATA V.8 was used for data analysis.
Results
Adolescent mothers were significantly more disadvantaged in terms of health care seeking for reproductive health services and faced more challenges during pregnancy and early motherhood compared to adult mothers. Adolescent mothers were more likely to have dropped out of school due to pregnancy (OR = 3.61, 95% CI: 2.40–5.44), less likely to earn a salary (OR = 0.43, 95%CI: 0.24–0.76), and more likely to attend antenatal care visits less than four times compared to adult mothers (OR = 1.52, 95%CI: 1.12–2.07). Adolescents were also more likely to experience violence from parents (OR = 2.07, 95%CI: 1.39–3.08) and to be stigmatized by the community (CI = 1.58, 95%CI: 1.09–2.59). In early motherhood, adolescent mothers were less likely to seek for second and third vaccine doses for their infants [Polio2 (OR = 0.73, 95% CI: 0.55–0.98), Polio3 (OR = 0.70: 95% CI: 0.51–0.95), DPT2 (OR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.53–0.96), DPT3 (OR = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.50–0.92)] compared to adult mothers. These results are compelling and call for urgent adolescent focused interventions.
Conclusion
Adolescents showed poorer health care seeking behaviour for themselves and their children, and experienced increased community stigmatization and violence, suggesting bigger challenges to the adolescent mothers in terms of social support. Adolescent friendly interventions such as pregnancy groups targeting to empower pregnant adolescents providing information on pregnancy, delivery and early childhood care need to be introduced and implemented.
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-5-13
PMCID: PMC2648938  PMID: 19116011
12.  Knowledge about Obstetric Danger Signs among Pregnant Women in Aleta Wondo District, Sidama Zone, Southern Ethiopia 
Background
Raising awareness of women on danger signs of pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period is crucial for safe motherhood. In Ethiopia, a country where maternal morbidity and mortality is high little is known about knowledge level of pregnant women on obstetric danger signs. The objective of this study was to assess pregnant women's knowledge about obstetric danger signs in Aleta Wondo district, Sidama Zone, South Ethiopia.
Methods
A community based cross-sectional study was conducted from January 18 – February 20, 2007, on a sample of 812 pregnant women selected from, 8 rural and 2 urban Kebeles. A structured pre-tested questionnaire was used to collect quantitative data on socio-demographic characteristics, obstetric history, and knowledge about danger signs of pregnancy, childbirth and post partum period. Qualitative data was collected through focus group discussion with pregnant women and in-depth interview with traditional birth attendants. The collected data were analyzed using SPSS for Windows version 12.0.1.
Results
Seven hundred forty three pregnant women participated in the study making a response rate of 92%. Out of the 743 pregnant women who participated in this study 226 (30.4%), 305(41.3%) and 279(37.7%) knew at least two danger signs during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum period, respectively. Being urban resident was consistently found to be strongly associated with mentioning at least two danger signs of pregnancy (OR=4.1; 95% CI: 2.4, 7.0), child birth (OR=3.3; 95% CI: 1.8, 6.1), and postpartum period (OR=8.4; 95% CI: 4.5, 15.4).
Conclusion
This study indicated that the knowledge level of pregnant women about obstetric danger signs (during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum period) was low and affected by residential area. Therefore, the identified deficiencies in awareness should be addressed through maternal and child health services by designing an appropriate strategies including provision of targeted information, education and communication.
PMCID: PMC3275898  PMID: 22434957
Danger signs; Pregnancy; Childbirth; Postpartum; Obstetric care
13.  Asthma prevalence, knowledge, and perceptions among secondary school pupils in rural and urban coastal districts in Tanzania 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:387.
Background
Asthma is a common chronic disease of childhood that is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. We aimed to estimate the prevalence of asthma among secondary school pupils in urban and rural areas of coast districts of Tanzania. The study also aimed to describe pupils’ perception towards asthma, and to assess their knowledge on symptoms, triggers, and treatment of asthma.
Methods
A total of 610 pupils from Ilala district and 619 pupils from Bagamoyo district formed the urban and rural groups, respectively. Using a modified International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaire, a history of “diagnosed” asthma or the presence of a wheeze in the previous 12 months was obtained from all the studied pupils, along with documentation of their perceptions regarding asthma. Pupils without asthma or wheeze in the prior 12 months were subsequently selected and underwent a free running exercise testing. A ≥ 20% decrease in the post-exercise Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR) values was the criterion for diagnosing exercise-induced asthma.
Results
The mean age of participants was 16.8 (±1.8) years. The prevalence of wheeze in the past 12 months was 12.1% in Bagamoyo district and 23.1% in Ilala district (p < 0.001). Self-reported asthma was found in 17.6% and 6.4% of pupils in Ilala and Bagamoyo districts, respectively (p < 0.001). The prevalence of exercise-induced asthma was 2.4% in Bagamoyo, and 26.3% in Ilala (P < 0.002). In both districts, most information on asthma came from parents, and there was variation in symptoms and triggers of asthma reported by the pupils. Non-asthmatic pupils feared sleeping, playing, and eating with their asthmatic peers.
Conclusion
The prevalence rates of self-reported asthma, wheezing in the past 12 months, and exercise-induced asthma were significantly higher among urban than rural pupils. Although bronchial asthma is a common disease, pupils’ perceptions about asthma were associated with fear of contact with their asthmatic peers in both rural and urban schools.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-387
PMCID: PMC4023699  PMID: 24754895
Asthma; Rural; Urban; Pupils; Tanzania
14.  The Effectiveness of Emergency Obstetric Referral Interventions in Developing Country Settings: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001264.
In a systematic review of the literature, Julia Hussein and colleagues seek to determine the effect of referral interventions that enable emergency access to health facilities for pregnant women living in developing countries.
Background
Pregnancy complications can be unpredictable and many women in developing countries cannot access health facilities where life-saving care is available. This study assesses the effects of referral interventions that enable pregnant women to reach health facilities during an emergency, after the decision to seek care is made.
Methods and findings
Selected bibliographic databases were searched with no date or language restrictions. Randomised controlled trials and quasi experimental study designs with a comparison group were included. Outcomes of interest included maternal and neonatal mortality and other intermediate measures such as service utilisation. Two reviewers independently selected, appraised, and extracted articles using predefined fields. Forest plots, tables, and qualitative summaries of study quality, size, and direction of effect were used for analysis.
Nineteen studies were included. In South Asian settings, four studies of organisational interventions in communities that generated funds for transport reduced neonatal deaths, with the largest effect seen in India (odds ratio 0·48 95% CI 0·34–0·68). Three quasi experimental studies from sub-Saharan Africa reported reductions in stillbirths with maternity waiting home interventions, with one statistically significant result (OR 0.56 95% CI 0.32–0.96). Effects of interventions on maternal mortality were unclear. Referral interventions usually improved utilisation of health services but the opposite effect was also documented. The effects of multiple interventions in the studies could not be disentangled. Explanatory mechanisms through which the interventions worked could not be ascertained.
Conclusions
Community mobilisation interventions may reduce neonatal mortality but the contribution of referral components cannot be ascertained. The reduction in stillbirth rates resulting from maternity waiting homes needs further study. Referral interventions can have unexpected adverse effects. To inform the implementation of effective referral interventions, improved monitoring and evaluation practices are necessary, along with studies that develop better understanding of how interventions work.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 350,000 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications. Almost all of these “maternal” deaths occur in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR, the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is 500 and a woman's life-time risk of dying from complications of pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 39. By contrast, the MMR in industrialized countries is 12 and women have a life-time risk of maternal death of 1 in 4,700. Most maternal deaths are caused by hemorrhage (severe bleeding after childbirth), post-delivery infections, obstructed (difficult) labor, and blood pressure disorders during pregnancy, all of which are preventable or treatable conditions. Unfortunately, it is hard to predict which women will develop pregnancy complications, many complications rapidly become life-threatening and, in developing countries, women often deliver at home, far from emergency obstetric services; obstetrics deals with the care of women and their children during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period.
Why Was This Study Done?
It should be possible to reduce maternal deaths (and the deaths of babies during pregnancy, childbirth, and early life) in developing countries by ensuring that pregnant women are referred to emergency obstetric services quickly when the need arises. Unfortunately, in such countries referral to emergency obstetric care is beset with problems such as difficult geographical terrain, transport costs, lack of vehicles, and suboptimal location and distribution of health care facilities. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers assess the effectiveness of interventions designed to reduce the “phase II delay” in referral to emergency obstetric care in developing countries—the time it takes a woman to reach an appropriate health care facility once a problem has been recognized and the decision has been taken to seek care. Delays in diagnosis and the decision to seek care are phase I delays in referral, whereas delays in receiving care once a women reaches a health care facility are phase III delays.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 19 published studies that described 14 interventions designed to overcome phase II delays in emergency obstetric referral and that met their criteria for inclusion in their systematic review. About half of the interventions were organizational. That is, they were designed to overcome barriers to referral such as costs. Most of the remaining interventions were structural. That is, they involved the provision of, for example, ambulances and maternity waiting homes—placed close to a health care facility where women can stay during late pregnancy. Although seven studies provided data on maternal mortality, none showed a sustained, statistically significant reduction (a reduction unlikely to have occurred by chance) in maternal deaths. Four studies in South Asia in which communities generated funds for transport reduced neonatal deaths (deaths of babies soon after birth), but the only statistically significant effect of this community mobilization intervention was seen in India where neonatal deaths were halved. Three studies from sub-Saharan Africa reported that the introduction of maternity waiting homes reduced stillbirths but this reduction was only significant in one study. Finally, although referral interventions generally improved the utilization of health services, in one study the provision of bicycle ambulances to take women to the hospital reduced the proportion of women delivering in health facilities, probably because women felt that bicycle ambulances drew unwanted attention to them during labor and so preferred to stay at home.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that community mobilization interventions may reduce neonatal mortality and that maternity waiting rooms may reduce stillbirths. Importantly, they also highlight how referral interventions can have unexpected adverse effects. However, because the studies included in this systematic review included multiple interventions designed to reduce delays at several stages of the referral process, it is not possible to disentangle the contribution of each component of the intervention. Moreover, it is impossible at present to determine why (or even if) any of the interventions reduced maternal mortality. Thus, the researchers conclude, improved monitoring of interventions and better evaluation of outcomes is essential to inform the implementation of effective referral interventions, and more studies are needed to improve understanding of how referral interventions work.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001264.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provides information on maternal mortality, including the WHO/UNICEF./UNFPA/World Bank 2008 country estimates of maternal mortality
The World Health Organization provides information on maternal health, including information about Millennium Development Goal 5, which aims to reduce maternal mortality (in several languages); the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed by world leaders in 2000, are designed to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide by 2015
Immpact is a global research initiative for the evaluation of safe motherhood intervention strategies
Veil of Tears contains personal stories from Afghanistan about loss in childbirth; the non-governmental health development organization AMREF provides personal stories about maternal health in Africa
Maternal Death: The Avoidable Crisis is a briefing paper published by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in March 2012
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001264
PMCID: PMC3393680  PMID: 22807658
15.  Access To Essential Maternal Health Interventions and Human Rights Violations among Vulnerable Communities in Eastern Burma 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e242.
Background
Health indicators are poor and human rights violations are widespread in eastern Burma. Reproductive and maternal health indicators have not been measured in this setting but are necessary as part of an evaluation of a multi-ethnic pilot project exploring strategies to increase access to essential maternal health interventions. The goal of this study is to estimate coverage of maternal health services prior to this project and associations between exposure to human rights violations and access to such services.
Methods and Findings
Selected communities in the Shan, Mon, Karen, and Karenni regions of eastern Burma that were accessible to community-based organizations operating from Thailand were surveyed to estimate coverage of reproductive, maternal, and family planning services, and to assess exposure to household-level human rights violations within the pilot-project target population. Two-stage cluster sampling surveys among ever-married women of reproductive age (15–45 y) documented access to essential antenatal care interventions, skilled attendance at birth, postnatal care, and family planning services. Mid-upper arm circumference, hemoglobin by color scale, and Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia by rapid diagnostic dipstick were measured. Exposure to human rights violations in the prior 12 mo was recorded. Between September 2006 and January 2007, 2,914 surveys were conducted. Eighty-eight percent of women reported a home delivery for their last pregnancy (within previous 5 y). Skilled attendance at birth (5.1%), any (39.3%) or ≥ 4 (16.7%) antenatal visits, use of an insecticide-treated bed net (21.6%), and receipt of iron supplements (11.8%) were low. At the time of the survey, more than 60% of women had hemoglobin level estimates ≤ 11.0 g/dl and 7.2% were Pf positive. Unmet need for contraceptives exceeded 60%. Violations of rights were widely reported: 32.1% of Karenni households reported forced labor and 10% of Karen households had been forced to move. Among Karen households, odds of anemia were 1.51 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.95–2.40) times higher among women reporting forced displacement, and 7.47 (95% CI 2.21–25.3) higher among those exposed to food security violations. The odds of receiving no antenatal care services were 5.94 (95% CI 2.23–15.8) times higher among those forcibly displaced.
Conclusions
Coverage of basic maternal health interventions is woefully inadequate in these selected populations and substantially lower than even the national estimates for Burma, among the lowest in the region. Considerable political, financial, and human resources are necessary to improve access to maternal health care in these communities.
Luke Mullany and colleagues examine access to essential maternal health interventions and human rights violations within vulnerable communities in eastern Burma.
Editors' Summary
Background.
After decades of military rule, Burma has one of the world's worst health-care systems and high levels of ill health. For example, maternal mortality (deaths among women from pregnancy-related causes) is around 360 per 100,000 live births in Burma, whereas in neighboring Thailand it is only 44 per 100,000 live births. Maternal health is even worse in the Shan, Karenni, Karen and Mon states in eastern Burma where ethnic conflicts and enforced village relocations have internally displaced more than half a million people. Here, maternal mortality is thought to be about 1000 per 100, 000 live births. In an effort to improve access to life-saving maternal health interventions in these states, Burmese community-based health organizations, the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights and the Global Health Access Program in the USA, and the Mae Tao Clinic (a health-worker training center in Thailand) recently set up the Mobile Obstetric Maternal Health Workers (MOM) Project. In this pilot project, local health workers from 12 communities in eastern Burma received training in antenatal care, emergency obstetrics (the care of women during childbirth), blood transfusion, and family planning at the Mae Tao Clinic. Back in Burma, these maternal health workers trained additional local health workers and traditional birth attendants. All these individuals now provide maternal health care to their communities.
Why Was This Study Done?
The effectiveness of the MOM project can only be evaluated if accurate baseline information on women's access to maternal health-care services is available. This information is also needed to ensure the wise use of scarce health-care resources. However, very little is known about reproductive and maternal health in eastern Burma. In this study, the researchers analyze the information on women's access to reproductive and maternal health-care services that was collected during the initial field implementation stage of the MOM project. In addition, they analyze whether exposure to enforced village relocations and other human rights violations affect access to maternal health-care services.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Trained survey workers asked nearly 3000 ever-married women of reproductive age in the selected communities about their access to antenatal and postnatal care, skilled birth attendants, and family planning. They measured each woman's mid-upper arm circumference (an indicator of nutritional status) and tested them for anemia (iron deficiency) and infection with malaria parasites (a common cause of anemia in tropical countries). Finally, they asked the women about any recent violations of their human rights such as forced labour or relocation. Nearly 90% of the women reported a home delivery for their last baby. A skilled attendant was present at only one in 20 births and only one in three women had any antenatal care. One third of the women received postnatal care and only a third said they had access to effective contraceptives. Few women had received iron supplements or had used insecticide-treated bednets to avoid malaria-carrying mosquitos. Consequently, more than half the women were anemic and 7.2% were infected with malaria parasites. Many women also showed signs of poor nutrition. Finally, human rights violations were widely reported by the women. In Karen, the region containing most of the study communities, forced relocation tripled the risk of women developing anemia and greatly decreased their chances of receiving any antenatal care.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that access to maternal health-care interventions is extremely limited and that poor nutrition, anemia, and malaria, all of which increase the risk of pregnancy complications, are widespread in the communities in the MOM project. Because these communities had some basic health services and access to training in Thailand before the project started, these results probably underestimate the lack of access to maternal health-care services in eastern Burma. Nevertheless, it is clear that considerable political, financial, and human resources will be needed to improve maternal health in this region. Finally, the findings also reveal a link between human rights violations and reduced access to maternal health-care services. Thus, the scale of human rights violations will need to be considered when evaluating programs designed to improve maternal health in Burma and in other places where there is ongoing conflict.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050242.
This research article is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Macaya Douoguih
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
More information about the MOM project is available in a previous publication by the researchers
The Burma Campaign UK and Human Rights Watch both provide detailed information about human rights violations in Burma
The United Nations Population Fund provides information about safe motherhood and ongoing efforts to save mothers' lives around the world
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050242
PMCID: PMC2605890  PMID: 19108601
16.  Transition to motherhood in type 1 diabetes: design of the pregnancy and postnatal well-being in transition questionnaires 
Background
Life transitions are associated with high levels of stress affecting health behaviours among people with Type 1 diabetes. Transition to motherhood is a major transition with potential complications accelerated by pregnancy with risks of adverse childbirth outcomes and added anxiety and worries about pregnancy outcomes. Further, preparing and going through pregnancy requires vigilant attention to a diabetes management regimen and detailed planning of everyday activities with added stress on women. Psychological and social well-being during and after pregnancy are integral for good pregnancy outcomes for both mother and baby. The aim of this study is to establish the face and content validity of two novel measures assessing the well-being of women with type 1 diabetes in their transition to motherhood, 1) during pregnancy and 2) during the postnatal period.
Methods
The approach to the development of the Pregnancy and Postnatal Well-being in T1DM Transition questionnaires was based on a four-stage pre-testing process; systematic overview of literature, items development, piloting testing of questionnaire and refinement of questionnaire. The questionnaire was reviewed at every stage by expert clinicians, researchers and representatives from consumer groups. The cognitive debriefing approach confirmed relevance of issues and identified additional items.
Results
The literature review and interviews identified three main areas impacting on the women’s postnatal self-management; (1) psychological well-being; (2) social environment, (3) physical (maternal and fetal) well-being. The cognitive debriefing in pilot testing of the questionnaire identified that immediate postnatal period was difficult, particularly when the women were breastfeeding and felt depressed.
Conclusions
The questionnaires fill an important gap by systematically assessing the psychosocial needs of women with type 1 diabetes during pregnancy and in the immediate postnatal period. The questionnaires can be used in larger data collection to establish psychometric properties. The questionnaires potentially play a key role in prospective research to determine the self-management and psychological needs of women with type 1 diabetes transitioning to motherhood and to evaluate health education interventions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-54
PMCID: PMC3599343  PMID: 23445534
T1DM (type 1 diabetes); Pregnancy; Postnatal; Questionnaire; Transitions; Self-management; Social support; Psychological well-being
17.  Psychosocial issues of women with type 1 diabetes transitioning to motherhood: a structured literature review 
Background
Life transitions often involve complex decisions, challenges and changes that affect diabetes management. Transition to motherhood is a major life event accompanied by increased risk that the pregnancy will lead to or accelerate existing diabetes-related complications, as well as risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, all of which inevitably increase anxiety. The frequency of hyperglycaemia and hypoglycaemia often increases during pregnancy, which causes concern for the health and physical well-being of the mother and unborn child. This review aimed to examine the experiences of women with T1DM focusing on the pregnancy and postnatal phases of their transition to motherhood.
Methods
The structured literature review comprised a comprehensive search strategy identifying primary studies published in English between 1990–2012. Standard literature databases were searched along with the contents of diabetes-specific journals. Reference lists of included studies were checked. Search terms included: ‘diabetes’, ‘type 1’, ‘pregnancy’, ‘motherhood’, ‘transition’, ‘social support’, ‘quality of life’ and ‘psychological well-being’.
Result
Of 112 abstracts returned, 62 articles were reviewed in full-text, and 16 met the inclusion criteria. There was a high level of diversity among these studies but three common key themes were identified. They related to physical (maternal and fetal) well-being, psychological well-being and social environment. The results were synthesized narratively.
Conclusion
Women with type 1 diabetes experience a variety of psychosocial issues in their transition to motherhood: increased levels of anxiety, diabetes-related distress, guilt, a sense of disconnectedness from health professionals, and a focus on medicalisation of pregnancy rather than the positive transition to motherhood. A trusting relationship with health professionals, sharing experiences with other women with diabetes, active social support, shared decision and responsibilities for diabetes management assisted the women to make a positive transition. Health professionals can promote a positive transition to motherhood by proactively supporting women with T1DM in informed decision-making, by facilitating communication within the healthcare team and co-ordinating care for women with type 1 diabetes transitioning to motherhood.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-218
PMCID: PMC4222685  PMID: 24267919
Type 1 diabetes mellitus; Woman; Literature review; Pregnancy; Life transition; Motherhood; Social support; Well-being
18.  Impact of Antiretroviral Therapy on Incidence of Pregnancy among HIV-Infected Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(2):e1000229.
A multicountry cohort study in sub-Saharan Africa by Landon Myer and colleagues reveals higher pregnancy rates in HIV-infected women on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Background
With the rapid expansion of antiretroviral therapy (ART) services in sub-Saharan Africa there is growing recognition of the importance of fertility and childbearing among HIV-infected women. However there are few data on whether ART initiation influences pregnancy rates.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed data from the Mother-to-Child Transmission-Plus (MTCT-Plus) Initiative, a multicountry HIV care and treatment program for women, children, and families. From 11 programs in seven African countries, women were enrolled into care regardless of HIV disease stage and followed at regular intervals; ART was initiated according to national guidelines on the basis of immunological and/or clinical criteria. Standardized forms were used to collect sociodemographic and clinical data, including incident pregnancies. Overall 589 incident pregnancies were observed among the 4,531 women included in this analysis (pregnancy incidence, 7.8/100 person-years [PY]). The rate of new pregnancies was significantly higher among women receiving ART (9.0/100 PY) compared to women not on ART (6.5/100 PY) (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.74; 95% confidence interval, 1.19–2.54). Other factors independently associated with increased risk of incident pregnancy included younger age, lower educational attainment, being married or cohabiting, having a male partner enrolled into the program, failure to use nonbarrier contraception, and higher CD4 cell counts.
Conclusions
ART use is associated with significantly higher pregnancy rates among HIV-infected women in sub-Saharan Africa. While the possible behavioral or biomedical mechanisms that may underlie this association require further investigation, these data highlight the importance of pregnancy planning and management as a critical but neglected component of HIV care and treatment services.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is a major global cause of disease and death. More than 33 million people around the world are infected with HIV, with nearly 5,500 dying daily from HIV and AIDS-related complications. HIV/AIDS is especially problematic in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the leading cause of death. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but medicines known as “antiretroviral therapy” (ART) can prolong life and reduce complications in patients infected with HIV. 97% of patients with HIV/AIDS live in low- and middle-income countries. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 10 million of these patients need ART. As patients' access to treatment is often hindered by the high cost and low availability of ART, global health efforts have focused on promoting ART use in resource-limited nations. Such efforts also increase awareness of how HIV is spread (contact with blood or semen, in sexual intercourse, sharing needles, or from mother to child during childbirth). ART reduces, but does not remove, the chance of a mother's passing HIV to her child during birth.
Why Was This Study Done?
By the end of 2007, 3 million HIV-infected patients in poor countries were receiving ART. Many of those treated with ART are young women of child-bearing age. Childbirth is an important means of spreading HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, where 60% of all HIV patients are women. This study questions whether the improved health and life expectancy that results from treatment with ART affects pregnancy rates of HIV-infected patients. The study explores this question in seven African countries, by examining the rates of pregnancy in HIV-infected women before and after they started ART.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors looked at the records of 4,531 HIV-infected women enrolled in the Mother-to-Child-Transmission-Plus (MTCT-Plus) Initiative in seven African countries. MTCT -Plus, begun in 2002, is a family-centered treatment program that offers regular checkups, blood tests, counseling, and ART treatment (if appropriate) to women and their families. At each checkup, women's CD4+ cell counts and World Health Organization guidelines were used to determine their eligibility for starting ART. Over a 4-year period, nearly a third of the women starting ART experienced a pregnancy: 244 pregnancies occurred in the “pre-ART” group (women not receiving ART) compared to 345 pregnancies in the “on-ART” group (women receiving ART). The chance of pregnancy increased over time in the on-ART group to almost 80% greater than the pre-ART group, while remaining relatively low and constant in the pre-ART group. The authors noted that, as expected, other factors also increased the chances of pregnancy, including younger age, lower educational status, and use of nonbarrier contraception such as injectable hormones.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study suggests that starting ART is associated with higher pregnancy rates in sub-Saharan Africa, nearly doubling the chances of a woman becoming pregnant. The reasons for this link are unclear. One possible explanation is behavioral: women receiving ART may feel more motivated to have children as their health and quality of life improve. However, the study did not examine how pregnancy desires and sexual activity of women changed while on ART, and cannot discern why ART is linked to increased pregnancy. By using pregnancy data gathered from patient questionnaires rather than laboratory tests, the study is limited by the possibility of inaccurate patient reporting. Understanding how pregnancy rates vary in HIV-infected women receiving ART helps support the formation of responsive, effective HIV programs. Female HIV patients of child-bearing age, who form the majority of patients receiving ART in sub-Saharan Africa, would benefit from programs that combine starting HIV treatment with ART with education and contraception counseling and pregnancy-related care.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000229.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including a list of articles and other sources of information about the primary care of adolescents with HIV
A UNAIDS 2008 report is available on the global AIDS epidemic
The International Planned Parenthood Foundation provides information on sexual and reproductive health and HIV
The International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public health provides information to assist HIV care and treatment programs in resource-limited settings
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000229
PMCID: PMC2817715  PMID: 20161723
19.  Antenatal care in The Gambia: Missed opportunity for information, education and communication 
Background
Antenatal care is widely established and provides an opportunity to inform and educate pregnant women about pregnancy, childbirth and care of the newborn. It is expected that this would assist the women in making choices that would contribute to good pregnancy outcome. We examined the provision of information and education in antenatal clinics from the perspective of pregnant women attending these clinics.
Methods
A cross sectional survey of 457 pregnant women attending six urban and six rural antenatal clinics in the largest health division in The Gambia was undertaken. The women were interviewed using modified antenatal client exit interview and antenatal record review questionnaires from the WHO Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment kit. Differences between women attending urban and rural clinics were assessed using the Chi-square test. Relative risks with 95% confidence intervals are presented.
Results
Ninety percent of those interviewed had attended the antenatal clinic more than once and 52% four or more times. Most pregnant women (70.5%) said they spent 3 minutes or less with the antenatal care provider. About 35% recalled they were informed or educated on diet and nutrition, 30.4% on care of the baby, 23.6% on family planning, 22.8% on place of birth and 19.3% on what to do if there was a complication.
About 25% of pregnant women said they were given information about the progress of their pregnancy after consultation and only 12.8% asked their provider any question. Awareness of danger signs was low. The proportions of women that recognised signs of danger were 28.9% for anaemia, 24.6% for hypertension, 14.8% for haemorrhage, 12.9% for fever and 5% for puerperal sepsis. Prolonged labour was not recognised as a danger sign. Women attending rural antenatal clinics were 1.6 times more likely to recognise signs of anaemia and hypertension as indicative of danger compared to women attending urban antenatal clinics.
Conclusion
Information, education and communication during antenatal care in the largest health division are poor. Pregnant women are ill-equipped to make appropriate choices especially when they are in danger. This contributes to the persistence of high maternal mortality ratios in the country.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-9
PMCID: PMC2322944  PMID: 18325122
20.  Reasons for Receiving or Not Receiving HPV Vaccination in Primary Schoolgirls in Tanzania: A Case Control Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e45231.
Background
There are few data on factors influencing human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination uptake in sub-Saharan Africa. We examined the characteristics of receivers and non-receivers of HPV vaccination in Tanzania and identified reasons for not receiving the vaccine.
Methods
We conducted a case control study of HPV vaccine receivers and non-receivers within a phase IV cluster-randomised trial of HPV vaccination in 134 primary schools in Tanzania. Girls who failed to receive vaccine (pupil cases) and their parents/guardians (adult cases) and girls who received dose 1 (pupil controls) of the quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil™) and their parents/guardians (adult controls) were enrolled from 39 schools in a 1∶1 ratio and interviewed about cervical cancer, HPV vaccine knowledge and reasons why they might have received or not received the vaccine. Conditional logistic regression was used to determine factors independently associated with not receiving HPV vaccine.
Results
We interviewed 159 pupil/adult cases and 245 pupil/adult controls. Adult-factors independently associated with a daughter being a case were older age, owning fewer household items, not attending a school meeting about HPV vaccine, and not knowing anyone with cancer. Pupil-factors for being a case included having a non-positive opinion about the school de-worming programme, poor knowledge about the location of the cervix, and not knowing that a vaccine could prevent cervical cancer. Reasons for actively refusing vaccination included concerns about side effects and infertility. Most adult and pupil cases reported that they would accept the HPV vaccine if it were offered again (97% and 93% respectively).
Conclusions
Sensitisation messages, especially targeted at older and poorer parents, knowledge retention and parent meetings are critical for vaccine acceptance in Tanzania. Vaccine side effects and fertility concerns should be addressed prior to a national vaccination program. Parents and pupils who initially decline vaccination should be given an opportunity to reconsider their decision.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045231
PMCID: PMC3480345  PMID: 23115621
21.  Pupils’ and teachers’ experiences of school-based physical education: a qualitative study 
BMJ Open  2014;4(9):e005277.
Objectives
To explore pupils’ and teachers’ experiences of physical education (PE).
Study design
A qualitative investigation employing semistructured interviews. Self Determination Theory was used as a guiding theory and Template Analysis was used to analyse the data.
Setting
A secondary school in the North East of England.
Participants
14 pupils (aged 13 and 14, boys and girls) with a range of self-perceived competencies regarding PE and four PE teachers of the pupils (3 male, 1 female).
Primary and secondary outcomes
(1) Attitudes and perceptions of PE pupils regarding their experiences of compulsory school PE lessons. (2) PE teachers’ experiences of teaching PE.
Results
Key results from pupils and teachers suggest pupils enjoy participation in PE when they feel competent, in control and supported by others. Feeling competent depended on (1) the activity within PE and (2) the pupils perceived physical capabilities/aptitude. Feeling in control related to (1) having a choice of activities, (2) being able to set exertion levels and (3) control over clothes worn while taking part. Relationships within pupil groups and between pupils and teachers were perceived as important. Teachers could positively influence their pupils’ enjoyment by understanding and supporting their personal goals, as opposed to dictating and controlling what they did and for how long, and by promoting a non-threatening atmosphere between pupils.
Conclusions
Rising obesity levels and concerns over the fitness of children and young people has returned the focus of PE to its potential as a vehicle for promoting health. This study suggests schools and PE teachers in particular can positively influence the PE experience of both boys and girls by providing more choice of activities and letting pupils make their own decisions based on their personal needs.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005277
PMCID: PMC4166140  PMID: 25227625
PREVENTIVE MEDICINE; QUALITATIVE RESEARCH; SPORTS MEDICINE; PHYSICAL ACTIVITY; OBESITY
22.  Prevalence Distribution and Risk Factors for Schistosoma hematobium Infection among School Children in Blantyre, Malawi 
Background
Schistosomiasis is a public health problem in Malawi but estimates of its prevalence vary widely. There is need for updated information on the extent of disease burden, communities at risk and factors associated with infection at the district and sub-district level to facilitate effective prioritization and monitoring while ensuring ownership and sustainability of prevention and control programs at the local level.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cross-sectional study between May and July 2006 among pupils in Blantyre district from a stratified random sample of 23 primary schools. Information on socio-demographic factors, schistosomiasis symptoms and other risk factors was obtained using questionnaires. Urine samples were examined for Schistosoma hematobium ova using filtration method. Bivariate and multiple logistic regressions with robust estimates were used to assess risk factors for S. hematobium. One thousand one hundred and fifty (1,150) pupils were enrolled with a mean age of 10.5 years and 51.5% of them were boys. One thousand one hundred and thirty-nine (1,139) pupils submitted urine and S. hematobium ova were detected in 10.4% (95%CI 5.43–15.41%). Male gender (OR 1.81; 95% CI 1.06–3.07), child's knowledge of an existing open water source (includes river, dam, springs, lake, etc.) in the area (OR 1.90; 95% CI 1.14–3.46), history of urinary schistosomiasis in the past month (OR 3.65; 95% CI 2.22–6.00), distance of less than 1 km from school to the nearest open water source (OR 5.39; 95% CI 1.67–17.42) and age 8–10 years (OR 4.55; 95% CI 1.53–13.50) compared to those 14 years or older were associated with infection. Using urine microscopy as a gold standard, the sensitivity and specificity of self-reported hematuria was 68.3% and 73.6%, respectively. However, the positive predictive value was low at 23.9% and was associated with age.
Conclusion
The study provides an important update on the status of infection in this part of sub-Saharan Africa and exemplifies the success of deliberate national efforts to advance active participation in schistosomiasis prevention and control activities at the sub-national or sub-district levels. In this population, children who attend schools close to open water sources are at an increased risk of infection and self-reported hematuria may still be useful in older children in this region.
Author Summary
Schistosoma hematobium infection is a parasitic infection endemic in Malawi. Schistosomiasis usually shows a focal distribution of infection and it is important to identify communities at high risk of infection and assess effectiveness of control programs. We conducted a survey in one district in Malawi to determine prevalence and factors associated with S. hematobium infection among primary school pupils. Using a questionnaire, information on history of passing bloody urine and known risk factors associated with infection was collected. Urine samples were collected and examined for S. hematobium eggs. One thousand one hundred and fifty (1,150) pupils were interviewed, and out of 1,139 pupils who submitted urine samples, 10.4% were infected. Our data showed that male gender, child's knowledge of an existing open water source (includes river, dam, springs, lake, etc.) in the area, history of urinary schistosomiasis in the past month, distance of less than 1 km from school to nearest open water source and age 8–10 years compared to those 14 years and older were independently associated with infection. These findings suggest that children attending schools in close proximity to open water sources are at increased risk of infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000361
PMCID: PMC2614474  PMID: 19156193
23.  Teenagers' knowledge of emergency contraception: questionnaire survey in south east Scotland. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1996;312(7046):1567-1569.
OBJECTIVE--To determine the level of knowledge of emergency contraception among 14 and 15 year olds. DESIGN--Confidential questionnaire survey. SETTING--10 secondary schools in Lothian, south east Scotland. SUBJECTS--1206 pupils predominantly (98.7%) aged 14 and 15 in the fourth year of secondary school. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Knowledge of the existence of emergency contraception; of its safety, efficacy, and time limits; and of where to obtain it. RESULTS--1121 (93.0%) fourth year pupils aged 14-16 had heard of emergency contraception. 194 girls (32.7%) and 168 boys (27.5%) had experienced sexual intercourse. Of girls who had experienced sexual intercourse, 61 (31.4%) had used emergency contraception. Knowledge of correct time limits was poor, sexually active girls being the most knowledgeable. Pupils attending schools ranked lower than the national average for academic attainment were less likely to have heard of emergency contraception and more likely to have been sexually active. 861 (76.8%) pupils knew they could obtain emergency contraception from their doctor. 925 (82.5%) pupils believed emergency contraception to be effective but 398 (35.5%) thought it more dangerous than the oral contraceptive pill. CONCLUSIONS--One third of sexually active girls aged under 16 in Lothian have used emergency contraception. This may help explain the fairly constant teenage pregnancy rates despite increasing sexual activity. Scottish teenagers are well informed about the existence of emergency contraception. However, many do not know when and how to access it properly. Health education initiatives should target teenagers from less academic schools as they are more likely to be sexually active at a young age and are less well informed about emergency contraception.
PMCID: PMC2351287  PMID: 8664665
24.  "I will not let my HIV status stand in the way." Decisions on motherhood among women on ART in a slum in Kenya- a qualitative study 
BMC Women's Health  2010;10:13.
Background
The African Medical Research Foundation antiretroviral therapy program at the community health centre in Kibera counsels women to wait with pregnancy until they reach the acceptable level of 350 cells/ml CD4 count and to discuss their pregnancy intentions with their health care providers. A 2007 internal assessment showed that women were becoming pregnant before attaining the 350 cells/ml CD4 count and without consulting health care providers. This qualitative study explored experiences of intentionally becoming pregnant among women receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Methods
Nine pregnant women, six newly delivered mothers and five women wanting to get pregnant were purposefully selected for in-depth interviews. Content analysis was used to organize and interpret the women's experiences of becoming pregnant.
Results
Women's choices for pregnancy could be categorized into one overarching theme 'strive for motherhood' consisting of three sub-themes. A child is thought of as a prerequisite for a fulfilled and happy life. The women accepted that good health was required to bear a pregnancy and thought that feeling well, taking their antiretroviral treatment and eating nutritious food was enough. Consulting health care providers was perceived as interfering with the women's decisions to get pregnant. Becoming pregnant as an HIV-infected woman was, however, complicated by the dilemmas related to disclosing HIV infection and discussing pregnancy intentions with their partners.
Conclusions
Motherhood is important to women on antiretroviral treatment. But they seemed to lack understanding of the relationship between a high CD4 cell count and a low chance of transmission of HIV to offspring. Better education about the relationship of perceived good physical health, low CD4 cell count and the risk of mother to child transmission is required. Women want to control the domain of childbearing but need enough information to make healthy choices without risking transmission.
doi:10.1186/1472-6874-10-13
PMCID: PMC2873237  PMID: 20423528
25.  Reproductive health awareness among rural school going adolescents of Vadodara district 
Objectives:
To identify the reproductive health issues associated with adolescence and their readiness to avail services like Adolescent Friendly Clinic (AFC) among rural school going children.
Materials and Methods:
A quantitative survey was carried out using a self-administered structured questionnaire among 768 (428 boys and 340 girls) students from 15 schools by systematic random sampling from schools (3 schools from 5 talukas). Focus group discussions, 5 each with adolescent boys and girls and teachers were held.
Results and Discussion:
Only 31% of the boys and 33% of the girls mentioned that they had heard about contraception. More than half of the adolescent boys and girls knew correctly about various modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS. A large proportion of boys and girls have mentioned changes in the opposite sex such as increase in height, change in voice, breast development, and growth of facial hair, growth of hair in private parts, onset of menstruation in girls, etc. Nearly 70% of adolescents were ready to use AFC. Teachers perceived that adolescents become curious about the changes taking place in them, but they lack information and opportunities for open-discussions to get answers to their queries related to reproductive health. They are willing to take help from teachers but teachers are not equipped with knowledge nor are they comfortable discussing these issues with their students.
Recommendations:
Information on the human reproductive system and related issues on reproductive health need special attention. Teachers’ sensitization to “adolescent health care” is required.
doi:10.4103/0253-7184.62765
PMCID: PMC3168066  PMID: 21938128
Adolescents; reproductive awareness; rural

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