Kenya’s human resources for health shortage is well documented, yet in line with the new constitution, responsibility for health service delivery will be devolved to 47 new county administrations. This work describes the public sector nursing workforce likely to be inherited by the counties, and examines the relationships between nursing workforce density and key indicators.
National nursing deployment data linked to nursing supply data were used and analyzed using statistical and geographical analysis software. Data on nurses deployed in national referral hospitals and on nurses deployed in non-public sector facilities were excluded from main analyses. The densities and characteristics of the public sector nurses across the counties were obtained and examined against an index of county remoteness, and the nursing densities were correlated with five key indicators.
Of the 16,371 nurses in the public non-tertiary sector, 76% are women and 53% are registered nurses, with 35% of the nurses aged 40 to 49 years. The nursing densities across counties range from 1.2 to 0.08 per 1,000 population. There are statistically significant associations of the nursing densities with a measure of health spending per capita (P value = 0.0028) and immunization rates (P value = 0.0018). A higher county remoteness index is associated with explaining lower female to male ratio of public sector nurses across counties (P value <0.0001).
An overall shortage of nurses (range of 1.2 to 0.08 per 1,000) in the public sector countrywide is complicated by mal-distribution and varying workforce characteristics (for example, age profile) across counties. All stakeholders should support improvements in human resources information systems and help address personnel shortages and mal-distribution if equitable, quality health-care delivery in the counties is to be achieved.
Nurses; Public sector; Human resources for health; County; Kenya
Spectrum epidemiological models are used by UNAIDS to provide global, regional and national HIV estimates and projections, which are then used for evidence-based health planning for HIV services. However, there are no validations of the Spectrum model against empirical serological and mortality data from populations in sub-Saharan Africa.
Serologic, demographic and verbal autopsy data have been regularly collected among over 30,000 residents in north-western Tanzania since 1994. Five-year age-specific mortality rates (ASMRs) per 1,000 person years and the probability of dying between 15 and 60 years of age (45Q15,) were calculated and compared with the Spectrum model outputs. Mortality trends by HIV status are shown for periods before the introduction of antiretroviral therapy (1994–1999, 2000–2005) and the first 5 years afterwards (2005–2009).
Among 30–34 year olds of both sexes, observed ASMRs per 1,000 person years were 13.33 (95% CI: 10.75–16.52) in the period 1994–1999, 11.03 (95% CI: 8.84–13.77) in 2000–2004, and 6.22 (95% CI; 4.75–8.15) in 2005–2009. Among the same age group, the ASMRs estimated by the Spectrum model were 10.55, 11.13 and 8.15 for the periods 1994–1999, 2000–2004 and 2005–2009, respectively. The cohort data, for both sexes combined, showed that the 45Q15 declined from 39% (95% CI: 27–55%) in 1994 to 22% (95% CI: 17–29%) in 2009, whereas the Spectrum model predicted a decline from 43% in 1994 to 37% in 2009.
From 1994 to 2009, the observed decrease in ASMRs was steeper in younger age groups than that predicted by the Spectrum model, perhaps because the Spectrum model under-estimated the ASMRs in 30–34 year olds in 1994–99. However, the Spectrum model predicted a greater decrease in 45Q15 mortality than observed in the cohort, although the reasons for this over-estimate are unclear.
HIV; adult mortality; Spectrum model; cohort
Increased understanding of the genetic diversity of HIV-1 is challenging but important in the development of an effective vaccine. We aimed to describe the distribution of HIV-1 subtypes in northern Tanzania among women enrolled in studies preparing for HIV-1 prevention trials (hospitality facility-worker cohorts), and among men and women in an open cohort demographic surveillance system (Kisesa cohort).
The polymerase encompassing partial reverse transcriptase was sequenced and phylogenetic analysis performed and subtype determined. Questionnaires documented demographic data. We examined factors associated with subtype using multinomial logistic regression, adjusted for study, age, and sex.
Among 140 individuals (125 women and 15 men), subtype A1 predominated (54, 39%), followed by C (46, 33%), D (25, 18%) and unique recombinant forms (URFs) (15, 11%). There was weak evidence to suggest different subtype frequencies by study (for example, 18% URFs in the Kisesa cohort versus 5–9% in the hospitality facility-worker cohorts; adjusted relative-risk ratio (aRR) = 2.35 [95% CI 0.59,9.32]; global p = 0.09). Compared to men, women were less likely to have subtype D versus A (aRR = 0.12 [95% CI 0.02,0.76]; global p = 0.05). There was a trend to suggest lower relative risk of subtype D compared to A with older age (aRR = 0.44 [95% CI 0.23,0.85] per 10 years; global p = 0.05).
We observed multiple subtypes, confirming the complex genetic diversity of HIV-1 strains circulating in northern Tanzania, and found some differences between cohorts and by age and sex. This has important implications for vaccine design and development, providing opportunity to determine vaccine efficacy in diverse HIV-1 strains.
External quality assurance (EQA) programmes, which are routinely used in laboratories, have not been widely implemented for point-of- care tests (POCTs). A study was performed in ten health centres in Tanzania, to implement the use of dried blood spots (DBS) as an EQA method for HIV and syphilis (POCTs).
DBS samples were collected for retesting at a reference laboratory and the results compared to the POCT results obtained at the clinic. In total, 2341 DBS samples were collected from 10 rural health facilities over a period of nine months, of which 92.5% were correctly collected and spotted.
The EQA method was easily implemented by healthcare workers under routine conditions in Northern Tanzania. For HIV, 967 out of 972 samples (99.5%) were concordant between DBS and POCT results. For syphilis, the sensitivity of syphilis tests varied between clinics with a median of 96% (25th and 75th quartile; 95-98%). The specificity of syphilis POCT was consistent compared to laboratory based test using DBS, with a median of 96% (25th and 75th quartiles; 95-98%).
Overall, the quality of testing varied at clinics and EQA results can be used to identify clinics where healthcare workers require remedial training, suggesting the necessity for stringent quality assurance programmes for POC testing. As Tanzania embarks on scaling up HIV and syphilis testing, DBS can be a useful and robust tool to monitor the quality of testing performed by healthcare workers and trigger corrective action to ensure accuracy of test results.
Reliable population-based data on HIV infection and AIDS mortality in sub-Saharan Africa are scanty, even though that is the region where most of the world’s AIDS deaths occur. There is therefore a great need for reliable and valid public health tools for assessing AIDS mortality.
The aim of this article is to validate the InterVA-4 verbal autopsy (VA) interpretative model within African populations where HIV sero-status is recorded on a prospective basis, and examine the distribution of cause-specific mortality among HIV-positive and HIV-negative people.
Data from six sites of the Alpha Network, including HIV sero-status and VA interviews, were pooled. VA data according to the 2012 WHO format were extracted, and processed using the InterVA-4 model into likely causes of death. The model was blinded to the sero-status data. Cases with known pre-mortem HIV infection status were used to determine the specificity with which InterVA-4 could attribute HIV/AIDS as a cause of death. Cause-specific mortality fractions by HIV infection status were calculated, and a person-time model was built to analyse adjusted cause-specific mortality rate ratios.
The InterVA-4 model identified HIV/AIDS-related deaths with a specificity of 90.1% (95% CI 88.7–91.4%). Overall sensitivity could not be calculated, because HIV-positive people die from a range of causes. In a person-time model including 1,739 deaths in 1,161,688 HIV-negative person-years observed and 2,890 deaths in 75,110 HIV-positive person-years observed, the mortality ratio HIV-positive:negative was 29.0 (95% CI 27.1–31.0), after adjustment for age, sex, and study site. Cause-specific HIV-positive:negative mortality ratios for acute respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS-related deaths, meningitis, tuberculosis, and malnutrition were higher than the all-cause ratio; all causes had HIV-positive:negative mortality ratios significantly higher than unity.
These results were generally consistent with relatively small post-mortem and hospital-based diagnosis studies in the literature. The high specificity in cause of death attribution achieved in relation to HIV status, and large differences between specific causes by HIV status, show that InterVA-4 is an effective and valid tool for assessing HIV-related mortality.
HIV/AIDS; mortality; Africa; verbal autopsy; InterVA; Alpha Network
The availability of rapid and sensitive methods to diagnose syphilis facilitates screening of pregnant women, which is one of the most cost-effective health interventions available. We have evaluated two screening methods in Tanzania: an enzyme immunoassay (EIA), and a point-of-care test (POCT). We evaluated the performance of each test against the Treponema pallidum particle agglutination assay (TPPA) as the reference method, and the accessibility of testing in a rural district of Tanzania. The POCT was performed in the clinic on whole blood, while the other assays were performed on plasma in the laboratory. Samples were also tested by the rapid plasma Reagin (RPR) test. With TPPA as reference assay, the sensitivity and specificity of EIA were 95.3% and 97.8%, and of the POCT were 59.6% and 99.4% respectively. The sensitivity of the POCT and EIA for active syphilis cases (TPPA positive and RPR titer ≥1/8) were 82% and 100% respectively. Only 15% of antenatal clinic attenders in this district visited a health facility with a laboratory capable of performing the EIA. Although it is less sensitive than EIA, its greater accessibility, and the fact that treatment can be given on the same day, means that the use of POCT would result in a higher proportion of women with syphilis receiving treatment than with the EIA in this district of Tanzania.
Despite the introduction of free antiretroviral therapy (ART), the use of voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) services remains persistently low in many African countries. This study investigates how prior experience of HIV and VCT, and knowledge about HIV and ART influence VCT use in rural Tanzania.
In 2006–7, VCT was offered to study participants during the fifth survey round of an HIV community cohort study that includes HIV testing for research purposes without results disclosure, and a questionnaire covering knowledge, attitudes and practices around HIV infection and HIV services. Categorical variables were created for HIV knowledge and ART knowledge, with “good” HIV and ART knowledge defined as correctly answering at least 4/6 and 5/7 questions about HIV and ART respectively. Experience of HIV was defined as knowing people living with HIV, or having died from AIDS. Logistic regression methods were used to assess how HIV and ART knowledge, and prior experiences of HIV and VCT were associated with VCT uptake, with adjustment for HIV status and socio-demographic confounders.
2,695/3,886 (69%) men and 2,708/5,575 women (49%) had “good” HIV knowledge, while 613/3,886 (16%) men and 585/5575 (10%) women had “good” ART knowledge. Misconceptions about HIV transmission were common, including through kissing (55% of women, 43% of men), or mosquito bites (42% of women, 34% of men).
19% of men and 16% of women used VCT during the survey. After controlling for HIV status and socio-demographic factors, the odds of VCT use were lower among those with poor HIV knowledge (aOR = 0.5; p = 0.01 for men and aOR = 0.6; p < 0.01 for women) and poor ART knowledge (aOR = 0.8; p = 0.06 for men, aOR = 0.8; p < 0.01 for women), and higher among those with HIV experience (aOR = 1.3 for men and aOR = 1.6 for women, p < 0.01) and positive prior VCT experience (aOR = 2.0 for all men and aOR = 2.0 for HIV-negative women only, p < 0.001).
Two years after the introduction of free ART in this setting, misconceptions regarding HIV transmission remain rife and knowledge regarding treatment is worryingly poor, especially among women and HIV-positive people. Further HIV-related information, education and communication activities are urgently needed to improve VCT uptake in rural Tanzania.
HIV; VCT; HIV testing; Tanzania; Cohort study
Adherence is one of the most important determinants of viral suppression and drug resistance in HIV-infected people receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART).
We examined the association between long-term mortality and poor adherence to ART in DART trial participants in Uganda and Zimbabwe randomly assigned to receive laboratory and clinical monitoring (LCM), or clinically driven monitoring (CDM). Since over 50% of all deaths in the DART trial occurred during the first year on ART, we focussed on participants continuing ART for 12 months to investigate the implications of longer-term adherence to treatment on mortality. Participants’ ART adherence was assessed by pill counts and structured questionnaires at 4-weekly clinic visits. We studied the effect of recent adherence history on the risk of death at the individual level (odds ratios from dynamic logistic regression model), and on mortality at the population level (population attributable fraction based on this model). Analyses were conducted separately for both randomization groups, adjusted for relevant confounding factors. Adherence behaviour was also confounded by a partial factorial randomization comparing structured treatment interruptions (STI) with continuous ART (CT).
In the CDM arm a significant association was found between poor adherence to ART in the previous 3-9 months with increased mortality risk. In the LCM arm the association was not significant. The odds ratios for mortality in participants with poor adherence against those with optimal adherence was 1.30 (95% CI 0.78,2.10) in the LCM arm and 2.18 (1.47,3.22) in the CDM arm. The estimated proportions of deaths that could have been avoided with optimal adherence (population attributable fraction) in the LCM and CDM groups during the 5 years follow-up period were 16.0% (95% CI 0.7%,31.6%) and 33.1% (20.5%,44.8%), correspondingly.
Recurrent poor adherence determined even through simple measures is associated with high mortality both at individual level as well as at the ART programme level. The number of lives saved through effective interventions to improve adherence could be considerable particularly for individuals monitored without using CD4 cell counts. The findings have important implications for clinical practice and for developing interventions to enhance adherence.
Dynamic logistic regression model; Population attributable fraction; ART; Adherence; Mortality; HIV
Data from a prospective study of 3,319 children ages 2 months to 5 years admitted with febrile illness to a Tanzanian district hospital were analyzed to determine the relationship of blood glucose and mortality. Hypoglycemia (blood sugar < 2.5 mmol/L and < 45 mg/dL) was found in 105 of 3,319 (3.2%) children at admission, and low-normal blood glucose (2.5–5 mmol/L and 45–90 mg/dL) was found in 773 of 3,319 (23.3%) children. Mortality was inversely related to admission blood sugar; compared with children with an admission blood glucose of > 5 mmol/L, the adjusted odds of dying were 3.3 (95% confidence interval = 2.1–5.2) and 9.8 (95% confidence interval = 5.1–19.0) among children with admission blood glucose 2.5–5 and < 2.5 mmol/L, respectively. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis suggested an optimal cutoff for admission blood sugar of < 5 mmol/L in predicting mortality (sensitivity = 57.7%, specificity = 75.2%). A cutoff for admission blood glucose of < 5 mmol/L represents a simple and clinically useful predictor of mortality in children admitted with severe febrile illness to hospital in resource-poor settings.
To define the prevalence and associations of co-morbidity and school attendance in older children with epilepsy (CWE) from a rural district of Tanzania by conducting a community-based case-control study.
Children aged 6 -14 years old with active epilepsy (at least two unprovoked seizures in the last five years) were identified in a cross-sectional survey in Tanzania. Co-morbidities were assessed and cases were compared with age-matched controls.
Co-morbidity was very common amongst cases (95/112, 85%), with 62/112 (55%) having multiple co-morbidities. Co-morbidities consisted of cognitive impairment (72/112, 64%), behaviour disorder 68/112 (61%), motor difficulties 29/112 (26%), burns and other previous injuries (29/112, 26%). These complications were significantly more common in cases than in controls (Odds Ratio 14.8, 95%CI 7.6–28.6, p<0.001). Co-morbidity in CWE was associated with structural cause, abnormal electroencephalogram and early onset seizures. Cognitive impairment was very common in CWE (64%) and was not associated with Phenobarbital use but was associated with motor difficulties, early onset and recurrent seizures. Poor school attendance was found in 56/112 (50%) of CWE, but not in the controls: it was associated with the presence of multiple co-morbidities, especially with motor difficulties in CWE.
Children with epilepsy in a rural area of sub-Saharan Africa had a high level of co-morbidity. Cognitive impairment and poor school attendance were very common. These associated difficulties in CWE in the region need to be addressed to reduce the negative impact of epilepsy on these children.
epilepsy; Africa; children; co-morbidity; cognitive impairment; education
HIV counselling and testing (HCT) services can play an important role in HIV prevention by encouraging safe sexual behaviours and linking HIV-infected clients to antiretroviral therapy (ART). However, regular repeat testing by high-risk HIV-negative individuals is important for timely initiation of ART as part of the ‘treatment as prevention’ approach.
To investigate HCT use during a round of HIV serological surveillance in northwest Tanzania in 2010, and to explore rates of repeat testing between 2003 and 2010.
HCT services were provided during the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds of serological surveillance in 2003–2004 (Sero-4), 2006–2007 (Sero-5) and 2010 (Sero-6). HCT services have also been available at a government-run health centre and at other clinics in the study area since 2005. Questionnaires administered during sero-surveys collected information on socio-demographic characteristics, sexual behaviour and reported previous use of HCT services.
The proportion of participants using HCT increased from 9.4% at Sero-4 to 16.6% at Sero-5 and 25.5% at Sero-6. Among participants attending all three sero-survey rounds (n = 2,010), the proportions using HCT twice or more were low, with 11.1% using the HCT service offered at sero-surveys twice or more, and 25.3% having tested twice or more if reported use of HCT outside of sero-surveys was taken into account. In multivariable analyses, individuals testing HIV-positive were less likely to repeat test than individuals testing HIV-negative (aOR 0.17, 95% CI 0.006–0.52).
Although HCT service use increased over time, it was disappointing that the proportions ever testing and ever repeat-testing were not even larger, considering the increasing availability of HCT and ART in the study area. There was some evidence that HIV-negative people with higher risk sexual behaviours were most likely to repeat test, which was encouraging in terms of the potential to pick-up those at greatest risk of HIV-infection.
Adult HIV clinic in Tanzania.
In Africa, 10% of HIV infected adults starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) die within the first year, and tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death. In this study, we investigated the predictors of ART-associated TB.
In this nested case-control study, adults starting ART were screened for TB according to the WHO protocol and those not diagnosed with TB were observed for six months. Patients diagnosed with tuberculosis were defined as cases, and controls were selected from among patients who did not develop tuberculosis using incidence density matching.
Among the 2514 HIV positive adults in our cohort, 72 (3%) were diagnosed with TB during the first six months of ART. By multivariate analysis, baseline characteristics predictive of TB were cough, fever, and night sweats and 76% (55/72) of cases had at least one of these symptoms at the time of starting ART.
75% of patients who developed TB during the first six months of ART had symptoms of TB at time of starting ART but the symptoms were sub-diagnostic. Improved TB diagnostics and/or better strategies for empirical anti-TB are needed for patients with symptoms of TB at ART initiation.
HIV; mortality; cohort
In resource-rich countries, bolus fluid expansion is routinely used for the treatment of poor perfusion and shock, but is less commonly used in many African settings. Controversial results from the recently completed FEAST (Fluid Expansion As Supportive Therapy) trial in African children have raised questions about the use of intravenous bolus fluid for the treatment of shock. Prior to the start of the trial, the Independent data monitoring committee (IDMC) developed stopping rules for the proof of benefit that bolus fluid resuscitation would bring. Although careful safety monitoring was put in place, there was less expectation that bolus fluid expansion would be harmful and differential stopping rules for harm were not formulated.
In July 2010, two protocol amendments were agreed to increase the sample size from 2,880 to 3,600 children, and to increase bolus fluid administration. There was a non-significant trend against bolus treatment, but although the implications were discussed, the IDMC did not comment on the results, or on the amendments, in order to avoid inadvertent partial unblinding of the study.
In January 2011, the trial was stopped for futility, as the combined intervention arms had significantly higher mortality (relative risk 1.46, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.90, P = 0.004) than the control arm. The stopping rule for proof of benefit was not achieved, and the IDMC stopped the trial with a lower level of significance (P = 0.01) due to futility and an increased risk of mortality from bolus fluid expansion in children enrolled in the trial. The basis for this decision was that the local standard of care was not to use bolus fluid for the care of children with shock in these African countries, and this was a different standard of care to that used in the UK. These decisions emphasize two important principles: firstly, the IDMC should avoid inadvertent unblinding of the trial by commenting on amendments, and secondly, when considering stopping a trial, the IDMC should be guided by the local standard of care rather than standards of care in other parts of the world.
To compare the presence and quantity of cervicovaginal HIV among HIV seropositive women with clinical herpes, subclinical HSV-2 infection and without HSV-2 infection respectively; to evaluate the association between cervicovaginal HIV and HSV shedding; and identify factors associated with quantity of cervicovaginal HIV.
Four groups of HIV seropositive adult female barworkers were identified and examined at three-monthly intervals between October 2000 and March 2003 in Mbeya, Tanzania: (1) 57 women at 70 clinic visits with clinical genital herpes; (2) 39 of the same women at 46 clinic visits when asymptomatic; (3) 55 HSV-2 seropositive women at 60 clinic visits who were never observed with herpetic lesions; (4) 18 HSV-2 seronegative women at 45 clinic visits. Associations of genital HIV shedding with HIV plasma viral load (PVL), herpetic lesions, HSV shedding and other factors were examined.
Prevalence of detectable genital HIV RNA varied from 73% in HSV-2 seronegative women to 94% in women with herpetic lesions (geometric means 1634 vs 3339 copies/ml, p = 0.03). In paired specimens from HSV-2 positive women, genital HIV viral shedding was similar during symptomatic and asymptomatic visits. On multivariate regression, genital HIV RNA (log10 copies/mL) was closely associated with HIV PVL (β = 0.51 per log10 copies/ml increase, 95%CI:0.41–0.60, p<0.001) and HSV shedding (β = 0.24 per log10 copies/ml increase, 95% CI:0.16–0.32, p<0.001) but not the presence of herpetic lesions (β = −0.10, 95%CI:−0.28–0.08, p = 0.27).
HIV PVL and HSV shedding were more important determinants of genital HIV than the presence of herpetic lesions. These data support a role of HSV-2 infection in enhancing HIV transmissibility.
Many patients with suspected malaria in sub-Saharan Africa seek treatment from private providers, but this sector suffers from sub-standard medicine dispensing practices. To improve the quality of care received for presumptive malaria from the highly accessed private retail sector in western Kenya, subsidized pre-packaged artemether-lumefantrine (AL) was provided to private retailers, together with a one day training for retail staff on malaria diagnosis and treatment, job aids and community engagement activities.
The intervention was assessed using a cluster-randomized, controlled design. Provider and mystery-shopper cross-sectional surveys were conducted at baseline and eight months post-intervention to assess provider practices. Data were analysed based on cluster-level summaries, comparing control and intervention arms.
On average, 564 retail outlets were interviewed per year. At follow-up, 43% of respondents reported that at least one staff member had attended the training in the intervention arm. The intervention significantly increased the percentage of providers knowing the first line treatment for uncomplicated malaria by 24.2% points (confidence interval (CI): 14.8%, 33.6%; adjusted p=0.0001); the percentage of outlets stocking AL by 31.7% points (CI: 22.0%, 41.3%; adjusted p=0.0001); and the percentage of providers prescribing AL for presumptive malaria by 23.6% points (CI: 18.7%, 28.6%; adjusted p=0.0001). Generally outlets that received training and job aids performed better than those receiving one or none of these intervention components.
Overall, subsidizing ACT and retailer training can significantly increase the percentage of outlets stocking and selling AL for the presumptive treatment of malaria, but further research is needed on strategies to improve the provision of counselling advice to retail customers.
Community case-management of malaria; Artemisinin-based combination therapy; Antimalarial subsidy programme; Drug retailers
Syphilis causes up to 1,500,000 congenital syphilis cases annually. These could be prevented if all pregnant women were screened, and those with syphilis treated with a single dose of penicillin before 28 weeks gestation. In recent years, rapid point-of-care tests have allowed greater access to syphilis screening, especially in rural or remote areas, but the lack of quality assurance of rapid testing has been a concern. We determined the feasibility of using dried blood spots (DBS) as specimens for quality assurance of syphilis serological assays.
We developed DBS extraction protocols for use with Treponema pallidum particle agglutination assay (TPPA), Treponema pallidum haemagglutination assay (TPHA) and an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) and compared the results with those using matching plasma samples from the same patient.
Since DBS samples showed poor performance with TPHA and EIA (TPHA sensitivity was 50.5% (95% confidence interval: 39.9–61.2%) and EIA specificity was 50.4% (95% CI: 43.7–57.1%), only the DBS TPPA was used in the final evaluation. DBS TPPA showed an sensitivity of 95.5% (95% CI: 91.3–98.0%) and a specificity of 99.0% (95% CI: 98.1–99.5%) compared to TPPA using plasma samples as a reference.
DBS samples can be recommended for use with TPPA, and may be of value for external quality assurance of point-of-care syphilis testing.
Dried blood spots; Syphilis; Treponema pallidum; DBS; Sensitivity; Evaluation
Implementation of WHO case management guidelines for serious common childhood illnesses remains a challenge in hospitals in low-income countries. The impact of locally adapted clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) on the quality-of-care of patients in tertiary hospitals has rarely been evaluated.
Methods and Findings
We conducted, in Kenyatta National Hospital, an uncontrolled before and after study with an attempt to explore intervention dose-effect relationships, as CPGs were disseminated and training was progressively implemented. The emergency triage, assessment and treatment plus admission care (ETAT+) training and locally adapted CPGs targeted common, serious childhood illnesses. We compared performance in the pre-intervention (2005) and post-intervention periods (2009) using quality indicators for three diseases: pneumonia, dehydration and severe malnutrition. The indicators spanned four domains in the continuum of care namely assessment, classification, treatment, and follow-up care in the initial 48 hours of admission. In the pre-intervention period patients' care was largely inconsistent with the guidelines, with nine of the 15 key indicators having performance of below 10%. The intervention produced a marked improvement in guideline adherence with an absolute effect size of over 20% observed in seven of the 15 key indicators; three of which had an effect size of over 50%. However, for all the five indicators that required sustained team effort performance continued to be poor, at less than 10%, in the post-intervention period. Data from the five-year period (2005–09) suggest some dose dependency though the adoption rate of the best-practices varied across diseases and over time.
Active dissemination of locally adapted clinical guidelines for common serious childhood illnesses can achieve a significant impact on documented clinical practices, particularly for tasks that rely on competence of individual clinicians. However, more attention must be given to broader implementation strategies that also target institutional and organisational aspects of service delivery to further enhance quality-of-care.
To define the prevalence and associations of co-morbidity and school attendance in older children with epilepsy (CWE) from a rural district of Tanzania by conducting a community-based case–control study.
Children aged 6–14 years old with active epilepsy (at least two unprovoked seizures in the last five years) were identified in a cross-sectional survey in Tanzania. Co-morbidities were assessed and cases were compared with age-matched controls.
Co-morbidity was very common amongst cases (95/112, 85%), with 62/112 (55%) having multiple co-morbidities. Co-morbidities consisted of cognitive impairment (72/112, 64%), behaviour disorder 68/112 (61%), motor difficulties 29/112 (26%), burns and other previous injuries (29/112, 26%). These complications were significantly more common in cases than in controls (odds ratio 14.8, 95%CI 7.6–28.6, p < 0.001). Co-morbidity in CWE was associated with structural cause, abnormal electroencephalogram and early onset seizures. Cognitive impairment was very common in CWE (64%) and was not associated with Phenobarbital use but was associated with motor difficulties, early onset and recurrent seizures. Poor school attendance was found in 56/112 (50%) of CWE, but not in the controls: it was associated with the presence of multiple co-morbidities, especially with motor difficulties in CWE.
Children with epilepsy in a rural area of sub-Saharan Africa had a high level of co-morbidity. Cognitive impairment and poor school attendance were very common. These associated difficulties in CWE in the region need to be addressed to reduce the negative impact of epilepsy on these children.
Epilepsy; Africa; Children; Co-morbidity; Cognitive impairment; Education
Village AIDS committees (VAC) were formed by the Tanzanian government in 2003 to provide HIV education to their communities. However, their potential has not been realised due to their limited knowledge and misconceptions surrounding HIV, which could be addressed through training of VAC members. In an attempt to increase HIV knowledge levels and address common misconceptions amongst the VACs, an HIV curriculum was delivered to members in rural north western Tanzania.
An evaluation of HIV knowledge was conducted prior to and post-delivery of HIV training sessions, within members of three VACs in Kisesa ward. Quantitative surveys were used with several open-ended questions to identify local misconceptions and evaluate HIV knowledge levels. Short educational training sessions covering HIV transmission, prevention and treatment were conducted, with each VAC using quizzes, role-plays and participatory learning and action tools. Post-training surveys occurred up to seven days after the final training session.
Before the training, "good" HIV knowledge was higher amongst men than women (p = 0.041), and among those with previous HIV education (p = 0.002). The trade-centre had a faster turn-over of VAC members, and proximity to the trade-centre was associated with a shorter time on the committee.
Training improved HIV knowledge levels with more members achieving a "good" score in the post-training survey compared with the baseline survey (p = < 0.001). The training programme was popular, with 100% of participants requesting further HIV training in the future and 51.7% requesting training at three-monthly intervals.
In this setting, a series of HIV training sessions for VACs demonstrated encouraging results, with increased HIV knowledge levels following short educational sessions. Further work is required to assess the success of VAC members in disseminating this HIV education to their communities, as well as up-scaling this pilot study to other regions in Tanzania with different misconceptions.
Adherence to a medical treatment means the extent to which a patient follows the instructions or recommendations by health professionals. There are direct and indirect ways to measure adherence which have been used for clinical management and research. Typically adherence measures are monitored over a long follow-up or treatment period, and some measurements may be missing due to death or other reasons. A natural question then is how to describe adherence behavior over the whole period in a simple way. In the literature, measurements over a period are usually combined just by using averages like percentages of compliant days or percentages of doses taken. In the paper we adapt an approach where patient adherence measures are seen as a stochastic process. Repeated measures are then analyzed as a Markov chain with finite number of states rather than as independent and identically distributed observations, and the transition probabilities between the states are assumed to fully describe the behavior of a patient. The patients can then be clustered or classified using their estimated transition probabilities. These natural clusters can be used to describe the adherence of the patients, to find predictors for adherence, and to predict the future events. The new approach is illustrated and shown to be useful with a simple analysis of a data set from the DART (Development of AntiRetroviral Therapy in Africa) trial in Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The role of religious beliefs in the prevention of HIV and attitudes towards the infected has received considerable attention. However, little research has been conducted on Faith Leaders' (FLs) perceptions of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the developing world. This study investigated FLs' attitudes towards different HIV treatment options (traditional, medical and spiritual) available in a rural Tanzanian ward.
Qualitative interviews were conducted with 25 FLs purposively selected to account for all the denominations present in the area. Data was organised into themes using the software package NVIVO-7. The field work guidelines were tailored as new topics emerged and additional codes progressively added to the coding frame.
Traditional healers (THs) and FLs were often reported as antagonists but duality prevailed and many FLs simultaneously believed in traditional healing. Inter-denomination mobility was high and guided by pragmatism.
Praying for the sick was a common practice and over one third of respondents said that prayer could cure HIV. Being HIV-positive was often seen as "a punishment from God" and a consequence of sin. As sinning could result from "the work of Satan", forgiveness was possible, and a "reconciliation with God" deemed as essential for a favourable remission of the disease. Several FLs believed that "evil spirits" inflicted through witchcraft could cause the disease and claimed that they could cast "demons" away.
While prayers could potentially cure HIV "completely", ART use was generally not discouraged because God had "only a part to play". The perceived potential superiority of spiritual options could however lead some users to interrupt treatment.
The roll-out of ART is taking place in a context in which the new drugs are competing with a diversity of existing options. As long as the complementarities of prayers and ART are not clearly and explicitly stated by FLs, spiritual options may be interpreted as a superior alternative and contribute to hampering adherence to ART. In contexts where ambivalent attitudes towards the new drugs prevail, enhancing FLs understanding of ART's strengths and pitfalls is an essential step to engage them as active partners in ART scale-up programs.
To determine trends in the prevalence and aetiological distribution of genital ulcer syndrome (GUS) in a cohort of female bar workers and to assess factors associated with these trends.
An open cohort of 600 women at high risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) was offered screening and treatment for STI at 3‐month intervals. The prevalence of GUS and associated aetiological agents (Herpes simplex virus (HSV), Treponema pallidum and Haemophilus ducreyi) were monitored over 27 months through clinical examination, dry lesion swabbing and multiplex polymerase chain reaction. The effects of HIV status and other factors on the prevalence trends of STI were assessed.
A total of 753 women were recruited into the cohort over 10 examination rounds. At recruitment, the seroprevalence was 67% for HIV and 89% for HSV type 2 (HSV‐2). During follow‐up, 57% of ulcers had unknown aetiology, 37% were due to genital herpes and 6% to bacterial aetiologies, which disappeared completely in later rounds. The absolute prevalence of genital herpes remained stable at around 2%. The proportion of GUS caused by HSV increased from 22% to 58%, whereas bacterial causes declined. These trends were observed in both HIV‐negative and HIV‐positive women.
The changes observed in the frequency and proportional distribution of GUS aetiologies suggest that regular STI screening and treatment over an extended period can effectively reduce bacterial STI and should therefore be sustained. However, in populations with a high prevalence of HSV‐2, there remains a considerable burden of genital herpes, which soon becomes the predominant cause of GUS. Given the observed associations between genital herpes and HIV transmission, high priority should be given to the evaluation of potential interventions to control HSV‐2 either through a vaccine or through episodic or suppressive antiviral therapy and primary prevention.
HIV; HSV; genital ulcer; cohort; STI
Diarrheal disease remains a major contributor to morbidity and mortality in Africa, but host defense against intestinal infection is poorly understood and may depend on nutritional status.
To test the hypothesis that defense against intestinal infection depends on micronutrient status, we undertook a randomized controlled trial of multiple micronutrient supplementation in a population where there is borderline micronutrient deficiency.
All consenting adults (≥18 y) living in a carefully defined sector of Misisi, Lusaka, Zambia, were included in a cluster-randomized (by household), double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with a midpoint crossover. There were no exclusion criteria. Participants were given a daily tablet containing 15 micronutrients at just above the recommended nutrient intake or placebo. The primary endpoint was the incidence of diarrhea; secondary endpoints were severe episodes of diarrhea, respiratory infection, nutritional status, CD4 count, and mortality.
Five hundred participants were recruited and followed up for 3.3 y (10 846 person-months). The primary endpoint, incidence of diarrhea (1.4 episodes/y per person), did not differ with treatment allocation. However, severe episodes of diarrhea were reduced in the supplementation group (odds ratio: 0.50; 95% CI: 0.26, 0.92; P = 0.017). Mortality was reduced in HIV-positive participants from 12 with placebo to 4 with supplementation (P = 0.029 by log-rank test), but this was not due to changes in CD4 count or nutritional status.
Micronutrient supplementation with this formulation resulted in only modest reductions in severe diarrhea and reduced mortality in HIV-positive participants. The trial was registered as ISRCTN31173864.
The scarcity of physicians in sub-Saharan Africa – particularly in rural clinics staffed only by non-physician health workers – is constraining access to HIV treatment, as only they are legally allowed to start antiretroviral therapy in the HIV-positive patient. Here we present a pilot study from Uganda assessing agreement between non-physician clinicians (nurses and clinical officers) and physicians in their decisions as to whether to start therapy.
We conducted the study at 12 government antiretroviral therapy sites in three regions of Uganda, all of which had staff trained in delivery of antiretroviral therapy using the WHO Integrated Management of Adult and Adolescent Illness guidelines for chronic HIV care. We collected seven key variables to measure patient assessment and the decision as to whether to start antiretroviral therapy, the primary variable of interest being the Final Antiretroviral Therapy Recommendation. Patients saw either a clinical officer or nurse first, and then were screened identically by a blinded physician during the same clinic visit. We measured inter-rater agreement between the decisions of the non-physician health workers and physicians in the antiretroviral therapy assessment variables using simple and weighted Kappa analysis.
Two hundred fifty-four patients were seen by a nurse and physician, while 267 were seen by a clinical officer and physician. The majority (> 50%) in each arm of the study were in World Health Organization Clinical Stages I and II and therefore not currently eligible for antiretroviral therapy according to national antiretroviral therapy guidelines. Nurses and clinical officers both showed moderate to almost perfect agreement with physicians in their Final Antiretroviral Therapy Recommendation (unweighted κ = 0.59 and κ = 0.91, respectively). Agreement was also substantial for nurses versus physicians for assigning World Health Organization Clinical Stage (weighted κ = 0.65), but moderate for clinical officers versus physicians (κ = 0.44).
Both nurses and clinical officers demonstrated strong agreement with physicians in deciding whether to initiate antiretroviral therapy in the HIV patient. This could lead to immediate benefits with respect to antiretroviral therapy scale-up and decentralization to rural areas in Uganda, as non-physician clinicians – particularly clinical officers – demonstrated the capacity to make correct clinical decisions to start antiretroviral therapy. These preliminary data warrant more detailed and multicountry investigation into decision-making of non-physician clinicians in the management of HIV disease with antiretroviral therapy, and should lead policy-makers to more carefully explore task-shifting as a shorter-term response to addressing the human resource crisis in HIV care and treatment.