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1.  Structure, (governance) and health: an unsolicited response 
Background
In a recently published article, it was suggested that governance was the significant structural factor affecting the epidemiology of HIV. This suggestion was made notwithstanding the observed weak correlation between governance and HIV prevalence (r = .2). Unfortunately, the paper raised but left unexamined the potentially more important questions about the relationship between the broader health of populations and structural factors such as the national economy and physical infrastructure.
Methods
Utilizing substantially the same data sources as the original article, the relationship between population health (healthy life expectancy) and three structural factors (access to improved water, GDP per capita, and governance) were examined in each of 176 countries.
Results
Governance was found to be significantly correlated with population health, as were GDP per capita, and access to improved water. They were also found to be significantly correlated with each other.
Conclusion
The findings are discussed with reference to the growing interest in structural factors as an explanation for population health outcomes, and the relatively weak relationship between governance and HIV prevalence.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-12
PMCID: PMC1584251  PMID: 16978401
2.  Wealth and sexual behaviour among men in Cameroon 
Background
The 2004 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) in Cameroon revealed a higher prevalence of HIV in richest and most educated people than their poorest and least educated compatriots. It is not certain whether the higher prevalence results partly or wholly from wealthier people adopting more unsafe sexual behaviours, surviving longer due to greater access to treatment and care, or being exposed to unsafe injections or other HIV risk factors. As unsafe sex is currently believed to be the main driver of the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, we designed this study to examine the association between wealth and sexual behaviour in Cameroon.
Methods
We analysed data from 4409 sexually active men aged 15–59 years who participated in the Cameroon DHS using logistic regression models, and have reported odds ratios (OR) with confidence intervals (CI).
Results
When we controlled for the potential confounding effects of marital status, place of residence, religion and age, men in the richest third of the population were less likely to have used a condom in the last sex with a non-spousal non-cohabiting partner (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.32–0.56) and more likely to have had at least two concurrent sex partners in the last 12 months (OR 1.38, 95% CI 1.12–1.19) and more than five lifetime sex partners (OR 1.97, 95% CI 1.60–2.43). However, there was no difference between the richest and poorest men in the purchase of sexual services. Regarding education, men with secondary or higher education were less likely to have used a condom in the last sex with a non-spousal non-cohabiting partner (OR 0.24, 95% CI 0.16–0.38) and more likely to have started sexual activity at age 17 years or less (OR 2.73, 95% CI 2.10–3.56) and had more than five lifetime sexual partners (OR 2.59, 95% CI 2.02–3.31). There was no significant association between education and multiple concurrent sexual partnerships in the last 12 months or purchase of sexual services.
Conclusion
Wealthy men in Cameroon are more likely to start sexual activity early and have both multiple concurrent and lifetime sex partners, and are less likely to (consistently) use a condom in sex with a non-spousal non-cohabiting partner. These unsafe sexual behaviours may explain the higher HIV prevalence among wealthier men in the country. While these findings do not suggest a redirection of HIV prevention efforts from the poor to the wealthy, they do call for efforts to ensure that HIV prevention messages get across all strata of society.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-11
PMCID: PMC1574345  PMID: 16965633
3.  Awareness and practice of patient's rights law in Lithuania 
Background
Patient's rights law is intended to secure good medical practice, but it can also serve to improve understanding between patients and medical staff if both were aware of their rights.
Methods
Awareness and practice of the new patient's rights law in Lithuanian health care institutions was explored through a survey of 255 medical staff and 451 patients in the four Kaunas city medical units in 2002. Participation rates were 74% and 66%, respectively.
Results
Majority of the medical staff (85%) and little over one half of the patients (56%) had heard or read about the Law on Patient's Rights (p < 0.001). Only 50% of professionals compared to 69% of patients thought information for patients about diagnosis, treatment results and alternative treatments is necessary (p < 0.001). A clear discrepancy was indicated between physicians informing the patients (80% – 98% of physicians) and patients actually knowing (37% – 54%) their treatment prognosis, disease complications or possible alternative treatment methods.
Conclusion
These results suggest a need for awareness-raising among patients to improve the practical implementation of the Patient's Rights Law in Lithuania.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-10
PMCID: PMC1569439  PMID: 16948855
4.  Implementation of a structured paediatric admission record for district hospitals in Kenya – results of a pilot study 
Background
The structured admission form is an apparently simple measure to improve data quality. Poor motivation, lack of supervision, lack of resources and other factors are conceivably major barriers to their successful use in a Kenyan public hospital setting. Here we have examined the feasibility and acceptability of a structured paediatric admission record (PAR) for district hospitals as a means of improving documentation of illness.
Methods
The PAR was primarily based on symptoms and signs included in the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) diagnostic algorithms. It was introduced with a three-hour training session, repeated subsequently for those absent, aiming for complete coverage of admitting clinical staff. Data from consecutive records before (n = 163) and from a 60% random sample of dates after intervention (n = 705) were then collected to evaluate record quality. The post-intervention period was further divided into four 2-month blocks by open, feedback meetings for hospital staff on the uptake and completeness of the PAR.
Results
The frequency of use of the PAR increased from 50% in the first 2 months to 84% in the final 2 months, although there was significant variation in use among clinicians. The quality of documentation also improved considerably over time. For example documentation of skin turgor in cases of diarrhoea improved from 2% pre-intervention to 83% in the final 2 months of observation. Even in the area of preventive care documentation of immunization status improved from 1% of children before intervention to 21% in the final 2 months.
Conclusion
The PAR was well accepted by most clinicians and greatly improved documentation of features recommended by IMCI for identifying and classifying severity of common diseases. The PAR could provide a useful platform for implementing standard referral care treatment guidelines.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-9
PMCID: PMC1555611  PMID: 16857044
5.  Syphilis screening in the antenatal care: a cross-sectional study from Botswana 
Background
Congenital syphilis is recognized as a substantial public health problem in Sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of syphilis among antenatal care attendees in Botswana and to contribute to knowledge about the challenges facing the syphilis-screening programme.
Methods
In a cross-sectional study, 703 antenatal care attendees at 13 health facilities in Gaborone, Botswana were interviewed and examined. Venous blood samples were collected for the identification of syphilis infection. The antenatal records were used to obtain information on any screening, diagnosis and treatment of syphilis that had been done earlier in the current pregnancy.
Results
Active syphilis was found in 32 (5%) of the attendees. Among 546 women coming for a repeat antenatal care visit, 71 (13%) had not been screened for syphilis. Uptake late in pregnancy, delayed treatment and a high rate of seroconversion after testing were other identified obstacles to the effective prevention of congenital syphilis.
Conclusion
Syphilis prevalence among pregnant women in Botswana remains high, and there is still much to be gained by improving the effectiveness of the syphilis screening and treatment programme. Earlier antenatal care attendance, rapid on-site testing, improved partner treatment and a repeat test late in pregnancy to manage incident cases are important goals for patients, health care workers and health authorities.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-8
PMCID: PMC1538631  PMID: 16827943
6.  Care seeking behaviour for childhood illness- a questionnaire survey in western Nepal 
Background
The World Health Organization estimates that seeking prompt and appropriate care could reduce child deaths due to acute respiratory infections by 20%. The purpose of our study was to assess care seeking behaviour of the mothers during childhood illness and to determine the predictors of mother's care seeking behaviour.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey was conducted in the immunization clinics of Pokhara city, Kaski district, western Nepal. A trained health worker interviewed the mothers of children suffering from illness during the preceding 15 days.
Results
A total of 292 mothers were interviewed. Pharmacies (46.2%) were the most common facilities where care was sought followed by allopathic medical practitioners (26.4%). No care was sought for 8 (2.7%) children and 26 (8.9%) children received traditional/home remedies. 'Appropriate', 'prompt' and 'appropriate and prompt' care was sought by 77 (26.4%), 166 (56.8%) and 33 (11.3%) mothers respectively. The mothers were aware of fever (51%), child becoming sicker (45.2%) and drinking poorly (42.5%) as the danger signs of childhood illness. By multiple logistic regression analysis total family income, number of symptoms, mothers' education and perceived severity of illness were the predictors of care seeking behaviour.
Conclusion
The results of the present study show that the mothers were more likely to seek care when they perceived the illness as 'serious'. Poor maternal knowledge of danger signs of childhood illness warrants the need for a complementary introduction of community-based Integrated Management of Childhood Illness programmes to improve family's care seeking behaviour and their ability to recognize danger signs of childhood illness. Socioeconomic development of the urban poor may overcome their financial constraints to seek 'appropriate' and 'prompt' care during the childhood illness.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-7
PMCID: PMC1543657  PMID: 16719911
7.  Antenatal HIV testing in rural eastern Uganda in 2003: incomplete rollout of the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV programme? 
Background
Uganda began to implement the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programme in 2000, and by the end of 2003 it had expanded to cover 38 of the 56 districts including Mbale District. However, reports from Mbale Hospital showed that less than 10% of pregnant women accepted antenatal HIV testing. We therefore conducted a study to determine the proportion of pregnant women who tested for HIV and the gaps and barriers in PMTCT implementation.
Methods
The study was a cross sectional household survey of women aged 18 years or more, with children aged one year or less, who resided in Mbale Town or in the surrounding Bungokho County. We also conducted in-depth interviews with six health workers in Mbale Hospital.
Results
In 2003, we interviewed 457 women with a median age of 24 years. The prevalence of antenatal HIV testing was 10 percent. The barriers to antenatal HIV testing were unavailability of voluntary counselling and testing services (44%), lack of HIV counselling (42%) and perceived lack of benefits for HIV infected women and their infants. Primipara (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.2–5.8), urban dwellers (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.3–5.8), women having been counselled on HIV (OR 6.2, 95% CI 2.9–13.2), and women with husbands being their primary confidant (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.0–5.5) were independently associated with HIV testing.
Conclusion
The major barriers to PMTCT implementation were unavailability of PMTCT services, particularly in rural clinics, and poor antenatal counselling and HIV testing services. We recommend that the focus of the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV programme should shift to the district and sub-district levels, strengthen community mobilization, improve the quality of antenatal voluntary counselling and HIV testing services, use professional and peer counsellors to augment HIV counselling, and ensure follow-up care and support for HIV positive women and their infants.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-6
PMCID: PMC1533856  PMID: 16670031
8.  Demography and sex work characteristics of female sex workers in India 
Background
The majority of sex work in India is clandestine due to unfavorable legal environment and discrimination against female sex workers (FSWs). We report data on who these women are and when they get involved with sex work that could assist in increasing the reach of HIV prevention activities for them.
Methods
Detailed documentation of demography and various aspects of sex work was done through confidential interviews of 6648 FSWs in 13 districts in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The demography of FSWs was compared with that of women in the general population.
Results
A total of 5010 (75.4%), 1499 (22.5%), and 139 (2.1%) street-, home-, and brothel-based FSWs, respectively, participated. Comparison with women of Andhra Pradesh revealed that the proportion of those aged 20–34 years (75.6%), belonging to scheduled caste (35.3%) and scheduled tribe (10.5%), illiterate (74.7%), and of those separated/divorced (30.7%) was higher among FSWs (p < 0.001). The FSWs engaged in sex work for >5 years were more likely to be non-street-based FSWs, illiterate, living in small urban towns, and to have started sex work between 12–15 years of age. The mean age at starting sex work (21.7 years) and gap between the first vaginal intercourse and the first sexual intercourse in exchange for money (6.6 years) was lower for FSWs in the rural areas as compared with those in large urban areas (23.9 years and 8.8 years, respectively).
Conclusion
These data highlight that women struggling with illiteracy, lower social status, and less economic opportunities are especially vulnerable to being infected by HIV, as sex work may be one of the few options available to them to earn money. Recommendations for actions are made for long-term impact on reducing the numbers of women being infected by HIV in addition to the current HIV prevention efforts in India.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-5
PMCID: PMC1468426  PMID: 16615869
9.  Human rights, health and the state in Bangladesh 
Background
This paper broadly discusses the role of the State of Bangladesh in the context of the health system and human rights. The interrelation between human rights, health and development are well documented. The recognition of health as a fundamental right by WHO and subsequent approval of health as an instrument of welfare by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (ICSECR) further enhances the idea. Moreover, human rights are also recognized as an expedient of human development. The state is entrusted to realize the rights enunciated in the ICSECR.
Discussion
In exploring the relationship of the human rights and health situation in Bangladesh, it is argued, in this paper, that the constitution and major policy documents of the Bangladesh government have recognized the health rights and development. Bangladesh has ratified most of the international treaties and covenants including ICCPR, ICESCR; and a signatory of international declarations including Alma-Ata, ICPD, Beijing declarations, and Millennium Development Goals. However the implementation of government policies and plans in the development of health institutions, human resources, accessibility and availability, resource distribution, rural-urban disparity, the male-female gap has put the health system in a dismal state. Neither the right to health nor the right to development has been established in the development of health system or in providing health care.
Summary
The development and service pattern of the health system have negative correlation with human rights and contributed to the underdevelopment of Bangladesh. The government should take comprehensive approach in prioritizing the health rights of the citizens and progressive realization of these rights.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-4
PMCID: PMC1513254  PMID: 16611360
10.  A descriptive study of youth risk behavior in urban and rural secondary school students in El Salvador 
Background
Adolescence is an important stage of life for establishing healthy behaviors, attitudes, and lifestyles that contribute to current and future health. Health risk behavior is one indicator of health of young people that may serve both as a measure of health over time as well as a target for health policies and programs. This study examined the prevalence and distribution of youth health risk behaviors from five risk behavior domains–aggression, victimization, depression and suicidal ideation, substance use, and sexual behaviors–among public secondary school students in central El Salvador.
Methods
We employed a multi-stage sampling design in which school districts, schools, and classrooms were randomly selected. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire based on the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Sixteen schools and 982 students aged 12–20 years participated in the study.
Results
Health risk behaviors with highest prevalence rates included: engagement in physical fight (32.1%); threatened/injured with a weapon (19.9%); feelings of sadness/hopelessness (32.2%); current cigarette use (13.6%); and no condom use at last sexual intercourse (69.1%). Urban and male students reported statistically significant higher prevalence of most youth risk behaviors; female students reported statistically significant higher prevalence of feelings of sadness/hopelessness (35.6%), suicidal ideation (17.9%) and, among the sexually experienced, forced sexual intercourse (20.6%).
Conclusion
A high percentage of Salvadoran adolescents in this sample engaged in health risk behaviors, warranting enhanced adolescent health promotion strategies. Future health promotion efforts should target: the young age of sexual intercourse as well as low condom use among students, the higher prevalence of risk behaviors among urban students, and the important gender differences in risk behaviors, including the higher prevalence of reported feelings of sadness, suicidal ideation and forced sexual intercourse among females and higher sexual intercourse and substance use among males. Relevance of findings within the Salvadoran and the cross-national context and implications for health promotion efforts are discussed.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-3
PMCID: PMC1459212  PMID: 16608519
11.  Community referral in home management of malaria in western Uganda: A case series study 
Background
Home Based Management of fever (HBM) was introduced as a national policy in Uganda to increase access to prompt presumptive treatment of malaria. Pre-packed Chloroquine/Fansidar combination is distributed free of charge to febrile children <5 years. Persisting fever or danger signs are referred to the health centre. We assessed overall referral rate, causes of referral, referral completion and reasons for non-completion under the HBM strategy.
Methods
A case-series study was performed during 20 weeks in a West-Ugandan sub-county with an under-five population of 3,600. Community drug distributors (DDs) were visited fortnightly and recording forms collected. Referred children were located and primary caretaker interviewed in the household. Referral health facility records were studied for those stating having completed referral.
Results
Overall referral rate was 8% (117/1454). Fever was the main reason for mothers to seek DD care and for DDs to refer. Twenty-six of the 28 (93%) "urgent referrals" accessed referral care but 8 (31%) delayed >24 hours. Waiting for antimalarial drugs to finish caused most delays. Of 32 possible pneumonias only 16 (50%) were urgently referred; most delayed ≥ 2 days before accessing referral care.
Conclusion
The HBM has high referral compliance and extends primary health care to the communities by maintaining linkages with formal health services. Referral non-completion was not a major issue but failure to recognise pneumonia symptoms and delays in referral care access for respiratory illnesses may pose hazards for children with acute respiratory infections. Extending HBM to also include pneumonia may increase prompt and effective care of the sick child in sub-Saharan Africa.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-2
PMCID: PMC1434779  PMID: 16539744
12.  Effects of mothers' socio-economic status on the management of febrile conditions in their under five children in a resource limited setting 
Background
Public health research is shifting focus to the role of socioeconomic indicators in the promotion of health. As such an understanding of the roles that socio-economic factors play in improving health and health-seeking behaviour is important for public health policy. This is because the share of resources devoted to different policy options should depend on their relative effectiveness.
Objective
To measure the effect of socio-economic status (age, education, occupation, income, religion and family structure) of mothers on the management of febrile conditions in under-fives children
Method
Two hundred mothers who brought their febrile under-five children to a health facility were interviewed on the treatment they gave to their children before reporting at health facility. Data collected were entered and analyzed using the SPSS software. Binary logistic regression was adopted for the quantitative analysis of the effect of socio-economic variables on the mothers' actions prior to utilizing the health facility.
Results
Results showed that while mothers' age was negatively correlated (-0.13), occupation was positively correlated (0.17) with under-fives mothers' action. Education, religion, income and family structure were however insignificant at 5% level
Conclusion
This poses a lot of challenges to policy makers in the developing nations where women's education and earning capacity is low. There is therefore a need to increase the number of women benefiting from micro credit. This will ensure that more women are engaged in a form of occupation that is profitable and can sustain the economic and health needs of the family.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-1
PMCID: PMC1395328  PMID: 16426450

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