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1.  Barriers to Completing TB Diagnosis in Yemen: Services Should Respond to Patients' Needs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e105194.
Objectives and Background
Obtaining a diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) is a prerequisite for accessing specific treatment, yet one third of estimated new cases are missed worldwide by National Programmes. This study investigated economic, geographical, socio-cultural and health system factors hindering adults' attendance and completion of the TB diagnostic process in Yemen, to inform interventions designed to improve patient access to services.
Methodology
The study employed a mixed methods design comprising a cross-sectional survey and In-Depth-Interviews (IDIs) and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) among patients abandoning the diagnosis or registering for treatment. Adults with cough of ≥2 weeks attending a large governmental referral centre in Sana'a, Yemen, between 2009 and 2010, were eligible to participate.
Results
497 and 446 (89.7%) participants were surveyed the first and second day of attending the services and 48 IDIs and 12 FGDs were also conducted. The majority of patients were disadvantaged and had poor literacy (61% illiterate), had travelled from rural areas (47%) and attended with companions (84%). Key barriers for attendance identified were clinic and transport costs (augmented by companions), distance from home, a preference for private services, strong social stigma and a lack of understanding of the diagnostic process. There were discrepancies between patient- and doctor-reported diagnosis and 46% of patients were unaware that TB treatment is free. Females faced more difficulties to attend than men. The laboratory practice of providing first-day negative smear results and making referrals to the private sector also discouraged patients from returning. Strategies to bring TB diagnostic services closer to communities and address the multiple barriers patients face to attend, will be important to increase access to TB diagnosis and care.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105194
PMCID: PMC4170957  PMID: 25244396
2.  Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection: Views and perceptions about swallowing nevirapine in rural Lilongwe, Malawi 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:354.
Background
In 2006 the World Health Organization described the status of prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) service implementation as unacceptable, with an urgent need for a renewed public health approach to improve access. For PMTCT to be effective it needs to be accessible, acceptable and affordable; however research in Africa into accessibility, uptake and acceptability of PMTCT services has been predominately urban based and usually focusing on women who deliver in hospitals. The importance of involving other community members to strengthen both PMTCT uptake and adherence, and to support women emotionally, has been advocated. Urban men's and rural traditional birth attendants' (TBAs) involvement have improved uptake of HIV testing and of nevirapine.
Methods
A qualitative study was carried out in a rural district of Malawi's central region to explore the views about and perceptions of PMTCT antiretroviral treatment. Semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were held with antenatal and postnatal women, fathers, grandmothers, TBAs, community leaders and PMTCT health workers.
Results
Two broad themes of findings emerged: those that relate to the hospital PMTCT service, and those that relate to the community. Trust in the hospital was strong, but distance, transport costs and perceived harsh, threatening health worker attitudes were barriers to access. Grandmothers were perceived to have influence on the management of labour, unlike fathers, but both were suggested as key people to ensure that babies are brought to the hospital for nevirapine syrup. TBAs were seen as powerful, local, and important community members, but some as uneducated.
Conclusion
PMTCT was seen as a community issue in which more than the mother alone can be involved. To support access to PMTCT, especially for rural women, there is need for further innovation and implementation research on involving TBAs in some aspects of PMTCT services, and in negotiating with women which community members, if any, they would like to support them in ensuring that newborn babies receive nevirapine.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-354
PMCID: PMC2910675  PMID: 20565930
3.  The Malawi National Tuberculosis Programme: an equity analysis 
Background
Until 2005, the Malawi National Tuberculosis Control Programme had been implemented as a vertical programme. Working within the Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) provides a new environment and new opportunities for monitoring the equity performance of the programme. This paper synthesizes what is known on equity and TB in Malawi and highlights areas for further action and advocacy.
Methods
A synthesis of a wide range of published and unpublished reports and studies using a variety of methodological approaches was undertaken and complemented by additional analysis of routine data on access to TB services. The analysis and recommendations were developed, through consultation with key stakeholders in Malawi and a review of the international literature.
Results
The lack of a prevalence survey severely limits the epidemiological knowledge base on TB and vulnerability. TB cases have increased rapidly from 5,334 in 1985 to 28,000 in 2006. This increase has been attributed to HIV/AIDS; 77% of TB patients are HIV positive. The age/gender breakdown of TB notification cases mirrors the HIV epidemic with higher rates amongst younger women and older men. The WHO estimates that only 48% of TB cases are detected in Malawi. The complexity of TB diagnosis requires repeated visits, long queues, and delays in sending results. This reduces poor women and men's ability to access and adhere to services. The costs of seeking TB care are high for poor women and men – up to 240% of monthly income as compared to 126% of monthly income for the non-poor. The TB Control Programme has attempted to increase access to TB services for vulnerable groups through community outreach activities, decentralising DOT and linking with HIV services.
Conclusion
The Programme of Work which is being delivered through the SWAp is a good opportunity to enhance equity and pro-poor health services. The major challenge is to increase case detection, especially amongst the poor, where we assume most 'missing cases' are to be found. In addition, the Programme needs a prevalence survey which will enable thorough equity monitoring and the development of responsive interventions to promote service access amongst 'missing' women, men, boys and girls.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-6-24
PMCID: PMC2253525  PMID: 18163918
4.  EVOLVING FRIENDSHIPS AND SHIFTING ETHICAL DILEMMAS: FIELDWORKERS' EXPERIENCES IN A SHORT TERM COMMUNITY BASED STUDY IN KENYA 
Developing World Bioethics  2013;13(1):1-9.
Fieldworkers (FWs) are community members employed by research teams to support access to participants, address language barriers, and advise on culturally appropriate research conduct. The critical role that FWs play in studies, and the range of practical and ethical dilemmas associated with their involvement, is increasingly recognised. In this paper, we draw on qualitative observation and interview data collected alongside a six month basic science study which involved a team of FWs regularly visiting 47 participating households in their homes. The qualitative study documented how relationships between field workers and research participants were initiated, developed and evolved over the course of the study, the shifting dilemmas FWs faced and how they handled them. Even in this one case study, we see how the complex and evolving relationships between fieldworkers and study participants had important implications for consent processes, access to benefits and mutual understanding and trust. While the precise issues that FWs face are likely to depend on the type of research and the context in which that research is being conducted, we argue that appropriate support for field workers is a key requirement to strengthen ethical research practice and for the long term sustainability of research programmes.
doi:10.1111/dewb.12009
PMCID: PMC3662996  PMID: 23433316
field workers; research ethics; social relations; developing countries; benefit sharing; consent processes; household studies

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