Malawi

The aim of this study was to assess the uptake and determinants of HIV testing among men in Malawi. Secondary data analysis was conducted on cross–sectional household data for 7478 men aged 15 to 54 years drawn from the 2015–16 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey. Secondary data analysis was conducted on cross–sectional household data for 7478 men aged 15 to 54 years drawn from the 2015–16 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey. Descriptive statistics, bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to identify the socio–demographic, behavioral and health service related factors that are associated with HIV testing service utilisation by men in Malawi. All analyses were performed using the complex sample analysis procedure of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 22.0 to account for the multistage sampling used in Demographic Health Survey. Overall, 69.9% of the participants had ever been tested for HIV. The results indicate that age, region of residence, marital status, covered by health insurance, education and age at first sexual debut are significant predictors of HIV testing among men in Malawi. In particular, men who were in the age group 30–39 years, married, those with secondary or above education, and those who had health insurance were more likely to utilise HIV testing service than their counterparts. The findings suggest that HIV testing services and programmes need to target younger unmarried men aged 15–19 and men with low level or no education and expand HIV testing services to the central and southern regions of Malawi. 

Evidence suggests that disclosure of HIV status between partners may influence prevention of maternal-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) outcomes. We report partner disclosure in relation to maternal antiretroviral therapy (ART) uptake and adherence, and MTCT among postpartum HIV-infected Malawian women. A cross-sectional mixed-method study was conducted as part of a nationally representative longitudinal cohort study. Between 2014–2016, all (34,637) mothers attending 54 under-5 clinics with their 4–26 week-old infants were approached, of which 98% (33,980) were screened for HIV; infants received HIV-1 DNA testing. HIV-exposure was confirmed in 3,566/33,980 (10.5%). Among 2882 couples, both partners, one partner, and neither partner disclosed to each other in 2090 (72.5%), 622 (21.6%), and 169 (5.9%), respectively. In multivariable models, neither partner disclosing was associated with no maternal ART, suboptimal treatment adherence and MTCT.  

Malawi has a mature integrated community case management (iCCM) programme that is led by the Ministry of Health (MOH) but that still relies on donor support. From 2013 until 2017, under the Rapid Access Expansion (RAcE) programme, the World Health Organization supported the MOH to expand and strengthen iCCM services in four districts. This paper examines Malawi’s iCCM programme performance and implementation strength in RAcE districts to further strengthen the broader programme. Baseline and endline household surveys were conducted in iCCM-eligible areas of RAcE districts. Care-seeking from HSAs and treatment of fever improved over the project period. At endline, however, less than half of sick children were brought to an HSA, many caregivers reported a preference for providers other than HSAs, and perceptions of HSAs as trusted providers of high-quality, convenient care had decreased. HSA supervision and mentorship were below MOH targets. Stockouts of malaria medicines were associated with decreased care-seeking from HSAs. Additional qualitative research is needed to examine challenges and to inform potential solutions. Malawi’s mature iCCM programme has a strong foundation but can be improved to strengthen the continuity of care from communities to facilities and to ultimately improve child health outcomes.

The WHO’s Rapid Access Expansion (RAcE) program supported the Malawi Ministry of Health to align their Community-Based Maternal and Newborn Care (CBMNC) package with the latest WHO guidelines and to implement and evaluate the feasibility and coverage of home visits in Ntcheu district. A population-based survey of 150 households in Ntcheu district was conducted in July-August 2016 after approximately 10 months of CBMNC implementation. Thirty clusters were selected proportional-to-size using the most recent census. In selected clusters, five households with mothers of children under six months of age were randomly selected for interview. The Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) providing community-based services to the same clusters were purposively selected for a structured interview and register review. Less than one third of pregnant women (30.7%) received a home visit during pregnancy and only 20.7% received the recommended two visits. Coverage of postnatal visits was even lower: 11.4% of mothers and newborns received a visit within three days of delivery and 20.7% received a visit within the first eight days. These findings were similar to previous studies, calling into question the feasibility of the current visitation schedule. It is time to re-align the CBMNC package with what the existing platform can deliver and identify strategies to better support HSAs to implement home visits to those who would benefit most.

We investigated factors associated with unintended index pregnancy, unmet contraceptive need, future pregnancy intention and current contraceptive use among Malawian women living with HIV in the Option B+ era. Women who tested HIV positive at 4–26 weeks postpartum were enrolled into a cross-sectional study at high-volume under-5 clinics.  We enrolled 578 HIV-positive women between May 2015-May 2016; median maternal age was 28 years (y), median parity was 3 deliveries, and median infant age was 7 weeks. Overall, 41.8% women reported unintended index pregnancy, of whom 35.0% reported unmet contraceptive need and 65.0% contraceptive failure. High prevalence of unintended index pregnancy and unmet contraceptive need among HIV-positive women highlight the need for improved access to contraceptives. To help achieve reproductive goals and elimination of MTCT of HIV, integration of family planning into HIV care should be strengthened to ensure women have timely access to a wide range of family planning methods with low failure risk.

The aim of this study was to assess the uptake and determinants of HIV testing among men in Malawi. Secondary data analysis was conducted on cross–sectional household data for 7,478 men aged 15 to 54 years drawn from the 2015–16 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey. Overall, 69.9% of the participants had ever been tested for HIV. The results indicate that age, region of residence, marital status, coverage by health insurance, education and age at first sexual debut are significant predictors of HIV testing among men in Malawi. The findings suggest that HIV testing services and programmes need to target younger unmarried men aged 15–19 and men with low level or no education and expand HIV testing services to the central and southern regions of Malawi. Targeting the undiagnosed men living with HIV in a timely manner is a crucial and necessary step not only for achieving the UNAIDS 90–90–90 targets but for individuals to benefit from antiretroviral treatment and to sustainably reduce population–level HIV transmission.

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.

The neonatal mortality rate (NMR) in Malawi has remained stagnant at around 27 per 1000 live births over the last 15 years, despite an increase in the uptake of targeted health care interventions. We used the nationally representative 2015/16 Demographic Health Survey data set to evaluate the effect of two types of maternal exposures, namely, lack of access to maternal or intra-partum care services and birth history factors, on the risk of neonatal mortality. We included 9553 women and their most recent live birth within 3 years of the survey. The sample's overall neonatal mortality rate was 18.5 per 1000 live births. The adjusted population attributable risk for first pregnancies was 3.9/1000 (P < 0.001), while non-institutional deliveries and the shortest preceding birth interval (8-24 months) each had an attributable risk of 1.3/1000 (Ps = 0.01). Having 2 or more pregnancy outcomes within the last 5 years had an attributable risk of 3/1000 (P = 0.006). Attending less than 4 ANC visits had, a relatively large attributable risk (2.1/1,000), and it was not statistically significant at alpha level 0.05.  

We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 33,744 mother–infant pairs to estimate the use and outcomes of the Malawian programme for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Most women used the Malawian programme for the prevention of MTCT. The risk of MTCT increased if any of the four main steps in the programme were missed.

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.

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