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1.  Feasibility and pilot study of the effects of microfinance on mortality and nutrition in children under five amongst the very poor in India: study protocol for a cluster randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15:298.
Background
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals include targets for the health of children under five years old. Poor health is linked to poverty and microfinance initiatives are economic interventions that may improve health by breaking the cycle of poverty. However, there is a lack of reliable evidence to support this. In addition, microfinance schemes may have adverse effects on health, for example due to increased indebtedness. Rojiroti UK and the Centre for Promoting Sustainable Livelihood run an innovative microfinance scheme that provides microcredit via women’s self-help groups (SHGs). This pilot study, conducted in rural Bihar (India), will establish whether it is feasible to collect anthropometric and mortality data on children under five years old and to conduct a limited cluster randomized trial of the Rojiroti intervention.
Methods/Design
We have designed a cluster randomized trial in which participating tolas (small communities within villages) will be randomized to either receive early (SHGs and microfinance at baseline) or late intervention (SHGs and microfinance after 18 months). Using predesigned questionnaires, demographic, and mortality data for the last year and information about participating mothers and their children will be collected and the weight, height, and mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) of children will be measured at baseline and at 18 months. The late intervention group will establish SHGs and microfinance support at this point and data collection will be repeated at 36 months.
The primary outcome measure will be the mean weight for height z-score of children under five years old in the early and late intervention tolas at 18 months. Secondary outcome measures will be the mortality rate, mean weight for age, height for age, prevalence of underweight, stunting, and wasting among children under five years of age.
Discussion
Despite economic progress, marked inequalities in child health persist in India and Bihar is one of the worst affected states. There is a need to evaluate programs that may alleviate poverty and improve health. This study will help to inform the design of a definitive trial to determine if the Rojiroti scheme can improve the nutrition and survival of children under five years of age in deprived rural communities.
Trial registration
Clinicaltrials.gov (study ID: NCT01845545). Registered on 24 April 2013.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-298
PMCID: PMC4119203  PMID: 25052420
Malnutrition; Under five mortality rate; Microfinance; Cluster randomized control trials
2.  The effect of Self-Help Groups on access to maternal health services: evidence from rural India 
Introduction
The main challenge for achieving universal health coverage in India is ensuring effective coverage of poor and vulnerable communities in the face of high levels of income and gender inequity in access to health care. Drawing on the social capital generated through women’s participation in community organizations like SHGs can influence health outcomes. To date, evidence about the impact of SHGs on health outcomes has been derived from pilot-level interventions, some using randomised controlled trials and other rigorous methods. While the evidence from these studies is convincing, our study is the first to analyse the impact of SHGs at national level.
Methods
We analyzed the entire dataset from the third national District Level Household Survey from 601 districts in India to assess the impact of the presence of SHGs on maternal health service uptake. The primary predictor variable was presence of a SHG in the village. The outcome variables were: institutional delivery; feeding new-borns colostrum; knowledge about family planning methods; and ever used family planning. We controlled for respondent education, wealth, heard or seen health messages, availability of health facilities and the existence of a village health and sanitation committee.
Results
Stepwise logistic regression shows respondents from villages with a SHG were 19 per cent (OR: 1.19, CI: 1.13-1.24) more likely to have delivered in an institution, 8 per cent (OR: 1.08, CI: 1.05-1.14) more likely to have fed newborns colostrum, have knowledge (OR: 1.48, CI 1.39 – 1.57) and utilized (OR: 1.19, CI 1.11 – 1.27) family planning products and services. These results are significant after controlling for individual and village-level heterogeneities and are consistent with existing literature that the social capital generated through women’s participation in SHGs influences health outcome.
Conclusion
The study concludes that the presence of SHGs in a village is associated with higher knowledge of family planning and maternal health service uptake in rural India. To achieve the goal of improving public health nationally, there is a need to understand more fully the benefits of systematic collaboration between the public health community and these grassroots organizations.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-12-36
PMCID: PMC3673812  PMID: 23714337
Self help group; Institutional delivery; Family planning; Barriers; India
3.  Promoting Household Water Treatment through Women's Self Help Groups in Rural India: Assessing Impact on Drinking Water Quality and Equity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44068.
Household water treatment, including boiling, chlorination and filtration, has been shown effective in improving drinking water quality and preventing diarrheal disease among vulnerable populations. We used a case-control study design to evaluate the extent to which the commercial promotion of household water filters through microfinance institutions to women's self-help group (SHG) members improved access to safe drinking water. This pilot program achieved a 9.8% adoption rate among women targeted for adoption. Data from surveys and assays of fecal contamination (thermotolerant coliforms, TTC) of drinking water samples (source and household) were analyzed from 281 filter adopters and 247 non-adopters exposed to the program; 251 non-SHG members were also surveyed. While adopters were more likely than non-adopters to have children under 5 years, they were also more educated, less poor, more likely to have access to improved water supplies, and more likely to have previously used a water filter. Adopters had lower levels of fecal contamination of household drinking water than non-adopters, even among those non-adopters who treated their water by boiling or using traditional ceramic filters. Nevertheless, one-third of water samples from adopter households exceeded 100 TTC/100ml (high risk), and more than a quarter of the filters had no stored treated water available when visited by an investigator, raising concerns about correct, consistent use. In addition, the poorest adopters were less likely to see improvements in their water quality. Comparisons of SHG and non-SHG members suggest similar demographic characteristics, indicating SHG members are an appropriate target group for this promotion campaign. However, in order to increase the potential for health gains, future programs will need to increase uptake, particularly among the poorest households who are most susceptible to disease morbidity and mortality, and focus on strategies to improve the correct, consistent and sustained use of these water treatment products.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044068
PMCID: PMC3434210  PMID: 22957043
4.  Sitting with others: mental health self-help groups in northern Ghana 
Background
Over the past four decades, there has been increasing interest in Self-Help Groups, by mental health services users and caregivers, alike. Research in high-income countries suggests that participation in SHGs is associated with decreased use of inpatient facilities, improved social functioning among service users, and decreased caregiver burden. The formation of SHGs has become an important component of mental health programmes operated by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in low-income countries. However, there has been relatively little research examining the benefits of SHGs in this context.
Methods
Qualitative research with 18 SHGs, five local non-governmental organisations, community mental health nurses, administrators in Ghana Health Services, and discussions with BasicNeeds staff.
Results
SHGs have the potential to serve as key components of community mental health programmes in low-resource settings. The strongest evidence concerns how SHGs provide a range of supports, e.g., social, financial, and practical, to service users and caregivers. The groups also appear to foster greater acceptance of service users by their families and by communities at large. Membership in SHGs appears to be associated with more consistent treatment and better outcomes for those who are ill.
Discussion
This study highlights the need for longitudinal qualitative and quantitative evaluations of the effect of SHGs on clinical, social and economic outcomes of service users and their carers.
Conclusions
The organisation of SHGs appears to be associated with positive outcomes for service users and caregivers. However, there is a need to better understand how SHGs operate and the challenges they face.
doi:10.1186/1752-4458-6-1
PMCID: PMC3366888  PMID: 22436354
5.  Women's health in a rural community in Kerala, India: do caste and socioeconomic position matter? 
Objectives
To examine the social patterning of women's self‐reported health status in India and the validity of the two hypotheses: (1) low caste and lower socioeconomic position is associated with worse reported health status, and (2) associations between socioeconomic position and reported health status vary across castes.
Design
Cross‐sectional household survey, age‐adjusted percentages and odds ratios, and multilevel multinomial logistic regression models were used for analysis.
Setting
A panchayat (territorial decentralised unit) in Kerala, India, in 2003.
Participants
4196 non‐elderly women.
Outcome measures
Self‐perceived health status and reported limitations in activities in daily living.
Results
Women from lower castes (scheduled castes/scheduled tribes (SC/ST) and other backward castes (OBC) reported a higher prevalence of poor health than women from forward castes. Socioeconomic inequalities were observed in health regardless of the indicators, education, women's employment status or household landholdings. The multilevel multinomial models indicate that the associations between socioeconomic indicators and health vary across caste. Among SC/ST and OBC women, the influence of socioeconomic variables led to a “magnifying” effect, whereas among forward caste women, a “buffering” effect was found. Among lower caste women, the associations between socioeconomic factors and self‐assessed health are graded; the associations are strongest when comparing the lowest and highest ratings of health.
Conclusions
Even in a relatively egalitarian state in India, there are caste and socioeconomic inequalities in women's health. Implementing interventions that concomitantly deal with caste and socioeconomic disparities will likely produce more equitable results than targeting either type of inequality in isolation.
doi:10.1136/jech.2006.047647
PMCID: PMC2465509  PMID: 17108296
6.  Where Do the Poorest Go to Seek Outpatient Care in Bangladesh: Hospitals Run by Government or Microfinance Institutions? 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0121733.
Introduction
Health programs implemented by microfinance institutions (MFIs) aim to benefit the poor, but whether these services reach the poorest remains uncertain. This study intended to investigate the socioeconomic distribution of patients in hospitals operated by microfinance institutions (i.e. MFI hospitals) in Bangladesh and compare the differences with public hospitals to determine if the programs were consistent with their pro-poor mandate.
Methods
In this cross-sectional study, we used the convenience sampling method to conduct an interviewer-assisted questionnaire survey among 347 female outpatients, with 170 in public hospitals and 177 in MFI hospitals. Independent variables were patient characteristics categorized into predisposing factors (age, education, marital status, family size), enabling factors (microcredit membership, household income) and need factors (self-rated health, perceived needs for care). We employed Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) to evaluate how these factors contributed to MFI hospital use.
Results
Use of MFI hospitals was associated with microcredit membership over 5 years (OR=2.9, p<.01), moderately poor household (OR=4.09, p<.001), non-poor household (OR=7.34, p<.01) and need for preventive care (OR=3.4, p<.01), compared with public hospitals. Combining membership and income, we found microcredit members had a higher tendency towards utilization but membership effect pertained to the non- and moderately-poor. Compared with the group who were non-members and the poorest, microcredit members who were non-poor had the highest likelihood (OR=7.46, p<.001) to visit MFI hospitals, followed by members with moderate income (OR=6.91, p<.001) and then non-members in non-poor households (OR=4.48, p<.01). Those who were members but the poorest had a negative association (OR=0.42), though not significant. Despite a higher utilization of preventive services in MFI hospitals, expenditure there was significantly higher.
Conclusion
Inequity was more pronounced in MFI hospitals than public ones. MFI hospitals appeared to miss their target population. We suggest that MFIs reorganize health programs toward primary health care to make care equitable and universally accessible. This study holds practical implications for governments, development agencies and microfinance practitioners working at the grassroots level.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121733
PMCID: PMC4373946  PMID: 25807500
7.  Community-Based Mental Health Intervention for Underprivileged Women in Rural India: An Experiential Report 
Objective. To share experiences from a project that integrates a mental health intervention within a developmental framework of microcredit activity for economically underprivileged women in rural India. Method. The mental health intervention had two components: group counseling and stress management. The former comprised of ventilation and reassurance and the latter strengthening of coping skills and a relaxation technique. Focus group discussions were used to understand women's perception of how microcredit economic activity and the mental health intervention had affected their lives. Results. Women in the mental health intervention group reported reduction in psychological distress and bodily aches and pains. Majority (86%) reported that the quality of their sleep had improved with regular practice of relaxation and that sharing their problems in the group had helped them to unburden. The social support extended by the members to each other, made them feel that they were not alone and could face any life situation. Conclusion. The study provided qualitative evidence that adding the mental health intervention to the ongoing economic activity had made a positive difference in the lives of the women. Addressing mental health concerns along with livelihood initiatives can help to enhance both economic and social capital in rural poor women.
doi:10.1155/2011/621426
PMCID: PMC3263843  PMID: 22295190
8.  Empowering the people: Development of an HIV peer education model for low literacy rural communities in India 
Background
Despite ample evidence that HIV has entered the general population, most HIV awareness programs in India continue to neglect rural areas. Low HIV awareness and high stigma, fueled by low literacy, seasonal migration, gender inequity, spatial dispersion, and cultural taboos pose extra challenges to implement much-needed HIV education programs in rural areas. This paper describes a peer education model developed to educate and empower low-literacy communities in the rural district of Perambalur (Tamil Nadu, India).
Methods
From January to December 2005, six non-governmental organizations (NGO's) with good community rapport collaborated to build and pilot-test an HIV peer education model for rural communities. The program used participatory methods to train 20 NGO field staff (Outreach Workers), 102 women's self-help group (SHG) leaders, and 52 barbers to become peer educators. Cartoon-based educational materials were developed for low-literacy populations to convey simple, comprehensive messages on HIV transmission, prevention, support and care. In addition, street theatre cultural programs highlighted issues related to HIV and stigma in the community.
Results
The program is estimated to have reached over 30 000 villagers in the district through 2051 interactive HIV awareness programs and one-on-one communication. Outreach workers (OWs) and peer educators distributed approximately 62 000 educational materials and 69 000 condoms, and also referred approximately 2844 people for services including voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), care and support for HIV, and diagnosis and treatment of sexually-transmitted infections (STI). At least 118 individuals were newly diagnosed as persons living with HIV (PLHIV); 129 PLHIV were referred to the Government Hospital for Thoracic Medicine (in Tambaram) for extra medical support. Focus group discussions indicate that the program was well received in the communities, led to improved health awareness, and also provided the peer educators with increased social status.
Conclusion
Using established networks (such as community-based organizations already working on empowerment of women) and training women's SHG leaders and barbers as peer educators is an effective and culturally appropriate way to disseminate comprehensive information on HIV/AIDS to low-literacy communities. Similar models for reaching and empowering vulnerable populations should be expanded to other rural areas.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-6-6
PMCID: PMC2377249  PMID: 18423006
9.  Health education for microcredit clients in Peru: a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:51.
Background
Poverty, lack of female empowerment, and lack of education are major risk factors for childhood illness worldwide. Microcredit programs, by offering small loans to poor individuals, attempt to address the first two of these risk factors, poverty and gender disparity. They provide clients, usually women, with a means to invest in their businesses and support their families. This study investigates the health effects of also addressing the remaining risk factor, lack of knowledge about important health issues, through randomization of members of a microcredit organization to receive a health education module based on the World Health Organization's Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) community intervention.
Methods
Baseline data were collected in February 2007 from clients of a microcredit organization in Pucallpa, Peru (n = 1,855) and their children (n = 598). Loan groups, consisting of 15 to 20 clients, were then randomly assigned to receive a health education intervention involving eight monthly 30-minute sessions given by the organization's loan officers at monthly loan group meetings. In February 2008, follow-up data were collected, and included assessments of sociodemographic information, knowledge of child health issues, and child health status (including child height, weight, and blood hemoglobin levels). To explore the effects of treatment (i.e., participation in the health education sessions) on the key outcome variables, multivariate regressions were implemented using ordinary least squares.
Results
Individuals in the IMCI treatment arm demonstrated more knowledge about a variety of issues related to child health, but there were no changes in anthropometric measures or reported child health status.
Conclusions
Microcredit clients randomized to an IMCI educational intervention showed greater knowledge about child health, but no differences in child health outcomes compared to controls. These results imply that the intervention did not have sufficient intensity to change behavior, or that microcredit organizations may not be an appropriate setting for the administration of child health educational interventions of this type.
Trial Registration
This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01047033.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-51
PMCID: PMC3037866  PMID: 21261988
10.  Three dimensional multiphoton imaging of fresh and whole mount developing mouse mammary glands 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:373.
Background
The applications of multiphoton microscopy for deep tissue imaging in basic and clinical research are ever increasing, supplementing confocal imaging of the surface layers of cells in tissue. However, imaging living tissue is made difficult by the light scattering properties of the tissue, and this is extraordinarily apparent in the mouse mammary gland which contains a stroma filled with fat cells surrounding the ductal epithelium. Whole mount mammary glands stained with Carmine Alum are easily archived for later reference and readily viewed using bright field microscopy to observe branching architecture of the ductal network. Here, we report on the advantages of multiphoton imaging of whole mount mammary glands. Chief among them is that optical sectioning of the terminal end bud (TEB) and ductal epithelium allows the appreciation of abnormalities in structure that are very difficult to ascertain using either bright field imaging of the stained gland or the conventional approach of hematoxylin and eosin staining of fixed and paraffin-embedded sections. A second advantage is the detail afforded by second harmonic generation (SHG) in which collagen fiber orientation and abundance can be observed.
Methods
GFP-mouse mammary glands were imaged live or after whole mount preparation using a Zeiss LSM510/META/NLO multiphoton microscope with the purpose of obtaining high resolution images with 3D content, and evaluating any structural alterations induced by whole mount preparation. We describe a simple means for using a commercial confocal/ multiphoton microscope equipped with a Ti-Sapphire laser to simultaneously image Carmine Alum fluorescence and collagen fiber networks by SHG with laser excitation set to 860 nm. Identical terminal end buds (TEBs) were compared before and after fixation, staining, and whole mount preparation and structure of collagen networks and TEB morphologies were determined. Flexibility in excitation and emission filters was explored using the META detector for spectral emission scanning. Backward scattered or reflected SHG (SHG-B) was detected using a conventional confocal detector with maximum aperture and forward scattered or transmitted SHG (SHG-F) detected using a non-descanned detector.
Results
We show here that the developing mammary gland is encased in a thin but dense layer of collagen fibers. Sparse collagen layers are also interspersed between stromal layers of fat cells surrounding TEBs. At the margins, TEBs approach the outer collagen layer but do not penetrate it. Abnormal mammary glands from an HAI-1 transgenic FVB mouse model were found to contain TEBs with abnormal pockets of cells forming extra lumens and zones of continuous lateral bud formation interspersed with sparse collagen fibers.
Parameters influencing live imaging and imaging of fixed unstained and Carmine Alum stained whole mounts were evaluated. Artifacts induced by light scattering of GFP and Carmine Alum signals from epithelial cells were identified in live tissue as primarily due to fat cells and in whole mount tissue as due to dense Carmine Alum staining of epithelium. Carmine Alum autofluorescence was detected at excitation wavelengths from 750 to 950 nm with a peak of emission at 623 nm (~602-656 nm). Images of Carmine Alum fluorescence differed dramatically at emission wavelengths of 565–615 nm versus 650–710 nm. In the latter, a mostly epithelial (nuclear) visualization of Carmine Alum predominates. Autofluorescence with a peak emission of 495 nm was derived from the fixed and processed tissue itself as it was present in the unstained whole mount. Contribution of autofluorescence to the image decreases with increasing laser excitation wavelengths. SHG-B versus SHG-F signals revealed collagen fibers and could be found within single fibers, or in different fibers within the same layer. These differences presumably reflected different states of collagen fiber maturation. Loss of SHG signals from layer to layer could be ascribed to artifacts rendered by light scattering from the dense TEB structures, and unless bandpass emissions were selected, contained unfiltered non-SHG fluorescence and autofluorescent emissions. Flexibility in imaging can be increased using spectral emission imaging to optimize emission bandwidths and to separate SHG-B, GFP, and Carmine Alum signals, although conventional filters were also useful.
Conclusions
Collagen fibril arrangement and TEB structure is well preserved during the whole mount procedure and light scattering is reduced dramatically by extracting fat resulting in improved 3D structure, particularly for SHG signals originating from collagen. In addition to providing a bright signal, Carmine Alum stained whole mount slides can be imaged retrospectively such as performed for the HAI-1 mouse gland revealing new aspects of abnormal TEB morphology. These studies demonstrated the intimate contact, but relatively sparse abundance of collagen fibrils adjacent to normal and abnormal TEBS in the developing mammary gland and the ability to obtain these high resolution details subject to the discussed limitations. Our studies demonstrated that the TEB architecture is essentially unchanged after processing.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-373
PMCID: PMC3750743  PMID: 23919456
11.  Biological characteristics of a new human glioma cell line transformed into A2B5+ stem cells 
Molecular Cancer  2015;14:75.
Objective
The new glioma cell line SHG-139 was established and its phenotype, tumorigenicity, pathological characteristics, derived stem cells SHG139S were studied.
Methods
Immunohistochemistry was used to assess expressions in the patient and mouse tumor tissues, SHG-139 and SHG-139S. Primary SHG-139 culture was performed, cell proliferation, cell cycle and genetic characteristics were assessed. MiRNA (Micro RNA) and LncRNA (Long non-coding RNA) microarray was performed.
Results
We found that the glioma tissue was positive for A2B5 (Glial precursors ganglioside), GFAP (Glial fibrillary acidic protein), S-100 (Acid calcium bingding protein), VEGF (Vascular endothelial growth factor), VEGFR (Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor) and negative for Ki-67 (Nuclcar- associated antigen). SHG-139 proliferated significantly within 24h; its total number of chromosomes was 68; ratios of SHG-139 and SHG-139S cells in G1 phase were highest. SHG-139 cells were positive for A2B5, GalC (Galactocerebrosides), GFAP, S-100 and Vimentin, while SHG-139S cells were positive for A2B5, Nestin, and NG2 (Neuron-glia antigen2), and negative for Vimentin and IDHR132H (Isocitrate dehydrogenase); cells rarely stained for CD133 (Cluster of differentiation133). SHG-139 intracranial xenografts expressed GFAP, but no overt oligodendroglioma was observed. In SHG-139S xenografts, GFAP and S-100 were expressed, while CD133 was not detected; a few A2B5+ cells were found at tumor edges, and typical oligodendroglioma were obtained. In addition, SHG-139S xenograft tumors were more aggressive than those of SHG-139. Anti-mouse CD31 (Cluster of differentiation31) staining revealed murine vessels at the border between xenograft tumor and normal brain tissue; Anti-human CD34 (Cluster of differentiation34) staining was negative. Biochip technology of SHG139S showed several miRNA and lncRNA were differently expressed in SHG139 and SHG139S.
Conclusions
SHG-139 was an astroglioma cell line which yielded stem cells SHG-139S. SHG-139S cells constituted an A2B5+/CD133− GSC subgroup.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12943-015-0343-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12943-015-0343-z
PMCID: PMC4392480  PMID: 25879429
Glioma stem cells; Xenograft tumor; A2B5; CD133
12.  Capability Development among the Ultra-poor in Bangladesh: A Case Study 
Microcredit is advocated as a development tool that has the potential to reduce poverty, empower participants, and improve health. Results of several studies have shown that the extreme poor, or the ultra-poor, often are unable to benefit from traditional microcredit programmes and can, as a result of taking a loan they cannot repay, sink deeper into economic and social poverty. This case study describes an intervention directed at enabling the ultra-poor rural populations to pull themselves out of poverty. The intervention integrates multiple components, including asset grants for income generation, skills training, a time-bound monthly stipend for subsistence, social development and mobilization of local elite, and health support. Results of an evaluation showed that, after 18 months, the programme positively impacted livelihood, economic, social and health status to the extent that 63% of households (n=5,000) maintained asset growth and joined (or intended to join) a regular microcredit programme. Impacts included improved income, improved food security, and improved health knowledge and behaviour. Applying a social exclusion framework to the intervention helps identify the different dynamic forces that can exclude or include the ultra-poor in Bangladesh in development interventions such as microcredit.
PMCID: PMC2928093  PMID: 19761086
Capacity-building; Economic assistance; Poverty; Ultra-poor; Bangladesh
13.  Financial incentives and coverage of child health interventions: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Public Health  2013;13(Suppl 3):S30.
Background
Financial incentives are widely used strategies to alleviate poverty, foster development, and improve health. Cash transfer programs, microcredit, user fee removal policies and voucher schemes that provide direct or indirect monetary incentives to households have been used for decades in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and more recently in Southeast Asia. Until now, no systematic review of the impact of financial incentives on coverage and uptake of health interventions targeting children under 5 years of age has been conducted. The objective of this review is to provide estimates on the effect of six types of financial incentive programs: (i) Unconditional cash transfers (CT), (ii) Conditional cash transfers (CCT), (iii) Microcredit (MC), (iv) Conditional Microcredit (CMC), (v) Voucher schemes (VS) and (vi) User fee removal (UFR) on the uptake and coverage of health interventions targeting children under the age of five years.
Methods
We conducted systematic searches of a series of databases until September 1st, 2012, to identify relevant studies reporting on the impact of financial incentives on coverage of health interventions and behaviors targeting children under 5 years of age. The quality of the studies was assessed using the CHERG criteria. Meta-analyses were undertaken to estimate the effect when multiple studies meeting our inclusion criteria were available.
Results
Our searches resulted in 1671 titles identified 25 studies reporting on the impact of financial incentive programs on 5 groups of coverage indicators: breastfeeding practices (breastfeeding incidence, proportion of children receiving colostrum and early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for six months and duration of breastfeeding); vaccination (coverage of full immunization, partial immunization and specific antigens); health care use (seeking healthcare when child was ill, visits to health facilities for preventive reasons, visits to health facilities for any reason, visits for health check-up including growth control); management of diarrhoeal disease (ORS use during diarrhea episode, continued feeding during diarrhea, healthcare during diarrhea episode) and other preventive health interventions (iron supplementation, vitamin A, zinc supplementation, preventive deworming). The quality of evidence on the effect of financial incentives on breastfeeding practices was low but seems to indicate a potential positive impact on receiving colostrum, early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding and mean duration of exclusive breastfeeding. There is no effect of financial incentives on immunization coverage although there was moderate quality evidence of conditional cash transfers leading to a small but non-significant increase in coverage of age-appropriate immunization. There was low quality evidence of impact of CCT on healthcare use by children under age 5 (Risk difference: 0.14 [95%CI: 0.03; 0.26]) as well as low quality evidence of an effect of user fee removal on use of curative health services (RD=0.62 [0.41; 0.82]).
Conclusions
Financial incentives may have potential to promote increased coverage of several important child health interventions, but the quality of evidence available is low. The more pronounced effects seem to be achieved by programs that directly removed user fees for access to health services. Some indication of effect were also observed for programs that conditioned financial incentives on participation in health education and attendance to health care visits. This finding suggest that the measured effect may be less a consequence of the financial incentive and more due to conditionalities addressing important informational barriers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-S3-S30
PMCID: PMC3847540  PMID: 24564520
14.  A Qualitative Exploration of the Economic and Social Effects of Microcredit among People Living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda 
AIDS Research and Treatment  2012;2012:318957.
HIV medical care, including antiretroviral therapy (ART), is often successful in restoring physical health and functioning. But in developing countries, HIV medical care is often insufficient to achieve social and economic health, and hence innovative economic support programs are much needed. We conducted semistructured interviews with 30 adults receiving ART and microcredit loans operated by Uganda Cares. Using content analysis, we explored the impact of the microcredit loans on the economic, social, and psychological well-being of respondents. Most respondents indicated that the microcredit loans played a positive role in their lives, helped them to keep their children in school and sustain their families, and improved their self-esteem and status in the community. In addition, we also found significant positive knowledge spill-over and network effects in the program with regard to business management and support. However, more than half of the participants indicated experiencing repayment problems either personally or with other group members due to unexpected emergencies and sickness. These findings highlight that microcredit programs have the potential of being an economic support system for HIV clients trying to reestablish their livelihoods, especially in resource-constrained settings, though more research is needed to determine the overall economic viability of such programs.
doi:10.1155/2012/318957
PMCID: PMC3388281  PMID: 22778923
15.  Community Mobilization in Mumbai Slums to Improve Perinatal Care and Outcomes: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001257.
David Osrin and colleagues report findings from a cluster-randomized trial conducted in Mumbai slums; the trial aimed to evaluate whether facilitator-supported women's groups could improve perinatal outcomes.
Introduction
Improving maternal and newborn health in low-income settings requires both health service and community action. Previous community initiatives have been predominantly rural, but India is urbanizing. While working to improve health service quality, we tested an intervention in which urban slum-dweller women's groups worked to improve local perinatal health.
Methods and Findings
A cluster randomized controlled trial in 24 intervention and 24 control settlements covered a population of 283,000. In each intervention cluster, a facilitator supported women's groups through an action learning cycle in which they discussed perinatal experiences, improved their knowledge, and took local action. We monitored births, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths, and interviewed mothers at 6 weeks postpartum. The primary outcomes described perinatal care, maternal morbidity, and extended perinatal mortality. The analysis included 18,197 births over 3 years from 2006 to 2009. We found no differences between trial arms in uptake of antenatal care, reported work, rest, and diet in later pregnancy, institutional delivery, early and exclusive breastfeeding, or care-seeking. The stillbirth rate was non-significantly lower in the intervention arm (odds ratio 0.86, 95% CI 0.60–1.22), and the neonatal mortality rate higher (1.48, 1.06–2.08). The extended perinatal mortality rate did not differ between arms (1.19, 0.90–1.57). We have no evidence that these differences could be explained by the intervention.
Conclusions
Facilitating urban community groups was feasible, and there was evidence of behaviour change, but we did not see population-level effects on health care or mortality. In cities with multiple sources of health care, but inequitable access to services, community mobilization should be integrated with attempts to deliver services for the poorest and most vulnerable, and with initiatives to improve quality of care in both public and private sectors.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN96256793
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Substantial progress is being made to reduce global child mortality (deaths of children before the age of 5 years) and maternal mortality (deaths among women because of complications of pregnancy and childbirth)—two of the Millennium Development Goals agreed by world leaders in 2000 to end extreme poverty. Even so, worldwide, in 2010, 7.6 million children died before their fifth birthday and there were nearly 360,000 maternal deaths. Almost all child and maternal deaths occur in developing countries—a fifth of under-five deaths and more than a quarter of neonatal deaths (deaths during the first month of life, which account for two-fifths of all child deaths) occur in India alone. Moreover, most child and maternal deaths are caused by avoidable conditions. Specifically, the major causes of neonatal death—complications of preterm delivery, breathing problems during or after delivery, and infections of the blood (sepsis) and lungs (pneumonia)—and of maternal deaths—hemorrhage (abnormal bleeding), sepsis, unsafe abortion, obstructed labor, and hypertensive diseases of pregnancy—could all be largely prevented by improved access to reproductive health services and skilled health care workers.
Why Was This Study Done?
Experts believe that improvements to maternal and newborn health in low-income settings require both health service strengthening and community action. That is, the demand for better services, driven by improved knowledge about maternal and newborn health (perinatal issues), has to be increased in parallel with the supply of those services. To date, community mobilization around perinatal issues has largely been undertaken in rural settings but populations in developing countries are becoming increasingly urban. In India, for example, 30% of the population now lives in cities. In this cluster randomized controlled trial (a study in which groups of people are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in the differently treated “clusters” are compared), City Initiative for Newborn Health (CINH) researchers investigate the effect of an intervention designed to help women's groups in the slums of Mumbai work towards improving local perinatal health. The CINH aims to improve maternal and newborn health in slum communities by improving public health care provision and by working with community members to improve maternal and newborn care practices and care-seeking behaviors.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 48 Mumbai slum communities of at least 1,000 households into their trial. In each of the 24 intervention clusters, a facilitator supported local women's groups through a 36-meeting learning cycle during which group members discussed their perinatal experiences, improved their knowledge, and took action. To measure the effect of the intervention, the researchers monitored births, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths in all the clusters and interviewed mothers 6 weeks after delivery. During the 3-year trial, there were 18,197 births in the participating settlements. The women in the intervention clusters were enthusiastic about acquiring new knowledge and made substantial efforts to reach out to other women but were less successful in undertaking collective action such as negotiations with civic authorities for more amenities. There were no differences between the intervention and control communities in the uptake of antenatal care, reported work, rest, and diet in late pregnancy, institutional delivery, or in breast feeding and care-seeking behavior. Finally, the combined rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths (the extended perinatal mortality rate) was the same in both arms of the trial, as was maternal mortality.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that it is possible to facilitate the discussion of perinatal health care by urban women's groups in the challenging conditions that exist in the slums of Mumbai. However, they fail to show any measureable effect of community mobilization through the facilitation of women's groups on perinatal health at the population level. The researchers acknowledge that more intensive community activities that target the poorest, most vulnerable slum dwellers might produce measurable effects on perinatal mortality, and they conclude that, in cities with multiple sources of health care and inequitable access to services, it remains important to integrate community mobilization with attempts to deliver services to the poorest and most vulnerable, and with initiatives to improve the quality of health care in both the public and private sector.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001257.
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on the reduction of child mortality (Millennium Development Goal 4); its Childinfo website provides information about all the Millennium Development Goals and detailed statistics about on child survival and health, newborn care, and maternal health (some information in several languages)
The World Health Organization also has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and Millennium Development Goal 5, the reduction of maternal mortality, provides information on newborn infants, and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
Information on the City Initiative for Newborn Health and its partners and a detailed description of its trial of community mobilization in Mumbai slums to improve care during pregnancy, delivery, postnatally and for the newborn are available
Further information about the Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA) is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001257
PMCID: PMC3389036  PMID: 22802737
16.  The Role of Health Systems Factors in Facilitating Access to Psychotropic Medicines: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the WHO-AIMS in 63 Low- and Middle-Income Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(1):e1001166.
In a cross-sectional analysis of WHO-AIMS data, Ryan McBain and colleagues investigate the associations between health system components and access to psychotropic drugs in 63 low and middle income countries.
Background
Neuropsychiatric conditions comprise 14% of the global burden of disease and 30% of all noncommunicable disease. Despite the existence of cost-effective interventions, including administration of psychotropic medicines, the number of persons who remain untreated is as high as 85% in low- and middle-income countries (LAMICs). While access to psychotropic medicines varies substantially across countries, no studies to date have empirically investigated potential health systems factors underlying this issue.
Methods and Findings
This study uses a cross-sectional sample of 63 LAMICs and country regions to identify key health systems components associated with access to psychotropic medicines. Data from countries that completed the World Health Organization Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS) were included in multiple regression analyses to investigate the role of five major mental health systems domains in shaping medicine availability and affordability. These domains are: mental health legislation, human rights implementations, mental health care financing, human resources, and the role of advocacy groups. Availability of psychotropic medicines was associated with features of all five mental health systems domains. Most notably, within the domain of mental health legislation, a comprehensive national mental health plan was associated with 15% greater availability; and in terms of advocacy groups, the participation of family-based organizations in the development of mental health legislation was associated with 17% greater availability. Only three measures were related with affordability of medicines to consumers: level of human resources, percentage of countries' health budget dedicated to mental health, and availability of mental health care in prisons. Controlling for country development, as measured by the Human Development Index, health systems features were associated with medicine availability but not affordability.
Conclusions
Results suggest that strengthening particular facets of mental health systems might improve availability of psychotropic medicines and that overall country development is associated with affordability.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Mental disorders—conditions that involve impairment of thinking, emotions, and behavior—are extremely common. Worldwide, mental illness affects about 450 million people and accounts for 13.5% of the global burden of disease. About one in four people will have a mental health problem at some time in their life. For some people, this will be a short period of mild depression, anxiety, or stress. For others, it will be a serious, long-lasting condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. People with mental health problems need help and support from professionals and from their friends and families to help them cope with their illness but are often discriminated against, which can make their illness worse. Treatments include counseling and psychotherapy (talking therapies), and psychotropic medicines—drugs that act mainly on the brain. Left untreated, many people with serious mental illnesses commit suicide.
Why Was This Study Done?
About 80% of people with mental illnesses live in low- and middle-income countries (LAMICs) where up to 85% of patients remain untreated. Access to psychotropic medicines, which constitute an essential and cost-effective component in the treatment of mental illnesses, is particularly poor in many LAMICs. To improve this situation, it is necessary to understand what health systems factors limit the availability and affordability of psychotropic drugs; a health system is the sum of all the organizations, institutions, and resources that act together to improve health. In this cross-sectional study, the researchers look for associations between specific health system components and access to psychotropic medicines by analyzing data collected from LAMICs using the World Health Organization's Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS). A cross-sectional study analyzes data collected at a single time. WHO-AIMS, which was created to evaluate mental health systems primarily in LAMICs, is a 155-item survey that Ministries of Health and other country-based agencies can use to collect information on mental health indicators.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used WHO-AIMS data from 63 countries/country regions and multiple regression analysis to evaluate the role of mental health legislation, human rights implementation, mental health care financing, human resources, and advocacy in shaping medicine availability and affordability. For each of these health systems domains, the researchers developed one or more summary measurements. For example, they measured financing as the percentage of government health expenditure directed toward mental health. Availability of psychotropic medicines was defined as the percentage of mental health facilities in which at least one psychotropic medication for each therapeutic category was always available. Affordability was measured by calculating the percentage of daily minimum wage needed to purchase medicine by the average consumer. The availability of psychotropic medicines was related to features of all five mental health systems domains, report the researchers. Notably, having a national mental health plan (part of the legislation domain) and the participation (advocacy) of family-based organizations in mental health legislation formulation were associated with 15% and 17% greater availability of medicines, respectively. By contrast, only the levels of human resources and financing, and the availability of mental health care in prisons (part of the human rights domain) were associated with the affordability of psychotropic medicines. Once overall country development was taken into account, most of the associations between health systems factors and medicine availability remained significant, while the associations between health systems factors and medicine affordability were no longer significant. In part, this was because country development was more strongly associated with affordability and explained most of the relationships: for example, countries with greater overall development have higher expenditures on mental health and greater medicine affordability compared to availability.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that access to psychotropic medicines in LAMICs is related to key components within the mental health systems of these countries but that availability and affordability are affected to different extents by these components. They also show that country development plays a strong role in determining affordability but has less effect on determining availability. Because cross-sectional data were used in this study, these findings only indicate associations; they do not imply causality. They are also limited by the relatively small number of observations included in this study, by the methods used to collect mental health systems data in many LAMICs, and by the possibility that some countries may have reported biased results. Despite these limitations, these findings suggest that strengthening specific mental health system features may be an important way to facilitate access to psychotropic medicines but also highlight the role that country wealth and development play in promoting the treatment of mental disorders.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001166.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of mental health (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information on mental health; its Live Well feature provides practical advice on dealing with mental health problems and personal stories
The UK charity Mind provides further information about mental illness, including personal stories
MedlinePlus provides links to many other sources of information on mental health (in English and Spanish)
Information on WHO-AIMS, including versions of the instrument in several languages, and WHO-AIMS country reports are available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001166
PMCID: PMC3269418  PMID: 22303288
17.  Utilisation of rheumatology care services in Germany: the case of physical therapy and self-help groups 
Physical Therapy (PT) and self-help groups (SHG) are important components of health care in rheumatic diseases. The utilisation of PT and SHG by patients with rheumatic diseases may be influenced by several factors. The aim of this study is to summarize the evidence on PT and SHG utilisation of patients with rheumatic diseases in Germany. We systematically searched the MEDLINE-database for studies that evaluated the utilisation and factors that possibly influence the utilisation of PT and SHG. Eight studies were found for PT-utilisation and one for SHG-utilisation. Between 25 and 59 percent of patients with rheumatic diseases received PT services. Several individual and contextual factors that may influence the utilisation could be identified. In conclusion, evidence exists for wide variations in the utilisation of PT services and an underuse of such services among patients with rheumatic diseases in Germany. By contrast, little evidence exists on the utilisation of SHG.
doi:10.3205/psm000086
PMCID: PMC3488804  PMID: 23133502
rheumatic disease; physical therapy; self-help; utilisation
18.  Cervical cancer screening: Current knowledge & practice among women in a rural population of Kerala, India 
Background & objectives:
Cervical cancer has a major impact on woman's lives worldwide and one in every five women suffering from cervical cancer belongs to India. Hence the objectives of this study were to find the knowledge of women regarding cervical cancer, to determine screening practices and determinants, and to identify factors for non screening.
Methods:
A cross-sectional study was conducted in Vypin Block of Ernakulam District, Kerala, India where four of the seven Panchayats were randomly chosen. Households were selected by systematic random sampling taking every second house in the tenth ward of the Panchayat till at least 200 women were interviewed. Thus, 809 women were interviewed from four Panchayats.
Results:
Mean age of the study population was 34.5 + 9.23 yr. Three fourths of the population (74.2%) knew that cervical cancer could be detected early by a screening test. Majority of respondents (89.2%) did not know any risk factor for cervical cancer. Of the 809 women studied, only 6.9 per cent had undergone screening. One third of the population were desirous of undergoing screening test but had not done it due to various factors. These factors related to knowledge (51.4%) such as no symptoms, not being aware of Pap test, not necessary, etc. This was followed by resource factors (15.1%) like no time, no money, etc. and psychosocial factors (10.2%) included lack of interest, fear of procedure, etc. Independent predictors for doing Pap test included age >35, having knowledge of screening for cervical cancer and Pap test (P<0.05).
Interpretation & conclusions:
Specific knowledge on cervical cancer screening is a critical element in determining whether a woman will undergo Pap test in addition to making cancer screening facilities available in the primary health centre.
PMCID: PMC3461731  PMID: 22960886
Cervical cancer; knowledge; practice; screening
19.  Group Interventions were not Effective for Female Turkish Migrants with Recurrent Depression – Recommendations from a Randomized Controlled Study 
Social behavior and personality  2011;39(9):1217-1234.
We tested group interventions for women with a Turkish migration background living in Austria and suffering from recurrent depression. N = 66 participants were randomized to: (1) Self-Help Groups (SHG), (2) Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) Groups, and (3) a Wait-List (WL) Control condition. Neither SHG nor CBT were superior to WL. On an individual basis, about one third of the participants showed significant improvements with respect to symptoms of depression. Younger women, women with a longer duration of stay in Austria and those who had encountered a higher number of traumatic experiences, showed increased improvement of depressive symptoms. The results suggest that individual treatment by ethnic, female psychotherapists should be preferred to group interventions.
PMCID: PMC3184506  PMID: 21976784
Self-Help Group; group therapy; acculturation; migration; depression
20.  Health and Human Rights in Chin State, Western Burma: A Population-Based Assessment Using Multistaged Household Cluster Sampling 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(2):e1001007.
Sollom and colleagues report the findings from a household survey study carried out in Western Burma; they report a high prevalence of human rights violations such as forced labor, food theft, forced displacement, beatings, and ethnic persecution.
Background
The Chin State of Burma (also known as Myanmar) is an isolated ethnic minority area with poor health outcomes and reports of food insecurity and human rights violations. We report on a population-based assessment of health and human rights in Chin State. We sought to quantify reported human rights violations in Chin State and associations between these reported violations and health status at the household level.
Methods and Findings
Multistaged household cluster sampling was done. Heads of household were interviewed on demographics, access to health care, health status, food insecurity, forced displacement, forced labor, and other human rights violations during the preceding 12 months. Ratios of the prevalence of household hunger comparing exposed and unexposed to each reported violation were estimated using binomial regression, and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were constructed. Multivariate models were done to adjust for possible confounders. Overall, 91.9% of households (95% CI 89.7%–94.1%) reported forced labor in the past 12 months. Forty-three percent of households met FANTA-2 (Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance II project) definitions for moderate to severe household hunger. Common violations reported were food theft, livestock theft or killing, forced displacement, beatings and torture, detentions, disappearances, and religious and ethnic persecution. Self reporting of multiple rights abuses was independently associated with household hunger.
Conclusions
Our findings indicate widespread self-reports of human rights violations. The nature and extent of these violations may warrant investigation by the United Nations or International Criminal Court.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
More than 60 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, thousands of people around the world are still deprived of their basic human rights—life, liberty, and security of person. In many countries, people live in fear of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, forced labor, religious and ethnic persecution, forced displacement, and murder. In addition, ongoing conflicts and despotic governments deprive them of the ability to grow sufficient food (resulting in food insecurity) and deny them access to essential health care. In Burma, for example, the military junta, which seized power in 1962, frequently confiscates land unlawfully, demands forced labor, and uses violence against anyone who protests. Burma is also one of the world's poorest countries in terms of health indicators. Its average life expectancy is 54 years, its maternal mortality rate (380 deaths among women from pregnancy-related causes per 100,000 live births) is nearly ten times higher than that of neighboring Thailand, and its under-five death rate (122/1000 live births) is twice that of nearby countries. Moreover, nearly half of Burmese children under 5 are stunted, and a third of young children are underweight, indicators of malnutrition in a country that, on paper, has a food surplus.
Why Was This Study Done?
Investigators are increasingly using population-based methods to quantify the associations between human rights violations and health outcomes. In eastern Burma, for example, population-based research has recently revealed a link between human rights violations and reduced access to maternal health-care services. In this study, the researchers undertake a population-based assessment of health and human rights in Chin State, an ethnic minority area in western Burma where multiple reports of human rights abuses have been documented and from which thousands of people have fled. In particular, the researchers investigate correlations between household hunger and household experiences of human rights violations—food security in Chin State is affected by periodic expansions of rat populations that devastate crop yields, by farmers being forced by the government to grow an inedible oil crop (jatropha), and by the Burmese military regularly stealing food and livestock.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Local surveyors questioned the heads of randomly selected households in Chin State about their household's access to health care and its health status, and about forced labor and other human rights violations experienced by the household during the preceding 12 months. They also asked three standard questions about food availability, the answers to which were combined to provide a measure of household hunger. Of the 621 households interviewed, 91.9% reported at least one episode of a household member being forced to work in the preceding 12 months. The Burmese military imposed two-thirds of these forced labor demands. Other human rights violations reported included beating or torture (14.8% of households), religious or ethnic persecutions (14.1% of households), and detention or imprisonment of a family member (5.9% of households). Forty-three percent of the households met the US Agency for International Development Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA) definition for moderate to severe household hunger, and human rights violations related to food insecurity were common. For example, more than half the households were forced to give up food out of fear of violence. A statistical analysis of these data indicated that the prevalence of household hunger was 6.51 times higher in households that had experienced three food-related human rights violations than in households that had not experienced such violations.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings quantify the extent to which the Chin ethnic minority in Burma is subjected to multiple human rights violations and indicate the geographical spread of these abuses. Importantly, they show that the health impacts of human rights violations in Chin State are substantial. In addition, they suggest that the indirect health outcomes of human rights violations probably dwarf the mortality from direct killings. Although this study has some limitations (for example, surveyors had to work in secret and it was not safe for them to collect biological samples that could have given a more accurate indication of the health status of households than questions alone), these findings should encourage the international community to intensify its efforts to reduce human rights violations in Burma.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001007.
The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is available in numerous languages
The Burma Campaign UK and Human Rights Watch provide detailed information about human rights violations in Burma (in several languages)
The World Health Organization provides information on health in Burma and on human rights (in several languages)
The Mae Tao clinic also provides general information about Burma and its health services (including some information in Thai)
A PLoS Medicine Research Article by Luke Mullany and colleagues provides data on human rights violations and maternal health in Burma
The Chin Human Rights Organization is working to protect and promote the rights of the Chin people
The Global Health Access Program (GHAP) provides information on health in Burma
FANTA works to improve nutrition and global food security policies
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001007
PMCID: PMC3035608  PMID: 21346799
21.  Gender inequalities in health among workers: the relation with family demands 
OBJECTIVES—To analyse whether there are gender inequalities in health among male and female workers who are married or cohabiting and to assess whether there are gender differences in the relation between family demands and health. Additionally, for both objectives it will be examined whether these gender patterns are similar for manual and non-manual workers.
DESIGN AND SETTING—The data have been taken from the 1994 Catalonian Health Survey (CHS), a cross sectional survey based on a representative sample of the non-institutionalised population of Catalonia, a region in the north east of Spain that has about 6 million inhabitants. The dependent variables were four ill health indicators (self perceived health status, limiting longstanding illness, having at least one chronic condition and mental health) and two health related behaviours closely related to having time for oneself (no leisure time physical activity and sleeping six hours or less a day). Family demands were measured with three variables: household size, living with children under 15 years and living with adults older than 65 years. The analysis was separated for gender and social class (manual and non-manual workers) and additionally adjusted for age. Gender differences for all dependent and independent variables were first tested at the bivariate level using the χ2 test for categorical variables and the t test for age. Secondly, multivariate logistic regression models were fitted.
PARTICIPANTS—Persons who were employed, married or cohabiting, aged 25 to 64 years (2148 men and 1185 women).
RESULTS—A female excess for all the ill health indicators was found, while there were no gender differences in the health related behaviours analysed. Family demands had a greater impact on health and health related behaviours of female manual workers. In this group household size was positively related to four dependent variables. The adjusted odds ratios (ORs) to living in family units of more than four persons versus living only with the spouse were 2.74 (95%CI=1.22, 6.17) for poor self perceived health status, 3.16 (95%CI=0.98, 10.15) for limiting long standing illness, 3.28 (95%CI=1.45, 7.44) for having at least one chronic condition, and 2.60 (95%CI=1.12, 6.00) for sleeping six hours or less a day. Among female manual workers living with children under 15 years was positively associated with no leisure time physical activity (adjusted OR=2.37; 95% CI=1.43, 3.92) and with sleeping six hours or less a day (adjusted OR=1.91; 95% CI=1.13, 3.32). Living with adults older than 65 years had an unexpected negative relation with poor self perceived health status (adjusted OR=0.33; 95%CI=0.16, 0.66), and with chronic conditions (adjusted OR=0.45; 95%CI=0.24, 0.87) in female manual workers. Among male manual workers living with children under 15 years was positively associated with longstanding limiting illness (adjusted OR=2.44; 95%CI=1.36, 4.38).
CONCLUSION—When gender differences in health are analysed, both the paid and the non-paid work should be considered as well as the interaction between these two dimensions, gender and social class. In Catalonia, as probably in Spain and in other countries, private changes such as sharing domestic responsibilities, as well as active public policies for facilitating family care are needed in order to reduce gender health inequalities attributable to the unequal distribution of family demands.


Keywords: sex factors; socioeconomic factors; family characteristics
doi:10.1136/jech.55.9.639
PMCID: PMC1731969  PMID: 11511642
22.  Assessment of Status of Patients Receiving Palliative Home Care and Services Provided in a Rural Area—Kerala, India 
Indian Journal of Palliative Care  2012;18(3):213-218.
Context:
For the first time in India, a Pain and Palliative Care policy to guide the community-based home care initiatives was declared by the Government of Kerala state. In Kerala, majority of the panchayats (local self-governments) are now conducting home-based palliative care as part of primary health care. National focus domain areas in palliative care research are structure and process, the physical aspects, and also the social aspects of care.
Aims:
The study was conducted to assess the patient's status and the services provided by palliative home care.
Settings and Design:
The descriptive study was conducted at Mavoor panchayat—Kozhikode district of Kerala, India by collecting information from the case records, nurses diary notes of all enrolled patients.
Materials and Methods:
Collecting information from the case records, nurses diary notes of all enrolled patients.
Statistical Analysis:
The data were entered using Microsoft excel for Windows XP and analyzed using SPSS 16.0 (Statistical Package for Social Sciences; SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA).
Results:
Totally, 104 patients were enrolled. Diagnosis wise major category was degenerative diseases. There were 27% persons suffering from cerebrovascular accidents, 15.3% with malignancies, 8.7% with coronary artery disease, 5.8% with complications of diabetes, and 8.7% were with fracture of bones. The major complaints were weakness (41.3%), tiredness (31.7%), and pain (27%). Twenty-five percent persons complained of urinary incontinence, 12.5% complained of ulcer, 10.6% of edema, and 9.6% of mental/emotional agony. The activity of daily living status was as follows. Twenty-five percent subjects were completely bed ridden. 5.8% were feeding through Ryles tube, 16.3% had urinary incontinence, 9.6% were having no bowel control.
Conclusions:
The service could address most of the medical, psychosocial, and supportive needs of the patients and reduce their pain and symptoms. The interface between institutional-based care and home care needs more exploration and prospective studies.
doi:10.4103/0973-1075.105693
PMCID: PMC3573477  PMID: 23440060
Activity of daily living; Community nurse; Home-based palliative care; Primary care; Quality of life
23.  Reducing inequalities in health and access to health care in a rural Indian community: an India-Canada collaborative action research project 
Background
Inadequate public action in vulnerable communities is a major constraint for the health of poor and marginalized groups in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The south Indian state of Kerala, known for relatively equitable provision of public resources, is no exception to the marginalization of vulnerable communities. In Kerala, women’s lives are constrained by gender-based inequalities and certain indigenous groups are marginalized such that their health and welfare lag behind other social groups.
The research
The goal of this socially-engaged, action-research initiative was to reduce social inequalities in access to health care in a rural community. Specific objectives were: 1) design and implement a community-based health insurance scheme to reduce financial barriers to health care, 2) strengthen local governance in monitoring and evidence-based decision-making, and 3) develop an evidence base for appropriate health interventions.
Results and outcomes
Health and social inequities have been masked by Kerala’s overall progress. Key findings illustrated large inequalities between different social groups. Particularly disadvantaged are lower-caste women and Paniyas (a marginalized indigenous group), for whom inequalities exist across education, employment status, landholdings, and health. The most vulnerable populations are the least likely to receive state support, which has broader implications for the entire country. A community based health solidarity scheme (SNEHA), under the leadership of local women, was developed and implemented yielding some benefits to health equity in the community—although inclusion of the Paniyas has been a challenge.
The partnership
The Canadian-Indian action research team has worked collaboratively for over a decade. An initial focus on surveys and data analysis has transformed into a focus on socially engaged, participatory action research.
Challenges and successes
Adapting to unanticipated external forces, maintaining a strong team in the rural village, retaining human resources capable of analyzing the data, and encouraging Paniya participation in the health insurance scheme were challenges. Successes were at least partially enabled by the length of the funding (this was a two-phase project over an eight year period).
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S2-S3
PMCID: PMC3247834  PMID: 22165825
24.  A Population Based Case Control Study on Breast Cancer and the Associated Risk Factors in a Rural Setting in Kerala, Southern India 
Introduction: The incidence of breast cancer is increasing in developing countries over three decades. Despite good health indicators breast cancer is a public health problem in Kerala with an annual incidence of 14.9/100000 population. Identifying the risk factors helps to reduce the incidence in future.
Method: A Population based case control study was conducted among all the breast cancer cases in the Arpookara Panchayat of Kottayam district in Kerala. 20 cases of breast cancer were paired with age matched controls from the same geographic area (ratio 1:4) with a total of 100 study participants. Data were collected by interviewing the participants using a pre tested structured questionnaire.
Analysis was done by the authors using SPSS version 16.0
Results: Age group of participants ranged from 32-70 years with mean age of 49.7 + 10.39. Early menarche < 13 years [Odds Ratio =3.2, p= 0.03], being unmarried and single, family history of breast cancer [Odds Ratio = 3.5, p = 0.02], previous history of benign breast tumours [Odds Ratio =8.14, p= 0.04], breast feeding less than 2 years [Odds Ratio = 2.28, p = 0.01 ] were found to be the risk factors for the breast cancer and the birth of first child before 30 years [Odds Ratio =0.302, p = 0.03 ] was found to be a protective factor for breast cancer. 60% of cases belonged to lower socioeconomic status [Odds Ratio = 14.47, p = 0.03]. Despite high literacy status, significantly lower awareness about symptoms of breast cancer and self examination of the breast were noted [Odds Ratio =11.6, p= 0.03].
Conclusion: Awareness about symptoms of breast cancer and self examination of the breast were lacking in the study population. Health care personnel should be trained to spread the awareness of breast cancer in the community and to identify the vulnerable groups at the primary care settings itself. The policy makers can consider encouraging community participation by involving the non-governmental organizations, women self help groups and Public Private Partnerships in spreading the awareness of breast cancer.
doi:10.7860/JCDR/2013/5830.3356
PMCID: PMC3809635  PMID: 24179896
Arpookara Panchayat; Kottayam; Case control study; Odds ratio
25.  The Influence of Distance and Level of Care on Delivery Place in Rural Zambia: A Study of Linked National Data in a Geographic Information System 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(1):e1000394.
Using linked national data in a geographic information system system, Sabine Gabrysch and colleagues investigate the effects of distance to care and level of care on women's use of health facilities for delivery in rural Zambia.
Background
Maternal and perinatal mortality could be reduced if all women delivered in settings where skilled attendants could provide emergency obstetric care (EmOC) if complications arise. Research on determinants of skilled attendance at delivery has focussed on household and individual factors, neglecting the influence of the health service environment, in part due to a lack of suitable data. The aim of this study was to quantify the effects of distance to care and level of care on women's use of health facilities for delivery in rural Zambia, and to compare their population impact to that of other important determinants.
Methods and Findings
Using a geographic information system (GIS), we linked national household data from the Zambian Demographic and Health Survey 2007 with national facility data from the Zambian Health Facility Census 2005 and calculated straight-line distances. Health facilities were classified by whether they provided comprehensive EmOC (CEmOC), basic EmOC (BEmOC), or limited or substandard services. Multivariable multilevel logistic regression analyses were performed to investigate the influence of distance to care and level of care on place of delivery (facility or home) for 3,682 rural births, controlling for a wide range of confounders. Only a third of rural Zambian births occurred at a health facility, and half of all births were to mothers living more than 25 km from a facility of BEmOC standard or better. As distance to the closest health facility doubled, the odds of facility delivery decreased by 29% (95% CI, 14%–40%). Independently, each step increase in level of care led to 26% higher odds of facility delivery (95% CI, 7%–48%). The population impact of poor geographic access to EmOC was at least of similar magnitude as that of low maternal education, household poverty, or lack of female autonomy.
Conclusions
Lack of geographic access to emergency obstetric care is a key factor explaining why most rural deliveries in Zambia still occur at home without skilled care. Addressing geographic and quality barriers is crucial to increase service use and to lower maternal and perinatal mortality. Linking datasets using GIS has great potential for future research and can help overcome the neglect of health system factors in research and policy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Approximately 360,000 women die each year in pregnancy and childbirth, of which more than 200,000 in sub-Saharan Africa, where a woman's lifetime risk of dying during or following pregnancy remains as high as 1 in 31 (compared to 1 in 4,300 in the developed world). The target of Millennium Development Goal 5 is to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters by 2015. Most maternal and neonatal deaths in low-income countries could be prevented if all women delivered their babies in settings where skilled birth attendants (such as midwives) were available and could provide emergency obstetric care to both mothers and babies in case of complications. Yet every year roughly 50 million women give birth at home without skilled care.
Why was this study done?
The likelihood of a woman giving birth in a health facility under the care of a skilled birth attendant depends on many factors. These include characteristics of the mother and her family, such as education level and household wealth, and aspects of the health service environment—distance to the nearest health facility and the quality of care provided at that facility, for example. However, research to date has typically focused on household and individual factors, neglecting the influence of the health service environment on choice of delivery place, largely because suitable data was not available. In this study in rural Zambia, the researchers aimed to quantify the effects of the health service environment, namely distance to health care and the level of care provided, on pregnant women's use of health facilities for giving birth. To put these factors in context, the researchers compared the impact of distance to quality care on place of delivery to that of other important factors, such as poverty and education.
What did the researchers do and find?
Using a geographic information system (GIS), the researchers linked national household data (from the 2007 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey) with national facility data (from the 2005 Zambian Health Facility Census) and calculated straight-line distances between women's villages and health facilities. Health facilities were classified as providing comprehensive emergency obstetric care, basic emergency obstetric care, or limited or substandard services by using reported capability to perform a certain number of the eight emergency obstetric care signal functions: injectable antibiotics, injectable oxytocics, injectable anticonvulsants, manual removal of placenta, manual removal of retained products, assisted vaginal delivery, cesarean section, and blood transfusion, as well as criteria on staffing, opening hours and referral capacity. The researchers used data from 3,682 rural births and multivariable multilevel logistic regression analyses to investigate whether distance to, and level of care at the closest delivery facility influence place of delivery (health facility or home), keeping other influential factors constant.
The researchers found that only a third of births in rural Zambia occurred at a health facility, and half of all mothers who gave birth lived more than 25 km from a health facility that provided basic emergency obstetric services. As distance to the closest health facility doubled, the odds of a women giving birth in a health facility decreased by 29%. Independently, each step increase in the level of emergency obstetric care provided at the closest delivery facility led to an increased likelihood (26% higher odds) of a woman delivering her baby at a facility. The researchers estimated that the impact of poor geographic access to emergency obstetric services was of similar magnitude as that of low maternal education, household poverty, or lack of female autonomy.
What do these findings mean?
The results of this study suggest that poor geographic access to emergency obstetric care is a key factor in explaining why most women in rural Zambia still deliver their babies at home without skilled care. Therefore, in order to increase the number of women delivering in health facilities and thus reduce maternal and neonatal mortality, it is crucial to address the geographic and quality barriers to delivery service use. Furthermore, the methodology used in this study—linking datasets using GIS— has great potential for future research as it can help explore the influence of health system factors also for other health problems.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000394.
Information about emergency obstetric care is provided by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Various topics on maternal health are presented by WHO, WHO Regional Office Africa, by UNPFA, and UNICEF
WHO offers detailed information about MDG5
Family Care International offers more information about maternal and neonatal health
The Averting Maternal Death and Disability program (AMDD) provides information on needs assessments of emergency obstetric and newborn care
Countdown to 2015 tracks progress in maternal, newborn, and child survival
WHO provides free online viewing of BBC Fight for Life videos describing delivery experiences in different countries
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000394
PMCID: PMC3026699  PMID: 21283606

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