child health/survival

The Tika Vaani intervention, an initiative to improve basic health knowledge and empower beneficiaries to improve vaccination uptake and child health for underserved rural populations in India, was assessed in a pilot cluster randomized trial. The intervention was delivered through two strategies: mHealth (using mobile phones to send vaccination reminders and audio-based messages) and community mobilization (face-to-face meetings) in rural Indian villages from January to September 2018. We assessed acceptability and implementation fidelity to determine whether the intervention delivered in the pilot trial can be implemented at a larger scale. Findings demonstrated high (86.7%) implementation fidelity. A total of 94% of the target population benefited from the intervention by participating in a face-to-face group meeting or via mobile phone. The participants felt that the strategies were useful means for obtaining information. The clarity of the intervention theory, the motivation, and commitment of the implementers as well as the periodic meetings of the supervisors largely explain the high level of fidelity obtained. Geographic distance, access to a mobile phone, level of education, and gender norms are contextual factors that contributed to heterogeneity in participation. Although the intervention was evaluated in the context of a randomized trial that could explain the high level of fidelity obtained, this evaluation provides confirmatory evidence that the results of the study reflect the underlying theory. The mobile platform coupled with community mobilization was well-received by the participants and could be a useful way to improve health knowledge and change behavior.

To assess study feasibility and key implementation outcomes for the Tika Vaani model, a new approach to educate and empower beneficiaries to improve immunization and child health, a cluster-randomized pilot trial was conducted in rural Uttar Pradesh, India, in 2018. A total of 387 households (184 intervention and 203 control) with children aged 0 to 12 months in 26 villages (13 intervention and 13 control) were included and randomized. Interventions used strategies adapted to disadvantaged populations: (1) mobile health (mHealth): entertaining educational audio capsules (edutainment) and voice immunization reminders via mobile phone and (2) face-to-face: community mobilization activities The trial showed that those interventions could strengthen the delivery of immunization and universal primary health care. Social and behavior change communication via mobile phones proved viable and contributed to standardization and scalability. Face-to-face interactions remain necessary to achieve equity and reach, suggesting the need for ongoing health system strengthening to accompany the introduction of communication technologies.

In India, only 62% of children had received a full course of basic vaccines in 2016. We evaluated the Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI), a campaign-style intervention to increase routine immunization coverage and equity in India, implemented in 2017-2018. We conducted a comparative interrupted time-series analysis using monthly district-level data on vaccine doses delivered, comparing districts participating and not participating in IMI. We estimated the impact of IMI on coverage and under-coverage (defined as the proportion of children who were unvaccinated) during the four-month implementation period and in subsequent months. During implementation, IMI increased delivery of thirteen infant vaccines by between 1.6% (95% CI: -6.4, 10.2%) and 13.8% (3.0%, 25.7%). We did not find evidence of a sustained effect during the 8 months after implementation ended. Over the 12 months from the beginning of implementation, IMI reduced under-coverage of childhood vaccination by between 3.9% (- 6.9%, 13.7%) and 35.7% (-7.5%, 77.4%). The largest estimated effects were for the first doses of vaccines against diptheria-tetanus-pertussis and polio.

This study was undertaken to explore childhood malnutrition problems that are associated to household wealth-related and mother’s educational attainment in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Secondary data from birth histories in 35 SSA countries was used. The Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data of 384,747 births between 2008 and 2017 in 35 countries was analyzed. Based on the results, Burundi (54.6%) and Madagascar (48.4%) accounted for the highest prevalence of stunted children. Underweight children were 32.5% in Chad and 35.5% in Niger. Nigeria (16.6%) and Benin (16.4%) had the highest burdens of wasted children. The test for differences between children from urban vs. rural was significant in stunted, underweight, overweight, and anemia for household wealth status. Also, the difference in prevalence between children from urban vs. rural was significant in stunted, underweight, and wasted for mother’s educational attainment. Reduction in malnutrition could be achieved by socioeconomic improvement that is sustained and shared in equity and equality among the populace. Interventions which target improvement in food availability can also help to achieve reduction in hunger including communities where poverty is prevalent.

Tanzania has made great progress in reducing diarrhea mortality in under-five children. We examined factors associated with the decline and projected the impact of scaling up interventions or reducing risk factors on diarrhea deaths. Diarrhea-specific mortality among under-five children in Tanzania declined by 89% from 35.3 deaths per 1000 live births in 1980 to 3.9 deaths per 1000 live births in 2015. Factors associated with diarrhea-specific under-five mortality reduction included oral rehydration solution (ORS) use, changes in stunting prevalence, vitamin A supplementation, rotavirus vaccine, change in wasting prevalence and change in age-appropriate breastfeeding practices. Universal coverage of direct diarrhea, nutrition and WASH interventions has the potential reduce the diarrhea-specific mortality rate by 90%.

In the last decade, many strategies have called for integration of HIV and child survival platforms to reduce missed opportunities and improve child health outcomes. Countries with generalized HIV epidemics have been encouraged to optimize each clinical encounter to bend the HIV epidemic curve. This systematic review looks at integrated child health services and summarizes evidence on their health outcomes, service uptake, acceptability, and identified enablers and barriers. Interventions of interest were HIV services integrated with: neonatal/child services for children <5 years, hospital care of children <5 years, immunizations, and nutrition services. Outcomes of interest were: health outcomes of children <5 years, integrated services uptake, acceptability, and enablers and barriers. Twenty-eight articles were reviewed. Service integration had positive effects on child health outcomes, HIV testing, and postnatal service uptake. Integrated services were generally acceptable, although confidentiality and stigma were concerns. Each clinical “touch point” with infants and children is an opportunity to provide comprehensive health services. In the current era of flat funding levels, integration of HIV and child health services is an effective, acceptable way to achieve positive child health outcomes.

In 2011, the Malawi Ministry of Health introduced option B+, a universal treatment strategy for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV. Under option B+, all pregnant or breastfeeding women with HIV are eligible for lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) regardless of clinical stage or CD4. Routine data from Malawi's prevention of MTCT option B+ programme suggest high uptake of antiretroviral therapy (ART) among pregnant women. Malawi's Ministry of Health led the National Evaluation of Malawi's PMTCT Program to obtain nationally representative data on maternal ART coverage and prevention of MTCT effectiveness. Here we present the early transmission data for infants aged 4–12 weeks and used a multistage cluster design to recruit a nationally representative sample of HIV-exposed infants and their mothers. Between October 16, 2014 and May 17, 2016, we screened for HIV in all mothers attending an under-5 vaccination or outpatient sick-child clinic with infants aged 4–26 weeks. They confirmed HIV exposure in 3542 (10·4%) of 33 980 mother (guardian)–infant pairs with infants aged 4–26 weeks. These data suggest that Malawi's decentralization of ART services has resulted in higher ART coverage and lower early MTCT. However, the uptake of services for HIV-exposed infants remains suboptimal.

Observational data characterizing the pediatric and adolescent HIV epidemics in real-world settings are critical to informing clinical guidelines, governmental HIV programs, and donor prioritization. In this commentary, we describe existing sources of observational data for children and youth living with HIV, focusing on larger regional and global research cohorts, and targeted surveillance studies and programs. Observational studies were among the first to highlight the growing population of children surviving perinatal HIV and transitioning to adolescence and young adulthood, and have raised serious concerns about high rates of treatment failure, loss to follow-up, and death among older perinatally infected youth. The use of observational data to inform modeling of the current global epidemic, predict future patterns of the youth cascade, and facilitate antiretroviral forecasting are critical priorities and key end products of observational HIV research. Greater investments into data infrastructure are needed at the local level to improve data quality and at the global level to faciliate reliable interpretation of the evolving patterns of the pediatric and youth epidemics. Harmonized data forms, use of unique patient identifiers to allow for data linkages across routine data sets, electronic medical record systems, and competent data managers and analysts are essential to make optimal use of the data collected.

In this commentary, the authors discuss why integrating HIV testing, treatment and care into child survival platforms is important, as well as its potential to advance progress towards global targets that call for, by 2020, 90% of children living with HIV to know their status, 90% of those diagnosed to be on treatment and 90% of those on treatment to be virally suppressed (90-90-90). Integration is critical in improving health outcomes and efficiency gains. In children, integration of HIV in programmes such as immunization and nutrition has been associated with an increased uptake of HIV infant testing. Integration is increasingly recognized as a case-finding strategy for children missed from prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes and as a platform for diffusing emerging technologies such as point-of-care diagnostics. These support progress towards the 90-90-90 targets by providing a pathway for early identification of HIV-infected children with co-morbidities, prompt initiation of treatment and improved survival. There are various promising practices that have demonstrated HIV outcomes; however, few have documented the benefits of integration on child survival interventions. The Double Dividend framework is well positioned to address the bidirectional impacts for both programmes.

There is a growing evidence base on the immediate and short-term effects of adult HIV on children. We provide an overview of this literature, highlighting the multiple risks and resultant negative consequences stemming from adult HIV infection on the children they care for on an individual and family basis. We trace these consequences from their origin in the health and wellbeing of adults on whom children depend, through multiple pathways to negative impacts for children. As effective treatment reduces vertical transmission, the needs of affected children will predominate. Pathways include exposure to HIV in utero, poor caregiver mental or physical health, the impact of illness, stigma, and increased poverty. We summarize the evidence of negative consequences, including those affecting health, cognitive development, education, child mental health, exposure to abuse, and adolescent risk behaviour, including sexual risk behaviour, which has obvious implications for HIV-prevention efforts. We also highlight the evidence of positive outcomes, despite adversity, considering the importance of recognizing and supporting the development of resilience. This study is the first in a series of three commissioned by President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)/United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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