With quantitative sensory testing (QST) we recently found no differences in sensory function of the foot soles between groups of torture victims with or without exposure to falanga (beatings under the feet). Compared to matched controls the torture victims had hyperalgesia to deep mechano-nociceptive stimuli and hypoesthesia to non-noxious cutaneous stimuli. The purpose of the present paper was to extend the group analysis into individual sensory profiles of victims’ feet to explore possible relations between external violence (torture), reported pain, sensory symptoms and QST data to help clarify the underlying mechanisms.
We employed interviews and assessments of the pain and sensory symptoms and QST by investigators blinded to whether the patients, 32 male torture victims from the Middle East, had (n=15), or had not (n=17) been exposed to falanga. Pain intensity, area and stimulus dependence were used to characterize the pain. QST included thresholds for touch, cold, warmth, cold-pain, heat-pain, deep pressure pain and wind-up to cutaneous noxious stimuli. An ethnically matched control group was available.The normality criterion, from our control group data, was set as the mean +/− 1.28SD, thus including 80% of all values.QST data were transformed into three categories in relation to our normality range; hypoesthesia, normoesthesia or hyperesthesia/hyperalgesia.
Most patients, irrespective of having been exposed to falanga or not, reported severe pain when walking. This was often associated with hyperalgesia to deep mechanical pressure. Hypoesthesia to mechanical stimuli co-occurred with numbness, burning and with deep mechanical hyperalgesia more often than not, but otherwise, a hypoesthesia to cutaneous sensory modalities did not co-occur systematically to falanga, pain or sensory symptoms.
In torture victims, there seem to be overriding mechanisms, manifested by hyperalgesia to pressure pain, which is usually considered a sign of centralization. In addition there was cutaneous hypoesthesia, but since there was no obvious correlation to the localization of trauma, these findings may indicate centrally evoked disturbances in sensory transmission, that is, central inhibition. We interpret these findings as a sign of changes in central sensory processing as the unifying pathological mechanism of chronic pain in these persons.
Chronic pain; Falanga; Nerve injury; Sensitization; Torture
Falanga torture (beatings on the foot soles) produces local chronic pain and severe walking difficulties. We have previously reported signs of neuropathic pain in the feet of falanga victims. The objective here was to clarify underlying pain mechanisms by quantifying sensory impairments in the feet of torture victims who had experienced both generalized torture and those who had been exposed to falanga in addition. An ethnically matched control group was available.
We employed quantitative sensory testing (QST) by investigators blinded to whether the patients, 32 male torture victims from the Middle East, had (n=15), or had not (n=17) been exposed to falanga. Pain intensity, area and stimulus dependence were used to characterize the pain as were interview data on sensory symptoms. QST included thresholds for touch, cold, warmth, cold-pain, heat-pain, deep pressure pain and wind-up to cutaneous noxious stimuli in the foot soles. Clinical data on anxiety and depression were retrieved.
Almost all falanga victims had moderate or strong pain in their feet and in twice as large an area of their foot soles as other torture victims. One-third of the latter had no pain in their feet and many reported slight pain; in spite of this, there were no differences in foot sole QST data between the tortured groups. A comparison with normal data indicated that both tortured groups had hypoesthesia for all cutaneous sensory fibre groups except those transmitting cold and heat pain, in addition to deep mechano-nociceptive hyperalgesia.
A comparison of the QST data between victims having been exposed to generalized torture and victims who in addition had been exposed to falanga, showed no differences on the group level. The sensory disturbances in relation to our control group are compatible with central sensitization and de-sensitization, pointing to a core role of central mechanisms. A further analysis to create individual sensory profiles from our measurements is in progress.
Chronic pain; Central inhibition; Falanga; Nerve injury; Sensitization; Torture
Adolescent girls are an overlooked group within conflict-affected populations and their sexual health needs are often neglected. Girls are disproportionately at risk of HIV and other STIs in times of conflict, however the lack of recognition of their unique sexual health needs has resulted in a dearth of distinctive HIV protection and prevention responses. Departing from the recognition of a paucity of literature on the distinct vulnerabilities of girls in time of conflict, this study sought to deepen the knowledge base on this issue by qualitatively exploring the sexual vulnerabilities of adolescent girls surviving abduction and displacement in Northern Uganda.
Over a ten-month period between 2004–2005, at the height of the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency in Northern Uganda, 116 in-depth interviews and 16 focus group discussions were held with adolescent girls and adult women living in three displacement camps in Gulu district, Northern Uganda. The data was transcribed and key themes and common issues were identified. Once all data was coded the ethnographic software programme ATLAS was used to compare and contrast themes and categories generated in the in-depth interviews and focus group discussions.
Our results demonstrated the erosion of traditional Acholi mentoring and belief systems that had previously served to protect adolescent girls’ sexuality. This disintegration combined with: the collapse of livelihoods; being left in camps unsupervised and idle during the day; commuting within camp perimeters at night away from the family hut to sleep in more central locations due to privacy and insecurity issues, and; inadequate access to appropriate sexual health information and services, all contribute to adolescent girls’ heightened sexual vulnerability and subsequent enhanced risk for HIV/AIDS in times of conflict.
Conflict prevention planners, resettlement programme developers, and policy-makers need to recognize adolescent girls affected by armed conflict as having distinctive needs, which require distinctive responses. More adaptive and sustainable gender-sensitive reproductive health strategies and HIV prevention initiatives for displaced adolescent girls in conflict settings must be developed.
Adolescent girls; Conflict; Sexual vulnerability; Displacement camps; Northern Uganda; Acholi; Qualitative; HIV/AIDS
Taiwan has been dispatching an increasing number of short-term medical missions (STMMs) to its allied nations to provide humanitarian health care; however, overall evaluations to help policy makers strengthen the impact of such missions are lacking. Our primary objective is to identify useful strategies by comparing STMMs to the South Pacific and Central America.
The data for the evaluation come from two main sources: the official reports of 46 missions to 11 countries in Central America and 25 missions to 8 countries in the South Pacific, and questionnaires completed by health professionals who had participated in the above missions. In Central America, STMMs were staffed by volunteer health professionals from multiple institutions. In the South Pacific, STMMs were staffed by volunteer health professionals from single institutions.
In comparison to STMMs to Central America, STMMs to the South Pacific accomplished more educational training for local health providers, including providing heath-care knowledge and skills (p<0.05), and training in equipment administration (p<0.001) and drug administration (p<0.005). In addition, language constraints were more common among missions to Central America (p<0.001). There was no significant difference in the performance of clinical service between the two regions.
Health-care services provided by personnel from multiple institutions are as efficient as those from single institutions. Proficiency in the native language and provision of education for local health-care workers are essential for conducting a successful STMM. Our data provide implications for integrating evidence into the deployment of STMMs.
Medical missions; Health professional; Language; Education; Efficiency
In Uganda, despite a significant public health burden of tuberculosis (TB) in the context of high human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevalence, little is known about community knowledge of TB. The purpose of this study was to assess and compare knowledge about TB and HIV in the general population of western Uganda and to examine common knowledge gaps and misconceptions.
We implemented a multi-stage survey design to randomly survey 360 participants from one district in western Uganda. Weighted summary knowledge scores for TB and HIV were calculated and multiple linear regression (with knowledge score as the dependant variable) was used to determine significant predictors. Six focus group discussions were conducted to supplement survey findings.
Mean (SD) HIV knowledge score was 58 (12) and TB knowledge score was 33 (15), both scores out of 100. The TB knowledge score was statistically significantly (p < 0.001) lower. Multivariate regression models included age, sex, marital status, education, residence, and having a friend with HIV/TB as independent variables. TB knowledge was predicted by rural residence (coefficient = −6.27, 95% CI: -11.7 to −0.8), and age ≥45 years (coefficient = 7.45, 95% CI: 0.3-14.6). HIV knowledge was only predicted by higher education (coefficient = 0.94, 95%CI: 0.3-1.6). Focus group participants mentioned various beliefs in the aetiology of TB including sharing cups, alcohol consumption, smoking, air pollution, and HIV. Some respondents believed that TB was not curable.
TB knowledge is low and many misconceptions about TB exist: these should be targeted through health education programs. Both TB and HIV-infection knowledge gaps could be better addressed through an integrated health education program on both infections, whereby TB program managers include HIV information and vice versa.
Tuberculosis; Human immunodeficiency virus; Community knowledge; Uganda
There is limited research about IPV against women and associated factors in Sub-Saharan Africa, not least Mozambique. The objective of this study was to examine the occurrence, severity, chronicity and “predictors” of IPV against women in Maputo City (Mozambique).
Data were collected during a 12 month-period (consecutive cases, with each woman seen only once) from 1,442 women aged 15–49 years old seeking help for abuse by an intimate partner at the Forensic Services at the Maputo Central Hospital, Maputo City, Mozambique. Interviews were conducted by trained female interviewers, and data collected included demographics and lifestyle variables, violence (using the previously validated Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2), and control (using the Controlling Behaviour Scale Revised (CBS-R). The data were analysed using bivariate and multivariate methods.
The overall experienced IPV during the past 12 months across severity (one or more types, minor and severe) was 70.2% (chronicity, 85.8 ± 120.9).a Severe IPV varied between 26.3-45.9% and chronicity between 3.1 ± 9.1-12.8 ± 26.9, depending on IPV type. Severity and chronicity figures were higher in psychological aggression than in the other IPV types. Further, 26.8% (chronicity, 55.3 ± 117.6) of women experienced all IPV types across severity. The experience of other composite IPV types across severity (4 combinations of 3 types of IPV) varied between 27.1-42.6% and chronicity between 35.7 ± 80.3-64.9 ± 110.9, depending on the type of combination. The combination psychological aggression, physical assault and sexual coercion had the highest figures compared with the other combinations. The multiple regressions showed that controlling behaviours, own perpetration and co-occurring victimization were more important in “explaining” the experience of IPV than other variables (e.g. abuse as a child).
In our study, controlling behaviours over/by partner, own perpetration, co-occurring victimization and childhood abuse were more important factors in “explaining” sustained IPV. More investigation into women’s IPV exposure and its “predictors” is warranted in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Mozambique.
Intimate partner violence; Victims; Controlling behaviours; Perpetration; Abuse as a child
This research assesses informal markets that dominate pharmaceutical systems in severely disrupted countries and identifies areas for further investigation. Findings are based on recent academic papers, policy and grey literature, and field studies in Somalia, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti. The public sector in the studied countries is characterized in part by weak Ministries of Health and low donor coordination. Informal markets, where medicines are regularly sold in market stalls and unregulated pharmacies, often accompanied by unqualified medical advice, have proliferated. Counterfeit and sub-standard medicines trade networks have also developed. To help increase medicine availability for citizens, informal markets should be integrated into existing access to medicines initiatives.
Maternal mortality and morbidity remains high in many low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) represents an underestimated and unrecognised impediment to optimal maternal health in LMIC; left untreated – it also has severe consequences for the offspring. A better understanding of the barriers hindering detection and treatment of GDM is needed. Based on experiences from World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) supported GDM projects this paper seeks to investigate societal and health system barriers to such efforts.
Questionnaires were filled out by 10 WDF supported GDM project partners implementing projects in eight different LMIC. In addition, interviews were conducted with the project partners. The interviews were analysed using content analysis.
Barriers to improving maternal health related to GDM nominated by project implementers included lack of trained health care providers - especially female doctors; high staff turnover; lack of standard protocols, consumables and equipment; financing of health services and treatment; lack of or poor referral systems, feedback mechanisms and follow-up systems; distance to health facility; perceptions of female body size and weight gain/loss in relation to pregnancy; practices related to pregnant women’s diet; societal negligence of women’s health; lack of decision-making power among women regarding their own health; stigmatisation; role of women in society and expectations that the pregnant woman move to her maternal home for delivery.
A number of barriers within the health system and society exist. Programmes need to consider and address these barriers in order to improve GDM care and thereby maternal health in LMIC.
Gestational diabetes mellitus; Health system; Society; Barriers; Low- and middle-income countries
The Hijra is a distinct type of gender role in South Asia where men act like women. This group of people is socially excluded by the general community, in terms of attainment of an opportunity for a socially productive life. Often this sort of deprivation forces these individuals towards professions like sex trade, in pursuit of sustenance, which as a consequence places them as a key block in the puzzle of an impending generalized HIV epidemic in Pakistan.
This study is a qualitative study, which involved 8 in-depth interviews and four focus group discussions, conducted in Rawalpindi and Islamabad (Pakistan) from February to April 2012. The data was audio taped and transcribed. Key themes were identified and built upon. The respondents were contacted through a gate keeper Hijra who was a member of the hijra community. Multiple interview sessions were conducted with each respondent.
Two key categories of the Hijras were identified as Khusrapan and Zananapan, during the in-depth interview sessions. This initial information paved way for the four focus group discussions. The data was presented using key themes which were identified. The study participants explained their life histories to us which made it obvious that they had been socially excluded at many stages of their lives from performing normal social functions. This lack of occupational and educational opportunities pushed them towards entering the risky business of selling sex.
The transgender community is socially excluded by the Pakistani society which is leading them to indulge in commercial sex and putting their lives at risk. Prudent measures are needed to form community based organizations managed and led by hijra community and addressing their social exclusion and risky behaviors.
Hijras; Commercial sex work; Social exclusion; HIV and Pakistan
Given that many low income countries are heavily reliant on external assistance to fund their health sectors the acceptance of obligations of international assistance and cooperation with regard to the right to health (global health obligations) is insufficiently understood and studied by international health and human rights scholars. Over the past decade Global Health Initiatives, like the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) have adopted novel approaches to engaging with stakeholders in high and low income countries. This article explores how this experience impacted on acceptance of the international obligation to (help) fulfil the right to health beyond borders.
The authors conducted an extensive review of international human rights law literature, transnational legal process literature, global public health literature and grey literature pertaining to Global Health Initiatives. To complement this desk work and deepen their understanding of how and why different legal norms evolve the authors conducted 19 in-depth key informant interviews with actors engaged with three stakeholders; the European Union, the United States and Belgium. The authors then analysed the interviews through a transnational legal process lens.
Through according value to the process of examining how and why different legal norms evolve transnational legal process offers us a tool for engaging with the dynamism of developments in global health suggesting that operationalising global health obligations could advance the right to health for all.
In many low-income countries the health sector is heavily dependent on external assistance to fulfil the right to health of people thus it is vital that policies and tools for delivering reliable, long-term assistance are developed so that the right to health for all becomes more than a dream. Our research suggests that the Global Fund experience offers lessons to build on.
Global health initiatives; Human rights; The Global Fund to fight AIDS; Tuberculosis and Malaria; HIV; Right to health; Transnational legal process; Extraterritorial legal obligations
Accelerating progress towards universal coverage in African countries calls for concrete actions that reinforce social health protection through establishment of sustainable health financing mechanisms. In order to explore possible pathways for moving past the existing obstacles, panel discussions were organized on health financing bringing together Ministers of health and Ministers of finance with the objective of creating a discussion space where the different perspectives on key issues and needed actions could meet. This article presents a synthesis of panel discussions focusing on the identified challenges and the possible solutions. The overview of this paper is based on the objectives and proceedings of the panel discussions and relies on the observation and study of the interaction between the panelists and on the discourse used.
The discussion highlighted that a large proportion of the African population has no access to needed health services with significant reliance on direct out of pocket payments. There are multiple obstacles in making prepayment and pooling mechanisms operational. The relatively strong political commitment to health has not always translated into more public spending for health. Donor investment in health in low income countries still falls below commitments. There is need to explore innovative domestic revenue collection mechanisms. Although inadequate funding for health is a fundamental problem, inefficient use of resources is of great concern. There is need to generate robust evidence focusing on issues of importance to ministry of finance. The current unsatisfactory state of health financing was mainly attributed to lack of clear vision; evidence based plans and costed strategies.
Based on the analysis of discussion made, there are points of convergence and divergence in the discourse and positions of the two ministries. The current blockage points holding back budget allocations for health can be solved with a more evidence based approach and dialogue based on a clear vision and costed strategic plan articulated by the ministry of health. Improving health in Africa is a driver for long-term economic growth and development and this is the reason why the ministries of health and finance will need to find common ground on how to create policy coherence and how to articulate their respective objectives.
Health financing; Ministry of health; Ministry of finance; Africa; Panel discussion
This study investigates factors determining the timing of antenatal care (ANC) visit and the type of delivery assistant present during delivery among a national representative sample of Ghanaian women.
Data for the study was drawn from the women questionnaire (N=4,916) of the 2008 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey among 15–49-years-old women. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to explore factors determining the type of delivery assistance and timing of ANC visit for live births within five years prior to the survey.
Majority of Ghanaian women attended ANC visit (96.5%) but many (42.7%) did so late (after the first trimester), while 36.5% had delivery without the assistance of a trained personnel (30.6%) or anyone (5.9%). Age (OR=1.5, CI=1.1-1.9, OR for 25-34-year-olds compared to 15-24-year-olds), religion (OR=1.8, CI=1.2-2.8, OR for Christians versus Traditional believers) wealth index (OR=2.6, CI=1.7-3.8, OR for the richest compared to the poorest) were independently associated with early ANC visit. Likewise, age, place of residence, education and partner’s education were associated with having a delivery assisted by a trained assistant. Also, Christians (OR=1.8, CI=1.1-3.0) and Moslems (OR=1.9, CI=1.1-3.3) were more likely to have trained delivery assistants compared to their counterparts who practised traditional belief. Furthermore, the richer a woman the more likely that she would have delivery assisted by a trained personnel (OR=8.2, CI= 4.2-16.0, OR for the richest in comparison to the poorest).
Despite the relatively high antenatal care utilisation among Ghanaian women, significant variations exist across the socio-demographic spectrum. Furthermore, a large number of women failed to meet the WHO recommendation to attend antenatal care within the first trimester of pregnancy. These findings have important implications for reducing maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters by the year 2015.
Antenatal care; Maternal health; Timing of antenatal care visit; Type of delivery assistance
The health and well-being of widows in India is an important but neglected issue of public health and women’s rights. We investigate the lives of Indian women as they become widows, focussing on the causes of their husband’s mortality and the ensuing consequences of these causes on their own lives and identify the opportunities and challenges that widows face in living healthy and fulfilling lives.
Data were collected in a Gram Panchayat (lowest level territorial decentralised unit) in the south Indian state of Kerala. Interviews were undertaken with key informants in order to gain an understanding of local constructions of ‘widowhood’ and the welfare and social opportunities for widows. Then we conducted semi-structured interviews with widows in the community on issues related to health and vulnerability, enabling us to hear perspectives from widows. Data were analysed for thematic content and emerging patterns. We synthesized our findings with theoretical understandings of vulnerability and Amartya Sen’s entitlements theory to develop a conceptual framework.
Two salient findings of the study are: first, becoming a widow can be viewed as a type of ‘shock’ that operates similarly to other ‘economic shocks’ or ‘health shocks’ in poor countries except that the burden falls disproportionately on women. Second, widowhood is not a static phenomenon, but rather can be viewed as a multi-phased process with different public health implications at each stage.
More research on widows in India and other countries will help to both elucidate the challenges faced by widows and encourage potential solutions. The framework developed in this paper could be used to guide future research on widows.
Tanzania is experiencing acute shortages of Health Workers (HWs), a situation which has forced health managers, especially in the underserved districts, to hastily cope with health workers’ shortages by adopting task shifting. This has however been due to limited options for dealing with the crisis of health personnel. There are on-going discussions in the country on whether to scale up task shifting as one of the strategies for addressing health personnel crisis. However, these discussions are not backed up by rigorous scientific evidence. The aim of this paper is two-fold. Firstly, to describe the current situation of implementing task shifting in the context of acute shortages of health workers and, secondly, to provide a descriptive account of the potential opportunities or benefits and the likely challenges which might ensue as a result of implementing task shifting.
We employed in-depth interviews with informants at the district level and supplemented the information with additional interviews with informants at the national level. Interviews focussed on the informants’ practical experiences of implementing task shifting in their respective health facilities (district level) and their opinions regarding opportunities and challenges which might be associated with implementation of task shifting practices. At the national level, the main focus was on policy issues related to management of health personnel in the context of implementation of task shifting, in addition to seeking their opinions and perceptions regarding opportunities and challenges of implementing task shifting if formally adopted.
Task shifting has been in practice for many years in Tanzania and has been perceived as an inevitable coping mechanism due to limited options for addressing health personnel shortages in the country. Majority of informants had the concern that quality of services is likely to be affected if appropriate policy infrastructures are not in place before formalising tasks shifting. There was also a perception that implementation of task shifting has ensured access to services especially in underserved remote areas. Professional discontent and challenges related to the management of health personnel policies were also perceived as important issues to consider when implementing task shifting practices. Additional resources for additional training and supervisory tasks were also considered important in the implementation of task shifting in order to make it deliver much the same way as it is for conventional modalities of delivering care.
Task shifting implementation occurs as an ad hoc coping mechanism to the existing shortages of health workers in many undeserved areas of the country, not just in the study site whose findings are reported in this paper. It is recommended that the most important thing to do now is not to determine whether task shifting is possible or effective but to define the limits of task shifting so as to reach a consensus on where it can have the strongest and most sustainable impact in the delivery of quality health services. Any action towards this end needs to be evidence-based.
It was long speculated that there could be under-immunized pockets in the war affected Northern part of Sri Lanka relative to other areas. With the cessation of hostilities following the military suppression of the rebellion, opportunities have arisen to appraise the immunization status of children in areas of re-settlement in former war ravaged districts.
We conducted a cross-sectional study to describe the coverage and age appropriateness of infant vaccinations in a former conflict district during the phase of re-settlement. The target population comprised all children of re-settled families in the age group of 12 – 23 months in the district. We selected a study sample of 300 children from among the target population using the WHO’s 30 cluster EPI survey method. Trained surveyors collected data using a structured checklist. The infant vaccination status was ascertained by reviewing vaccination records in the Child Health Development Record or any other alternative documentary evidence.
The survey revealed that the proportion of fully vaccinated children in the district was 91%. For individual vaccines, it ranged from 92% (measles) to 100% (BCG, DPT/OPV1). However, the age appropriateness of vaccination was less than 50% for all antigens except for BCG (94%). The maximum number of days of delay of vaccinations ranged from 21 days for BCG to 253 days for measles. Age appropriate vaccination rates significantly differed for DPT/OPV1-3 and measles during the conflict and post-conflict stages while it did not for the BCG. Age appropriate vaccination rates were significantly higher for DPT/OPV1-3 during the conflict while for the measles it was higher in the post conflict stage.
Though the vaccination coverage for infant vaccines in the war affected Kilinochchi district was similar to other districts in the country, it masked a disparity in terms of low age-appropriateness of infant immunizations given in field settings. This finding underscores the need for investigation of underlying reasons and introduction of remedial measures in the stage of restoring Primary Health Care services in the ex-conflict zone.
Conflict; Vaccination; Coverage; Age-appropriate; Sri- Lanka
Globally, extending financial protection and equitable access to health services to those outside the formal sector employment is a major challenge for achieving universal coverage. While some favour contributory schemes, others have embraced tax-funded health service cover for those outside the formal sector. This paper critically examines the issue of how to cover those outside the formal sector through the lens of stakeholder views on the proposed one-time premium payment (OTPP) policy in Ghana.
Ghana in 2004 implemented a National Health Insurance Scheme, based on a contributory model where service benefits are restricted to those who contribute (with some groups exempted from contributing), as the policy direction for moving towards universal coverage. In 2008, the OTPP system was proposed as an alternative way of ensuring coverage for those outside formal sector employment. There are divergent stakeholder views with regard to the meaning of the one-time premium and how it will be financed and sustained. Our stakeholder interviews indicate that the underlying issue being debated is whether the current contributory NHIS model for those outside the formal employment sector should be maintained or whether services for this group should be tax funded. However, the advantages and disadvantages of these alternatives are not being explored in an explicit or systematic way and are obscured by the considerable confusion about the likely design of the OTPP policy. We attempt to contribute to the broader debate about how best to fund coverage for those outside the formal sector by unpacking some of these issues and pointing to the empirical evidence needed to shed even further light on appropriate funding mechanisms for universal health systems.
The Ghanaian debate on OTPP is related to one of the most important challenges facing low- and middle-income countries seeking to achieve a universal health care system. It is critical that there is more extensive debate on the advantages and disadvantages of alternative funding mechanisms, supported by a solid evidence base, and with the policy objective of universal coverage providing the guiding light.
Universal health care coverage; National health insurance; Policy objective; Policy options; Those outside formal sector employment; Tax funding; One-time premium payment; Ghana
Corruption is a serious threat to global health outcomes, leading to financial waste and adverse health consequences. Yet, forms of corruption impacting global health are endemic worldwide in public and private sectors, and in developed and resource-poor settings alike. Allegations of misuse of funds and fraud in global health initiatives also threaten future investment. Current domestic and sectorial-level responses are fragmented and have been criticized as ineffective. In order to address this issue, we propose a global health governance framework calling for international recognition of “global health corruption” and development of a treaty protocol to combat this crucial issue.
Global health; Global health governance; Corruption; Informal economy; International law; Health policy; Health system strengthening
Child cash transfers are increasingly recognised for their potential to reduce poverty and improve health outcomes. South Africa‘s child support grant (CSG) constitutes the largest cash transfer in the continent. No studies have been conducted to look at factors associated with successful receipt of the CSG. This paper reports findings on factors associated with CSG receipt in three settings in South Africa (Paarl in the Western Cape Province, and Umlazi and Rietvlei in KwaZulu-Natal).
This study used longitudinal data from a community-based cluster-randomized trial (PROMISE EBF) promoting exclusive breastfeeding by peer-counsellors in South Africa (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00397150). 1148 mother-infant pairs were enrolled in the study and data on the CSG were collected at infant age 6, 12, 24 weeks and 18–24 months. A stratified cox proportional hazards regression model was fitted to the data to investigate factors associated with CSG receipt.
Uptake of the CSG amongst eligible children at a median age of 22 months was 62% in Paarl, 64% in Rietvlei and 60% in Umlazi. Possessing a birth certificate was found to be the strongest predictor of CSG receipt (HR 3.1, 95% CI: 2.4 -4.1). Other factors also found to be independently associated with CSG receipt were an HIV-positive mother (HR 1.2, 95% CI: 1.0-1.4) and a household income below R1100 (HR1.7, 95% CI: 1.1 -2.6).
Receipt of the CSG was sub optimal amongst eligible children showing administrative requirements such as possessing a birth certificate to be a serious barrier to access. In the spirit of promoting and protecting children’s rights, more efforts are needed to improve and ease access to this cash transfer program.
Much of the unskilled and semi-skilled workforce in Thailand comprises migrant workers from neighbouring countries. While, in principle, healthcare facilities in the host country are open to those migrants registered with the Ministry of Labour, their actual healthcare-seeking preferences and practices, as well as those of unregistered migrants, are not well documented. This study aimed to describe the patterns of healthcare-seeking behaviours of immigrant workers in Thailand, emphasizing healthcare practices for TB-suspicious symptoms, and to identify the role of occupation and other factors influencing these behaviours.
A survey was conducted among 614 immigrant factory workers (FW), rubber tappers (RT) and construction workers (CW), in which information was sought on socio-demography, history of illness and related healthcare-seeking behaviour. Mixed effects logistic regression modeling was employed in data analysis.
Among all three occupations, self-medication was the most common way of dealing with illnesses, including the development of TB-suspicious symptoms, for which inappropriate drugs were used. Only for GI symptoms and obstetric problems did migrant workers commonly seek healthcare at modern healthcare facilities. For GI illness, FW preferred to attend the in-factory clinic and RT a private facility over government facilities owing to the quicker service and greater convenience. For RT, who were generally wealthier, the higher cost of private treatment was not a deterrent. CW preferentially chose a government healthcare facility for their GI problems. For obstetric problems, including delivery, government facilities were utilized by RT and CW, but most FW returned to their home country. After adjusting for confounding, having legal status in the country was associated with overall greater use of government facilities and being female and being married with use of both types of modern healthcare facility. One-year estimated period prevalence of TB-suspicious symptoms was around 6% among FW but around 27% and 30% in RT and CW respectively. However, CW were the least likely to visit a modern healthcare facility for these symptoms.
Self medication is the predominant mode of healthcare seeking among these migrant workers. When accessing a modern healthcare facility the choice is influenced by occupation and its attendant lifestyle and socioeconomic conditions. Utilization of modern facilities could be improved by reducing the current barriers by more complete registration coverage and better provision of healthcare information, in which local vendors of the same ethnicity could play a useful role. Active surveillance for TB among migrant workers, especially CW, may lead to better TB control.
As part of a comprehensive study on the primary health care system in Iraq, we sought to explore primary care providers’ perspectives about the main problems influencing the provision of primary care services and opportunities to improve the system.
A qualitative study based on four focus groups involving 40 primary care providers from 12 primary health care centres was conducted in Erbil governorate in the Iraqi Kurdistan region between July and October 2010. A topic guide was used to lead discussions and covered questions on positive aspects of and current problems with the primary care system in addition to the priority needs for its improvement. The discussions were fully transcribed and the qualitative data was analyzed by content analysis, followed by a thematic analysis.
Problems facing the primary care system included inappropriate health service delivery (irrational use of health services, irrational treatment, poor referral system, poor infrastructure and poor hygiene), health workforce challenges (high number of specialists, uneven distribution of the health workforce, rapid turnover, lack of training and educational opportunities and discrepancies in the salary system), shortage in resources (shortage and low quality of medical supplies and shortage in financing), poor information technology and poor leadership/governance. The greatest emphasis was placed on poor organization of health services delivery, particularly the irrational use of health services and the related overcrowding and overload on primary care providers and health facilities. Suggestions for improving the system included application of a family medicine approach and ensuring effective planning and monitoring.
This study has provided a comprehensive understanding of the factors that negatively affect the primary care system in Iraq’s Kurdistan region from the perspective of primary care providers. From their experience, primary care providers have a role in informing the community and policy makers about the main problems affecting this system, though improvements to the health care system must be taken up at the national level and involve other key stakeholders.
Primary care; Care providers; Focus group; Service delivery; Kurdistan region
An evaluation of progress with participatory approaches for improvement of health knowledge and health experiences of disadvantaged people in eight Districts of Eastern Nepal has been undertaken.
A random selection of Village Development Committees and households, within the eight Districts where participation and a Rights-based Approach had been promoted specifically by local NGOs were compared with similar villages and households in eight Districts where this approach had not been promoted. Information was sought by structured interview and observation by experienced enumerators from both groups of householders. Health knowledge and experiences were compared between the two sets of households. Adjustments were made for demographic confounders.
Complete data sets were available for 628 of the 640 households. Health knowledge and experiences were low for both sets of households. However, health knowledge and experiences were greater in the participatory households compared with the non-participatory households. These differences remained after adjustment for confounders.
The study was designed to evaluate progress with participatory processes delivered by non-governmental organisations over a five year period. Improvements in health knowledge and experiences of disadvantaged people were demonstrated in a consistent and robust manner where interventions had taken place.
Diarrhoea is the second leading cause of death in children under five accounting for 1.8 million deaths yearly. Despite global efforts to reduce diarrhoea mortality through promotion of proper case management, there is still room for ample improvement. In order to seek options for such improvements this study explored the knowledge and practices of diarrhoea case management among health care providers at health centres and drug shops in Uganda.
Records were reviewed for case management and structured interviews concerning knowledge and practices were conducted with the staff at all health centres and at all identified drug shops in the rural district of Namutumba, Uganda.
There was a significant gap between knowledge and documented practices among staff. Antibiotics, antimalarials and antipyretics were prescribed or recommended as frequently as Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS). In almost a third of the health facilities, ORS was out of stock. 81% of staff in health centres and 87% of staff in drug shops stated that they prescribed antibiotics for common diarrhoea. Zinc was not prescribed or recommended in any case.
The findings indicate that many children presenting with diarrhoea are inadequately treated. As a result they may not get the rehydration they need and are at risk of potential side effects from unjustified usage of antibiotics. Practices must be improved at health centres and drug shops in order to reduce childhood mortality due to diarrhoeal diseases.
Diarrhoea; Diarrhoea case management; Diarrhoea control; Oral rehydration; Child health; Uganda
About half a billion people with disabilities in developing countries have limited access to assistive technology. The Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities requires governments to take measures to ensure provision of such technologies. To guide implementation of these measures there is a need for understanding health outcomes from a human rights perspective. The objective of this study was therefore to explore the relation between assistive technology use and enjoyment of human rights in a low-income country.
Data was collected in eight districts of Bangladesh through interviews of people with hearing impairments using and not using hearings aids, and people with ambulatory impairments using and not using manual wheelchairs (N = 583). Using logistic regression, self-reported outcomes on standard of living, health, education, work, receiving information and movement were analyzed.
The adjusted likelihood of reporting greater enjoyment of human rights was significantly higher among people using hearing aids compared to non-users for all outcomes except working status. Compared to non-users, users of wheelchairs reported a significantly higher adjusted likelihood of good ambulatory performance and a significantly lower adjusted likelihood of reporting a positive working status. Further analyses indicated that physical accessibility to working places and duration of wheelchair use had a statistically significant impact on the likelihood of reporting positive work outcomes.
The findings support the notion that assistive technology use increases the likelihood of human rights enjoyment, particularly hearing aid use. Physical accessibility should always be addressed in wheelchair provision.
Injury is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and even more so in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Iran is a LMIC and lacks information regarding injury for program and policy purposes. This study aimed to describe the incidence and patterns of injury in one province in South Eastern Iran.
A hospital-based, retrospective case review using a routinely collected registry in all Emergency Departments in Sistan and Baluchistan province, Iran for 12 months in 2007–2008.
In total 18,155 injuries were recorded during the study period. The majority of injuries in South Eastern Iran were due to road traffic crashes. Individuals living in urban areas sustained more injuries compared to individuals from rural areas. Males typically experienced more injuries than females. Males were most likely to be injured in a street/alley or village whereas females were most likely to be injured in or around the home. In urban areas, road traffic related injuries were observed to affect older age groups more than younger age groups. Poisoning was most common in the youngest age group, 0 to 4 years.
This study provides data on incidence and patterns of injury in South Eastern Iran. Knowledge of injury burden, such as this paper, is likely to help policy makers and planners with health service planning and injury prevention.
Iran; Injury; Road traffic crash; Urban/rural; Sex
The 58th World Health Assembly and 56th WHO Regional Committee for Africa adopted resolutions urging Member States to ensure that health financing systems included a method for prepayment to foster financial risk sharing among the population and avoid catastrophic health-care expenditure. The Regional Committee asked countries to strengthen or develop comprehensive health financing policies. This paper presents the findings of a survey conducted among senior staff of selected Eritrean ministries and agencies to elicit views on some of the elements likely to be part of a national health financing policy.
This is a descriptive study. A questionnaire was prepared and sent to 19 senior staff (Directors) in the Ministry of Health, Labour Department, Civil Service Administration, Eritrean Confederation of Workers, National Insurance Corporation of Eritrea and Ministry of Local Government. The respondents were selected by the Ministry of Health as key informants.
The key findings were as follows: the response rate was 84.2% (16/19); 37.5% (6/16) and 18.8% said that the vision of Eritrean National Health Financing Policy (NHFP) should include the phrases ‘equitable and accessible quality health services’ and ‘improve efficiency or reduce waste’ respectively; over 68% indicated that NHFP should include securing adequate funding, ensuring efficiency, ensuring equitable financial access, protection from financial catastrophe, and ensuring provider payment mechanisms create positive incentives to service providers; over 80% mentioned community participation, efficiency, transparency, country ownership, equity in access, and evidence-based decision making as core values of NHFP; over 62.5% confirmed that NHFP components should consist of stewardship (oversight), revenue collection, revenue pooling and risk management, resource allocation and purchasing of health services, health economics research, and development of human resources for health; over 68.8% indicated cost-sharing, taxation and social health insurance as preferred revenue collection mechanisms; and 68.75% indicated their preferred provider payment mechanism to be a global (lump sum) budget.
This study succeeded in gathering the preliminary views of senior staff of selected Eritrean ministries and agencies regarding the likely elements of the NHFP, i.e. the vision, objectives, components, provider payment mechanisms, and health financing agency and its governance. In addition to stakeholder surveys, it would be helpful to inform the development of the NHFP with other pieces of evidence, including cost-effectiveness analysis of health services and interventions, financial feasibility analysis of financing options, a survey of the political and professional acceptability of financing options, national health accounts, and equity analyses.