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We are conducting a cluster randomised controlled trial in Mokhotlong district, Lesotho, to evaluate a newly developed community-based intervention program to integrate HIV-testing and treatment services, early childhood care and development, and nutrition education for caregivers with children aged 1-5 years living in rural villages. Caregivers and their children are randomly assigned by village to intervention or control condition. We select, train, and supervise community health workers recruited to implement the intervention, which consists of nine group-based sessions with caregivers and children over 12 weeks (eight weekly sessions, and a ninth top-up session 1 month later), followed by a locally hosted community health outreach day event. This study provides a unique opportunity to assess the potential of an integrated early childhood development intervention to prevent or mitigate developmental delays in children living in a context of extreme poverty and high HIV rates in rural Lesotho. This paper presents the intervention content and research protocol for the study.

Users of e-TB Manager, a web-based eHealth system institutionalized in 10 resource-constrained countries that account for one-third of the world’s tuberculosis (TB) burden, reported that e-TB Manager helped to improve patient care and workplace productivity, and they found it reliable for case management. The users--especially those with more experience in TB programs and those who had used the system for more than two years--were generally satisfied with the system. Responses came from Armenia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Namibia, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ukraine, and Vietnam. The study concluded that younger users and those with less experience in TB programs need more training, and institutional capacity for managing e-TB Manager takes at least five years. The capacity  to manage e-TB Manager has been built in Brazil and Ukraine.

We examined how different training modalities have been employed and adapted in 12 countries to meet country-specific needs by a global pharmaceutical systems strengthening program in collaboration with a country’s Ministry of Health and local stakeholders. Case-based learning, practice and feedback, and repetitive interventions such as post-training action plan, supportive supervision and mentoring approaches are effective, evidence-based training techniques. In Ethiopia and Bangladesh, over 94% of respondents indicated that they have improved or developed skills or competencies as a result of the program’s training activities. Supportive supervision structures and mentorship have been institutionalized with appropriate management structures. National authorities have been sensitized to secure funding from domestic resources or from Global Fund grants for post-training follow-up initiatives. The Pharmaceutical Leadership Development Program is an effective, case-based training modality that motivates staff to develop quality-improvement interventions and solve specific challenges. Peer-to-peer learning mechanisms rather than traditional didactic methods was a preferred intervention among high level government officials both within country and between countries.

Private-sector retail drug outlets are often the first point of contact for common health ailments, including tuberculosis (TB). The objective of this systematic review was to better understand the extent to which the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation on engaging retail drug outlets has been translated into programmatic policy, strategy, and intervention in low- and middle-income countries. The study found that of national strategic plans for TB control from 14 countries with varying TB burdens and a strong private sector, only 2 had explicit statements on the need to engage their national pharmacy professional association. The success rate of referrals from retail drug outlets who visited an approved health facility for TB screening ranged from 48% in Vietnam to 86% in Myanmar. Coverage of retail drug outlets ranged from less than 5 to 9% of the universe of retail drug outlets. For WHO’s End TB Strategy to be successful, scaling up retail drug outlets to increase national coverage, at least in countries with a thriving private sector, will be instrumental in accelerating the early detection and referral of the 3 million missing TB cases. The proposed public-private mix pharmacy model is applicable not only for TB control but also to tackle the antimicrobial resistance crisis in these countries.

Ukraine has successfully implemented e-TB Manager nationwide as its mandatory national tuberculosis registry after first introducing it in 2009. Our objective was to perform an end-of-programme evaluation after formal handover of the registry administration to Ukraine's Centre for Disease Control in 2015. Of the 5.9 million transactions over a 4-year period, nine out of 24 oblasts (regions) and Kiev City accounted for 62.5% of all transactions, and corresponded to 59% of Ukraine's tuberculosis burden. There were 437 unique active users in 486 rayons (districts) of Ukraine, demonstrating extensive reach.

Malaria accounts for the largest portion of healthcare demand in Angola. Cross-sectional health facility surveys were performed in low-transmission Huambo and high-transmission Uíge Provinces in early 2016. In each province, 45 health facilities were randomly selected from among all public health facilities stratified by level of care. The results reveal important diferences between provinces. Despite similar availability of testing and ACT, testing and treatment rates were lower in Huambo compared to Uíge. A majority of true malaria cases seeking care in health facilities in Huambo were not appropriately treated with anti-malarials, highlighting the importance of continued training and supervision of healthcare workers in malaria case management, particularly in areas with decreased malaria transmission.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem in Afghanistan, but experience in implementing effective strategies to prevent and control TB in urban areas and conflict zones is limited. This study shares programmatic experience in implementing DOTS in the large city of Kabul. We analyzed data from the 2009–2015 reports of the National TB Program (NTP) for Kabul City and calculated treatment outcomes and progress in case notification. Between 2009 and 2015, the number of DOTS-providing centers in Kabul increased from 22 to 85. In total, 24,619 TB patients were enrolled in TB treatment during this period. The case notification rate for all forms of TB increased from 59 per 100,000 population to 125 per 100,000. The case notification rate per 100,000 population for sputum-smear-positive TB increased from 25 to 33. The treatment success rate for all forms of TB increased from 31% to 67% and from 47% to 77% for sputum-smear-positive TB cases. In 2013, contact screening was introduced, and the TB yield was 723 per 100,000—more than two times higher than the estimated national prevalence of 340 per 100,000. Contact screening contributed to identifying 2,509 child contacts of people with TB, and 76% of those children received isoniazid preventive therapy. The comprehensive urban DOTS program significantly improved service accessibility, TB case finding, and treatment outcomes in Kabul. Public- and private-sector involvement also improved treatment outcomes; however, the treatment success rate remains higher in private health facilities. While the treatment success rate increased significantly, it remains lower than the national average, and more efforts are needed to improve treatment outcomes in Kabul. We recommend that the urban DOTS approach be replicated in other countries and cities in Afghanistan with settings similar to Kabul.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that increases immunity against tuberculosis (TB), decreases the re-activation of latent TB and reduces the severity of active TB disease. Epidemiological studies on the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its association with TB have shown inconsistent results in different countries. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its association with TB in Northwest Ethiopia. A case–control study was conducted among smear positive pulmonary TB patients and their household contacts without symptoms suggestive of TB. Study participants were recruited at 11 TB diagnostic health facilities in North and South Gondar zones of Amhara region between May 2013 and April 2015. Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent among TB patients and non-TB controls in Ethiopia, where there is year-round abundant sunshine. Study participants with TB, females, older age groups, and urban residents had significantly higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. These findings warrant further studies to investigate the role of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention and treatment of TB in high TB burden countries like Ethiopia.

This article presents Malawi’s experience with designing and implementing Option B+ and provides complementary narratives from Cameroon and Tanzania. Operationalizing Option B+ required several critical considerations, including the complete integration of ART and PMTCT programs, systematic reduction of barriers to facilitate doubling the number of ART sites in less than a year, building consensus with stakeholders, and securing additional resources. During the planning and implementation process, several lessons were learned which are considerations for countries transitioning to “treat-all”: Comprehensive change requires effective government leadership and coordination; national clinical guidelines must accommodate health system limitations; ART services and commodities should be decentralized within facilities; the general public should be well informed about major changes in the national HIV program; and patients should be educated on clinic processes to improve program monitoring.

An extensive body of work on access to and use of medicines has resulted in an assortment of tools measuring various elements of pharmaceutical systems. Until now however, there has been little attempt to conceptualize a pharmaceutical system as an entity and define its strengthening in a way that allows for measuring systems strengthening. The narrow focus of available tools limits their value in ascertaining which interventions result in stronger, more resilient systems. We sought to address this shortcoming by revisiting the current definitions, frameworks and assessment tools related to pharmaceutical systems. We conducted a comprehensive literature review and consulted with select pharmaceutical experts. On the basis of our review, we propose that a pharmaceutical system consists of all structures, people, resources, processes, and their interactions within the broader health system that aim to ensure equitable and timely access to safe, effective, quality pharmaceutical products and related services that promote their appropriate and cost-effective use to improve health outcomes. We further propose that pharmaceutical systems strengthening is the process of identifying and implementing strategies and actions that achieve coordinated and sustainable improvements in the critical components of a pharmaceutical system to make it more responsive and resilient and to enhance its performance for achieving better health outcomes. Finally, we established that, in addition to system performance and resilience, seven components of the pharmaceutical system are critical for measuring pharmaceutical systems strengthening: pharmaceutical products and related services; policy, laws and governance; regulatory systems; innovation, research and development, manufacturing, and trade; financing; human resources; and information.

A cross-sectional qualitative study was conducted to explore early experiences surrounding "Option B+" for patients and health care workers in Malawi. As "Option B+" continues to be rolled out, novel interventions to support and retain women in care must be implemented. These include providing space, time, and support to accept a diagnosis before starting ART, engaging partners and families, and addressing the need for peer support and confidentiality.

Despite Namibia's robust medicine use systems and policies, antibiotic use indicators remain suboptimal. Recent medicine use surveys rank cotrimoxazole, amoxicillin and azithromycin (CAA) among the most used medicines. However, there is rising resistance to CAA (55.9%-96.7%). A quantitative text analysis found that policy and guidelines for antibiotic use in Namibia are not comprehensive and are skewed towards PHCs. Existing policies promote the wide use of CAA antibiotics, which may inadvertently result in their inappropriate use, enhancing resistance rates. This calls for the development of more comprehensive antibiotic guidelines and essential medicine lists in tandem with local antimicrobial resistance patterns. 

HIV among people who inject drugs (PWID) is a serious public health problem in Tajikistan and other Central Asian republics, yet relatively few studies have been conducted among PWID in Tajikistan and almost nothing is known about females who inject drugs. This presentation will examine gender differences in HIV status, injection risk behaviors and sex risk behaviors among PWID in Tajikistan.

The Global Burden of Disease 2015 article on maternal mortality by Nicholas Kassebaum and colleagues (Oct. 8, p. 1775) contains a serious error reflecting a basic misunderstanding of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target for maternal mortality. The report states that “only ten countries achieved MDG 5, but 122 of 195 countries have already met SDG 3.1”. This is a dangerous and inaccurate interpretation of the global goal. The SDG target is a global target, not a country target. To achieve the global target for maternal mortality reduction requires every country to reduce its national maternal mortality ratio from baseline by two-thirds in that timeframe. It is probably safe to assume that no country has succeeded in reducing its maternal mortality ratio by two-thirds since the SDGs were launched in September 2015.

The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of the nationally approved ambulatory service delivery model for MDR-TB treatment in two regions of Ethiopia. We used routinely reported data to describe the process and outcomes of implementing an ambulatory model for MDR-TB services in a resource-limited setting. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of MDR-TB treatment-initiating centers increased from 1 to 23. The number of sputum samples tested for MDR-TB increased 20-fold, from 662 to 14,361 per year. The backlog of patients on waiting lists was cleared. The cumulative number of MDR-TB patients put on treatment increased from 56 to 790, and the treatment success rate was 75%. Rapid expansion of the ambulatory model of MDR-TB care was feasible and achieved a high treatment success rate in two regions of Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Paediatric HIV Cohort was established to identify clinical and laboratory predictors of virological treatment failure to ultimately develop a clinical–immunological prediction rule with area under the curve of >0.80 for detecting first-line antiretroviral therapy failure (ARTF). It will also assess the performance of the current WHO guidelines for detection of first-line ARTF in children. Using a prospective cohort design, HIV-infected children and adolescents below the age of 18 years are followed every 6 months with a set of clinical and laboratory parameters at 6 hospitals in southern Ethiopia. From October 2015 through April 2016, 628 children have been enrolled. The cohort will be completed in September 2017. The successful completion of this study will allow for better targeting of viral-load testing to those at highest risk in resource-poor settings and provide clinicians and policymakers with a practical prediction rule.

We assessed community awareness about cervical cancer risk factors and symptoms and perceptions about prevention and cure of cervical cancer in order to contribute data to inform interventions to improve cervical cancer survival. The study was conducted in Gulu, a post-conflict district in Uganda in 2012. The sample included 448 adults. Recognition of cervical cancer risk factors and symptoms was high among study participants. Targeted interventions including increasing availability of HPV vaccination, population-based cervical screening and diagnostic services can translate high awareness into actual benefits.

Our objective was to demonstrate the feasibility of integrated care for TB, HIV and diabetes mellitus (DM) in a pilot project in Ethiopia. Of 3439 study participants, 888 were patients with DM, 439 patients with TB and 2112 from HIV clinics. Tri-directional screening was feasible for detecting and managing previously undiagnosed TB and DM.

An intervention brought together community health workers, health facility staff, and accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) dispensers to improve maternal and newborn health through a mechanism of collaboration and referral. Relationships among the three levels of care improved after the linkage intervention, especially for ADDO dispensers and health facility staff who previously had no formal communication pathway. The study participants' perceptions of success included improved knowledge of case management and relationships among the three levels of care, more timely access to care, increased numbers of patients/customers, more meetings between community health workers and health facility staff, and a decrease in child and maternal mortality.

In 1997, Milstien, Batson, and Meaney published ‘‘A Systematic Method for Evaluating the Potential Viability of Local Vaccine Producers.” The paper identified characteristics of successful vaccine manufacturers and developed a viability framework to evaluate their performance. This paper revisits the original study after two decades to determine the ability of the framework to predict manufacturer success. Considering the marked changes in the market and technology landscape since 1997, the authors find the viability framework to be predictive and a useful lens through which to evaluate manufacturer success or failure.

The past decade has witnessed increasing global attention and political support for maternal, newborn and child health. Despite this increased attention, actual progress has been slow and sporadic: coverage of key maternal and newborn health interventions remains low and there are wide disparities in access to care, within and across countries.

The objective of this study was to implement a rapid assessment of the performance of four malaria control strategies (indoor spraying, insecticide-treated bed nets, timely diagnosis, and artemisinin-based combination therapy) using adequacy criteria. The assessment was carried out in five countries of the Amazon subregion (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, and Peru). Although ACT is the strategy with the better implementation in all countries, major gaps exist in implementation of the other three malaria control strategies in terms of technical criteria, coverage and quality desired. The countries must implement action plans to close the gaps in the various criteria and thereby improve the performance of the interventions. The assessment tools developed, based on adequacy criteria, are considered useful for a rapid assessment by malaria control authorities in the different countries.

Strong leadership and management skills are crucial to finding solutions to the human resource crisis in health. Health professionals and human resource (HR) managers worldwide who are in charge of addressing HR challenges in health systems often lack formal education in leadership and management. Management Sciences for Health (MSH) developed the Virtual Leadership Development Program (VLDP) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The VLDP is a Web-based leadership development programme that combines face-to-face and distance-learning methodologies to strengthen the capacity of teams to identify and address health challenges and produce results. The USAID-funded Leadership, Management and Sustainability (LMS) Program adapted the VLDP for HR managers to help them identify and address HR challenges that ministries of health, other public-sector organizations and nongovernmental organizations are facing. Three examples illustrate the results of the VLDP for teams of HR managers: (1) the Uganda Protestant and Catholic Medical Bureaus; (2) the Christian Health Association of Malawi; and (3) the Developing Human Resources for Health Project in Uganda.

The aim of the present study was to indentify the epidemiological factors of drug-resistant (DR TB) patients in the northern part of Bangladesh. A cross-sectional study was conducted of registered DR TB patients at two chest diseases hospitals. The present study demonstrated that males (68.9%) were more affected by DR TB than females (31.8%).This study suggested that sex, age, type of treatment, residence, education and smoking status were important factors for getting MDR TB. It is expected that this study can help government to take activities for controlling and prevent MDR TB disease.

We assessed a participatory community and health system intervention to reduce the prevalence of disrespect and abuse during childbirth in Tanzania. After implementation of the combined intervention, the likelihood of women’s reports of disrespectful treatment during childbirth was substantially reduced. These results were observed nearly 1 year after the end of the project’s facilitation of implementation, indicating the potential for sustainability. The results indicate that a participatory community and health system intervention designed to tackle disrespect and abuse by changing the norms and standards of care is a potential strategy to improve the treatment of women during childbirth at health facilities.

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