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
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.
Although voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) in Iganga district was launched in 2010 as part of the Uganda national strategy to prevent new HIV infections with a target of having 129,896 eligible males circumcised by 2012, only 35,000 (27%) of the anticipated target had been circumcised by mid 2012. There was paucity of information on why uptake of VMMC was low in this setting where HIV awareness is presumably high. This study sought to understand motivators for uptake of VMMC from the perspective of the clients themselves in order to advocate for feasible approaches to expanding uptake of VMMC in Iganga district and similar settings.
In Iganga district, we conducted seven key informant interviews with staff who work in the VMMC clinics and twenty in-depth interviews with clients who had accepted and undergone VMMC. Ten focus-group discussions including a total of 112 participants were also conducted with clients who had undergone VMMC.
Motivators for uptake of VMMC in the perspective of the circumcised clients and the health care staff included: perceived medical benefit to those circumcised such as protection against acquiring HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, peer/partner influence, sexual satisfaction and safety and cost to access the service.
Since perceived medical benefit was a motivator for seeking VMMC, it can be used to strengthen campaigns for increasing uptake of VMMC. Peer influence could also be used in advocacy campaigns for VMMC expansion, especially using peers who have already undergone VMMC. There is need to ensure that safety and cost to access the service is affordable especially to rural poor as it was mentioned as a motivator for seeking VMMC.
Motivators; safe male circumcision
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.