The study analysed the effect of Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) campaign activities on the adoption of a community-based health insurance (CHI) scheme in Nouna, Burkina Faso. It also identified the factors that enhanced or limited the campaign's effectiveness.
Complementary data collection approaches were used. A survey was conducted with 250 randomly selected household heads, followed by in-depth interviews with 22 purposively selected community leaders, group discussions with the project management team, and field observations. Bivariate analysis and multivariate logistic regression models were used to assess the association between household exposure to campaign and acquisition of knowledge as well as household exposure to campaign and enrolment.
The IEC campaign had a positive effect on households’ knowledge about the CHI and to a lesser extent on household enrolment in the scheme. The effectiveness of the IEC strategy was mainly influenced by: (1) frequent and consistent IEC messages from multiple media channels (mass and interpersonal channels), including the radio, a mobile information van, and CHI team, and (2) community heads’ participation in the CHI scheme promotion. Education was the only significantly influential socio-demographic determinant of knowledge and enrolment among household heads. The relatively low effects of the IEC campaign on CHI enrolment are indicative of other important IEC mediating factors, which should be taken into account in future CHI campaign evaluation.
The study concludes that an IEC campaign is crucial to improving the understanding of the CHI scheme concept, which is an enabler to enrolment, and should be integrated into scheme designs and evaluations.
community-based; health insurance; IEC strategies; health promotion
While the impact of task shifting on quality of care and clinical outcomes has been demonstrated in several studies, evidence on its impact on the health system as a whole is limited. This study has two main objectives. The first is to conceptualize the wider range of effects of task shifting through a systems thinking lens. The second is to explore these effects using task shifting for HIV in Burkina Faso as a case study.
We used a case study approach, using qualitative research methods. Data sources included document reviews, reviews of available data and records, as well as interviews with key informants and health workers.
In addition to the traditional measures of impact of task shifting on health outcomes, our study identified 20 possible effects of the strategy on the system as a whole. Moreover, our analysis highlighted the importance of differentiating between two types of health systems effects. The first are effects inherent to the task shifting strategy itself, such as job satisfaction or better access to health services. The second are effects due to health system barriers, for example the unavailability of medicines and supplies, generating a series of effects on the various components of the health system, e.g., staff frustration.
Among the health systems effects that we found are positive, mostly unintended, effects and synergies such as increased health workers' sense of responsibility and worthiness, increased satisfaction due to using the newly acquired skills in other non-HIV tasks, as well as improved patient-provider relationships. Among the negative unintended effects are staff frustration due to lack of medicines and supplies or lack of the necessary infrastructure to be able to perform the new tasks.
Our analysis highlights the importance of adopting a systems thinking approach in designing, implementing and evaluating health policies to mitigate some of the design issues or system bottle-necks that may impede their successful implementation or risk to present an incomplete or misleading picture of their impact.
Task shifting; Task delegation; Evaluation; Systems thinking; Health systems research; System-wide impact
Initiatives to raise the quality of care provided to mothers need to be given priority in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA). The promotion of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) is a common strategy, but their implementation is often challenging, limiting their potential impact. Through a cross-country perspective, this study explored CPGs for maternal health in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Tanzania. The objectives were to compare factors related to CPG use including their content compared with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, their format, and their development processes. Perceptions of their availability and use in practice were also explored. The overall purpose was to further the understanding of how to increase CPGs' potential to improve quality of care for mothers in SSA.
The study was a multiple case study design consisting of cross-country comparisons using document review and key informant interviews. A conceptual framework to aid analysis and discussion of results was developed, including selected domains related to guidelines' implementability and use by health workers in practice in terms of usability, applicability, and adaptability.
The study revealed few significant differences in content between the national guidelines for maternal health and WHO recommendations. There were, however, marked variations in the format of CPGs between the three countries. Apart from the Ghanaian and one of the Tanzanian CPGs, the levels of both usability and applicability were assessed as low or medium. In all three countries, the use of CPGs by health workers in practice was perceived to be limited.
Our cross-country study suggests that it is not poor quality of content or lack of evidence base that constitute the major barrier for CPGs to positively impact on quality improvement in maternal care in SSA. It rather emphasises the need to prioritise the format of guidelines to increase their usability and applicability and to consider these attributes together with implementation strategies as integral to their development processes.
CPGs; Health service delivery; Implementation; Information and communication technology (ICT); Maternal health; Quality improvement; Sub Saharan Africa; WHO
The Nouna Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) is located in rural Burkina Faso and has existed since 1992. Currently, it has about 78,000 inhabitants. It is a member of the International Network for the Demographic Evaluation of Populations and Their Health in Developing Countries (INDEPTH), a global network of members who conducts longitudinal health and demographic evaluation of populations in low- and middle-income countries. The health facilities consist of one hospital and 13 basic health centres (locally known as CSPS). The Nouna HDSS has been used as a sampling frame for numerous studies in the fields of clinical research, epidemiology, health economics, and health systems research. In this paper we review some of the main findings, and we describe the effects that almost 20 years of health research activities have shown in the population in general and in terms of the perception, economic implications, and other indicators. Longitudinal data analyses show that childhood, as well as overall mortality, has significantly decreased over the observation period 1993–2007. The under-five mortality rate dropped from about 40 per 1,000 person-years in the mid-1990s to below 30 per 1,000 in 2007. Further efforts are needed to meet goal four of the Millennium Development Goals, which is to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.
epidemiology; Burkina Faso; Africa; INDEPTH network; public health; under-five mortality; malaria; malnutrition; health seeking behavior
The global recognition of vaccination is strongly related to the fact that it has proved in the past able to dramatically reduce the incidence of certain diseases. Nevertheless, reactions regarding the practice of vaccination still vary among communities, affecting the worldwide vaccination coverage. Numerous studies, conducted from varying perspectives, have focused on explaining this active refusal or resistance to vaccination. Although in some cases low immunization coverage has been well explained by active refusal or resistance to vaccination, little is known about the reasons for low coverage where those reactions are absent or play a minor role, especially outside an epidemic context. This study attempts to explain this situation, which is found in the health district of Nouna in Burkina Faso.
An in-depth ethnographic study was undertaken in the health district of Nouna in an effort to understand, from an anthropological point of view, the logic behind the parental decision-making process regarding the vaccination or non-vaccination of children, in a context where rejection of, and reservations concerning vaccination are not major obstacles.
Three elements emerged from the analysis: the empirical conceptions of childhood diseases, the perceived efficacy of vaccine and the knowledge of appropriate age for vaccination uptake; the gap between the decision-making process and the actual achievement of vaccination; and the vaccination procedure leading to vaccination uptake in the particular context of the health district of Nouna.
The procedures parents must follow in order to obtain vaccination for their children appear complex and constraining, and on certain points discord with the traditional systems of meaning and idioms of distress related to pregnancy, the prevention of childhood diseases and with the cultural matrix shaping decision-making and behaviour. Attention needs to be directed at certain promotional, logistical and structural elements, and at the procedure that must currently be followed to obtain vaccination for a child during routine vaccination sessions, which are currently limiting the active demand for vaccination.
Abstract in French
See the full article online for a translation of this abstract in French.
The Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) is still in need of improvement. In Burkina Faso in 2003, for example, the Nouna health district had an immunization coverage rate of 31.5%, compared to the national rate of 52%. This study identifies specific factors associated with immunization status in Nouna health district in order to advance improved intervention strategies in this district and in those with similar environmental and social contexts.
A cross-sectional study was undertaken in 41 rural communities and one semi-urban area (urban in the text). Data on 476 children aged 12 to 23 months were analyzed from a representative sample of 489, drawn from the Nouna Health Research Centre's Demographic Surveillance System (DSS) database. The vaccination history of these children was examined. The relationships between their immunization status and social, economic and various contextual variables associated with their parents and households were assessed using Chi square test, Pearson correlation and logistic regression.
The total immunization coverage was 50.2% (CI, 45.71; 54.69). Parental knowledge of the preventive value of immunization was positively related to complete immunization status (p = 0.03) in rural areas. Children of parents who reported a perception of communication problems surrounding immunization had a lower immunization coverage rate (p < 0.001). No distance related difference exists in terms of complete immunization coverage within villages and between villages outside the site of the health centres. Children of non-educated fathers in rural areas have higher rates of complete immunization coverage than those in the urban area (p = 0.028). Good communication about immunization and the importance of availability of immunization booklets, as well as economic and religious factors appear to positively affect children's immunization status.
Vaccination sites in remote areas are intended to provide a greater opportunity for children to access vaccination services. These efforts, however, are often hampered by the poor economic conditions of households and insufficient communication and knowledge regarding immunization issues. While comprehensive communication may improve understanding about immunization, it is necessary that local interventions also take into account religious specificities and critical economic periods. Particular approaches that take into consideration these distinctions need to be applied in both rural and urban settings.
Abstract in French
See the full article online for a translation of this abstract in French.
Malaria is the leading cause of death among children less than five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), however, precise estimates on the burden of malaria are lacking. The aim of this study was to describe temporal trends for malaria and all-cause mortality by combining a series of clinical and intervention studies conducted in Burkina Faso.
Data from a demographic surveillance system was used to follow-up children under five years who participated in five observational and intervention studies between June 1999 and December 2004 in rural north-western Burkina Faso. Mortality data was analyzed with cause-specific mortality ascertained using the verbal autopsy method. Person-years (PY) of observations were computed and age-standardized mortality rates (MR) for all-causes and malaria (adjusted for missing causes of death) were calculated. Rate ratios to investigate mortality variations over years were calculated using multivariate Poisson regression.
The study followed 6,387 children aged less than five years (mean follow-up: 2.8 years; 16,099 PY). During the study period, 443 deaths were registered with malaria accounting for 49% of all deaths. All-cause and malaria-specific MR were 26.7 (95% CI: 24.2–29.2) and 15.8 (95% CI: 14.217.7) per 1,000 PY. All-cause MR declined over years of follow-up (from 31.2 to 16.3 per 1,000 PY in 1999/2000 to 2004, respectively) but malaria MR remained relatively stable (from 15.8 to 12.1 per 1,000 PY in 1999/2000 to 2004, respectively) resulting in an increasing relative effect of malaria on all-cause mortality. Variations in all-cause and malaria-specific mortality were observed with increasing age and across village town clusters.
The findings of this study support the continuously decreasing trend of all-cause mortality in most of SSA, but call for more efforts to comprehensively address malaria with existing control tools such as insecticide-treated bed nets and effective first-line combination therapies.
malaria and all-cause mortality; children under five; Burkina Faso; DSS
We describe a step-wedge cluster-randomised community-based trial which has been conducted since 2003 to accompany the implementation of a community health insurance (CHI) scheme in West Africa. The trial aims at overcoming the paucity of evidence-based information on the impact of CHI. Impact is defined in terms of changes in health service utilisation and household protection against the cost of illness. Our exclusive focus on the description and discussion of the methods is justified by the fact that the study relies on a methodology previously applied in the field of disease control, but never in the field of health financing.
First, we clarify how clusters were defined both in respect of statistical considerations and of local geographical and socio-cultural concerns. Second, we illustrate how households within clusters were sampled. Third, we expound the data collection process and the survey instruments. Finally, we outline the statistical tools to be applied to estimate the impact of CHI.
We discuss all design choices both in relation to methodological considerations and to specific ethical and organisational concerns faced in the field. On the basis of the appraisal of our experience, we postulate that conducting relatively sophisticated trials (such as our step-wedge cluster-randomised community-based trial) aimed at generating sound public health evidence, is both feasible and valuable also in low income settings. Our work shows that if accurately designed in conjunction with local health authorities, such trials have the potential to generate sound scientific evidence and do not hinder, but at times even facilitate, the implementation of complex health interventions such as CHI.
In the rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of young children affected by malaria have no access to formal health services. Home treatment through mothers of febrile children supported by mother groups and local health workers has the potential to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality.
A cluster-randomized controlled effectiveness trial was implemented from 2002–2004 in a malaria endemic area of rural Burkina Faso. Six and seven villages were randomly assigned to the intervention and control arms respectively. Febrile children from intervention villages were treated with chloroquine (CQ) by their mothers, supported by local women group leaders. CQ was regularly supplied through a revolving fund from local health centres. The trial was evaluated through two cross-sectional surveys at baseline and after two years of intervention. The primary endpoint of the study was the proportion of moderate to severe anaemia in children aged 6–59 months. For assessment of the development of drug efficacy over time, an in vivo CQ efficacy study was nested into the trial. The study is registered under (ISRCTN 34104704).
The intervention was shown to be feasible under program conditions and a total of 1.076 children and 999 children were evaluated at baseline and follow-up time points respectively. Self-reported CQ treatment of fever episodes at home as well as referrals to health centres increased over the study period. At follow-up, CQ was detected in the blood of high proportions of intervention and control children. Compared to baseline findings, the prevalence of anaemia (29% vs 16%, p < 0.0001) and malaria parameters such as prevalence of P. falciparum parasitaemia, fever and palpable spleens was lower at follow-up but there were no differences between the intervention and control group. CQ efficacy decreased over the study period but this was not associated with the intervention.
The decreasing prevalence of malaria morbidity including anaemia over the study period can be explained by an overall increase of malaria prevention and treatment activities in the study area. The lack of effectiveness of the intervention was likely caused by contamination, pre-existing differences in the coverage of malaria treatment in both study groups and an unexpectedly rapid increase of resistance against CQ, the first-line treatment drug at the time of the study.
Besides existing artemisinin-based combination therapies, alternative safe, effective and affordable drug combinations against falciparum malaria are needed. Methylene blue (MB) was the first synthetic antimalarial drug ever used, and recent studies have been promising with regard to its revival in malaria therapy. The objective of this study was to assess the safety and efficacy of two MB-based malaria combination therapies, MB–artesunate (AS) and MB–amodiaquine (AQ), compared to the local standard of care, AS-AQ, in Burkina Faso.
Methods and Findings
Open-label randomised controlled phase II study in 180 children aged 6–10 years with uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Nouna, north-western Burkina Faso. Follow-up was for 28 days and analysis by intention-to-treat. The treatment groups were similar in baseline characteristics and there was only one loss to follow-up. No drug-related serious adverse events and no deaths occurred. MB-containing regimens were associated with mild vomiting and dysuria. No early treatment failures were observed. Parasite clearance time differed significantly among groups and was the shortest with MB-AS. By day 14, the rates of adequate clinical and parasitological response after PCR-based correction for recrudescence were 87% for MB-AS, 100% for MB-AQ (p = 0.004), and 100% for AS-AQ (p = 0.003). By day 28, the respective figure was lowest for MB-AS (62%), intermediate for the standard treatment AS-AQ (82%; p = 0.015), and highest for MB-AQ (95%; p<0.001; p = 0.03).
MB-AQ is a promising alternative drug combination against malaria in Africa. Moreover, MB has the potential to further accelerate the rapid parasite clearance of artemisinin-based combination therapies. More than a century after the antimalarial properties of MB had been described, its role in malaria control deserves closer attention.
Malaria is a leading cause of death in children below five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. All-cause and malaria-specific mortality rates for children under-five years old in a mesoendemic malaria area (The Gambia) were compared with those from a hyper/holoendemic area (Burkina Faso).
Information on observed person-years (PY), deaths and cause of death was extracted from online search, using key words: "Africa, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, mortality, child survival, morbidity". Missing person-years were estimated and all-cause and malaria-specific mortality were calculated as rates per 1,000 PY. Studies were classified as longitudinal/clinical studies or surveys/censuses. Linear regression was used to investigate mortality trends.
Overall, 39 and 18 longitudinal/clinical studies plus 10 and 15 surveys and censuses were identified for The Gambia and Burkina Faso respectively (1960–2004). Model-based estimates for under-five all-cause mortality rates show a decline from 1960 to 2000 in both countries (Burkina Faso: from 71.8 to 39.0), but more markedly in The Gambia (from 104.5 to 28.4). The weighted-average malaria-specific mortality rate per 1000 person-years for Burkina Faso (15.4, 95% CI: 13.0–18.3) was higher than that in The Gambia (9.5, 95% CI: 9.1–10.1). Malaria mortality rates did not decline over time in either country.
Child mortality in both countries declined significantly in the period 1960 to 2004, possibly due to socio-economic development, improved health services and specific intervention projects. However, there was little decline in malaria mortality suggesting that there had been no major impact of malaria control programmes during this period. The difference in malaria mortality rates across countries points to significant differences in national disease control policies and/or disease transmission patterns.
The literature on health care seeking behaviour in sub-Saharan Africa for children suffering from malaria is quite extensive. This literature, however, is predominately quantitative and, inevitably, fails to explore how the local concepts of illness may affect people's choices. Understanding local concepts of illness and their influence on health care-seeking behaviour can complement existing knowledge and lead to the development of more effective malaria control interventions.
In a rural area of Burkina Faso, four local concepts of illness resembling the biomedical picture of malaria were described according to symptoms, aetiology, and treatment. Data were collected through eight focus group discussions, 17 semi-structured interviews with key informants, and through the analysis of 100 verbal autopsy questionnaires of children under-five diagnosed with malaria.
Sumaya, dusukun yelema, kono, and djoliban were identified as the four main local illness concepts resembling respectively uncomplicated malaria, respiratory distress syndrome, cerebral malaria, and severe anaemia. The local disease categorization was found to affect both treatment and provider choice. While sumaya is usually treated by a mix of traditional and modern methods, dusukun yelema and kono are preferably treated by traditional healers, and djoliban is preferably treated in modern health facilities. Besides the conceptualization of illness, poverty was found to be another important influencing factor of health care-seeking behaviour.
The findings complement previous evidence on health care-seeking behaviour, by showing how local concepts of illness strongly influence treatment and choice of provider. Local concepts of illness need to be considered when developing specific malaria control programmes.
Too many African children are dying from a disease for which we have effective and cost-effective prevention and treatment options, say the authors.
The development of safe, effective and affordable drug combinations against malaria in Africa is a public health priority. Methylene blue (MB) has a similar mode of action as chloroquine (CQ) and has moreover been shown to selectively inhibit the Plasmodium falciparum glutathione reductase. In 2004, an uncontrolled dose-finding study on the combination MB-CQ was performed in 435 young children with uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Burkina Faso (CQ monotherapy had a > 50% clinical failure rate in this area in 2003). Three serious adverse events (SAE) occurred of which one was probably attributable to the study medication. In the per protocol safety analysis, there were no dose specific effects. The overall clinical and parasitological failure rates by day 14 were 10% [95% CI (7.5%, 14.0%)] and 24% [95% CI (19.4%, 28.3%)], respectively. MB appears to have efficacy against malaria, but the combination of CQ-MB is clearly not effective in the treatment of malaria in Africa.
Insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) are known to be highly effective in reducing malaria morbidity and mortality. The effectiveness of ITNs is largely influenced by behavioural factors and not much is known regarding such factors under programme conditions.
This descriptive study was nested into a large ITN effectiveness study in rural Burkina Faso. During two cross-sectional surveys in the dry and rainy season of 2003, random samples of young children from nine representative villages (n = 180 per survey) were investigated for compliance with ITN protection and related behaviour. Data were collected through direct observations and through interviews with mothers.
ITNs were perceived as very important for protection against mosquitoes and malaria particularly during the rainy season, but there were problems with their use during the dry season. Young children usually slept with their mother under the ITN and self-reported compliance was 66% and 98% during dry and rainy season, respectively (confirmed by direct observation in 34% and 79%, respectively). Important reasons for low compliance during the dry season were high temperatures inside houses and problems related to changing sleeping places during the night.
Under programme conditions, compliance with ITN protection in young children is sufficient during the rainy season, but is rather low during the hot and dry season. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on information/education efforts to make people aware of the fact that the risk of contracting malaria may persist throughout the year.
Reliable mortality data are a prerequisite for planning health interventions, yet such data are often not available in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Demographic surveillance systems (DSS) implementing the verbal autopsy (VA) method are the only possibility to observe cause-specific mortality of a population on a longitudinal basis in many countries.
This paper reports all-cause and cause-specific mortality rates in children under the age of five years from 1999 until 2003 in a malaria holoendemic area of north-western Burkina Faso. The DSS of the Nouna Health Research Centre, in which VA data were analysed, covers a rural population of about 30,000 (41 villages) and an urban population of about 25,000 (Nouna town).
A total of 1,544 deaths were analysed, 87 (6%), 225 (14%), 317 (21%) and 915 (59%) of which occurred in the periods < 1 month, 1–5 months, 6–11 months and 1–4 years respectively. All cause mortality rates of children under five years were higher in the rural than the urban area (34 vs 24 per 1,000 person-years) and in the rainy than the dry season (35 vs 29 per 1,000 person-years). Malaria was the most frequent diagnosis (42%) with peak mortality rates in infants aged 6–11 months.
Malaria is the most important cause of death in this remote area of SSA, even considering the low specificity of malaria diagnosis in young children. Strengthening the existing malaria control tools is of prime importance to reduce the high childhood mortality in the endemic areas of SSA.
The 190-kDa merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP-1) of Plasmodium falciparum, an essential component in the parasite's life cycle, is a primary candidate for a malaria vaccine. Rabbit antibodies elicited by the heterologously produced MSP-1 processing products p83, p30, p38, and p42, derived from strain 3D7, were analyzed for the potential to inhibit in vitro erythrocyte invasion by the parasite and parasite growth. Our data show that (i) epitopes recognized by antibodies, which inhibit parasite replication, are distributed throughout the entire MSP-1 molecule; (ii) when combined, antibodies specific for different regions of MSP-1 inhibit in a strictly additive manner; (iii) anti-MSP-1 antibodies interfere with erythrocyte invasion as well as with the intraerythrocytic growth of the parasite; and (iv) antibodies raised against MSP-1 of strain 3D7 strongly cross-inhibit replication of the heterologous strain FCB-1. Accordingly, anti-MSP-1 antibodies appear to be capable of interfering with parasite multiplication at more than one level. Since the overall immunogenicity profile of MSP-1 in rabbits closely resembles that found in sera of Aotus monkeys immunized with parasite-derived MSP-1 and of humans semi-immune to malaria from whom highly inhibiting antigen-specific antibodies were recovered, we consider the findings reported here to be relevant for the development of MSP-1-based vaccines against malaria.
Safe, effective and affordable drug combinations against falciparum malaria are urgently needed for the poor populations in malaria endemic countries. Methylene blue (MB) combined with chloroquine (CQ) has been considered as one promising new regimen.
The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the safety of CQ-MB in African children with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Secondary objectives were to assess the efficacy and the acceptance of CQ-MB in a rural population of West Africa.
In this hospital-based randomized controlled trial, 226 children (6–59 months) with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were treated in Burkina Faso. The children were 4:1 randomized to CQ-MB (n = 181; 25 mg/kg CQ and 12 mg/kg MB over three days) or CQ (n = 45; 25 mg/kg over three days) respectively. The primary outcome was the incidence of severe haemolysis or other serious adverse events (SAEs). Efficacy outcomes were defined according to the WHO 2003 classification system. Patients were hospitalized for four days and followed up until day 14.
No differences in the incidence of SAEs and other adverse events were observed between children treated with CQ-MB (including 24 cases of G6PD deficiency) compared to children treated with CQ. There was no case of severe haemolysis and also no significant difference in mean haemoglobin between study groups. Treatment failure rates were 53.7% (95% CI [37.4%; 69.3%]) in the CQ group compared to 44.0% (95% CI [36.3%; 51.9%]) in the CQ-MB group.
MB is safe for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria, even in G6PD deficient African children. However, the efficacy of the CQ-MB combination has not been sufficient at the MB dose used in this study. Future studies need to assess the efficacy of MB at higher doses and in combination with appropriate partner drugs.