Brucellosis is one of the most common zoonotic infections globally. Lack of knowledge about brucellosis may affect the health-seeking behavior of patients, thus leading to sustained transmission in these communities. Our study assessed knowledge and perceptions of brucellosis among pastoral communities adjacent to Lake Mburo National Park (LMNP), Kiruhura District, Uganda.
A community cross-sectional questionnaire survey involving 371 randomly selected household heads from three sub-counties neighboring LMNP were interviewed between June and August 2012. Data collected included communities’ knowledge on causes, symptoms, transmission, treatment, prevention and risk factors of brucellosis. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to explore strength of association between overall knowledge of brucellosis and various individual factors using odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.
Only 70 (19%) knew the symptoms of brucellosis in animals, and three quarters (279, 75.5%) mentioned joint and muscle pain as a common symptom in humans. Almost all participants (370, 99.3%) had ever heard about brucellosis, majority (311, 84.7%) believed it affects all sexes and two thirds (67.7%) of the respondents believed close proximity to wildlife contributes to the presence of the disease. Almost all (352, 95.4%) knew that brucellosis in humans could be treatable using modern drugs. The main routes of infection in humans such as consumption of unpasteurized dairy products were known by 97% (360/371); eating of half-cooked meat by 91.4% and eating contaminated pasture in animals by 97.4%. There was moderate overall knowledge of brucellosis 197 (53.1%). Factors associated with higher overall knowledge were being agro-pastoralists (aOR: 2.08, CI: 1.17-3.71) compared to pure pastoralists while those who reported that the disease was a health problem (aOR: 0.18, CI: 0.06-0.56) compared to those who said it was not were less likely to be knowledgeable.
There was moderate overall knowledge of human and animal brucellosis among the participants. Majority of the participants believed that close proximity to wildlife contributes to the presence of the disease in the area. There is a need for collaboration between the public health, veterinary and wildlife sectors to provide health education on brucellosis for better management of the disease in the communities.
Previous studies on vaccination coverage in developing countries focus on individual- and community-level barriers to routine vaccination mostly in rural settings. This paper examines health system barriers to childhood immunisation in urban Kampala Uganda.
Mixed methods were employed with a survey among child caretakers, 9 focus group discussions (FGDs), and 9 key informant interviews (KIIs). Survey data underwent descriptive statistical analysis. Latent content analysis was used for qualitative data.
Of the 821 respondents in the survey, 96% (785/821) were mothers with a mean age of 26 years (95% CI 24–27). Poor geographical access to immunisation facilities was reported in this urban setting by FGDs, KIIs and survey respondents (24%, 95% CI 21–27). This coupled with reports of few health workers providing immunisation services led to long queues and long waiting times at facilities. Consumers reported waiting for 3–6 hours before receipt of services although this was more common at public facilities. Only 33% (95% CI 30–37) of survey respondents were willing to wait for three or more hours before receipt of services. Although private-for-profit facilities were engaged in immunisation service provision their participation was low as only 30% (95% CI 27–34) of the survey respondents utilised these facilities. The low participation could be due to lack of financial support for immunisation activities at these facilities. This in turn could explain the rampant informal charges for services in this setting. Charges ranged from US$ 0.2 to US$4 and these were more commonly reported at private (70%, 95% CI 65–76) than at public (58%, 95% CI 54–63) facilities. There were intermittent availability of vaccines and transport for immunisation services at both private and public facilities.
Complex health system barriers to childhood immunisation still exist in this urban setting; emphasizing that even in urban areas with great physical access, there are hard to reach people. As the rate of urbanization increases especially in sub-Saharan Africa, governments should strengthen health systems to cater for increasing urban populations.
Urban; Immunisation; Health system; Barriers; Resources; Service delivery; Public health; Mixed methods
Efforts to improve access to treatment for common illnesses in children less than five years initially targeted malaria alone under the home management of malaria strategy. However under this strategy, children with other illnesses were often wrongly treated with anti-malarials. Integrated community case management of common childhood illnesses is now recommended but its effect on promptness of appropriate pneumonia treatment is unclear.
To determine the effect of integrated malaria and pneumonia management on receiving prompt and appropriate antibiotics for pneumonia symptoms and treatment outcomes as well as determine associated factors.
A follow-up study was nested within a cluster-randomized trial that compared under-five mortality in areas where community health workers (CHWs) treated children with malaria and pneumonia (intervention areas) and where they treated children with malaria only (control areas). Children treated by CHWs were enrolled on the day of seeking treatment from CHWs (609 intervention, 667 control) and demographic, illness, and treatment seeking information was collected. Further information on illness and treatment outcomes was collected on day four. The primary outcome was prompt and appropriate antibiotics for pneumonia symptoms and the secondary outcome was treatment outcomes on day four.
Children in the intervention areas were more likely to receive prompt and appropriate antibiotics for pneumonia symptoms compared to children in the control areas (RR = 3.51, 95%CI = 1.75-7.03). Children in the intervention areas were also less likely to have temperature ≥37.5°C on day four (RR = 0.29, 95%CI = 0.11-0.78). The decrease in fast breathing between day one and four was greater in the intervention (9.2%) compared to the control areas (4.2%, p-value = 0.01).
Integrated community management of malaria and pneumonia increases prompt and appropriate treatment for pneumonia symptoms and improves treatment outcomes.
CHW; ICCM; Health System Research; Prompt treatment; Appropriate treatment; Treatment outcomes; Malaria; Pneumonia; Children; CMDs
Development of resistance to first line antimalarials led to recommendation of artemisinin based combination therapies (ACTs). High adherence to ACTs provided by community health workers (CHWs) gave reassurance that community based interventions did not increase the risk of drug resistance. Integrated community case management of illnesses (ICCM) is now recommended through which children will access both antibiotics and antimalarials from CHWs. Increased number of medicines has been shown to lower adherence.
To compare adherence to antimalarials alone versus antimalarials combined with antibiotics under ICCM in children less than five years.
A cohort study was nested within a cluster randomized trial that had CHWs treating children less than five years with antimalarials and antibiotics (intervention areas) and CHWs treating children with antimalarials only (control areas). Children were consecutively sampled from the CHWs' registers in the control areas (667 children); and intervention areas (323 taking antimalarials only and 266 taking antimalarials plus antibiotics). The sampled children were visited at home on day one and four of treatment seeking. Adherence was assessed using self reports and pill counts.
Adherence in the intervention arm to antimalarials alone and antimalarials plus antibiotics arm was similar (mean 99% in both groups) but higher than adherence in the control arm (antimalarials only) (mean 96%). Forgetfulness (38%) was the most cited reason for non-adherence. At adjusted analysis: absence of fever (OR = 3.3, 95%CI = 1.6–6.9), seeking care after two or more days (OR = 2.2, 95%CI = 1.3–3.7), not understanding instructions given (OR = 24.5, 95%CI = 2.7–224.5), vomiting (OR = 2.6, 95%CI = 1.2–5.5), and caregivers' perception that the child's illness was not severe (OR = 2.0, 95%CI = 1.1–3.8) were associated with non-adherence.
Addition of antibiotics to antimalarials did not lower adherence. However, caregivers should be adequately counseled to understand the dosing regimens; continue with medicines even when the child seems to improve; and re-administer doses that have been vomited.
Following an outbreak of yellow fever in northern Uganda in December 2010, Ministry of Health conducted a massive emergency vaccination campaign in January 2011. The reported vaccination coverage in Pader District was 75.9%. Administrative coverage though timely, is affected by incorrect population estimates and over or under reporting of vaccination doses administered. This paper presents the validated yellow fever vaccination coverage following massive emergency immunization campaigns in Pader district.
A cross sectional cluster survey was carried out in May 2011 among communities in Pader district and 680 respondents were indentified using the modified World Health Organization (WHO) 40 × 17 cluster survey sampling methodology. Respondents were aged nine months and above. Interviewer administered questionnaires were used to collect data on demographic characteristics, vaccination status and reasons for none vaccination. Vaccination status was assessed using self reports and vaccination card evidence. Our main outcomes were measures of yellow fever vaccination coverage in each age-specific stratum, overall, and disaggregated by age and sex, adjusting for the clustered design and the size of the population in each stratum.
Of the 680 survey respondents, 654 (96.1%, 95% CI 94.9 – 97.8) reported being vaccinated during the last campaign but only 353 (51.6%, 95% CI 47.2 – 56.1) had valid yellow fever vaccination cards. Of the 280 children below 5 years, 269 (96.1%, 95% CI 93.7 – 98.7) were vaccinated and nearly all males 299 (96.9%, 95% CI 94.3 – 99.5) were vaccinated. The main reasons for none vaccination were; having travelled out of Pader district during the campaign period (40.0%), lack of transport to immunization posts (28.0%) and, sickness at the time of vaccination (16.0%).
Our results show that actual yellow fever vaccination coverage was high and satisfactory in Pader district since it was above the desired minimum threshold coverage of 80% according to World Health Organization. Massive emergency vaccination done following an outbreak of Yellow fever achieved high population coverage in Pader district. Active surveillance is necessary for early detection of yellow fever cases.
Yellow fever; Vaccination; Cluster survey; Evaluation; Pader
While there are biomedical drugs for managing diabetes mellitus, some patients with diabetes use traditional medicine. The aim of the study was to explore why patients with diabetes use traditional medicine for the treatment of diabetes.
The study was conducted in Iganga and Bugiri districts in Eastern Uganda using four focus group discussions (FGDs) with patients with diabetes; two with female patients and two with male patients, thirteen key informant interviews (KIIs); nine with health workers working with patients with diabetes and four with herbalists. FGDs and KIIs focused on what respondents perceived as reasons for patients with diabetes taking traditional medicine. Analysis was done using content analysis.
Reasons for taking traditional medicine included finding difficulties accessing hospitals, diabetic drugs being out of stock, traditional medicine being acceptable and available within community, as well as being supplied in big quantities. Others were traditional medicine being cheaper than biomedical treatment and payment for it being done in installments. Traditional medicine was also more convenient to take and was marketed aggressively by the herbalists. Influence of family and friends as well as traditional healers contributed to use of traditional medicine.
Possibilities of putting diabetic drugs at facilities closer to patients need to be considered and health facilities should have a constant supply of diabetic drugs. Community members need to be sensitized on the proper treatment for diabetes mellitus and on the dangers of taking traditional medicine.
Use of community health workers (CHWs) has been implemented the same way in urban and rural areas despite differences in availability of health providers and sociodemographic characteristics. A household survey was conducted in rural and urban areas in eastern Uganda, and all children who were febrile in the previous two weeks were assessed for their symptoms, treatment received at home, and when and where they first went for treatment. Rural children were more likely to use CHWs than urban children. Urban children received outside treatment more promptly, and used herbs at home less. Symptoms and proportion of children being taken out for treatment were similar. Children from the poorest households used CHWs less and private providers more than the middle quintiles. Drug shops and private clinics should be included in the community case management to cater for the poorest in rural areas and persons in urban areas.
We compared use of community medicine distributors (CMDs) and drug use under integrated community case management and home-based management strategies in children 6–59 months of age in eastern Uganda. A cross-sectional study with 1,095 children was nested in a cluster randomized trial with integrated community case management (CMDs treating malaria and pneumonia) as the intervention and home-based management (CMDs treating only malaria) as the control. Care-seeking from CMDs was higher in intervention areas (31%) than in control areas (22%; P = 0.01). Prompt and appropriate treatment of malaria was higher in intervention areas (18%) than in control areas (12%; P = 0.03) and among CMD users (37%) than other health providers (9%). The mean number of drugs among CMD users compared with other health providers was 1.6 versus 2.4 in intervention areas and 1.4 versus 2.3 in control areas. Use of CMDs was low. However, integrated community case management of childhood illnesses increased use of CMDs and rational drug use.
Few studies have examined the behavioural correlates of non-communicable, chronic disease risk in low-income countries. The objective of this study was to identify socio-behavioural characteristics associated with being overweight or being hypertensive in a low-income setting, so as to highlight possible interventions and target groups.
A population based survey was conducted in a Health and Demographic Surveillance Site (HDSS) in eastern Uganda. 1656 individuals aged 35 to 60 years had their Body Mass Index (BMI) and blood pressure (BP) assessed. Seven lifestyle factors were also assessed, using a validated questionnaire. Logistic regression was used to identify socio-behavioural factors associated with being overweight or being hypertensive.
Prevalence of overweight was found to be 18% (25.2% of women; 9.7% of men; p<0.001) while prevalence of obesity was 5.3% (8.3% of women; 2.2% of men). The prevalence of hypertension was 20.5%. Factors associated with being overweight included being female (OR 3.7; 95% CI 2.69–5.08), peri-urban residence (OR 2.5; 95% CI 1.46–3.01), higher socio-economic status (OR 4.1; 95% CI 2.40–6.98), and increasing age (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.12–2.79). Those who met the recommended minimum physical activity level, and those with moderate dietary diversity were less likely to be overweight (OR 0.5; 95% CI 0.35–0.65 and OR 0.7; 95% CI 0.49–3.01). Factors associated with being hypertensive included peri-urban residence (OR 2.4; 95%CI 1.60–3.66), increasing age (OR 4.5; 95% CI 2.94–6.96) and being over-weight (OR 2.8; 95% CI 1.98–3.98). Overweight persons in rural areas were significantly more likely to be hypertensive than those in peri-urban areas (p = 0.013).
Being overweight in low-income settings is associated with sex, physical activity and dietary diversity and being hypertensive is associated with being overweight; these factors are modifiable. There is need for context-specific health education addressing disparities in lifestyles at community levels in rural Africa.
Curative interventions delivered by community health workers (CHWs) were introduced to increase access to health services for children less than five years and have previously targeted single illnesses. However, CHWs in the integrated community case management of childhood illnesses strategy adopted in Uganda in 2010 will manage multiple illnesses. There is little documentation about the performance of CHWs in the management of multiple illnesses. This study compared the performance of CHWs managing malaria and pneumonia with performance of CHWs managing malaria alone in eastern Uganda and the factors influencing performance.
A mixed methods study was conducted among 125 CHWs providing either dual malaria and pneumonia management or malaria management alone for children aged four to 59 months. Performance was assessed using knowledge tests, case scenarios of sick children, review of CHWs’ registers, and observation of CHWs in the dual management arm assessing respiratory symptoms. Four focus group discussions with CHWs were also conducted.
CHWs in the dual- and single-illness management arms had similar performance with respect to: overall knowledge of malaria (dual 72%, single 70%); eliciting malaria signs and symptoms (50% in both groups); prescribing anti-malarials based on case scenarios (82% dual, 80% single); and correct prescription of anti-malarials from record reviews (dual 99%, single 100%). In the dual-illness arm, scores for malaria and pneumonia differed on overall knowledge (72% vs 40%, p < 0.001); and correct doses of medicines from records (100% vs 96%, p < 0.001). According to records, 82% of the children with fast breathing had received an antibiotic. From observations 49% of CHWs counted respiratory rates within five breaths of the physician (gold standard) and 75% correctly classified the children. The factors perceived to influence CHWs’ performance were: community support and confidence, continued training, availability of drugs and other necessary supplies, and cooperation from formal health workers.
CHWs providing dual-illness management handled malaria cases as well as CHWs providing single-illness management, and also performed reasonably well in the management of pneumonia. With appropriate training that emphasizes pneumonia assessment, adequate supervision, and provision of drugs and necessary supplies, CHWs can provide integrated treatment for malaria and pneumonia.
CHW; ICCM; Health system research; Performance; Malaria; Pneumonia; Children; CMDs
The proportion of Ugandan children who are fully vaccinated has varied over the years. Understanding vaccination behaviour is important for the success of the immunisation programme. This study examined influences on immunisation behaviour using the attitude-social influence-self efficacy model.
We conducted nine focus group discussions (FGDs) with mothers and fathers. Eight key informant interviews (KIIs) were held with those in charge of community mobilisation for immunisation, fathers and mothers. Data was analysed using content analysis.
Influences on the mother's immunisation behaviour ranged from the non-supportive role of male partners sometimes resulting into intimate partner violence, lack of presentable clothing which made mothers vulnerable to bullying, inconvenient schedules and time constraints, to suspicion against immunisation such as vaccines cause physical disability and/or death.
Immunisation programmes should position themselves to address social contexts. A community programme that empowers women economically and helps men recognise the role of women in decision making for child health is needed. Increasing male involvement and knowledge of immunisation concepts among caretakers could improve immunisation.
Geographical inaccessibility, lack of transport, and financial burdens are some of the demand side constraints to maternal health services in Uganda, while supply side problems include poor quality services related to unmotivated health workers and inadequate supplies. Most public health interventions in Uganda have addressed only selected supply side issues, and universities have focused their efforts on providing maternal services at tertiary hospitals. To demonstrate how reforms at Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) can lead to making systemic changes that can improve maternal health services, a demand and supply side strategy was developed by working with local communities and national stakeholders.
This quasi-experimental trial is conducted in two districts in Eastern Uganda. The supply side component includes health worker refresher training and additions of minimal drugs and supplies, whereas the demand side component involves vouchers given to pregnant women for motorcycle transport and the payment to service providers for antenatal, delivery, and postnatal care. The trial is ongoing, but early analysis from routine health information systems on the number of services used is presented.
Motorcyclists in the community organized themselves to accept vouchers in exchange for transport for antenatal care, deliveries and postnatal care, and have become actively involved in ensuring that women obtain care. Increases in antenatal, delivery, and postnatal care were demonstrated, with the number of safe deliveries in the intervention area immediately jumping from <200 deliveries/month to over 500 deliveries/month in the intervention arm. Voucher revenues have been used to obtain needed supplies to improve quality and to pay health workers, ensuring their availability at a time when workloads are increasing.
Transport and service vouchers appear to be a viable strategy for rapidly increasing maternal care. MakCHS can design strategies together with stakeholders using a learning-by-doing approach to take advantage of community resources.
Community members are stakeholders in hospitals and have a right to participate in the improvement of quality of services rendered to them. Their views are important because they reflect the perspectives of the general public. This study explored how communities that live around hospitals pass on their views to and receive feedback from the hospitals' management and administration.
The study was conducted in eight hospitals and the communities around them. Four of the hospitals were from three districts from eastern Uganda and another four from two districts from western Uganda. Eight key informant interviews (KIIs) were conducted with medical superintendents of the hospitals. A member from each of three hospital management boards was also interviewed. Eight focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted with health workers from the hospitals. Another eight FGDs (four with men and four with women) were conducted with communities within a five km radius around the hospitals. Four of the FGDs (two with men and two with women) were done in western Uganda and the other four in eastern Uganda. The focus of the KIIs and FGDs was exploring how hospitals communicated with the communities around them. Analysis was by manifest content analysis.
Whereas health unit management committees were supposed to have community representatives, the representatives never received views from the community nor gave them any feed back from the hospitals. Messages through the mass media like radio were seen to be non specific for action. Views sent through suggestion boxes were seen as individual needs rather than community concerns. Some community members perceived they would be harassed if they complained and had reached a state of resignation preferring instead to endure the problems quietly.
There is still lack of effective communication between the communities and the hospitals that serve them in Uganda. This deprives the communities of the right to participate in the improvement of the services they receive, to assume their position as stakeholders. Various avenues could be instituted including using associations in communities, rapid appraisal methods and community meetings.
Community distribution of anti-malarials and antibiotics has been recommended as a strategy to reduce the under-five mortality due to febrile illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa. However, drugs distributed in these interventions have been considered weak by some caretakers and utilization of community medicine distributors has been low. The aim of the study was to explore caretakers' use of drugs, perceptions of drug efficacy and preferred providers for febrile children in order to make suggestions for community management of pneumonia and malaria.
The study was conducted in eastern Uganda using four focus group discussions with fathers and mothers of children under five; and eight key informant interviews with health workers in government and non-governmental organization facilities, community medicine distributors, and attendants in drug shops and private clinics. Caretakers were asked the drugs they use for treatment of fever, why they considered them efficacious, and the providers they go to and why they go there. Health providers were interviewed on their opinions of caretakers' perceptions of drugs and providers. Analysis was done using content analysis.
Drugs that have been phased out as first-line treatment for malaria, such as chloroquine and sulphadoxine/pyrimethamine, are still perceived as efficacious. Use of drugs depended on perception of the disease, cost and drug availability. There were divergent views about drug efficacy concerning drug combinations, side effects, packaging, or using drugs over time. Bitter taste and high cost signified high efficacy for anti-malarials. Government facilities were preferred for conducting diagnostic investigations and attending to serious illnesses, but often lacked drugs and did not treat people fast. Drug shops were preferred for having a variety of drugs, attending to clients promptly and offering treatment on credit. However, drug shops were considered disadvantageous since they lacked diagnostic capability and had unqualified providers.
Community views about drug efficacy are divergent and some may divert caretakers from obtaining efficacious drugs for febrile illness. Interventions should address these perceptions, equip community medicine distributors with capacity to do diagnostic investigations and provide a constant supply of drugs. Subsidized efficacious drugs could be made available in the private sector.
Despite investments in providing free government health services in Uganda, many caretakers still seek treatment from the drug shops/private clinics. The study aimed to assess determinants for use of government facilities or drug shops/private clinics for febrile illnesses in children under five.
Structured questionnaires were administered to caretakers in 1078 randomly selected households in the Iganga – Mayuge Demographic Surveillance site. Those with children who had had fever in the previous two weeks and who had sought care from outside the home were interviewed on presenting symptoms and why they chose the provider they went to. Symptoms children presented with and reasons for seeking care from government facilities were compared with those of drug shops/private clinics.
Of those who sought care outside the home, 62.7% (286/456) had first gone to drug shops/private clinics and 33.1% (151/456) first went to government facilities. Predictors of having gone to government facilities with a febrile child were child presenting with vomiting (OR 2.07; 95% CI 1.10 – 3.89) and perceiving that the health providers were qualified (OR 10.32; 95% CI 5.84 – 18.26) or experienced (OR 1.93; 95% CI 1.07 – 3.48). Those who took the febrile child to drug shops/private clinics did so because they were going there to get first aid (OR 0.20; 95% CI 0.08 – 0.52).
Private providers offer 'first aid' to caretakers with febrile children. Government financial assistance to health care providers should not stop at government facilities. Multi-faceted interventions in the private sector and implementation of community case management of febrile children through community medicine distributors could increase the proportion of children who access quality care promptly.
Despite the expanding literature on how reforms may affect health workers and which reactions they may provoke, little research has been conducted on the mechanisms of effect through which health sector reforms either promote or discourage health worker performance. This paper seeks to trace these mechanisms and examines the contextual framework of reform objectives in Uganda and Bangladesh, and health workers' responses to the changes in their working environments by taking a 'realistic evaluation' approach.
The study findings were generated by triangulating both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis among policy technocrats, health managers and groups of health providers. Quantitative surveys were conducted with over 700 individual health workers in both Bangladesh and Uganda and supplemented with qualitative data obtained from focus group discussions and key interviews with professional cadres, health managers and key institutions involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of the reforms of interest.
The reforms in both countries affected the workforce through various mechanisms. In Bangladesh, the effects of the unification efforts resulted in a power struggle and general mistrust between the two former workforce tracts, family planning and health. However positive effects of the reforms were felt regarding the changes in payment schemes. Ugandan findings show how the workforce responded to a strong and rapidly implemented system of decentralisation where the power of new local authorities was influenced by resource constraints and nepotism in recruitment. On the other hand, closer ties to local authorities provided the opportunity to gain insight into the operational constraints originating from higher levels that health staff were dealing with.
Findings from the study suggest that a) reform planners should use the proposed dynamic responses model to help design reform objectives that encourage positive responses among health workers b) the role of context has been underestimated and it is necessary to address broader systemic problems before initiating reform processes, c) reform programs need to incorporate active implementation research systems to learn the contextual dynamics and responses as well as have inbuilt program capacity for corrective measures d) health workers are key stakeholders in any reform process and should participate at all stages and e) some effects of reforms on the health workforce operate indirectly through levels of satisfaction voiced by communities utilising the services.