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1.  Factors associated with health facility childbirth in districts of Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia: a population based survey 
Maternal mortality continues to be a heavy burden in low and middle income countries where half of all deliveries take place in homes without skilled attendance. The study aimed to investigate the underlying and proximate determinants of health facility childbirth in rural and urban areas of three districts in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.
A population-based survey was conducted in 2007 as part of the ‘REsponse to ACcountable priority setting for Trust in health systems’ (REACT) project. Stratified random cluster sampling was used and the data included information on place of delivery and factors that might influence health care seeking behaviour. A total of 1800 women who had childbirth in the previous five years were analysed. The distal and proximate conceptual framework for analysing determinants of maternal mortality was modified for studying factors associated with place of delivery. Socioeconomic position was measured by employing a construct of educational attainment and wealth index. All analyses were stratified by district and urban–rural residence.
There were substantial inter-district differences in proportion of health facility childbirth. Facility childbirth was 15, 70 and 37% in the rural areas of Malindi, Mbarali and Kapiri Mposhi respectively, and 57, 75 and 77% in the urban areas of the districts respectively. However, striking socio-economic inequities were revealed regardless of district. Furthermore, there were indications that repeated exposure to ANC services and HIV related counselling and testing were positively associated with health facility deliveries. Perceived distance was negatively associated with facility childbirth in rural areas of Malindi and urban areas of Kapiri Mposhi.
Strong socio-economic inequities in the likelihood of facility childbirths were revealed in all the districts added to geographic inequities in two of the three districts. This strongly suggests an urgent need to strengthen services targeting disadvantaged and remote populations. The finding of a positive association between HIV counselling/testing and odds in favor of giving birth at a health facility suggests potential positive effects can be achieved by strengthening integrated approaches in maternal health service delivery.
PMCID: PMC4094404  PMID: 24996456
Health facility childbirth; Home deliveries; Socioeconomic position; Inequity; Africa; Kenya; Tanzania; Zambia
2.  Care-Seeking and Management of Common Childhood Illnesses in Tanzania – Results from the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58789.
Malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea continue to kill millions of children in Africa despite the available and effective treatments. Correct diagnosis and prompt treatment with effective drugs at the first option consulted for child care is crucial for preventing severe disease and death from these illnesses. Using the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey data, the present study aims to assess care-seeking and management of suspected malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea at various health care facilities in Tanzania.
We analyzed data for 8176 children born within a 5 years period preceding the survey.The information was collected by interviewing 5519 women aged 15–49 years in 10,300 households selected from 475 sample points throughout Tanzania.
The most common first option for child care was PHC facilities (54.8%), followed by private pharmacies (23.4%). These were more commonly utilized in rural compared to urban areas: 61.2% versus 34.5% for PHC facilities, and 26.5% versus 17.7% for pharmacies. Women in urban areas and those with higher level of education more commonly utilized higher level hospitals and private facilities as their first option for child care. Only one in four children with fever had received a blood test during the illness with lowest proportion being reported among children solely attended at PHC facilities. Use of abandoned antimalarial drugs for the treatment of suspected malaria was also observed in public health facilities and antibiotics use for diarrhoea treatment was high (49.0%).
PHC facilities and pharmacies most commonly provided sub-optimal care. These facilities were more commonly utilized as the first option for child care in rural areas and among the poor and non-educated families. These are groups with the highest child mortality, which calls for interventions’ targeting improvement of care at these facilities to further reduce child mortality from treatable illnesses in Tanzania.
PMCID: PMC3595288  PMID: 23554926
3.  Factors associated with severe disease from malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea among children in rural Tanzania – A hospital-based cross-sectional study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:219.
Mild cases of malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea are readily treatable with complete recovery and with inexpensive and widely available first-line drugs. However, treatment is complicated and expensive, and mortality is higher when children present to the hospital with severe forms of these illnesses. We studied how care seeking behaviours and other factors contributed to severity of malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea among children less than five years in rural Tanzania.
We interviewed consecutive care-takers of children diagnosed with malaria, pneumonia and/or diarrhea at Korogwe and Muheza district hospitals, in north-eastern Tanzania, between July 2009 and January 2010, and compared characteristics of children presenting with severe and those with non-severe disease.
A total of 293 children with severe and 190 with non-severe disease were studied. We found persistent associations between severity of disease and caretaker’s lack of formal education (OR 6.6; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.7-15.8) compared to those with post-primary education, middle compared to high socio-economic status (OR 1.9; 95% CI 1.2-3.2), having 4 or more children compared to having one child (OR 2.5; 95% CI 1.4-4.5), having utilized a nearer primary health care (PHC) facility for the same illness compared to having not (OR 5.2; 95% CI 3.0-9.1), and having purchased the first treatment other than paracetamol from local or drug shops compared to when the treatment was obtained from the public hospitals for the first time (OR 3.2; 95% CI 1.9-5.2). The old officially abandoned first line anti-malaria drug Sulfadoxin-pyrimethamine (SP) was found to still be in use for the treatment of malaria and was significantly associated with childrens’ presentation to the hospital with severe malaria (OR 12.5; 95% CI 1.6-108.0).
Our results indicate that caretakers with no formal education, with lower SES and with many children can be target groups for interventions in order to further reduce child mortality from treatable illnesses. Furthermore, the quality of the available drug shops and PHC facilities need to be closely monitored.
PMCID: PMC3482590  PMID: 22978351
Severe; Non-severe; Malaria; Pneumonia; Diarrhea; Dehydration
4.  Cause-specific neonatal mortality in a neonatal care unit in Northern Tanzania: a registry based cohort study 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:116.
The current decline in under-five mortality shows an increase in share of neonatal deaths. In order to address neonatal mortality and possibly identify areas of prevention and intervention, we studied causes of admission and cause-specific neonatal mortality in a neonatal care unit at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Tanzania.
A total of 5033 inborn neonates admitted to a neonatal care unit (NCU) from 2000 to 2010 registered at the KCMC Medical Birth Registry and neonatal registry were studied. Clinical diagnosis, gestational age, birth weight, Apgar score and date at admission and discharge were registered. Cause-specific of neonatal deaths were classified by modified Wigglesworth classification. Statistical analysis was performed in SPSS 18.0.
Leading causes of admission were birth asphyxia (26.8%), prematurity (18.4%), risk of infection (16.9%), neonatal infection (15.4%), and birth weight above 4000 g (10.7%). Overall mortality was 10.7% (536 deaths). Leading single causes of death were birth asphyxia (n = 245, 45.7%), prematurity (n = 188, 35.1%), congenital malformations (n = 49, 9.1%), and infections (n = 46, 8.6%). Babies with birth weight below 2500 g constituted 29% of all admissions and 52.1% of all deaths. Except for congenital malformations, case fatality declined with increasing birth weight. Birth asphyxia was the most frequent cause of death in normal birth weight babies (n = 179/246, 73.1%) and prematurity in low birth weight babies (n = 178/188, 94.7%). The majority of deaths (n = 304, 56.7%) occurred within 24 hours, and 490 (91.4%) within the first week.
Birth asphyxia in normal birth weight babies and prematurity in low birth weight babies each accounted for one third of all deaths in this population. The high number of deaths attributable to birth asphyxia in normal birth weight babies suggests further studies to identify causal mechanisms. Strategies directed towards making obstetric and newborn care timely available with proper antenatal, maternal and newborn care support with regular training on resuscitation skills would improve child survival.
PMCID: PMC3469393  PMID: 22871208
Neonatal mortality; Neonatal deaths; Neonatal morbidity; Birth asphyxia; Prematurity; Causes of death
5.  Unfulfilled expectations to services offered at primary health care facilities: Experiences of caretakers of underfive children in rural Tanzania 
There is growing evidence that patients frequently bypass primary health care (PHC) facilities in favour of higher level hospitals regardless of substantial additional time and costs. Among the reasons given for bypassing are poor services (including lack of drugs and diagnostic facilities) and lack of trust in health workers. The World Health Report 2008 “PHC now more than ever” pointed to the importance of organizing health services around people’s needs and expectations as one of the four main issues of PHC reforms. There is limited documentation of user’s expectations to services offered at PHC facilities. The current study is a community extension of a hospital-based survey that showed a high bypassing frequency of PHC facilities among caretakers seeking care for their underfive children at two district hospitals. We aimed to explore caretakers’ perceptions and expectations to services offered at PHC facilities in their area with reference to their experiences seeking care at such facilities.
We conducted four community-based focus group discussions (FGD’s) with 47 caretakers of underfive children in Muheza district of Tanga region, Tanzania in October 2009.
Lack of clinical examinations and laboratory tests, combined with shortage of drugs and health workers, were common experiences. Across all the focus group discussions, unpleasant health workers’ behaviors, lack of urgency and unnecessary delays were major complaints. In some places, unauthorized fees reduced access to services.
The study revealed significant disappointments among caretakers with regard to the quality of services offered at PHC facilities in their areas, with implications for their utilization and proper functioning of the referral system. Practices regarding partial drugs administrations, skipping of injections, unofficial payments and consultations by unskilled health care providers need urgent action. There is also a need for proper accountability mechanisms to govern appropriate allocation and monitoring of health care resources and services in Tanzania.
PMCID: PMC3420314  PMID: 22697458
6.  Why caretakers bypass Primary Health Care facilities for child care - a case from rural Tanzania 
Research on health care utilization in low income countries suggests that patients frequently bypass PHC facilities in favour of higher-level hospitals - despite substantial additional time and financial costs. There are limited number of studies focusing on user's experiences at such facilities and reasons for bypassing them. This study aimed to identify factors associated with bypassing PHC facilities among caretakers seeking care for their underfive children and to explore experiences at such facilities among those who utilize them.
The study employed a mixed-method approach consisting of an interviewer administered questionnaires and in-depth interviews among selected care-takers seeking care for their underfive children at Korogwe and Muheza district hospitals in north-eastern Tanzania.
The questionnaire survey included 560 caretakers. Of these 30 in-depth interviews were conducted. Fifty nine percent (206/348) of caretakers had not utilized their nearer PHC facilities during the index child's sickness episode. The reasons given for bypassing PHC facilities were lack of possibilities for diagnostic facilities (42.2%), lack of drugs (15.5%), closed health facility (10.2%), poor services (9.7%) and lack of skilled health workers (3.4%). In a regression model, the frequency of bypassing a PHC facility for child care increased significantly with decreasing travel time to the district hospital, shorter duration of symptoms and low disease severity.
Findings from the in-depth interviews revealed how the lack of quality services at PHC facilities caused delays in accessing appropriate care and how the experiences of inadequate care caused users to lose trust in them.
The observation that people are willing to travel long distances to get better quality services calls for health policies that prioritize quality of care before quantity. In a situation with limited resources, utilizing available resources to improve quality of care at available facilities could be more appropriate for improving access to health care than increasing the number of facilities. This would also improve equity in health care access since the poor who can not afford travelling costs will then get access to quality services at their nearer PHC facilities.
PMCID: PMC3234197  PMID: 22094076
7.  Transfer of newborns to neonatal care unit: a registry based study in Northern Tanzania 
Reduction in neonatal mortality has been slower than anticipated in many low income countries including Tanzania. Adequate neonatal care may contribute to reduced mortality. We studied factors associated with transfer of babies to a neonatal care unit (NCU) in data from a birth registry at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Tanzania.
A total of 21 206 singleton live births registered from 2000 to 2008 were included. Multivariable analysis was carried out to study neonatal transfer to NCU by socio-demographic factors, pregnancy complications and measures of the condition of the newborn.
A total of 3190 (15%) newborn singletons were transferred to the NCU. As expected, neonatal transfer was strongly associated with specific conditions of the baby including birth weight above 4000 g (relative risk (RR) = 7.2; 95% confidence interval (CI) 6.5-8.0) or below 1500 g (RR = 3.0; 95% CI: 2.3-4.0), five minutes Apgar score less than 7 (RR = 4.0; 95% CI: 3.4-4.6), and preterm birth before 34 weeks of gestation (RR = 1.8; 95% CI: 1.5-2.1). However, pregnancy- and delivery-related conditions like premature rupture of membrane (RR = 2.3; 95% CI: 1.9-2.7), preeclampsia (RR = 1.3; 95% CI: 1.1-1.5), other vaginal delivery (RR = 2.2; 95% CI: 1.7-2.9) and caesarean section (RR = 1.9; 95% CI: 1.8-2.1) were also significantly associated with transfer. Birth to a first born child was associated with increased likelihood of transfer (relative risk (RR) 1.4; 95% CI: 1.2-1.5), while the likelihood was reduced (RR = 0.5; 95% CI: 0.3-0.9) when the father had no education.
In addition to strong associations between neonatal transfer and classical neonatal risk factors for morbidity and mortality, some pregnancy-related and demographic factors were predictors of neonatal transfer. Overall, transfer was more likely for babies with signs of poor health status or a complicated pregnancy. Except for a possibly reduced use of transfer for babies of non-educated fathers and a high transfer rate for first born babies, there were no signs that transfer was based on non-medical indications.
PMCID: PMC3206461  PMID: 21970789
8.  Accountable priority setting for trust in health systems - the need for research into a new approach for strengthening sustainable health action in developing countries 
Despite multiple efforts to strengthen health systems in low and middle income countries, intended sustainable improvements in health outcomes have not been shown. To date most priority setting initiatives in health systems have mainly focused on technical approaches involving information derived from burden of disease statistics, cost effectiveness analysis, and published clinical trials. However, priority setting involves value-laden choices and these technical approaches do not equip decision-makers to address a broader range of relevant values - such as trust, equity, accountability and fairness - that are of concern to other partners and, not least, the populations concerned. A new focus for priority setting is needed.
Accountability for Reasonableness (AFR) is an explicit ethical framework for legitimate and fair priority setting that provides guidance for decision-makers who must identify and consider the full range of relevant values. AFR consists of four conditions: i) relevance to the local setting, decided by agreed criteria; ii) publicizing priority-setting decisions and the reasons behind them; iii) the establishment of revisions/appeal mechanisms for challenging and revising decisions; iv) the provision of leadership to ensure that the first three conditions are met.
REACT - "REsponse to ACcountable priority setting for Trust in health systems" is an EU-funded five-year intervention study started in 2006, which is testing the application and effects of the AFR approach in one district each in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. The objectives of REACT are to describe and evaluate district-level priority setting, to develop and implement improvement strategies guided by AFR and to measure their effect on quality, equity and trust indicators. Effects are monitored within selected disease and programme interventions and services and within human resources and health systems management. Qualitative and quantitative methods are being applied in an action research framework to examine the potential of AFR to support sustainable improvements to health systems performance.
This paper reports on the project design and progress and argues that there is a high need for research into legitimate and fair priority setting to improve the knowledge base for achieving sustainable improvements in health outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2777144  PMID: 19852834
9.  Achieving progress in maternal and neonatal health through integrated and comprehensive healthcare services – experiences from a programme in northern Tanzania 
An integrated and comprehensive hospital/community based health programme is presented, aimed at reducing maternal and child mortality and morbidity. It is run as part of a general programme of health care at a rural hospital situated in northern Tanzania. The purpose was through using research and statistics from the programme area, to illustrate how a hospital-based programme with a vision of integrated healthcare may have contributed to the lower figures on mortality found in the area. Such an approach may be of interest to policy makers, in relation to the global strategy that is now developed in order to meet the MDGs 4 and 5.
Programme setting
The hospital provides reproductive and child health services, PMTCT-plus, comprehensive emergency obstetric care, ambulance, radio and transport services, paediatric care, an HIV/AIDS programme, and a generalised healthcare service to a population of approximately 500 000.
Programme description and outcomes
We describe these services and their potential contribution to the reduction of the maternal and neonatal mortality ratios in the study area. Several studies from this area have showed a lower maternal mortality and neonatal mortality ratio compared to other studies from Tanzania and the national estimates. Many donor-funded programmes focusing on maternal and child health are vertical in their framework. However, the hospital, being the dominant supplier of health services in its catchment area, has maintained a horizontal approach through a comprehensive care programme. The total cost of the comprehensive hospital programme described is 3.2 million USD per year, corresponding to 6.4 USD per capita.
Considering the relatively low cost of a comprehensive hospital programme including outreach services and the lower mortality ratios found in the catchment area of the hospital, we argue that donor funds should be used for supporting horizontal programmes aimed at comprehensive healthcare services. Through a strengthening of the collaboration between government and voluntary agency facilities, with clinical, preventive and managerial capabilities of the health facilities, the programmes will have a more sustainable impact and will achieve greater progress in the reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality, as opposed to vertical and segregated programmes that currently are commonly adopted for averting maternal and child deaths. Thus, we conclude that horizontal and comprehensive services of the type described in this article should be considered as a prerequisite for sustainable health care delivery at all policy and decision-making levels of the local, national and international health care delivery pyramid.
PMCID: PMC2725038  PMID: 19642990
10.  Risk factors for maternal death in the highlands of rural northern Tanzania: a case-control study 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:52.
Tanzania has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in sub-Saharan Africa. Due to the paucity of epidemiological information on maternal deaths, and the high maternal mortality estimates found earlier in the study area, our objective was to assess determinants of maternal deaths in a rural setting in the highlands of northern Tanzania by comparing the women dying of maternal causes with women from the same population who had attended antenatal clinics in the same time period.
A case-control study was done in two administrative divisions in Mbulu and Hanang districts in rural Tanzania. Forty-five cases of maternal death were found through a comprehensive community- and health-facility based study in 1995 and 1996, while 135 antenatal attendees from four antenatal clinics in the same population, geographical area, and time-span of 1995–96 served as controls. The cases and controls were compared using multivariate logistic regression analyses. Odds ratios, with 95% confidence intervals, were used as an approximation of relative risk, and were adjusted for place of residence (ward) and age. Further adjustment was done for potentially confounding variables.
An increased risk of maternal deaths was found for women from 35–49 years versus 15–24 years (OR 4.0; 95%CI 1.5–10.6). Women from ethnic groups other than the two indigenous groups of the area had an increased risk of maternal death (OR 13.6; 95%CI 2.5–75.0). There was an increased risk when women or husbands adhered to traditional beliefs, (OR 2.1; 95%CI 1.0–4.5) and (OR 2.6; 95%CI 1.2–5.7), respectively. Women whose husbands did not have any formal education appeared to have an increased risk (OR 2.2; 95%CI 1.0–5.0).
Increasing maternal age, ethnic and religious affiliation, and low formal education of the husbands were associated with increased risk of maternal death. Increased attention needs to be given to formal education of both men and women. In addition, education of the male decision-makers should be given high priority in the community, especially in matters concerning pregnancy and delivery preparedness, since their choice greatly affects the survival of the pregnant and delivering women.
PMCID: PMC2259340  PMID: 18257937
11.  Injury morbidity in an urban and a rural area in Tanzania: an epidemiological survey 
BMC Public Health  2005;5:11.
Injuries are becoming a major health problem in developing countries. Few population based studies have been carried out in African countries. We examined the pattern of nonfatal injuries and associated risk factors in an urban and rural setting of Tanzania.
A population-based household survey was conducted in 2002. Participants were selected by cluster sampling. A total of 8,188 urban and 7,035 rural residents of all ages participated in the survey. All injuries reported among all household members in the year preceding the interview and resulting in one or more days of restricted activity were included in the analyis.
A total of 206 (2.5%) and 303 (4.3%) persons reported to have been injured in the urban and rural area respectively. Although the overall incidence was higher in the rural area, the incidence of major injuries (≥ 30 disability days) was similar in both areas. Males were at a higher risk of having an injury than females. Rural residents were more likely to experience injuries due to falls (OR = 1.6; 95% CI = 1.1 – 2.3) and cuts (OR = 4.3; 95% CI = 3.0 – 6.2) but had a lower risk of transport injuries. The most common causes of injury in the urban area were transport injuries and falls. In the rural area, cuts and stabs, of which two thirds were related to agriculture, formed the most common cause. Age was an important risk factor for certain types of injuries. Poverty levels were not significantly associated with experiencing a nonfatal injury.
The patterns of injury differ in urban and rural areas partly as a reflection of livelihoods and infrastructure. Rural residents are at a higher overall injury risk than urban residents. This may be important in the development of injury prevention strategies.
PMCID: PMC548509  PMID: 15679887
12.  Landmine injuries in Eritrea 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2000;321(7270):1189.
PMCID: PMC27523  PMID: 11073510

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