Debate exists regarding which endpoints most sensitively reflect day-to-day variation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms and are most useful in clinical practice to predict COPD exacerbations. We hypothesized that short-acting β2-agonist (SABA) reliever use would predict short- and long-term exacerbation risk in COPD patients.
We performed a retrospective analysis of data from a study (ClinicalTrials.gov registration: NCT00419744) comparing budesonide/formoterol 320/9 μg with formoterol 9 μg (both twice daily) in patients with moderate-to-very-severe COPD; reliever salbutamol 90 μg was provided. First occurrence of reliever use >4 (low), >10 (medium), and >20 (high) inhalations/day was assessed as a predictor of short-term (3-week) exacerbation risk. Mean daily reliever use in the week preceding the 2-month visit was investigated as a predictor of the long-term (10-month) exacerbation risk, using intervals of 2–5, 6–9, and ≥10 inhalations/day.
Overall, 810 patients were included (61 % male; mean age 63.2 years; post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 s 37.7 % of predicted). First occurrence of low, medium, or high reliever use was predictive of an exacerbation within the following 3 weeks; exacerbation risk increased significantly with increasing reliever use. Mean reliever use over 1 week was predictive of long-term exacerbation risk. Patients with mean use of 2–5, 6–9, and ≥10 inhalations/day exhibited 21 %, 67 %, and 135 % higher exacerbation rates, respectively, in the following 10 months, compared with <2 inhalations/day. Budesonide/formoterol was associated with lower short- and long-term exacerbation risk than formoterol in all reliever-use groups.
SABA reliever use is a predictor of short- and long-term exacerbation risk in moderate-to-very-severe COPD patients with a history of exacerbations receiving budesonide/formoterol or formoterol.
COPD; Budesonide/formoterol; Exacerbation; Reliever medication; Predictor
The Community and District Empowerment for Scale-up (CODES) project pioneered the implementation of a comprehensive district management and community empowerment intervention in five districts in Uganda. In order to improve effective coverage and quality of child survival interventions CODES combines UNICEF tools designed to systematize priority setting, allocation of resources and problem solving with Community dialogues based on Citizen Report Cards and U-Reports used to engage and empower communities in monitoring health service provision and to demand for quality services. This paper presents early implementation experiences in five pilot districts and lessons learnt during the first 2 years of implementation.
This qualitative study was comprised of 38 in-depth interviews with members of the District Health Teams (DHTs) and two implementing partners. These were supplemented by observations during implementation and documents review. Thematic analysis was used to distill early implementation experiences and lessons learnt from the process.
All five districts health teams with support from the implementing partners were able to adopt the UNICEF tools and to develop district health operational work plans that were evidence-based. Members of the DHTs described the approach introduced by the CODES project as a more systematic planning process and very much appreciated it. Districts were also able to implement some of the priority activities included in their work plans but limited financial resources and fiscal decision space constrained the implementation of some activities that were prioritized. Community dialogues based on Citizen Report Cards (CRC) increased community awareness of available health care services, their utilization and led to discussions on service delivery, barriers to service utilization and processes for improvement. Community dialogues were also instrumental in bringing together service users, providers and leaders to discuss problems and find solutions. The dialogues however are more likely to be sustainable if embedded in existing community structures and conducted by district based facilitators. U report as a community feedback mechanism registered a low response rate.
The UNICEF tools were adopted at district level and generally well perceived by the DHTs. The limited resources and fiscal decision space however can hinder implementation of prioritized activities. Community dialogues based on CRCs can bring service providers and the community together but need to be embedded in existing community structures for sustainability.
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Drug shops are usually the first source of care for febrile children in Uganda although the quality of care they provide is known to be poor. Within a larger quasi-experimental study introducing the WHO/UNICEF recommended integrated community case management (iCCM) of malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea intervention for community health workers in registered drug shops, the level of adherence to clinical protocols by drug sellers was determined.
All drug shops (N = 44) in the intervention area were included and all child visits (N = 7,667) from October 2011–June 2012 to the participating drug shops were analysed. Drug shops maintained a standard iCCM register where they recorded the children seen, their symptoms, diagnostic test performed, treatments given and actions taken. The proportion of children correctly assessed and treated was determined from the registers.
Malaria management: 6,140 of 7,667 (80.1%) total visits to drug shops were of children with fever. 5986 (97.5%) children with fever received a malaria rapid diagnostic test (RDT) and the RDT positivity rate was 78% (95% CI 77–79). 4,961/5,307 (93.4%) children with a positive RDT received artemisinin combination therapy. Pneumonia management: after respiratory rate assessment of children with cough and fast/difficult breathing, 3,437 (44.8%) were categorized as “pneumonia”, 3,126 (91.0%) of whom received the recommended drug—amoxicillin. Diarrhoea management: 2,335 (30.5%) child visits were for diarrhoea with 2,068 (88.6%) correctly treated with oral rehydration salts and zinc sulphate. Dual/Triple classification: 2,387 (31.1%) children had both malaria and pneumonia and 664 (8.7%) were classified as having three illnesses. Over 90% of the children with dual or triple classification were treated appropriately. Meanwhile, 381 children were categorized as severely sick (with a danger sign) with 309 (81.1%) of them referred for appropriate management.
With the introduction of the iCCM intervention at drug shops in Eastern Uganda, it was possible to achieve high adherence to the treatment protocols, which is likely compatible with increased quality of care.
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To estimate effective coverage of maternal and newborn health interventions and to identify bottlenecks in their implementation in rural districts of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Cross-sectional data from households and health facilities in Tandahimba and Newala districts were used in the analysis. We adapted Tanahashi’s model to estimate intervention coverage in conditional stages and to identify implementation bottlenecks in access, health facility readiness and clinical practice. The interventions studied were syphilis and pre-eclampsia screening, partograph use, active management of the third stage of labour and postpartum care.
Effective coverage was low in both districts, ranging from only 3% for postpartum care in Tandahimba to 49% for active management of the third stage of labour in Newala. In Tandahimba, health facility readiness was the largest bottleneck for most interventions, whereas in Newala, it was access. Clinical practice was another large bottleneck for syphilis screening in both districts.
The poor effective coverage of maternal and newborn health interventions in rural districts of the United Republic of Tanzania reinforces the need to prioritize health service quality. Access to high-quality local data by decision-makers would assist planning and prioritization. The approach of estimating effective coverage and identifying bottlenecks described here could facilitate progress towards universal health coverage for any area of care and in any context.
In 2010, WHO revised guidelines to recommend testing all suspected malaria cases prior to treatment. Yet, evidence to assess programmes is largely derived from limited facility settings in a limited number of countries. National surveys from 12 sub-Saharan African countries were used to examine the effect of diagnostic testing on medicines used by febrile children under five years at the population level, including stratification by malaria risk, transmission season, source of care, symptoms, and age.
Data were compiled from 12 Demographic and Health Surveys in 2010–2012 that reported fever prevalence, diagnostic test and medicine use, and socio-economic covariates (n = 16,323 febrile under-fives taken to care). Mixed-effects logistic regression models quantified the influence of diagnostic testing on three outcomes (artemisinin combination therapy (ACT), any anti-malarial or any antibiotic use) after adjusting for data clustering and confounding covariates. For each outcome, interactions between diagnostic testing and the following covariates were separately tested: malaria risk, season, source of care, symptoms, and age. A multiple case study design was used to understand varying results across selected countries and sub-national groups, which drew on programme documents, published research and expert consultations. A descriptive typology of plausible explanations for quantitative results was derived from a cross-case synthesis.
Significant variability was found in the effect of diagnostic testing on ACT use across countries (e.g., Uganda OR: 0.84, 95% CI: 0.66-1.06; Mozambique OR: 3.54, 95% CI: 2.33-5.39). Four main themes emerged to explain results: available diagnostics and medicines; quality of care; care-seeking behaviour; and, malaria epidemiology.
Significant country variation was found in the effect of diagnostic testing on paediatric fever treatment at the population level, and qualitative results suggest the impact of diagnostic scale-up on treatment practices may not be straightforward in routine conditions given contextual factors (e.g., access to care, treatment-seeking behaviour or supply stock-outs). Despite limitations, quantitative results could help identify countries (e.g., Mozambique) or issues (e.g., malaria risk) where facility-based research or programme attention may be warranted. The mixed-methods approach triangulates different evidence to potentially provide a standard framework to assess routine programmes across countries or over time to fill critical evidence gaps.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12936-015-0709-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Malaria; Diagnosis; Child health; Fever case management; Population-based surveys; Case studies; Mixed-methods
In Uganda and elsewhere, the private sector provides an increasing and significant proportion of maternal and child health services. However, little is known whether private care results in better quality services and improved outcomes compared to the public sector, especially regarding care at the time of birth.
To describe the characteristics of care-seekers and assess newborn care practices and services received at public and private facilities in rural eastern Uganda.
Within a community-based maternal and newborn care intervention with health systems strengthening, we collected data from mothers with infants at baseline and endline using a structured questionnaire. Descriptive, bivariate, and multivariate data analysis comparing nine newborn care practices and three composite newborn care indicators among private and public health facilities was conducted.
The proportion of women giving birth at private facilities decreased from 25% at baseline to 17% at endline, whereas overall facility births increased. Private health facilities did not perform significantly better than public health facilities in terms of coverage of any essential newborn care interventions, and babies were more likely to receive thermal care practices in public facilities compared to private (68% compared to 60%, p=0.007). Babies born at public health facilities received an average of 7.0 essential newborn care interventions compared to 6.2 at private facilities (p<0.001). Women delivering in private facilities were more likely to have higher parity, lower socio-economic status, less education, to seek antenatal care later in pregnancy, and to have a normal delivery compared to women delivering in public facilities.
In this setting, private health facilities serve a vulnerable population and provide access to service for those who might not otherwise have it. However, provision of essential newborn care practices was slightly lower in private compared to public facilities, calling for quality improvement in both private and public sector facilities, and a greater emphasis on tracking access to and quality of care in private sector facilities.
newborn health; private health care; public health care; essential newborn care; Uganda
In Uganda maternal and neonatal mortality remains high due to a number of factors, including poor quality of care at health facilities.
This paper describes the experience of building capacity for maternal and newborn care at a district hospital and lower-level health facilities in eastern Uganda within the existing system parameters and a robust community outreach programme.
This health system strengthening study, part of the Uganda Newborn Study (UNEST), aimed to increase frontline health worker capacity through district-led training, support supervision, and mentoring at one district hospital and 19 lower-level facilities. A once-off supply of essential medicines and equipment was provided to address immediate critical gaps. Health workers were empowered to requisition subsequent supplies through use of district resources. Minimal infrastructure adjustments were provided. Quantitative data collection was done within routine process monitoring and qualitative data were collected during support supervision visits. We use the World Health Organization Health System Building Blocks to describe the process of district-led health facility strengthening.
Seventy two per cent of eligible health workers were trained. The mean post-training knowledge score was 68% compared to 32% in the pre-training test, and 80% 1 year later. Health worker skills and competencies in care of high-risk babies improved following support supervision and mentoring. Health facility deliveries increased from 3,151 to 4,115 (a 30% increase) in 2 years. Of 547 preterm babies admitted to the newly introduced kangaroo mother care (KMC) unit, 85% were discharged alive to continue KMC at home. There was a non-significant declining trend for in-hospital neonatal deaths across the 2-year study period. While equipment levels remained high after initial improvement efforts, maintaining supply of even the most basic medications was a challenge, with less than 40% of health facilities reporting no stock-outs.
Health system strengthening for care at birth and the newborn period is possible even in low-resource settings and can be associated with improved utilisation and outcomes. Through a participatory process with wide engagement, training, and improvements to support supervision and logistics, health workers were able to change behaviours and practices for maternal and newborn care. Local solutions are needed to ensure sustainability of medical commodities.
health system strengthening; maternal care; newborn care; neonatal mortality; kangaroo mother care; Uganda
The first week of life is the time of greatest risk of death and disability, and is also associated with many traditional beliefs and practices. Identifying sick newborns in the community and referring them to health facilities is a key strategy to reduce deaths. Although a growing area of interest, there remains a lack of data on the role of sociocultural norms and practices on newborn healthcare-seeking in sub-Saharan Africa and the extent to which these norms can be modified.
This study aimed to understand the community's perspective of potential sociocultural barriers and facilitators to compliance with newborn referral.
In this qualitative study, focus group discussions (n=12) were conducted with mothers and fathers of babies aged less than 3 months. In addition, in-depth interviews (n=11) were also held with traditional birth attendants and mothers who had been referred by community health workers to seek health-facility-based care. Participants were purposively selected from peri-urban and rural communities in two districts in eastern Uganda. Data were analysed using latent content analysis.
The community definition of a newborn varied, but this was most commonly defined by the period between birth and the umbilical cord stump falling off. During this period, newborns are perceived to be vulnerable to the environment and many mothers and their babies are kept in seclusion, although this practice may be changing. Sociocultural factors that influence compliance with newborn referrals to seek care emerged along three sub-themes: community understanding of the newborn period and cultural expectations; the role of community health actors; and caretaker knowledge, experience, and decision-making autonomy.
In this setting, there is discrepancy between biomedical and community definitions of the newborn period. There were a number of sociocultural factors that could potentially affect compliance to newborn referral. The widely practised cultural seclusion period, knowledge about newborn sickness, individual experiences in households, perceived health system gaps, and decision-making processes were facilitators of or barriers to compliance with newborn referral. Designers of newborn interventions need to address locally existing cultural beliefs at the same time as they strengthen facility care.
care-seeking; newborn; neonatal; qualitative; referral; sociocultural influences; Uganda
Stillbirths do not register amongst national or global public health priorities, despite large numbers and known solutions. Although not accounted in statistics – these deaths count for families. Part of this disconnect is that very little is known about the lived experiences and perceptions of those experiencing this neglected problem.
This study aimed to explore local definitions and perceived causes of stillbirths as well as coping mechanisms used by families affected by stillbirth in rural eastern Uganda.
A total of 29 in-depth interviews were conducted with women who had a stillbirth (14), men whose wives experienced a stillbirth (6), grandmothers (4), grandfathers (1), and traditional birth attendants (TBAs) (4). Participants were purposively recruited from the hospital maternity ward register, with additional recruitment done through community leaders and other participants. Data were analysed using content analysis.
Women and families affected by stillbirth report pregnancy loss as a common occurrence. Definitions and causes of stillbirth included the biomedical, societal, and spiritual. Disclosure of stillbirth varies with women who experience consecutive or multiple losses, subject to potential exclusion from the community and even the family. Methods for coping with stillbirth were varied and personal. Ritual burial practices were common, yet silent and mainly left to women, as opposed to public mourning for older children. There were no formal health system mechanisms to support or care for families affected by stillbirths.
In a setting with strong collective ties, stillbirths are a burden borne by the affected family, and often just by the mother, rather than the community as a whole. Strategies are needed to address preventable stillbirths as well as to follow up with supportive services for those affected.
stillbirth; pregnancy loss; Uganda; maternal health; postpartum depression; traditional birth attendants
Care for women and babies before, during, and after the time of birth is a sensitive measure of the functionality of any health system. Engaging communities in preventing newborn deaths is a promising strategy to achieve further progress in child survival in sub-Saharan Africa.
To assess the effect of a home visit strategy combined with health facility strengthening on uptake of newborn care-seeking, practices and services, and to link the results to national policy and scale-up in Uganda.
The Uganda Newborn Study (UNEST) was a two-arm cluster-randomised controlled trial in rural eastern Uganda. In intervention villages volunteer community health workers (CHWs) were trained to identify pregnant women and make five home visits (two during pregnancy and three in the first week after birth) to offer preventive and promotive care and counselling, with extra visits for sick and small newborns to assess and refer. Health facility strengthening was done in all facilities to improve quality of care. Primary outcomes were coverage of key essential newborn care behaviours (breastfeeding, thermal care, and cord care). Analyses were by intention to treat. This study is registered as a clinical trial, number ISRCTN50321130.
The intervention significantly improved essential newborn care practices, although many interventions saw major increases in both arms over the study period. Immediate breastfeeding after birth and exclusive breastfeeding were significantly higher in the intervention arm compared to the control arm (72.6% vs. 66.0%; p=0.016 and 81.8% vs. 75.9%, p=0.042, respectively). Skin-to-skin care immediately after birth and cord cutting with a clean instrument were marginally higher in the intervention arm versus the control arm (80.7% vs. 72.2%; p=0.071 and 88.1% vs. 84.4%; p=0.023, respectively). Half (49.6%) of the mothers in the intervention arm waited more than 24 hours to bathe the baby, compared to 35.5% in the control arm (p<0.001). Dry umbilical cord care was also significantly higher in intervention areas (63.9% vs. 53.1%, p<0.001). There was no difference in care-seeking for newborn illness, which was high (around 95%) in both arms. Skilled attendance at delivery increased in both the intervention (by 21%) and control arms (by 19%) between baseline and endline, but there was no significant difference in coverage across arms at endline (79.6% vs. 78.9%; p=0.717). Home visits were pro-poor, with more women in the poorest quintile visited by a CHW compared to families in the least poor quintile, and more women who delivered at home visited by a CHW after birth (73.6%) compared to those who delivered in a hospital or health facility (59.7%) (p<0.001). CHWs visited 62.8% of women and newborns in the first week after birth, with 40.2% receiving a visit on the critical first day of life.
Consistent with results from other community newborn care studies, volunteer CHWs can be effective in changing long-standing practices around newborn care. The home visit strategy may provide greater benefit to poorer families. However, CHW strategies require strong linkages with and concurrent improvement of quality through health system strengthening, especially in settings with high and increasing demand for facility-based services.
community health workers; health system strengthening; kangaroo mother care; maternal care; newborn care; neonatal mortality; randomised controlled trial; Uganda
There is a lack of literature on how to adapt new evidence-based interventions for maternal and newborn care into local health systems and policy for rapid scale-up, particularly for community-based interventions in low-income settings. The Uganda Newborn Study (UNEST) was a cluster randomised control trial to test a community-based care package which was rapidly taken up at national level. Understanding this process may help inform other studies looking to design and evaluate with scale-up in mind.
This study aimed to describe the process of using evidence to design a community-based maternal and newborn care package in rural eastern Uganda, and to determine the dissemination and advocacy approaches used to facilitate rapid policy change and national uptake.
We reviewed UNEST project literature including meeting reports and minutes, supervision reports, and annual and midterm reports. National stakeholders, project and district staff were interviewed regarding their role in the study and perceptions of what contributed to uptake of the package under evaluation. Data related to UNEST formative research, study design, implementation and policy influence were extracted and analysed.
An advisory committee of key players in development of maternal and newborn policies and programmes in Uganda was constituted from many agencies and disciplines. Baseline qualitative and quantitative data collection was done at district, community and facility level to examine applicability of aspects of a proposed newborn care package to the local setting. Data were summarised and presented to stakeholders to adapt the intervention that was ultimately tested. Quarterly monitoring of key activities and events around the interventions were used to further inform implementation. The UNEST training package, home visit schedule and behaviour change counselling materials were incorporated into the national Village Health Team and Integrated Community Case Management packages while the study was ongoing.
Designing interventions for national scale-up requires strategies and planning from the outset. Use of evidence alongside engagement of key stakeholders and targeted advocacy about the burden and potential solutions is important when adapting interventions to local health systems and communities. This approach has the potential to rapidly translate research into policy, but care must be taken not to exceed available evidence while seizing the policy opportunity.
newborn health; maternal health; community health worker; pregnancy; postnatal care; Uganda; formative research; health policy
There is no clinically useful score to predict chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations. We aimed to derive this by analyzing data from three existing COPD clinical trials of budesonide/formoterol, formoterol, or placebo in patients with moderate-to-very-severe COPD and a history of exacerbations in the previous year.
Predictive variables were selected using Cox regression for time to first severe COPD exacerbation. We determined absolute risk estimates for an exacerbation by identifying variables in a binomial model, adjusting for observation time, study, and treatment. The model was further reduced to clinically useful variables and the final regression coefficients scaled to obtain risk scores of 0–100 to predict an exacerbation within 6 months. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves and the corresponding C-index were used to investigate the discriminatory properties of predictive variables.
The best predictors of an exacerbation in the next 6 months were more COPD maintenance medications prior to the trial, higher mean daily reliever use, more exacerbations during the previous year, lower forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity ratio, and female sex. Using these risk variables, we developed a score to predict short-term (6-month) risk of COPD exacerbations (SCOPEX). Budesonide/formoterol reduced future exacerbation risk more than formoterol or as-needed short-acting β2-agonist (salbutamol).
SCOPEX incorporates easily identifiable patient characteristics and can be readily applied in clinical practice to target therapy to reduce COPD exacerbations in patients at the highest risk.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; exacerbation; model; predictor; inhaled corticosteroids; bronchodilators
Drug shops are a major source of care for children in low income countries but they provide sub-standard care. We assessed the feasibility and effect on quality of care of introducing diagnostics and pre-packaged paediatric-dosage drugs for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea at drug shops in Uganda.
We adopted and implemented the integrated community case management (iCCM) intervention within registered drug shops. Attendants were trained to perform malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) in each fever case and count respiratory rate in each case of cough with fast/difficult breathing, before dispensing recommended treatment. Using a quasi-experimental design in one intervention and one non-intervention district, we conducted before and after exit interviews for drug seller practices and household surveys for treatment-seeking practices in May–June 2011 and May–June 2012. Survey adjusted generalized linear models and difference-in-difference analysis was used.
3759 (1604 before/2155 after) household interviews and 943 (163 before/780 after) exit interviews were conducted with caretakers of children under-5. At baseline, no child at a drug shop received any diagnostic testing before treatment in both districts. After the intervention, while no child in the non-intervention district received a diagnostic test, 87.7% (95% CI 79.0–96.4) of children with fever at the intervention district drug shops had a parasitological diagnosis of malaria, prior to treatment. The prevalence ratios of the effect of the intervention on treatment of cough and fast breathing with amoxicillin and diarrhoea with ORS/zinc at the drug shop were 2.8 (2.0–3.9), and 12.8 (4.2–38.6) respectively. From the household survey, the prevalence ratio of the intervention effect on use of RDTs was 3.2 (1.9–5.4); Artemisinin Combination Therapy for malaria was 0.74 (0.65–0.84), and ORS/zinc for diarrhoea was 2.3 (1.2–4.7).
iCCM can be utilized to improve access and appropriateness of care for children at drug shops.
Despite substantial investments made over the past 40 years in low income countries, governments cannot be viewed as the principal health care provider in many countries. Evidence on the role of the private sector in the delivery of health services is becoming increasingly available. In this study, we set out to determine the extent to which the private sector has been utilized in providing integrated care for sick children under 5 years of age with community–acquired malaria, pneumonia or diarrhoea.
We reviewed the published literature for integrated community case management (iCCM) related experiences within both the public and private sector. We searched PubMed and Google/Google Scholar for all relevant literature until July 2014. The search terms used were “malaria”, “pneumonia”, “diarrhoea”, “private sector” and “community case management”.
A total of 383 articles referred to malaria, pneumonia or diarrhoea in the private sector. The large majority of these studies (290) were only malaria related. Most of the iCCM–related studies evaluated introduction of only malaria drugs and/or diagnostics into the private sector. Only one study evaluated the introduction of drugs and diagnostics for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea in the private sector. In contrast, most iCCM–related studies in the public sector directly reported on community case management of 2 or more of the illnesses.
While the private sector is an important source of care for children in low income countries, little has been done to harness the potential of this sector in improving access to care for non–malaria–associated fever in children within the community. It would be logical for iCCM programs to expand their activities to include the private sector to achieve higher population coverage. An implementation research agenda for private sector integrated care of febrile childhood illness needs to be developed and implemented in conjunction with private sector intervention programs.
To systematically identify global research gaps and resource priorities for integrated community case management (iCCM).
An iCCM Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) Advisory Group, in collaboration with the Community Case Management Operational Research Group (CCM ORG) identified experts to participate in a CHNRI research priority setting exercise. These experts generated and systematically ranked research questions for iCCM. Research questions were ranked using a “Research Priority Score” (RPS) and the “Average Expert Agreement” (AEA) was calculated for every question. Our groups of experts were comprised of both individuals working in Ministries of Health or Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in low– and middle–income countries (LMICs) and individuals working in high–income countries (HICs) in academia or NGO headquarters. A Spearman’s Rho was calculated to determine the correlation between the two groups’ research questions’ ranks.
The overall RPS ranged from 64.58 to 89.31, with a median score of 81.43. AEA scores ranged from 0.54 to 0.86. Research questions involving increasing the uptake of iCCM services, research questions concerning the motivation, retention, training and supervision of Community Health Workers (CHWs) and concerning adding additional responsibilities including counselling for infant and young child feeding (IYCF) and treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) ranked highly. There was weak to moderate, statistically significant, correlation between scores by representatives of high–income countries and those working in–country or regionally (Spearman’s ρ = 0.35034, P < 0.01).
Operational research to determine optimal training, supervision and modes of motivation and retention for the CHW is vital for improving iCCM, globally, as is research to motivate caregivers to take advantage of iCCM services. Experts working in–country or regionally in LMICs prioritized different research questions than those working in organization headquarters in HICs. Further exploration is needed to determine the nature of this divergence.
The lack of high quality timely data for evidence-informed decision making at the district level presents a challenge to improving maternal and newborn survival in low income settings. To address this problem, the EQUIP project (Expanded Quality Management using Information Power) implemented a continuous household and health facility survey for continuous feedback of data in two districts each in Tanzania and Uganda as part of a quality improvement innovation for mothers and newborns.
Within EQUIP, continuous survey data were used for quality improvement (intervention districts) and for effect evaluation (intervention and comparison districts). Over 30 months of intervention (November 2011 to April 2014), EQUIP conducted continuous cross-sectional household and health facility surveys using 24 independent probability samples of household clusters to represent each district each month, and repeat censuses of all government health facilities. Using repeat samples in this way allowed data to be aggregated at six four-monthly intervals to track progress over time for evaluation, and for continuous feedback to quality improvement teams in intervention districts.
In both countries, one continuous survey team of eight people was employed to complete approximately 7,200 household and 200 facility interviews in year one. Data were collected using personal digital assistants. After every four months, routine tabulations of indicators were produced and synthesized to report cards for use by the quality improvement teams.
The first 12 months were implemented as planned. Completion of household interviews was 96% in Tanzania and 91% in Uganda. Indicators across the continuum of care were tabulated every four months, results discussed by quality improvement teams, and report cards generated to support their work.
The EQUIP continuous surveys were feasible to implement as a method to continuously generate and report on demand and supply side indicators for maternal and newborn health; they have potential to be expanded to include other health topics. Documenting the design and implementation of a continuous data collection and feedback mechanism for prospective description, quality improvement, and evaluation in a low-income setting potentially represents a new paradigm that places equal weight on data systems for course correction, as well as evaluation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-014-0112-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Continuous survey; Quality improvement; Maternal and newborn health; Tanzania; Uganda
The increasing antibiotic resistance is a global threat to health care as we know it. Yet there is no model of distribution ready for a new antibiotic that balances access against excessive or inappropriate use in rural settings in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where the burden of communicable diseases is high and access to quality health care is low. Departing from a hypothetical scenario of rising antibiotic resistance among pneumococci, 11 stakeholders in the health systems of various LMICs were interviewed one-on-one to give their view on how a new effective antibiotic should be distributed to balance access against the risk of inappropriate use. Transcripts were subjected to qualitative ‘framework’ analysis. The analysis resulted in four main themes: Barriers to rational access to antibiotics; balancing access and excess; learning from other communicable diseases; and a system-wide intervention. The tension between access to antibiotics and rational use stems from shortcomings found in the health systems of LMICs. Constructing a sustainable yet accessible model of antibiotic distribution for LMICs is a task of health system-wide proportions, which is why we strongly suggest using systems thinking in future research on this issue.
Antibiotic distribution; antibiotic resistance; ethics; rational use; systems thinking
In 2010, the World Health Organization revised guidelines to recommend diagnosis of all suspected malaria cases prior to treatment. There has been no systematic assessment of malaria test uptake for pediatric fevers at the population level as countries start implementing guidelines. We examined test use for pediatric fevers in relation to malaria endemicity and treatment-seeking behavior in multiple sub-Saharan African countries in initial years of implementation.
Methods and Findings
We compiled data from national population-based surveys reporting fever prevalence, care-seeking and diagnostic use for children under five years in 13 sub-Saharan African countries in 2009–2011/12 (n = 105,791). Mixed-effects logistic regression models quantified the influence of source of care and malaria endemicity on test use after adjusting for socioeconomic covariates. Results were stratified by malaria endemicity categories: low (PfPR2–10<5%), moderate (PfPR2–10 5–40%), high (PfPR2–10>40%). Among febrile under-fives surveyed, 16.9% (95% CI: 11.8%–21.9%) were tested. Compared to hospitals, febrile children attending non-hospital sources (OR: 0.62, 95% CI: 0.56–0.69) and community health workers (OR: 0.31, 95% CI: 0.23–0.43) were less often tested. Febrile children in high-risk areas had reduced odds of testing compared to low-risk settings (OR: 0.51, 95% CI: 0.42–0.62). Febrile children in least poor households were more often tested than in poorest (OR: 1.63, 95% CI: 1.39–1.91), as were children with better-educated mothers compared to least educated (OR: 1.33, 95% CI: 1.16–1.54).
Diagnostic testing of pediatric fevers was low and inequitable at the outset of new guidelines. Greater testing is needed at lower or less formal sources where pediatric fevers are commonly managed, particularly to reach the poorest. Lower test uptake in high-risk settings merits further investigation given potential implications for diagnostic scale-up in these areas. Findings could inform continued implementation of new guidelines to improve access to and equity in point-of-care diagnostics use for pediatric fevers.
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
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.
Efforts to improve access to treatment for common illnesses in children less than five years initially targeted malaria alone under the home management of malaria strategy. However under this strategy, children with other illnesses were often wrongly treated with anti-malarials. Integrated community case management of common childhood illnesses is now recommended but its effect on promptness of appropriate pneumonia treatment is unclear.
To determine the effect of integrated malaria and pneumonia management on receiving prompt and appropriate antibiotics for pneumonia symptoms and treatment outcomes as well as determine associated factors.
A follow-up study was nested within a cluster-randomized trial that compared under-five mortality in areas where community health workers (CHWs) treated children with malaria and pneumonia (intervention areas) and where they treated children with malaria only (control areas). Children treated by CHWs were enrolled on the day of seeking treatment from CHWs (609 intervention, 667 control) and demographic, illness, and treatment seeking information was collected. Further information on illness and treatment outcomes was collected on day four. The primary outcome was prompt and appropriate antibiotics for pneumonia symptoms and the secondary outcome was treatment outcomes on day four.
Children in the intervention areas were more likely to receive prompt and appropriate antibiotics for pneumonia symptoms compared to children in the control areas (RR = 3.51, 95%CI = 1.75-7.03). Children in the intervention areas were also less likely to have temperature ≥37.5°C on day four (RR = 0.29, 95%CI = 0.11-0.78). The decrease in fast breathing between day one and four was greater in the intervention (9.2%) compared to the control areas (4.2%, p-value = 0.01).
Integrated community management of malaria and pneumonia increases prompt and appropriate treatment for pneumonia symptoms and improves treatment outcomes.
CHW; ICCM; Health System Research; Prompt treatment; Appropriate treatment; Treatment outcomes; Malaria; Pneumonia; Children; CMDs