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1.  Health, human rights and mobilization of resources for health 
There has been an increased interest in the role of a human rights framework to mobilize resources for health.
This paper argues that the human rights framework does provide us with an appropriate understanding of what values should guide a nation's health policy, and a potentially powerful means of moving the health agenda forward. It also, however, argues that appeals to human rights may not necessarily be effective at mobilizing resources for specific health problems one might want to do something about. Specifically, it is not possible to argue that a particular allocation of scarce health care resources should be changed to a different allocation, benefiting other groups. Lack of access to health care services by some people only shows that something has to be done, but not what should be done.
The somewhat weak claim identified above together with the obligation to realize progressively a right to health can be used to mobilize resources for health.
PMCID: PMC524497  PMID: 15473899
2.  Perception and beliefs about mental illness among adults in Karfi village, northern Nigeria 
This study was designed to examine the knowledge, attitude and beliefs about causes, manifestations and treatment of mental illness among adults in a rural community in northern Nigeria.
A cross sectional study design was used. A pre-tested, semi-structured questionnaire was administered to 250 adults residing in Karfi village, northern Nigeria.
The most common symptoms proffered by respondents as manifestations of mental illness included aggression/destructiveness (22.0%), loquaciousness (21.2%), eccentric behavior (16.1%) and wandering (13.3%). Drug misuse including alcohol, cannabis, and other street drugs was identified in 34.3% of the responses as a major cause of mental illness, followed by divine wrath/ God's will (19%), and magic/spirit possession (18.0%). About 46% of respondents preferred orthodox medical care for the mentally sick while 34% were more inclined to spiritual healing. Almost half of the respondents harbored negative feelings towards the mentally ill. Literate respondents were seven times more likely to exhibit positive feelings towards the mentally ill as compared to non-literate subjects (OR = 7.6, 95% confidence interval = 3.8–15.1).
Our study demonstrates the need for community educational programs in Nigeria aimed at demystifying mental illness. A better understanding of mental disorders among the public would allay fear and mistrust about mentally ill persons in the community as well as lessen stigmatization towards such persons.
PMCID: PMC515308  PMID: 15320952
Mental illness; perception; beliefs; attitudes; northern Nigeria
3.  Screening family planning needs: an operations research project in Guatemala 
Public sector health care providers in rural Guatemala have infrequently offered family planning information and services in routine visits. This operations research project tested a strategy to modify certain practices that prevent health workers from proactively screening clients' needs and meeting them.
The research design was quasi-experimental with a pretest-posttest-follow-up comparison group design. Health districts, which comprise health centers and posts, were purposively assigned to intervention or comparison groups to assure comparability of the two groups. The strategy was based on a job-aid designed to guide health workers in screening clients' reproductive intentions and family planning needs, help them to offer contraceptive methods if the woman expressed interest, and facilitate the provision of the method chosen at the time of the visit. The strategy was implemented at intervention sites during a period of six months. Upon completion of post-intervention measurements, the strategy was scaled up to the comparison sites, and a follow-up assessment was conducted nine months later. Results were evaluated by conducting three rounds of exit interviews with women exposed to the risk of unwanted pregnancy.
Study results showed a two to five-fold increase in providers' screening of clients' reproductive intentions. The proportion of clients who received information about contraceptives increased from 8% at the baseline to 42% immediately post-intervention, and 36% at the follow-up survey. The intervention also proved successful in improving the role service providers play in offering women a chance to ask questions and assisting women in making a selection. The proportion of women who received a method, referral or appointment increased and remained high in the intervention group, although no change was seen in the comparison group after their participation in the strategy.
The easy-to-use job aid developed for this project proved useful for screening clients' needs and reducing providers' reluctance to discuss family planning with clients and offer contraceptive services. Such family planning screening devices can be useful in traditional settings where both providers and clients shy away from discussing family planning issues.
PMCID: PMC420473  PMID: 15132752
family planning; operations research; reproductive health; Guatemala
4.  Following in the footsteps of smallpox: can we achieve the global eradication of measles? 
Although an effective measles vaccine has been available for almost 40 years, in 2000 there were about 30 million measles infections worldwide and 777,000 measles-related deaths. The history of smallpox suggests that achieving measles eradication depends on several factors; the biological characteristics of the organism; vaccine technology; surveillance and laboratory identification; effective delivery of vaccination programmes and international commitment to eradication.
Like smallpox, measles virus has several biological characteristics that favour eradication. Humans are the only reservoir for the virus, which causes a visible illness and infection leading to life-long immunity. As the measles virus has only one genetic serotype which is relatively stable over time, the same basic vaccine can be used world-wide. Vaccination provides protection against measles infection for at least 15 years, although efficacy may be reduced due to host factors such as nutritional status. Measles vaccination may also confer other non-specific health benefits leading to reduced mortality. Accurate laboratory identification of measles cases enables enhanced surveillance to support elimination programmes. The "catch-up, keep-up, follow-up" vaccination programme implemented in the Americas has shown that measles elimination is possible using existing technologies. On 17th October 2003 the "Cape Town Measles Declaration" by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Childrens Fund called on governments to intensify efforts to reduce measles mortality by supporting universal vaccination coverage and the development of more effective vaccination.
Although more difficult than for smallpox, recent experience in the Americas suggests that measles eradication is technically feasible. Growing international support to deliver these programmes means that measles, like smallpox, may very well become a curiosity of history.
PMCID: PMC387835  PMID: 15102333

Results 1-4 (4)