The success of the universal parasite-based malaria testing policy for fever patients attending primary health care (PHC) facilities in Tanzania will depend highly on health workers’ perceptions and practices. The aim of this study was, therefore, to assess the present use of malaria diagnostics (rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and microscopy), prescription behaviour and factors affecting adherence to test results at PHC facilities in Kibaha District, Coast Region, Tanzania.
Exit interviews were conducted with fever patients at PHC facilities and information on diagnostic test performed and treatment prescribed were recorded. Interviews with prescribers to assess their understanding, perceptions and practices related to RDTs were conducted, and health facility inventory performed to assess availability of staff, diagnostics and anti-malarial drugs.
The survey was undertaken at ten governmental PHC facilities, eight of which had functional diagnostics. Twenty health workers were interviewed and 195 exit interviews were conducted with patients at the PHC facilities. Of the 168 patients seen at facilities with available diagnostics, 105 (63%) were tested for malaria, 31 (30%) of whom tested positive. Anti-malarial drugs were prescribed to all patients with positive test results, 14% of patients with negative results and 28% of patients not tested for malaria. Antibiotics were more likely to be prescribed to patients with negative test results compared to patients with positive results (81 vs 39%, p < 0.01) and among non-tested compared to those tested for malaria (84 vs 69%, p = 0.01). Stock-outs of RDTs and staff shortage accounted for the low testing rate, and health worker perceptions were the main reason for non-adherence to test results.
Anti-malarial prescription to patients with negative test results and those not tested is still practiced in Tanzania despite the universal malaria testing policy of fever patients. The use of malaria diagnostics was also associated with higher prescription of antibiotics among patients with negative results. Strategies to address health system factors and health worker perceptions associated with these practices are needed.
Diagnosis; Malaria; Prescription practices; Health worker perceptions; Tanzania
Our aim was to estimate the prevalence of abnormal glucose regulation (AGR) (i.e. diabetes and pre-diabetes) and its associated factors among people aged 35-60 years so as to clarify the relevance of targeted screening in rural Africa.
A population-based survey of 1,497 people (786 women and 711 men) aged 35-60 years was conducted in a predominantly rural Demographic Surveillance Site in eastern Uganda. Participants responded to a lifestyle questionnaire, following which their Body Mass Index (BMI) and Blood Pressure (BP) were measured. Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) was measured from capillary blood using On-Call® Plus (Acon) rapid glucose meters, following overnight fasting. AGR was defined as FPG ≥6.1mmol L-1 (World Health Organization (WHO) criteria or ≥5.6mmol L-1 (American Diabetes Association (ADA) criteria. Diabetes was defined as FPG >6.9mmol L-1, or being on diabetes treatment.
The mean age of participants was 45 years for men and 44 for women. Prevalence of diabetes was 7.4% (95%CI 6.1-8.8), while prevalence of pre-diabetes was 8.6% (95%CI 7.3-10.2) using WHO criteria and 20.2% (95%CI 17.5-22.9) with ADA criteria. Using WHO cut-offs, the prevalence of AGR was 2 times higher among obese persons compared with normal BMI persons (Adjusted Prevalence Rate Ratio (APRR) 1.9, 95%CI 1.3-2.8). Occupation as a mechanic, achieving the WHO recommended physical activity threshold, and higher dietary diversity were associated with lower likelihood of AGR (APRR 0.6, 95%CI 0.4-0.9; APRR 0.6, 95%CI 0.4-0.8; APRR 0.5, 95%CI 0.3-0.9 respectively). The direct medical cost of detecting one person with AGR was two US dollars with ADA and three point seven dollars with WHO cut-offs.
There is a high prevalence of AGR among people aged 35-60 years in this setting. Screening for high risk persons and targeted health education to address obesity, insufficient physical activity and non-diverse diets are necessary.
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.
A large proportion of the annual 3.3 million neonatal deaths could be averted if there was a high uptake of basic evidence-based practices. In order to overcome this ‘know-do’ gap, there is an urgent need for in-depth understanding of knowledge translation (KT). A major factor to consider in the successful translation of knowledge into practice is the influence of organizational context. A theoretical framework highlighting this process is Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS). However, research linked to this framework has almost exclusively been conducted in high-income countries. Therefore, the objective of this study was to examine the perceived relevance of the sub-elements of the organizational context cornerstone of the PARIHS framework, and also whether other factors in the organizational context were perceived to influence KT in a specific low-income setting.
This qualitative study was conducted in a district of Uganda, where focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews were conducted with midwives (n = 18) and managers (n = 5) within the catchment area of the general hospital. The interview guide was developed based on the context sub-elements in the PARIHS framework (receptive context, culture, leadership, and evaluation). Interviews were transcribed verbatim, followed by directed content analysis of the data.
The sub-elements of organizational context in the PARIHS framework—i.e., receptive context, culture, leadership, and evaluation—also appear to be relevant in a low-income setting like Uganda, but there are additional factors to consider. Access to resources, commitment and informal payment, and community involvement were all perceived to play important roles for successful KT.
In further development of the context assessment tool, assessing factors for successful implementation of evidence in low-income settings—resources, community involvement, and commitment and informal payment—should be considered for inclusion. For low-income settings, resources are of significant importance, and might be considered as a separate sub-element of the PARIHS framework as a whole.
Organizational context; PARIHS; Knowledge translation; Low-income settings; Focus group discussions; Interviews
Reducing neonatal-related deaths is one of the major bottlenecks to achieving Millennium Development Goal 4. Studies in Asia and South America have shown that neonatal mortality can be reduced through community-based interventions, but these have not been adapted to scalable intervention packages for sub-Saharan Africa where the culture, health system and policy environment is different. In Uganda, health outcomes are poor for both mothers and newborn babies. Policy opportunities for neonatal health include the new national Health Sector Strategic Plan, which now prioritizes newborn health including use of a community model through Village Health Teams (VHT). The aim of the present study is to adapt, develop and cost an integrated maternal-newborn care package that links community and facility care, and to evaluate its effect on maternal and neonatal practices in order to inform policy and scale-up in Uganda.
Through formative research around evidence-based practices, and dialogue with policy and technical advisers, we constructed a home-based neonatal care package implemented by the responsible VHT member, effectively a Community Health Worker (CHW). This CHW was trained to identify pregnant women and make five home visits - two before and three just after birth - so that linkages will be made to facility care and targeted messages for home-care and care-seeking delivered. The project is improving care in health units to provide standardized care for the mother and the newborn in both intervention and comparison areas.
The study is taking place in a new Demographic Surveillance Site in two rural districts, Iganga and Mayuge, in Uganda. It is a two-arm cluster randomized controlled design with 31 intervention and 32 control areas (villages). The comparison parishes receive the standard care already being provided by the district, but to the intervention villages are added a system for CHWs to visit the mother five times in her home during pregnancy and the neonatal period. Both areas benefit from a standardized strengthening of facility care for mothers and neonates.
UNEST is designed to directly feed into the operationalization of maternal and newborn care in the national VHT strategy, thereby helping to inform scale-up in rural Uganda. The study is registered as a randomized controlled trial, number ISRCTN50321130.
UNEST; Newborn; Community health workers; Uganda; Africa; Trial
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.
Integrated community case management (iCCM) of childhood illness is an increasingly popular strategy to expand life-saving health services to underserved communities. However, community health approaches vary widely across countries and do not always distribute resources evenly across local health systems. We present a harmonized framework, developed through interagency consultation and review, which supports the design of CCM by using a systems approach. To verify that the framework produces results, we also suggest a list of complementary indicators, including nine global metrics, and a menu of 39 country-specific measures. When used by program managers and evaluators, we propose that the framework and indicators can facilitate the design, implementation, and evaluation of community case management.
We conducted a survey involving 1,604 households to determine community care-seeking patterns and 163 exit interviews to determine appropriateness of treatment of common childhood illnesses at private sector drug shops in two rural districts of Uganda. Of children sick within the last 2 weeks, 496 (53.1%) children first sought treatment in the private sector versus 154 (16.5%) children first sought treatment in a government health facility. Only 15 (10.3%) febrile children treated at drug shops received appropriate treatment for malaria. Five (15.6%) children with both cough and fast breathing received amoxicillin, although no children received treatment for 5–7 days. Similarly, only 8 (14.3%) children with diarrhea received oral rehydration salts, but none received zinc tablets. Management of common childhood illness at private sector drug shops in rural Uganda is largely inappropriate. There is urgent need to improve the standard of care at drug shops for common childhood illness through public–private partnerships.
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
Divergent strategies have emerged for the management of severe asthma. One strategy utilises high and fixed doses of maintenance treatment, usually inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β2-agonist (ICS/LABA), supplemented by a short-acting β2-agonist (SABA) as needed. Alternatively, budesonide/formoterol is used as both maintenance and reliever therapy. The latter is superior to fixed-dose treatment in reducing severe exacerbations while achieving similar or better asthma control in other regards. Exacerbations may be reduced by the use of budesonide/formoterol as reliever medication during periods of unstable asthma. We examined the risk of a severe exacerbation in the period after a single day with high reliever use.
Episodes of high reliever use were quantified and exacerbations occurring post-index day with these episodes were examined post hoc in two double-blind studies comparing the efficacy and safety of budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy (Symbicort SMART™, Turbuhaler®) 160/4.5 μg twice daily plus as needed with similar or higher maintenance doses of ICS/LABA plus SABA or formoterol.
Budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy significantly reduced the risk of episodes of high reliever use (>6 inhalations/day) vs. all alternative ICS/LABA regimens. With conventional fixed-dose treatment the need for exacerbation treatment within 21 days ranged from 6.0–10.1% of days post-index for all regimens compared with 2.5–3.4% of days with budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy.
Budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy reduces the incidence of high reliever episodes and the exacerbation burden immediately following these episodes vs. alternative ICS/LABA plus SABA regimens at up to double the maintenance dose of ICS.
These studies do not have registration numbers as they were conducted before clinical trial registration was required
Asthma; Asthma in primary care
Use of diagnostics in integrated community case management (iCCM) of fever is recognized as an important step in improving rational use of drugs and quality of care for febrile under-five children. This study assessed household access, acceptability and utilization of community health workers (CHWs) trained and provided with malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and respiratory rate timers (RRTs) to practice iCCM.
A total of 423 households with under-five children were enrolled into the study in Iganga district, Uganda. Households were selected from seven villages in Namungalwe sub-county using probability proportionate to size sampling. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to caregivers in selected households. Data were entered into Epidata statistical software, and analysed using SPSS Statistics 17.0, and STATA version 10.
Most (86%, 365/423) households resided within a kilometre of a CHW’s home, compared to 26% (111/423) residing within 1 km of a health facility (p < 0.001). The median walking time by caregivers to a CHW was 10 minutes (IQR 5–20). The first option for care for febrile children in the month preceding the survey was CHWs (40%, 242/601), followed by drug shops (33%, 196/601).
Fifty-seven percent (243/423) of caregivers took their febrile children to a CHW at least once in the three month period preceding the survey. Households located 1–3 km from a health facility were 72% (AOR 1.72; 95% CI 1.11–2.68) more likely to utilize CHW services compared to households within 1 km of a health facility. Households located 1–3 km from a CHW were 81% (AOR 0.19; 95% CI 0.10–0.36) less likely to utilize CHW services compared to those households residing within 1 km of a CHW.
A majority (79%, 336/423) of respondents thought CHWs services were better with RDTs, and 89% (375/423) approved CHWs’ continued use of RDTs. Eighty-six percent (209/243) of respondents who visited a CHW thought RRTs were useful.
ICCM with diagnostics is acceptable, increases access, and is the first choice for caregivers of febrile children. More than half of caregivers of febrile children utilized CHW services over a three-month period. However, one-third of caregivers used drug shops in spite of the presence of CHWs.
Community health worker; Case management; Malaria; Pneumonia; Febrile children; Diagnostics; Access; Acceptability; Utilization; Uganda
Type 2 diabetes is associated with low socioeconomic position (SEP) in high-income countries. Despite the important role of SEP in the development of many diseases, no socioeconomic indicator was included in the Comparative Risk Assessment (CRA) module of the Global Burden of Disease study. We therefore aimed to illustrate an example by estimating the burden of type 2 diabetes in Sweden attributed to lower educational levels as a measure of SEP using the methods applied in the CRA.
To include lower educational levels as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, we pooled relevant international data from a recent systematic review to measure the association between type 2 diabetes incidence and lower educational levels. We also collected data on the distribution of educational levels in the Swedish population using comparable criteria for educational levels as identified in the international literature. Population attributable fractions (PAF) were estimated and applied to the burden of diabetes estimates from the Swedish burden of disease database for men and women in the separate age groups (30-44, 45-59, 60-69, 70-79, and 80+ years).
The PAF estimates showed that 17.2% of the diabetes burden in men and 20.1% of the burden in women were attributed to lower educational levels in Sweden when combining all age groups. The burden was, however, most pronounced in the older age groups (70-79 and 80+), where lower educational levels contributed to 22.5% to 24.5% of the diabetes burden in men and 27.8% to 32.6% in women.
There is a considerable burden of type 2 diabetes attributed to lower educational levels in Sweden, and socioeconomic indicators should be considered to be incorporated in the CRA.
Many newly screened people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Sub-Saharan Africa do not understand the importance of regular pre-antiretroviral (ARV) care because most of them have been counseled by staff who lack basic counseling skills. This results in low uptake of pre-ARV care and late treatment initiation in resource-poor settings. The effect of providing post-test counseling by staff equipped with basic counseling skills, combined with home visits by community support agents on uptake of pre-ARV care for newly diagnosed PLHIV was evaluated through a randomized intervention trial in Uganda.
An intervention trial was performed consisting of post-test counseling by trained counselors, combined with monthly home visits by community support agents for continued counseling to newly screened PLHIV in Iganga district, Uganda between July 2009 and June 2010, Participants (N = 400) from three public recruitment centres were randomized to receive either the intervention, or the standard care (the existing post-test counseling by ARV clinic staff who lack basic training in counseling skills), the control arm. The outcome measure was the proportion of newly screened and counseled PLHIV in either arm who had been to their nearest health center for clinical check-up in the subsequent three months +2 months. Treatment was randomly assigned using computer-generated random numbers. The statistical significance of differences between the two study arms was assessed using chi-square and t-tests for categorical and quantitative data respectively. Risk ratios and 95% confidence intervals were used to assess the effect of the intervention.
Participants in the intervention arm were 80% more likely to accept (take up) pre-ARV care compared to those in the control arm (RR 1.8, 95% CI 1.4-2.1). No adverse events were reported.
Provision of post-test counseling by staff trained in basic counseling skills, combined with home visits by community support agents had a significant effect on uptake of pre-ARV care and appears to be a cost-effective way to increase the prerequisites for timely ARV initiation.
The trial was registered by Current Controlled Trials Ltd C/OBioMed Central Ltd as ISRCTN94133652 and received financial support from Sida and logistical support from the European Commission.
Malaria is hyper-endemic and a major public health problem in Sierra Leone. To provide malaria treatment closer to the community, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched a community-based project where Community Malaria Volunteers (CMVs) tested and treated febrile children and pregnant women for malaria using rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs). RDT-negative patients and severely ill patients were referred to health facilities. This study sought to determine the referral rate and compliance of patients referred by the CMVs.
In MSF's operational area in Bo and Pujehun districts, Sierra Leone, a retrospective analysis of referral records was carried out for a period of three months. All referral records from CMVs and referral health structures were reviewed, compared and matched for personal data. The eligible study population included febrile children between three and 59 months and pregnant women in their second or third trimester with fever who were noted as having received a referral advice in the CMV recording form.
The study results showed a total referral rate of almost 15%. During the study period 36 out of 2,459 (1.5%) referred patients completed their referral. There was a significant difference in referral compliance between patients with fever but a negative RDT and patients with signs of severe malaria. Less than 1% (21/2,442) of the RDT-negative patients with fever completed their referral compared to 88.2% (15/17) of the patients with severe malaria (RR = 0.010 95% CI 0.006 - 0.015).
In this community-based malaria programme, RDT-negative patients with fever were referred to a health structure for further diagnosis and care with a disappointingly low rate of referral completion. This raises concerns whether use of CMVs, with referral as backup in RDT-negative cases, provides adequate care for febrile children and pregnant women. To improve the referral completion in MSF's community-based malaria programme in Sierra Leone, and in similar community-based programmes, a suitable strategy needs to be defined.
Although WHO recommends starting antiretroviral treatment at a CD4 count of 350 cells/[µ]L, many Ugandan districts still struggle with large proportions of clients initiating ART very late at CD4 < 50 cells/[µ]L. This study seeks to establish crucial risk factors for very late ART initiation in eastern Uganda.
All adult HIV-infected clients on ART in Iganga who enrolled between 2005 and 2009 were eligible for this case-control study. Clients who started ART at CD4 cell count of < 50 cells/[µ]L (very late initiators) were classified as cases and 50-200 cells/[µ]L (late initiators) as control subjects. A total of 152 cases and 202 controls were interviewed. Multivariate analyses were performed to calculate adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.
Reported health system-related factors associated with very late ART initiation were stock-outs of antiretroviral drugs stock-outs (affecting 70% of the cases and none of the controls), competition from traditional/spiritual healers (AOR 7.8, 95 CI% 3.7-16.4), and lack of pre-ARV care (AOR 4.6, 95% CI: 2.3-9.3). Men were 60% more likely and subsistence farmers six times more likely (AOR 6.3, 95% CI: 3.1-13.0) to initiate ART very late. Lack of family support tripled the risk of initiating ART very late (AOR 3.3, 95% CI: 1.6-6.6).
Policy makers should prevent ARV stock-outs though effective ARV procurement and supply chain management. New HIV clients should seek pre-ARV care for routine monitoring and determination of ART eligibility. ART services should be more affordable, accessible and user-friendly to make them more attractive than traditional healers
Pre-antiretroviral care; competition form traditional healers; Very late ART initiation
Adjusting medication for uncontrolled asthma involves selecting one of several options from the same or a higher treatment step outlined in asthma guidelines. We examined the relative benefit of introducing budesonide/formoterol (BUD/FORM) maintenance and reliever therapy (Symbicort SMART® Turbuhaler®) in patients previously prescribed treatments from Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) Steps 2, 3 or 4.
This is a post hoc analysis of the results of five large clinical trials (>12000 patients) comparing BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy with other treatments categorised by treatment step at study entry. Both current clinical asthma control during the last week of treatment and exacerbations during the study were examined.
At each GINA treatment step, the proportion of patients achieving target levels of current clinical control were similar or higher with BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy compared with the same or a higher fixed maintenance dose of inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β2-agonist (ICS/LABA) (plus short-acting β2-agonist [SABA] as reliever), and rates of exacerbations were lower at all treatment steps in BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy versus same maintenance dose ICS/LABA (P < 0.01) and at treatment Step 4 versus higher maintenance dose ICS/LABA (P < 0.001). BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy also achieved significantly higher rates of current clinical control and significantly lower exacerbation rates at most treatment steps compared with a higher maintenance dose ICS + SABA (Steps 2-4 for control and Steps 3 and 4 for exacerbations). With all treatments, the proportion of patients achieving current clinical control was lower with increasing treatment steps.
BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy may be a preferable option for patients on Steps 2 to 4 of asthma guidelines requiring a more effective treatment and, compared with other fixed dose alternatives, is most effective in the higher treatment steps.
Four million neonatal deaths are estimated to occur each year and almost all in low income countries, especially among the poorest. There is a paucity of data on newborn health from sub-Saharan Africa and few studies have assessed inequity in uptake of newborn care practices. We assessed socioeconomic differences in use of newborn care practices in order to inform policy and programming in Uganda.
All mothers with infants aged 1-4 months (n = 414) in a Demographic Surveillance Site were interviewed. Households were stratified into quintiles of socioeconomic status (SES). Three composite outcomes (good neonatal feeding, good cord care, and optimal thermal care) were created by combining related individual practices from a list of twelve antenatal/essential newborn care practices. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to identify determinants of each dichotomised composite outcome.
There were low levels of coverage of newborn care practices among both the poorest and the least poor. SES and place of birth were not associated with any of the composite newborn care practices. Of newborns, 46% had a facility delivery and only 38% were judged to have had good cord care, 42% optimal thermal care, and 57% were considered to have had adequate neonatal feeding. Mothers were putting powder on the cord; using a bottle to feed the baby; and mixing/replacing breast milk with various substitutes. Multiparous mothers were less likely to have safe cord practices (OR 0.5, CI 0.3 - 0.9) as were mothers whose labour began at night (OR 0.6, CI 0.4 - 0.9).
Newborn care practices in this setting are low and do not differ much by socioeconomic group. Despite being established policy, most neonatal interventions are not reaching newborns, suggesting a "policy-to-practice gap". To improve newborn survival, newborn care should be integrated into the current maternal and child interventions, and should be implemented at both community and health facility level as part of a universal coverage strategy.
Uganda implemented health sector reforms to make services more accessible to the population. An assessment of the likely impact of these reforms is important for informing policy. This paper describes the changes in utilization of health services that occurred among the poor and those in rural areas between 2002/3 and 2005/6 and associated factors.
Secondary data analysis was done using the socio-economic component of the Uganda National Household Surveys 2002/03 and 2005/06. The poor were identified from wealth quintiles constructed using an asset based index derived from Principal Components Analysis (PCA). The probability of choice of health care provider was assessed using multinomial logistic regression and multi-level statistical models.
The odds of not seeking care in 2005/6 were 1.79 times higher than in 2002/3 (OR = 1.79; 95% CI 1.65 - 1.94). The rural population experienced a 43% reduction in the risk of not seeking care because of poor geographical access (OR = 0.57; 95% CI 0.48 - 0.67). The risk of not seeking care due to high costs did not change significantly. Private for profit providers (PFP) were the major providers of services in 2002/3 and 2005/6. Using PFP as base category, respondents were more likely to have used private not for profit (PNFP) in 2005/6 than in 2002/3 (OR = 2.15; 95% CI 1.58 - 2.92), and also more likely to use public facilities in 2005/6 than 2002/3 (OR = 1.31; 95% CI 1.15 - 1.48). The most poor, females, rural residents, and those from elderly headed households were more likely to use public facilities relative to PFP.
Although overall utilization of public and PNFP services by rural and poor populations had increased, PFP remained the major source of care. The odds of not seeking care due to distance decreased in rural areas but cost continued to be an important barrier to seeking health services for residents from poor, rural, and elderly headed households. Policy makers should consider targeting subsidies to the poor and rural populations. Public private partnerships should be broadened to increase access to health services among the vulnerable.
In many low-income countries, children are at high risk of iodine deficiency disorders, including brain damage. In the early 1990s, Tanzania, a country that previously suffered from moderate to severe iodine deficiency, adopted universal salt iodation (USI) as an intervention strategy, but its impact remained unknown.
We report on the first national survey in mainland Tanzania, conducted in 2004 to assess the extent to which iodated salt was used and its apparent impact on the total goitre prevalence (TGP) and urinary iodine concentrations (UIC) among the schoolchildren after USI was initiated. In 2004, a cross-sectional goitre survey was conducted; covering 140,758 schoolchildren aged 6 - 18 years were graded for goitre according to new WHO goitre classification system. Comparisons were made with district surveys conducted throughout most of the country during the 1980s and 90s. 131,941 salt samples from households were tested for iodine using rapid field test kits. UIC was determined spectrophotometrically using the ammonium persulfate digestion method in 4523 sub-sampled children.
83.6% (95% CI: 83.4 - 83.8) of salt samples tested positive for iodine. Whereas the TGP was about 25% on average in the earlier surveys, it was 6.9% (95%CI: 6.8-7.0) in 2004. The TGP for the younger children, 6-9 years old, was 4.2% (95%CI: 4.0-4.4), n = 41,965. In the 27 goitre-endemic districts, TGP decreased from 61% (1980s) to 12.3% (2004). The median UIC was 204 (95% CF: 192-215) μg/L. Only 25% of children had UIC <100 μg/L and 35% were ≥ 300 μg/L, indicating low and excess iodine intake, respectively.
Our study demonstrates a marked improvement in iodine nutrition in Tanzania, twelve years after the initiation of salt iodation programme. The challenge in sustaining IDD elimination in Tanzania is now two-fold: to better reach the areas with low coverage of iodated salt, and to reduce iodine intake in areas where it is excessive. Particular attention is needed in improving quality control at production level and perhaps the national salt iodation regulations may need to be reviewed.
Healthcare utilization has particular relevance as a public health and development issue. Unlike material and human capital, there is little empirical evidence on the utility of social resources in overcoming barriers to healthcare utilization in a developing country context. We sought to assess the relevance of social resources in overcoming barriers to healthcare utilization.
To explore community perceptions among three different wealth categories on factors influencing healthcare utilization in Eastern Uganda.
We used a qualitative study design using Focus Group Discussions (FGD) to conduct the study. Community meetings were initially held to identify FGD participants in the different wealth categories, ('least poor', 'medium' and 'poorest') using poverty ranking based on ownership of assets and income sources. Nine FGDs from three homogenous wealth categories were conducted. Data from the FGDs was analyzed using content analysis revealing common barriers as well as facilitating factors for healthcare service utilization by wealth categories. The Health Access Livelihood Framework was used to examine and interpret the findings.
Barriers to healthcare utilization exist for all the wealth categories along three different axes including: the health seeking process; health services delivery; and the ownership of livelihood assets. Income source, transport ownership, and health literacy were reported as centrally useful in overcoming some barriers to healthcare utilization for the 'least poor' and 'poor' wealth categories. The 'poorest' wealth category was keen to utilize free public health services. Conversely, there are perceptions that public health facilities were perceived to offer low quality care with chronic gaps such as shortages of essential supplies. In addition to individual material resources and the availability of free public healthcare services, social resources are perceived as important in overcoming utilization barriers. However, there are indications that having access to social resources may compensate for the lack of material resources in relation to use of health care services mainly for the least poor wealth category.
The differential patterning of social resources may explain or contribute to the persisting inequities in health care utilization. Additional research using quantitative analytical methods is needed to test the robustness of the contribution of social resources to the utilization of and access to healthcare services.
Universal salt iodation will prevent iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). Globally, salt-iodation technologies mostly target large and medium-scale salt-producers. Since most producers in low-income countries are small-scale, we examined and improved the performance of hand and knapsack-sprayers used locally in Tanzania.
We studied three salt facilities on the Bagamoyo coast, investigating procedures for preparing potassium-iodate solution, salt spraying and mixing. Different concentrations of solution were prepared and tested using different iodation methods, with the aim of attaining correct and homogeneous iodine levels under real-life conditions. Levels achieved by manual mixing were compared to those achieved by machine mixing.
The overall median iodation level in samples of salt iodated using previously existing methods was 10.6 ppm (range 1.1 – 110.0 ppm), with much higher levels in the top than the bottom layers of the salt bags, p < 0.0001. Experimentation using knapsack-sprayers and manual mixing led to the reliable achievement of levels (60.9 ppm ± 7.4) that fell within the recommended range of 40 – 80 ppm. The improved methods yielded homogenous iodine concentrations in all layers of salt-bags (p = 0.58) with 96% of the samples (n = 45) falling within 40 – 80 ppm compared to only 9% (n = 45) before the experiment and training (p < 0.0001). For knapsack-spraying, a machine mixer improved the iodine levels and homogeneity slightly compared to manual mixing (p = 0.05).
Supervised, standardized salt iodation procedures adapted to local circumstances can yield homogeneous iodine levels within the required range, overcoming a major obstacle to universal salt iodation.
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.