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1.  Mobile phones improve antenatal care attendance in Zanzibar: a cluster randomized controlled trial 
Applying mobile phones in healthcare is increasingly prioritized to strengthen healthcare systems. Antenatal care has the potential to reduce maternal morbidity and improve newborns’ survival but this benefit may not be realized in sub-Saharan Africa where the attendance and quality of care is declining. We evaluated the association between a mobile phone intervention and antenatal care in a resource-limited setting. We aimed to assess antenatal care in a comprehensive way taking into consideration utilisation of antenatal care as well as content and timing of interventions during pregnancy.
This study was an open label pragmatic cluster-randomised controlled trial with primary healthcare facilities in Zanzibar as the unit of randomisation. 2550 pregnant women (1311 interventions and 1239 controls) who attended antenatal care at selected primary healthcare facilities were included at their first antenatal care visit and followed until 42 days after delivery. 24 primary health care facilities in six districts were randomized to either mobile phone intervention or standard care. The intervention consisted of a mobile phone text-message and voucher component. Primary outcome measure was four or more antenatal care visits during pregnancy. Secondary outcome measures were tetanus vaccination, preventive treatment for malaria, gestational age at last antenatal care visit, and antepartum referral.
The mobile phone intervention was associated with an increase in antenatal care attendance. In the intervention group 44% of the women received four or more antenatal care visits versus 31% in the control group (OR, 2.39; 95% CI, 1.03-5.55). There was a trend towards improved timing and quality of antenatal care services across all secondary outcome measures although not statistically significant.
The wired mothers’ mobile phone intervention significantly increased the proportion of women receiving the recommended four antenatal care visits during pregnancy and there was a trend towards improved quality of care with more women receiving preventive health services, more women attending antenatal care late in pregnancy and more women with antepartum complications identified and referred. Mobile phone applications may contribute towards improved maternal and newborn health and should be considered by policy makers in resource-limited settings.
Trial registration, NCT01821222.
PMCID: PMC3898378  PMID: 24438517
Antenatal care; Maternal health; Neonatal health; Mobile phones; mHealth; Zanzibar
2.  Malaria and Fetal Growth Alterations in the 3rd Trimester of Pregnancy: A Longitudinal Ultrasound Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53794.
Pregnancy associated malaria is associated with decreased birth weight, but in-utero evaluation of fetal growth alterations is rarely performed. The objective of this study was to investigate malaria induced changes in fetal growth during the 3rd trimester using trans-abdominal ultrasound.
An observational study of 876 pregnant women (398 primi- and secundigravidae and 478 multigravidae) was conducted in Tanzania. Fetal growth was monitored with ultrasound and screening for malaria was performed regularly. Birth weight and fetal weight were converted to z-scores, and fetal growth evaluated as fetal weight gain from the 26th week of pregnancy.
Malaria infection only affected birth weight and fetal growth among primi- and secundigravid women. Forty-eight of the 398 primi- and secundigravid women had malaria during pregnancy causing a reduction in the newborns z-score of −0.50 (95% CI: −0.86, −0.13, P = 0.008, multiple linear regression). Fifty-eight percent (28/48) of the primi- and secundigravidae had malaria in the first half of pregnancy, but an effect on fetal growth was observed in the 3rd trimester with an OR of 4.89 for the fetal growth rate belonging to the lowest 25% in the population (95%CI: 2.03–11.79, P<0.001, multiple logistic regression). At an individual level, among the primi- and secundigravidae, 27% experienced alterations of fetal growth immediately after exposure but only for a short interval, 27% only late in pregnancy, 16.2% persistently from exposure until the end of pregnancy, and 29.7% had no alterations of fetal growth.
The effect of malaria infections was observed during the 3rd trimester, despite infections occurring much earlier in pregnancy, and different mechanisms might operate leading to different patterns of growth alterations. This study highlights the need for protection against malaria throughout pregnancy and the recognition that observed changes in fetal growth might be a consequence of an infection much earlier in pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3543265  PMID: 23326508
3.  Determinants of acceptance of cervical cancer screening in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1093.
To describe how demographic characteristics and knowledge of cervical cancer influence screening acceptance among women living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Multistage cluster sampling was carried out in 45 randomly selected streets in Dar es Salaam. Women between the ages of 25–59 who lived in the sampled streets were invited to a cervical cancer screening; 804 women accepted and 313 rejected the invitation. Information on demographic characteristics and knowledge of cervical cancer were obtained through structured questionnaire interviews.
Women aged 35–44 and women aged 45–59 had increased ORs of 3.52 and 7.09, respectively, for accepting screening. Increased accepting rates were also found among single women (OR 2.43) and among women who had attended primary or secondary school (ORs of 1.81 and 1.94). Women who had 0–2 children were also more prone to accept screening in comparison with women who had five or more children (OR 3.21). Finally, knowledge of cervical cancer and awareness of the existing screening program were also associated with increased acceptance rates (ORs of 5.90 and 4.20).
There are identifiable subgroups where cervical cancer screening can be increased in Dar es Salaam. Special attention should be paid to women of low education and women of high parity. In addition, knowledge and awareness raising campaigns that goes hand in hand with culturally acceptable screening services will likely lead to an increased uptake of cervical cancer screening.
PMCID: PMC3551792  PMID: 23253445
Cervical cancer; Screening acceptance; Demographic characteristics; Knowledge; Tanzania
4.  Risk factors for VIA positivity and determinants of screening attendances in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1055.
Tanzania is among the countries in the world where the cervical cancer incidence is estimated to be highest. Acknowledging an increase in the burden of cervical cancer, VIA was implemented as a regional cervical cancer screening strategy in Tanzania in 2002. With the aim of describing risk factors for VIA positivity and determinants of screening attendances in Tanzania, this paper present the results from a comparative analysis performed among women who are reached and not reached by the screening program”.
14 107 women aged 25–59 enrolled in a cervical cancer screening program in Dar es Salaam in the period 2002 – 2008. The women underwent VIA examination and took part in a structured questionnaire interview. Socioeconomic characteristics, sexual behavior, HIV status and high-risk (HR) HPV infection were determined in a subpopulation of 890 who participated and 845 who did not participate in the screening.
Being widowed/separated OR=1.41 (95% CI: 1.17-1.66), of high parity OR=3.19 (95% CI: 1.84-5.48) of low education OR= 4.30 (95% CI: 3.50-5.31) and married at a young age OR=2.17 (95% CI: 1.37-3.07) were associated with being VIA positive. Women who participated in the screening were more likely to be HIV positive OR= 1.59 (95% CI. 1.14-2.25) in comparison with women who had never attended screening, while no difference was found in the prevalence of HR-HPV infection among women who had attended screening and women who had not attended screening.
Women who are widowed/separated, of high parity, of low education and married at a young age are more likely to be VIA positive and thus at risk of developing cervical cancer. The study further documents that a referral linkage between the HIV care and treatment program and the cervical cancer screening program is in place in the setting studied, where HIV positive were more likely to participate in the cervical cancer screening program than HIV negative women.
PMCID: PMC3552680  PMID: 23216752
Cervical cancer; Screening; VIA; HPV; HIV; Tanzania
5.  Development of a Fetal Weight Chart Using Serial Trans-Abdominal Ultrasound in an East African Population: A Longitudinal Observational Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44773.
To produce a fetal weight chart representative of a Tanzanian population, and compare it to weight charts from Sub-Saharan Africa and the developed world.
A longitudinal observational study in Northeastern Tanzania. Pregnant women were followed throughout pregnancy with serial trans-abdominal ultrasound. All pregnancies with pathology were excluded and a chart representing the optimal growth potential was developed using fetal weights and birth weights. The weight chart was compared to a chart from Congo, a chart representing a white population, and a chart representing a white population but adapted to the study population. The prevalence of SGA was assessed using all four charts.
A total of 2193 weight measurements from 583 fetuses/newborns were included in the fetal weight chart. Our chart had lower percentiles than all the other charts. Most importantly, in the end of pregnancy, the 10th percentiles deviated substantially causing an overestimation of the true prevalence of SGA newborns if our chart had not been used.
We developed a weight chart representative for a Tanzanian population and provide evidence for the necessity of developing regional specific weight charts for correct identification of SGA. Our weight chart is an important tool that can be used for clinical risk assessments of newborns and for evaluating the effect of intrauterine exposures on fetal and newborn weight.
PMCID: PMC3448622  PMID: 23028617
6.  Cervical cancer screening in primary health care setting in Sudan: a comparative study of visual inspection with acetic acid and Pap smear 
To determine the feasibility of visual inspection with the use of acetic acid (VIA) as a screening method for cervical cancer, an alternative to the Pap smear used in primary health care setting in Sudan, and to compare sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and histological diagnosis of positive cases of both tests.
A cross-sectional study of 934 asymptomatic women living in Khartoum, Sudan, was conducted during 2009–2010. A semi-structured questionnaire containing socio-economic and reproductive variables was used to collect data from each participant. Methods of screening used were VIA and conventional Pap smear, followed by colposcopy and biopsy for confirmation of the positive results of both screening tests.
The tests identified altogether 119 (12.7%) positive women. VIA detected significantly more positive women than Pap smear (7.6% versus 5.1%; P = 0.004), with an overlap between the two screening tests in 19% of positive results. There was no significant difference between VIA and Pap smear findings and sociodemographic and reproductive factors among screened women. Use of colposcopy and biopsy for positive women confirmed that 88/119 (73.9%) were positive for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. VIA had higher sensitivity than Pap smear (74.2% versus 72.9%; P = 0.05) respectively. Out of 88 confirmed positive cases, 22 (25.0%) cases were invasive cervical cancer in stage 1, of which 19 versus three were detected by VIA and Pap smear respectively (P = 0.001). VIA had higher sensitivity and lower specificity than Pap smear (60.2% versus 47.7%) and (41.9% versus 83.8%) respectively. The combination of VIA/Pap has better sensitivity and specificity than each independent test (82.6% and 92.2%).
The findings of this study showed that VIA has higher sensitivity and lower specificity compared to Pap smear, but a combination of both tests has greater sensitivity and specificity than each test independently. It indicates that VIA is useful for screening of cervical cancer in the primary health care setting in Sudan, but positive results need to be confirmed by colposcopy and biopsy.
PMCID: PMC3302762  PMID: 22423181
cervical; cancer; screening; VIA; Pap smear; colposcopy; sensitivity; specificity; predictive value; primary health care setting
7.  Predictors of cervical cancer being at an advanced stage at diagnosis in Sudan 
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in Sudan, with more than two-thirds of all women with invasive cervical cancer being diagnosed at an advanced stage (stages III and IV). The lack of a screening program for cervical cancer in Sudan may contribute to the late presentation of this cancer, but other factors potentially associated with advanced stages of cervical cancer at diagnosis are unknown. The purpose of this research was to investigate the relationship between age, marital status, ethnicity, health insurance coverage, residence in an urban vs a rural setting, and stage (at diagnosis) of cervical cancer in Sudan.
This was a cross sectional study of 197 women diagnosed with different stages of cervical cancer. Data was obtained from the cancer registry unit at the Radiation and Isotopes Centre in Khartoum for all women diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2007.
There was an association between older age and advanced stage (at diagnosis) of cervical cancer (odds ratio [OR]: 1.03, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.01–1.05). Being of African ethnicity was associated with 76% increased odds (OR: 1.76, 95% CI: 1.01–3.05), living in a rural area was associated with 13% increased odds (OR: 1.13, 95% CI: 1.78–5.50), and being uninsured was associated with an almost eight-fold increase in odds (OR: 7.7, 95% CI: 3.76–15.38). Marital status and education level were not associated with an advanced stage of cervical cancer at diagnosis.
Women with cervical cancer who are elderly, not covered by health insurance, of African ethnicity, and living in a rural area are more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage of cervical cancer in Sudan. These women should be targeted for cervical cancer screening and a health education program, and encouraged to have health insurance.
PMCID: PMC3225468  PMID: 22140326
predictors; cervical cancer; diagnosis; advanced; health insurance; Sudan
8.  Cervical cancer risk factors and feasibility of visual inspection with acetic acid screening in Sudan 
To assess the risk factors of cervical cancer and the feasibility and acceptability of a visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) screening method in a primary health center in Khartoum, Sudan.
A cross-sectional prospective pilot study of 100 asymptomatic women living in Khartoum State in Sudan was carried out from December 2008 to January 2009. The study was performed at the screening center in Khartoum. Six nurses and two physicians were trained by a gynecologic oncologist. The patients underwent a complete gynecological examination and filled in a questionnaire on risk factors and feasibility and acceptability. They were screened for cervical cancer by application of 3%–5% VIA. Women with a positive test were referred for colposcopy and treatment.
Sixteen percent of screened women were tested positive. Statistically significant associations were observed between being positive with VIA test and the following variables: uterine cervix laceration (odds ratio [OR] 18.6; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.64–74.8), assisted vaginal delivery (OR 13.2; 95% CI: 2.95–54.9), parity (OR 5.78; 95% CI: 1.41–23.7), female genital mutilation (OR 4.78; 95% CI: 1.13–20.1), and episiotomy (OR 5.25; 95% CI: 1.15–23.8). All these associations remained statistically significant after adjusting for age, educational level, employment, and potential confounding factors such as smoking, number of sexual partners, and use of contraceptive method. Furthermore, the VIA screening method was found to be feasible and acceptable to participants.
This pilot study showed that women who have uterine cervix laceration, assisted vaginal delivery, female genital mutilation, or episiotomy are at an increased risk of cervical cancer. It also showed that VIA is a feasible and acceptable cervical cancer screening method in a primary health care setting.
PMCID: PMC3089429  PMID: 21573147
cervical cancer; screening; visual inspection; acetic acid; feasibility
9.  Number and timing of antenatal HIV testing: Evidence from a community-based study in Northern Vietnam 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:183.
HIV testing for pregnant women is an important component for the success of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). A lack of antenatal HIV testing results in loss of benefits for HIV-infected mothers and their children. However, the provision of unnecessary repeat tests at a very late stage of pregnancy will reduce the beneficial effects of PMTCT and impose unnecessary costs for the individual woman as well as the health system. This study aims to assess the number and timing of antenatal HIV testing in a low-income setting where PMTCT programmes have been scaled up to reach first level health facilities.
A cross-sectional community-based study was conducted among 1108 recently delivered mothers through face-to-face interviews following a structured questionnaire that focused on socio-economic characteristics, experiences of antenatal care and HIV testing.
The prevalence of women who lacked HIV testing among the study group was 10% while more than half of the women tested had had more than two tests during pregnancy. The following factors were associated with the lack of antenatal HIV test: having two children (aOR 2.1, 95% CI 1.3-3.4), living in a remote rural area (aOR 7.8, 95% CI 3.4-17.8), late antenatal care attendance (aOR 3.6, 95% CI 1.3-10.1) and not being informed about PMTCT at their first antenatal care visits (aOR 7.4, 95% CI 2.6-21.1). Among women who had multiple tests, 80% had the second test after 36 weeks of gestation. Women who had first ANC and first HIV testing at health facilities at primary level were more likely to be tested multiple times (OR 2.9 95% CI 1.9-4.3 and OR = 4.7 95% CI 3.5-6.4), respectively.
Not having an HIV test during pregnancy was associated with poor socio-economic characteristics among the women and with not receiving information about PMTCT at the first ANC visit. Multiple testing during pregnancy prevailed; the second tests were often provided at a late stage of gestation.
PMCID: PMC3078880  PMID: 21439043
10.  Early uptake of HIV counseling and testing among pregnant women at different levels of health facilities - experiences from a community-based study in Northern Vietnam 
HIV counselling and testing for pregnant women is a key factor for successful prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV. Women's access to testing can be improved by scaling up the distribution of this service at all levels of health facilities. However, this strategy will only be effective if pregnant women are tested early and provided enough counselling.
To assess early uptake of HIV testing and the provision of HIV counselling among pregnant women who attend antenatal care at primary and higher level health facilities.
A community based study was conducted among 1108 nursing mothers. Data was collected during interviews using a structured questionnaire focused on socio-economic background, reproductive history, experience with antenatal HIV counselling and testing as well as types of health facility providing the services.
In all 91.0% of the women interviewed had attended antenatal care and 90.3% had been tested for HIV during their most recent pregnancy. Women who had their first antenatal checkup at primary health facilities were significantly more likely to be tested before 34 weeks of gestation (OR = 43.2, CI: 18.9-98.1). The reported HIV counselling provision was also higher at primary health facilities, where women in comparison with women attending higher level health facilities were nearly three or and four times more likely to receive pre-test (OR = 2.7; CI:2.1-3.5) and post-test counseling (OR = 4.0; CI: 2.3-6.8).
The results suggest that antenatal HIV counseling and testing can be scaled up to primary heath facilities and that such scaling up may enhance early uptake of testing and provision of counseling.
PMCID: PMC3048486  PMID: 21299847
11.  Reproductive tract infections in women seeking abortion in Vietnam 
BMC Women's Health  2009;9:1.
Women requesting abortion are at increased risk of developing RTI complications. However, RTI control in many resource-poor countries including Vietnam have been faced with logistical and methodological problems due to lack of standardized definitions of RTIs, lack of well-validated diagnostic criteria, lack of accurate laboratory tests, and lack of diagnostic equipment and skills. This article investigates the prevalence of RTIs among Vietnamese abortion-seeking women, to evaluate the available diagnostic techniques, and to assess antibiotic resistance among aetiological agents of RTI.
The study was conducted in Phu-San hospital (PSH) from December 2003 through April 2004 among 748 abortion clients. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data on socio-economic and reproductive characteristics. Specimens were collected for laboratory analyses of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, vaginal candidiasis (VC), bacterial vaginosis (BV) and syphilis. To assess the validity of the obtained results, the study was repeated among 100 women and the duplicate samples were analysed at PSH and Copenhagen University Hospital (CUH).
In all 54% of the women were diagnosed as having an RTI, including 3.3% with sexually transmitted infections. Endogenous infections were most prevalent (VC 34% and BV 12%) followed by chlamydia (1.3%) and trichomoniasis (0.7%). The sensitivity of culture for VC and BV was 30% and 88%, respectively, when tests in PSH were measured against tests in CUH. Antibiotic resistance was common among bacterial isolates.
RTIs are common among women seeking abortion. The presence of RTIs is associated with an increased risk of developing iatrogenic infections, routine administration of prophylactic antibiotic to all women undergoing abortion should be considered. However, the choice of routine prophylactic antibiotics should be based on relevant surveillance data of antibiotic resistance. Moreover, since the accuracy of diagnosis is doubtful and to address the problem of under-diagnosed and treated RTIs new investment in diagnostic facilities with simple performed microscopy or improved rapid tests should also be taken into consideration.
PMCID: PMC2652446  PMID: 19178703
12.  Medium and long-term adherence to postabortion contraception among women having experienced unsafe abortion in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 
Postabortion contraceptive service is considered an effective means in addressing the problem of unsafe abortion; in spite this fact this component remains one of the weakest parts of postabortion care. In this context, the paper aims to describe the impact of a postabortion contraceptive service intervention among women admitted with complications from unsafe abortions and to explore the women's long-term contraceptive adherence.
392 women having experienced unsafe abortion were identified by an empathetic approach and offered postabortion contraceptive service, which included counselling on HIV and condom use. Questionnaire interviews about contraceptive use were conducted at the time of inclusion and 12 months after the abortion. Additionally, in-depth interviews were performed 6–12 months after the abortion.
Eighty-nine percent of the women accepted postabortion contraception. Follow-up information was obtained 12 months after the abortion among 59 percent of the women. Among these, 79 percent of the married women and 84 percent of the single women stated they were using contraception at 12 months. Condom use among the single women increased significantly during the 12 months follow up.
Postabortion contraceptive services appear to be well accepted by women who are admitted with complications after an unsafe abortion and should thus be recognized as an important means in addressing the problem of unsafe abortion. In addition, counselling about HIV and condom use should be considered an essential aspect of postabortion care.
PMCID: PMC2529258  PMID: 18667094

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