Antibiotic resistance is considered a major threat to global health and is affected by many factors, of which antibiotic use is probably one of the more important. Other factors include hygiene, crowding and travel. The rapid resistance spread in Gram-negative bacteria, in particular extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-E), is a global challenge, leading to increased mortality, morbidity and health systems costs worldwide. Knowledge about resistance in commensal flora is limited, including in China. Our aim was to establish the faecal carriage rates of ESBL-E and find its association with known and suspected risk factors in rural residents of all ages in three socio-economically different counties in the Shandong Province, China. Faecal samples and risk-factor information (questionnaire) were collected in 2012. ESBL-E carriage was screened using ChromID ESBL agar. Risk factors were analysed using standard statistical methods. Data from 1000 individuals from three counties and in total 18 villages showed a high and varying level of ESBL-E carriage. Overall, 42% were ESBL-E carriers. At county level the carriage rates were 49%, 45% and 31%, respectively, and when comparing individual villages (n = 18) the rate varied from 22% to 64%. The high level of ESBL-E carriage among rural residents in China is an indication of an exploding global challenge in the years to come as resistance spreads among bacteria and travels around the world with the movement of people and freight. A high carriage rate of ESBL-E increases the risk of infection with multi-resistant bacteria, and thus the need for usage of last resort antibiotics, such as carbapenems and colistin, in the treatment of common infections.
The European Union (EU) supports North–South Partnerships and collaborative research projects through its Framework Programmes and Horizon 2020. There is limited research on how such projects can be harnessed to provide a structured platform for doctoral level studies as a way of strengthening health system research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
The aim of this study was to explore the challenges of, and facilitating factors for, ‘nesting’ doctoral students in North–South collaborative research projects. The term nesting refers to the embedding of the processes of recruiting, supervising, and coordinating doctoral students in the overall research plan and processes.
This cross-sectional qualitative study was undertaken by the EU-funded QUALMAT Project. A questionnaire was implemented with doctoral students, supervisors, and country principal investigators (PIs), and content analysis was undertaken.
Completed questionnaires were received from nine doctoral students, six supervisors, and three country PIs (86% responses rate). The doctoral students from SSA described high expectations about the input they would receive (administrative support, equipment, training, supervision). This contrasted with the expectations of the supervisors for proactivity and self-management on the part of the students. The rationale for candidate selection, and understandings of the purpose of the doctoral students in the project were areas of considerable divergence. There were some challenges associated with the use of the country PIs as co-supervisors. Doctoral student progress was at times impeded by delays in the release of funding instalments from the EU. The paper provides a checklist of essential requirements and a set of recommendations for effective nesting of doctoral students in joint North–South projects.
There are considerable challenges to the effective nesting of doctoral students within major collaborative research projects. However, ways can be found to overcome them. The nesting process ultimately helped the institutions involved in this example to take better advantage of the opportunities that collaborative projects offer to foster North–South partnerships as a contribution to the strengthening of local research capacity.
collaborative project; doctoral students; health systems research capacity; North–South Partnership
To assess the effects of facility-based interventions using existing resources to improve overall patient attendance and adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) at ART-providing facilities in Uganda.
This was an interventional study which tracked attendance and treatment adherence of two distinct cohorts: experienced patients who had been on treatment for at least 12 months prior to the intervention and patients newly initiated on ART before or during the intervention. The interventions included instituting appointment system, fast-tracking, and giving longer prescriptions to experienced stable patients. Mixed-effects models were used to examine intervention effects on the experienced patients, while Cox proportional hazards models were used to determine the intervention effects on time until newly treated patients experienced gaps in medication availability.
In all, 1481 patients’ files were selected for follow-up from six facilities – 720 into the experienced cohort, and 761 into the newly treated cohort. Among patients in the experienced cohort, the interventions were associated with a significant reduction from 24.4 to 20.3% of missed appointments (adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 0.67; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.59–0.77); a significant decrease from 20.2 to 18.4% in the medication gaps of three or more days (AOR: 0.69; 95% CI: 0.60–0.79); and a significant increase from 4.3 to 9.3% in the proportion of patients receiving more than 30 days of dispensed medication (AOR: 2.35; 95% CI: 1.91–2.89). Among newly treated patients, the interventions were associated with significant reductions of 44% (adjusted hazard rate (AHR): 0.56, 95% CI: 0.42–0.74) and 38% (AHR: 0.62; 95% CI: 0.45–0.85) in the hazards of experiencing a medication gap of 7 and 14 days or more, respectively.
Patients’ adherence was improved with low-cost and easily implemented interventions using existing health facilities’ resources. We recommend that such interventions be considered for scale-up at national levels as measures to improve clinic attendance and ART adherence among patients in Uganda and other low-resource settings in sub-Saharan Africa.
antiretroviral therapy; adherence; management; staff motivation; intervention; Uganda
Current use, misuse, and overuse of antibiotics raise dangers and ethical dilemmas that cannot be solved in isolation, exclusively within a health system building block or even within the health sector only. There is a need to tackle antibiotic resistance emergence and containment on levels ranging from individuals, households, and the communities, to health care facilities, the entire health sector, and finally to national and global levels. We analyse emergence of antibiotic resistance based on interdependencies between health systems resources. We further go beyond the health system building blocks, to look at determinants of antibiotic resistance referring to wider global dynamics. Multi-level governance is the key for successful action in containment strategies. This will involve, in a comprehensive way, patients, health facilities where they receive care, health systems to which these facilities pertain, and the wider national context as well as the global community that influences the functioning of these health systems. In order to be effective and sustainable in both high and low-resource settings, implementation of containment interventions at all these levels needs to be managed based on existing theories and models of change. Although ministries of health and the global community must provide vision and support, it is important to keep in mind that containment interventions for antibiotic resistance will target individuals, consumers as well as providers.
Antibiotics; antibiotics resistance; health systems; systems thinking
Maternal and newborn mortality remain unacceptably high in sub-Saharan Africa. Tanzania and Uganda are committed to reduce maternal and newborn mortality, but progress has been limited and many essential interventions are unavailable in primary and referral facilities. Quality management has the potential to overcome low implementation levels by assisting teams of health workers and others finding local solutions to problems in delivering quality care and the underutilization of health services by the community. Existing evidence of the effect of quality management on health worker performance in these contexts has important limitations, and the feasibility of expanding quality management to the community level is unknown. We aim to assess quality management at the district, facility, and community levels, supported by information from high-quality, continuous surveys, and report effects of the quality management intervention on the utilization and quality of services in Tanzania and Uganda.
In Uganda and Tanzania, the Expanded Quality Management Using Information Power (EQUIP) intervention is implemented in one intervention district and evaluated using a plausibility design with one non-randomly selected comparison district. The quality management approach is based on the collaborative model for improvement, in which groups of quality improvement teams test new implementation strategies (change ideas) and periodically meet to share results and identify the best strategies. The teams use locally-generated community and health facility data to monitor improvements. In addition, data from continuous health facility and household surveys are used to guide prioritization and decision making by quality improvement teams as well as for evaluation of the intervention. These data include input, process, output, coverage, implementation practice, and client satisfaction indicators in both intervention and comparison districts. Thus, intervention districts receive quality management and continuous surveys, and comparison districts-only continuous surveys.
EQUIP is a district-scale, proof-of-concept study that evaluates a quality management approach for maternal and newborn health including communities, health facilities, and district health managers, supported by high-quality data from independent continuous household and health facility surveys. The study will generate robust evidence about the effectiveness of quality management and will inform future nationwide implementation approaches for health system strengthening in low-resource settings.
Quality management; Quality improvement; Maternal and child health; Health system strengthening; Community empowerment; Tanzania; Uganda
Traumatic injury causes more than five million deaths each year of which about 90% occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Hospital trauma mortality has been significantly reduced in high-income countries, but to what extent similar results have been achieved in LMIC has not been studied in detail. Here, we assessed if early hospital mortality in patients with trauma has changed over time in an urban lower middle-income setting.
We conducted a retrospective study of patients admitted due to trauma in 1998, 2002, and 2011 to a large public hospital in Mumbai, India. Our outcome measure was early hospital mortality, defined as death between admission and 24-hours. We used multivariate logistic regression to assess the association between time and early hospital mortality, adjusting for patient case-mix. Injury severity was quantified using International Classification of Diseases-derived Injury Severity Score (ICISS). Major trauma was defined as ICISS<0.90.
We analysed data on 4189 patients out of which 86.5% were males. A majority of patients were between 15 and 55 years old and 36.5% had major trauma. Overall early hospital mortality was 8.9% in 1998, 6.0% in 2002, and 8.1% in 2011. Among major trauma patients, early hospital mortality was 13.4%, in 1998, 11.3% in 2002, and 10.9% in 2011. Compared to trauma patients admitted in 1998, those admitted in 2011 had lower odds for early hospital mortality (OR = 0.56, 95% CI = 0.41–0.76) including those with major trauma (OR = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.41–0.78).
We observed a significant reduction in early hospital mortality among patients with major trauma between 1998 and 2011. Improved survival was evident only after we adjusted for patient case-mix. This finding highlights the importance of risk-adjustment when studying longitudinal mortality trends.
Seventy-five percent of newborn deaths happen in the first-week of life, with the highest risk of death in the first 24-hours after birth.WHO and UNICEF recommend home-visits for babies in the first-week of life to assess for danger-signs and counsel caretakers for immediate referral of sick newborns. We assessed timely compliance with newborn referrals made by community-health workers (CHWs), and its determinants in Iganga and Mayuge Districts in rural eastern Uganda.
A historical cohort study design was used to retrospectively follow up newborns referred to health facilities between September 2009 and August 2011. Timely compliance was defined as caretakers of newborns complying with CHWs’ referral advice within 24-hours.
A total of 724 newborns were referred by CHWs of whom 700 were successfully traced. Of the 700 newborns, 373 (53%) were referred for immunization and postnatal-care, and 327 (47%) because of a danger-sign. Overall, 439 (63%) complied, and of the 327 sick newborns, 243 (74%) caretakers complied with the referrals. Predictors of referral compliance were; the newborn being sick at the time of referral- Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 2.3, and 95% Confidence-Interval (CI) of [1.6 - 3.5]), the CHW making a reminder visit to the referred newborn shortly after referral (AOR =1.7; 95% CI: [1.2 -2.7]); and age of mother (25-29) and (30-34) years, (AOR =0.4; 95% CI: [0.2 - 0.8]) and (AOR = 0.4; 95% CI: [0.2 - 0.8]) respectively.
Caretakers’ newborn referral compliance was high in this setting. The newborn being sick, being born to a younger mother and a reminder visit by the CHW to a referred newborn were predictors of newborn referral compliance. Integration of CHWs into maternal and newborn care programs has the potential to increase care seeking for newborns, which may contribute to reduction of newborn mortality.
To compare caretakers’ perceived quality of care (PQC) for under-fives treated for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea by community health workers (CHWs) and primary health facility workers (PHFWs).
Caretaker rated PQC for children aged (2-59) months treated by either CHWs or PHFWs for a bought of malaria, pneumonia or diarrhoea was cross-sectionally compared in quality domains of accessibility, continuity, comprehensiveness, integration, clinical interaction, interpersonal treatment and trust. Child samples were randomly drawn from CHW (419) and clinic (399) records from eight Midwestern Uganda districts. An overall PQC score was predicted through factor analysis. PQC scores were compared for CHWs and PHFWs using Wilcoxon rank-sum test. Multinomial logistic regression models were used to specify the association between categorized PQC and service providers for each quality domain. Finally, overall PQC was dichotomized into “high” and “low” based on median score and relative risks (RR) for PQC-service provider association were modeled in a “modified” Poisson regression model.
Mean (SD) overall PQC was significantly higher for CHWs 0.58 (0 .66) compared to PHFWs -0.58 (0.94), p<0.0001. In “modified” Poisson regression, the proportion of caretakers reporting high PQC was higher for CHWS compared to PHFWs, RR=3.1, 95%CI(2.5-3.8). In multinomial models PQC was significantly higher for CHWs compared to PHFWs in all domains except for continuity.
PQC was significantly higher for CHWs compared to PHFWs in this resource constrained setting. CHWs should be tapped human resources for universal health coverage while scaling up basic child intervention as PQC might improve intervention utilization.
Achieving high rates of adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource-poor settings comprises serious, but different, challenges in both the first months of treatment and during the life-long maintenance phase. We measured the impact of a health system-oriented, facility-based intervention to improve clinic attendance and patient adherence.
This was a quasi-experimental, longitudinal, controlled intervention study using interrupted time series analysis. The intervention consisted of (1) using a clinic appointment diary to track patient attendance and monitor monthly performance; (2) changing the mode of asking for self-reported adherence; (3) training staff on adherence concepts, intervention methods, and use of monitoring data; (4) conducting visits to support facility teams with the implementation.
We conducted the study in 12 rural district hospitals (6 intervention, 6 control) in Kenya and randomly selected 1894 adult patients over 18 years of age in two cohorts: experienced patients on treatment for at least one year, and newly treated patients initiating ART during the study. Outcome measures were: attending the clinic on or before the date of a scheduled appointment, attending within 3 days of a scheduled appointment, reporting perfect adherence, and experiencing a gap in medication supply of more than 14 days.
Among experienced patients, the percentage attending the clinic on or before a scheduled appointment increased in both level (average total increase immediately after intervention) (+5.7%; 95% CI = 2.1, 9.3) and trend (increase per month) (+1.0% per month; 95% CI = 0.6, 1.5) following the intervention, as did the level and trend of those keeping appointments within three days (+4.2%; 95% CI = 1.6, 6.7; and +0.8% per month; 95% CI = 0.6, 1.1, respectively). The relative difference between the intervention and control groups based on the monthly difference in visit rates increased significantly in both level (+6.5; 95% CI = 1.4, 11.6) and trend (1.0% per month; 95% CI = 0.2, 1.8) following the intervention for experienced patients attending the clinic within 3 days of their scheduled appointments.
The decrease in the percentage of experienced patients with a medication gap greater than 14 days approached statistical significance (-11.3%; 95% CI = -22.7, 0.1), and the change seemed to persist over 11 months after the intervention. All facility staff used appointment-keeping data to calculate adherence and discussed outcomes regularly.
The appointment-tracking system and monthly performance monitoring was strengthened, and patient attendance was improved. Scale-up to national level may be considered.
Appointment-keeping; Medication gaps; Self-reported adherence; Indicators; Monitoring performance
Integrated community case management (iCCM) is a recommended strategy to curb child mortality. Drawing on diffusion of innovations (DOIs), the acceptability and adoption of iCCM were qualitatively explored. Data from focus group discussions and interviews with community members, community health workers (CHWs), and supervisors conducted in seven communities were analyzed using content analysis. Perceived relative advantage and compatibility of the program with sociocultural beliefs and healthcare expectations of the communities positively affected acceptability and adoption of iCCM. The degree of stringency, quality, and cost of access to healthcare were crucial to adoption. Failure of the health system to secure regular drug supplies, monetary support, and safe referrals globally hindered adoption. Individual CHW characteristics like undesired behavior, demotivation, and lack of reciprocated trust deterred adoption in some areas. Optimal functioning of iCCM programs will require community sensitization and targeted health systems strengthening to enhance observable program benefits like reduced child mortality.
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.
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
Paul Newton and colleagues argue that public health, and not intellectual property or trade issues, should be the prime consideration in defining and combating counterfeit medicines, and that the World Health Organization (WHO) should take a more prominent role.
Early diagnosis and prompt, effective treatment of uncomplicated malaria is critical to prevent severe disease, death and malaria transmission. We assessed the impact of rapid malaria diagnostic tests (RDTs) by community health workers (CHWs) on provision of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) and health outcome in fever patients.
Twenty-two CHWs from five villages in Kibaha District, a high-malaria transmission area in Coast Region, Tanzania, were trained to manage uncomplicated malaria using RDT aided diagnosis or clinical diagnosis (CD) only. Each CHW was randomly assigned to use either RDT or CD the first week and thereafter alternating weekly. Primary outcome was provision of ACT and main secondary outcomes were referral rates and health status by days 3 and 7. The CHWs enrolled 2930 fever patients during five months of whom 1988 (67.8%) presented within 24 hours of fever onset. ACT was provided to 775 of 1457 (53.2%) patients during RDT weeks and to 1422 of 1473 (96.5%) patients during CD weeks (Odds Ratio (OR) 0.039, 95% CI 0.029–0.053). The CHWs adhered to the RDT results in 1411 of 1457 (96.8%, 95% CI 95.8–97.6) patients. More patients were referred on inclusion day during RDT weeks (10.0%) compared to CD weeks (1.6%). Referral during days 1–7 and perceived non-recovery on days 3 and 7 were also more common after RDT aided diagnosis. However, no fatal or severe malaria occurred among 682 patients in the RDT group who were not treated with ACT, supporting the safety of withholding ACT to RDT negative patients.
RDTs in the hands of CHWs may safely improve early and well-targeted ACT treatment in malaria patients at community level in Africa.
Out-of-pocket payments make up about 80% of medical care spending at hospitals in Laos, thereby putting poor households at risk of catastrophic health expenditure. Social security schemes in the form of community-based health insurance and health equity funds have been introduced in some parts of the country. Drug and Therapeutics Committees (DTCs) have been established to ensure rational use of drugs and improve quality of care. The objective was to assess the appropriateness and expenditure for treatment for poor patients by health care providers at hospitals in three selected provinces of Laos and to explore associated factors.
Cross-sectional study using four tracer conditions. Structured interviews with 828 in-patients at twelve provincial and district hospitals on the subject of insurance protection, income and expenditures for treatment, including informal payment. Evaluation of each patient's medical record for appropriateness of drug use using a checklist of treatment guidelines (maximum score = 10).
No significant difference in appropriateness of care for patients at different income levels, but higher expenditures for patients with the highest income level. The score for appropriate drug use in insured patients was significantly higher than uninsured patients (5.9 vs. 4.9), and the length of stay in days significantly shorter (2.7 vs. 3.7). Insured patients paid significantly less than uninsured patients, both for medicines (USD 14.8 vs. 43.9) and diagnostic tests (USD 5.9 vs. 9.2). On the contrary the score for appropriateness of drug use in patients making informal payments was significantly lower than patients not making informal payments (3.5 vs. 5.1), and the length of stay significantly longer (6.8 vs. 3.2), while expenditures were significantly higher both for medicines (USD 124.5 vs. 28.8) and diagnostic tests (USD 14.1 vs. 7.7).
The lower expenditure for insured patients can help reduce the number of households experiencing catastrophic health expenditure. The positive effects of insurance schemes on expenditure and appropriate use of medicines may be associated with the long-term effects of promoting rational use of drugs, including support to active DTC work.
Studies indicate that antibiotics are sold against regulation and without prescription in private drugstores in rural Tanzania. The objective of the study was to explore and describe antibiotics sale and dispensing practices and link it to drugseller knowledge and perceptions of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance.
Exit customers of private drugstores in eight districts were interviewed about the drugstore encounter and drugs bought. Drugsellers filled in a questionnaire with closed- and open-ended questions about antibiotics and resistance. Data were analyzed using mixed quantitative and qualitative methods.
Of 350 interviewed exit customers, 24% had bought antibiotics. Thirty percent had seen a health worker before coming and almost all of these had a prescription. Antibiotics were dispensed mainly for cough, stomachache, genital complaints and diarrhea but not for malaria or headache. Dispensed drugs were assessed as relevant for the symptoms or disease presented in 83% of all cases and 51% for antibiotics specifically. Non-prescribed drugs were assessed as more relevant than the prescribed. The knowledge level of the drugseller was ranked as high or very high by 75% of the respondents. Seventy-five drugsellers from three districts participated. Seventy-nine percent stated that diseases caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics but 24% of these also said that antibiotics can be used for treating viral disease. Most (85%) said that STI can be treated with antibiotics while 1% said the same about headache, 4% general weakness and 3% 'all diseases'. Seventy-two percent had heard of antibiotic resistance. When describing what an antibiotic is, the respondents used six different kinds of keywords. Descriptions of what antibiotic resistance is and how it occurs were quite rational from a biomedical point of view with some exceptions. They gave rise to five categories and one theme: Perceiving antibiotic resistance based on practical experience.
The drugsellers have considerable "practical knowledge" of antibiotics and a perception of antibiotic resistance based on practical experience. In the process of upgrading private drugstores and formalizing the sale of antibiotics from these outlets in resource-constrained settings, their "practical knowledge" as well as their perceptions must be taken into account in order to attain rational dispensing practices.
Uncontrolled proliferation of health technologies (HT) is one contributor to the increasing pressure on health systems to adopt new technologies. With limited resources, policy-makers encounter difficulties in fulfilling their responsibility to meet the healthcare needs of the population. The aim of this study is to explore how policy-makers' reason about the diffusion and utilization of health technologies in Iran using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and interferon beta as tracers.
This qualitative exploration complements quantitative data generated in a research project investigating the diffusion and utilization of MRI and interferon beta in Iran. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 informants in different positions and levels of authority in the Ministry of Health (MOH), University of Medical Sciences, Health Insurance Organizations, and Parliament. The data was analysed using the framework approach.
Although policy-makers appeared to be positive to health technology assessment (HTA), the processes of policy-making described by the interviewees did not seem to be based on a full understanding of this (discipline). Several obstacles to applying knowledge about HT and HTA were described. The current official plan for MRI adoption and diffusion in the country was said not to be followed, and no such plan was described for interferon beta. Instead, market forces such as advertising, and physician and consumer demand, appear to have strong influence on HT diffusion and use. Dual practice may have increased the induced demand and also reduced the supervision of the private sector by the MOH.
Management instability and lack of coordination in the MOH were found to be important obstacles to accumulation of knowledge and experience which, in turn, could have led to suboptimal managerial and policy-making processes. Furthermore marketing should be controlled in order to avoid creating unnecessary patient demands and negative influences on physicians' behavior.
The increasing resources available for and number of partners providing health sector aid have stimulated innovations, notably, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, which aim to improve aid coordination. In this, one of the first studies to analyse implementation of aid coordination below national level, the aim was to investigate the effect of the Paris Declaration on coordination of health sector aid at the district level in Zambia.
The study was carried out in three districts of Zambia. Data were collected via interviews with health centre staff, district managers and officials from the Ministry of Health, and from district action plans, financial reports and accounts, and health centre ledger cards. Four indicators of coordination related to external-partner activity, common arrangements used by external partners and predictability of funding were analysed and assessed in relation to the 2010 targets set by the Paris Declaration.
While the activity of external partners at the district level has increased, funding and activities provided by these partners are often not included in local plans. HIV/AIDS support show better integration in planning and implementation at the district level than other support. Regarding common arrangements used for fund disbursement, the share of resources provided as programme-based support is not increasing. The predictability of funds coming from outside the government financing mechanism is low.
Greater efforts to integrate partners in district level planning and implementation are needed. External partners must improve the predictability of their support and be more proactive in informing the districts about their intended contributions. With the deadline for achieving the targets set by the Paris Declaration fast approaching, it is time for the signatories to accelerate its implementation.
Access to affordable health care is limited in many low and middle income countries and health systems are often inequitable, providing less health services to the poor who need it most. The aim of this study was to investigate health seeking behavior and utilization of drugs in relation to household socioeconomic status for children in two small Amazonian urban communities of Peru; Yurimaguas, Department of Loreto and Moyobamba, Department of San Martin, Peru.
Cross-sectional study design included household interviews. Caregivers of 780 children aged 6–72 months in Yurimaguas and 793 children of the same age in Moyobamba were included in the study. Caregivers were interviewed on health care seeking strategies (public/private sectors; formal/informal providers), and medication for their children in relation to reported symptoms and socio-economic status. Self-reported symptoms were classified into illnesses based on the IMCI algorithm (Integrated Management of Childhood Ilness). Wealth was used as a proxy indicator for the economic status. Wealth values were generated by Principal Component Analysis using household assets and characteristics.
Significantly more caregivers from the least poor stratum consulted health professionals for cough/cold (p < 0.05: OR = 4.30) than the poorest stratum. The poorest stratum used fewer antibiotics for cough/cold and for cough/cold + diarrhoea (16%, 38%, respectively) than the least poor stratum (31%, 52%, respectively). For pneumonia and/or dysentery, the poorest used significantly fewer antibiotics (16%) than the least poor (80%).
The poorest seek less care from health professionals for non-severe illnesses as well as for severe illnesses; and treatment with antibiotics is lacking for illnesses where it would be indicated. Caregivers frequently paid for health services as well as antibiotics, even though all children in the study qualified for free health care and medicines. The implementation of the Seguro Integral de Salud health insurance must be improved.
The main killer diseases of children all manifest as acute febrile illness, yet are curable with timely and adequate management. To avoid a fatal outcome, three essential steps must be completed: caretakers must recognize illness, decide to seek care and reach an appropriate source of care, and then receive appropriate treatment. In a fatal outcome some or all of these steps have failed and it remains to be elucidated to what extent these fatal outcomes are caused by local disease perceptions, inappropriate care-seeking or inadequate resources in the family or health system. This study explores caretakers' experiences of care-seeking for childhood febrile illness with fatal outcome in rural Uganda to elucidate the most influential barriers to adequate care.
A mixed methods approach using structured Verbal/Social autopsy interviews and in-depth interviews was employed with 26 caretakers living in Iganga/Mayuge Demographic Surveillance Site who had lost a child 1–59 months old due to acute febrile illness between March and June 2006. In-depth interviews were analysed using content analysis with deductive category application.
Final categories of barriers to care were: 1) "Illness interpretation barriers" involving children who received delayed or inappropriate care due to caretakers' labelling of the illness, 2) "Barriers to seeking care" with gender roles and household financial constraints hindering adequate care and 3) "Barriers to receiving adequate treatment" revealing discontents with providers and possible deficiencies in quality of care. Resource constraints were identified as the underlying theme for adequate management, both at individual and at health system levels.
The management of severely ill children in this rural setting has several shortcomings. However, the majority of children were seen by an allopathic health care provider during the final illness. Improvements of basic health care for children suffering from acute febrile illness are likely to contribute to a substantial reduction of fatal outcomes. Health care providers at all levels and private as well as public should receive training, support, equipment and supplies to enable basic health care for children suffering from common illnesses.
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.
Lao PDR is a low-income country with an urgent need for evidence-informed policymaking in the healthcare sector. During the last decade a number of Health Systems Research (HSR) projects have been conducted in order to meet this need. However, although knowledge about research is increasing among policymakers, the use of research in policymaking is still limited.
This article investigates the relationship between research and policymaking from the perspective of those participating in HSR projects. The study is based on 28 interviews, two group discussions and the responses from 56 questionnaires.
The interviewees and questionnaire respondents were aware of the barriers to getting research into policy and practice. But while some were optimistic, claiming that there had been a change of attitudes among policymakers in the last two years, others were more pessimistic and did not expect any real changes until years from now. The major barriers to feeding research results into policy and practice included an inability to influence the policy process and to get policymakers and practitioners interested in research results. Another barrier was the lack of continuous capacity development and high-quality research, both of which are related to funding and international support. Many of the interviewees and questionnaire respondents also pointed out that communication between those conducting research and policymakers must be improved.
The results show that in the case of Lao PDR, research capacity development is at a crucial stage for implementing research into policy and practice. If research is going to make a consistent impact on policymaking in the Lao health care sector, the attitude towards research will need to be changed in order to get research prioritised, both among those conducting research, and among policymakers and practitioners. Our findings indicate that there is awareness about the barriers in this process.
Uganda was the first country to scale up Home Based Management of Fever/Malaria (HBM) in 2002. Under HBM pre-packaged unit doses with a combination Sulphadoxine/Pyrimethamin (SP) and Chloroquine (CQ) called "HOMAPAK" are administered to all febrile children by community selected voluntary drug distributors (DDs). In this study, community perceptions, health worker and drug provider opinions about the community based distribution of HOMAPAK and its effect on the use of other antimalarials were assessed.
In 2004, four focus group discussions with mothers and 11 key informant interviews with drug sellers, drug distributors and health workers were conducted in Kasese district, western Uganda. This was complemented by three months of field observations.
Caretakers concurred that they were benefiting from the programme. However, according to the information from the DDs and health workers, many caretakers perceived HOMAPAK as a drug of lower quality only meant for first aid. Caretakers also expressed need for other drugs to treat other childhood diseases. The introduction of HOMAPAKs was said not to affect the sale of other allopathic antimalarial drugs in the community. DDs expressed concerns about lack of incentives and facilitation such as torches, gumboots and diagnostic equipment to improve their performance.
HBM is well appreciated by the community. However, more efforts are needed to improve uptake of the strategy through systematic community sensitization and community dialogue. This study highlights the potential of community based volunteers if well trained, facilitated and integrated into a functioning local health system.
In the past decade the sector-wide approach (SWAp) model has been promoted by donors and adopted by governments in several countries. The purpose of this study is to look at how partners involved in the health SWAp in Bangladesh define ownership and coordination, in their daily work and to analyse the possible implications of these definitions.
The study object was a process of decision-making in the Government of Bangladesh in 2003. Information was collected through participant observations, interviews and document review.
During the study period the Government of Bangladesh decided to reverse a decision to unify the two wings of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The decision led to disagreements with development partners, which had serious implications for cooperation between key actors in the Bangladesh health sector leading to deteriorated relationships and suspension of donor funds. The donor community in itself was also in disagreement which led to inconsistencies in the dialogue between the development partners and the Government of Bangladesh.
The case shows that main actors in the Bangladesh health SWAp interpret ownership and coordination, fundamental aspects of SWAp, differently. As long as work ran smoothly, the different definitions did not create any problems, but when disagreements arose they became an obstacle. It is concluded that partners in development should devote more effort to their working relationships and that responsibilities within a SWAp need to be more clearly delineated.