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Effectiveness of a Novel Mobile Health Education Intervention (Peek) on Spectacle Wear among Children in India: Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

April 8, 2017

Uncorrected refractive errors are the commonest cause of visual loss in children despite spectacle correction being highly cost-effective. Many affected children do not benefit from correction as a high proportion do not wear their spectacles. Reasons for non-wear include parental attitudes, overprescribing and children being teased/bullied. Most school programmes do not provide health education for affected children, their peers, teachers or parents.The Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek) will be used in this study. Peek has applications for measuring visual acuity with software for data entry and sending automated messages to inform providers and parents. Peek also has an application which simulates the visual blur of uncorrected refractive error (SightSim).The hypothesis is that higher proportion of children with uncorrected refractive errors in schools allocated to the Peek educational package will wear their spectacles 3?4 months after they are dispensed, and a higher proportion of children identified with other eye conditions will access services, compared with schools receiving standard school screening.Methods/DesignCluster randomized, double-masked trial of children with and without uncorrected refractive errors or other eye conditions. Government schools in Hyderabad, India will be allocated to intervention (Peek) or comparator (standard programme) arms before vision screening. In the intervention arm Peek will be used for vision screening, SightSim images will be used in classroom teaching and will be taken home by children, and voice messages will be sent to parents of children requiring spectacles or referral.In both arms the same criteria for recruitment, prescribing and dispensing spectacles will be used. After 3?4 months children dispensed spectacles will be followed up to assess spectacle wear, and uptake of referrals will be ascertained.The cost of developing and delivering the Peek package will be assessed. The cost per child wearing their spectacles or accessing services will be compared.DiscussionEducating parents, teachers and children about refractive errors and the importance of wearing spectacles has the potential to increase spectacle wear amongst children. Innovative, potentially scalable mobile technology (Peek) will be used to screen, provide health education, track spectacle wear and adherence to follow-up amongst children referred.

Self-reported Practices among Traditional Birth Attendants Surveyed in Western Kenya: A Descriptive Study

August 12, 2016

Background: The high rate of home deliveries conducted by unskilled birth attendants in resource-limited settings is an important global health issue because it is believed to be a significant contributing factor to maternal and newborn mortality. Given the large number of deliveries that are managed by unskilled or traditional birth attendants outside of health facilities, and the fact that there is on-going discussion regarding the role of traditional birth attendants in the maternal newborn health (MNH) service continuum, we sought to ascertain the practices of traditional birth attendants in our catchment area. The findings of this descriptive study might help inform conversations regarding the roles that traditional birth attendants can play in maternal-newborn health care. Methods: A structured questionnaire was used in a survey that included one hundred unskilled birth attendants in western Kenya. Descriptive statistics were employed. Results: Inappropriate or outdated practices were reported in relation to some obstetric complications and newborn care. Encouraging results were reported with regard to positive relationships that traditional birth attendants have with their local health facilities. Furthermore, high rates of referral to health facilities was reported for many common obstetric emergencies and similar rates for reporting of pregnancy outcomes to village elders and chiefs. Conclusions: Potentially harmful or outdated practices with regard to maternal and newborn care among traditional birth attendants in western Kenya were revealed by this study. There were high rates of traditional birth attendant referrals of pregnant mothers with obstetric complications to health facilities. Policy makers may consider re-educating and re-defining the roles and responsibilities of traditional birth attendants in maternal and neonatal health care based on the findings of this survey.

Barriers to Obstetric Care at Health Facilities in Sub-saharan Africa - a Systematic Review Protocol

April 23, 2015

Background: Since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the United Nations in 2000, the global community has intensified efforts to reduce adverse maternal health outcomes, especially, in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite these efforts, there is an increasing concern that the decline in maternal deaths has been less than optimal, even for women who receive birthing care in health facilities. High maternal deaths have been attributed to a variety of issues such as poor quality of care, inadequate resources, poor infrastructure, and inaccessibility to healthcare services. In other words, even in settings where they are available, many women do not receive life-saving obstetric care, when needed, despite the fact that basic and comprehensive obstetric care is widely recognized as a key to meeting maternal health goals. It is important to understand the common challenges that this developing region is facing in order to ensure a more rapid decline in adverse maternal health outcomes. The aim of this review is to synthesize literature on barriers to obstetric care at health institutions which focuses on sub-Saharan Africa, the region that is most affected by severe maternal morbidity and mortality.Methods: This review follows guidelines by the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) checklist. An electronic search of published literature will be conducted to identify studies which examined barriers to health facility-based obstetric care in sub-Saharan Africa. PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and Scopus databases will be searched. Published articles in English, dated between 2000 and 2014, will be included. Combinations of search terms such as obstetric care, access, barriers, developing countries, and sub-Saharan Africa will be used to locate related articles, and eligible ones retained for data abstraction. A narrative synthesis approach will be employed to synthesize the evidence and explore relationships between included studies.Discussion: Information on the barriers to obstetric care is needed to inform policies for the improvement of maternal health. This review will contribute to providing related vital evidence to facilitate removal of barriers to maternal health services and interventions.

Public health for the people: participatory infectious disease surveillance in the digital age

June 20, 2014

The 21(st) century has seen the rise of Internet-based participatory surveillance systems for infectious diseases. These systems capture voluntarily submitted symptom data from the general public and can aggregate and communicate that data in near real-time. We reviewed participatory surveillance systems currently running in 13 different countries. These systems have a growing evidence base showing a high degree of accuracy and increased sensitivity and timeliness relative to traditional healthcare-based systems. They have also proven useful for assessing risk factors, vaccine effectiveness, and patterns of healthcare utilization while being less expensive, more flexible, and more scalable than traditional systems. Nonetheless, they present important challenges including biases associated with the population that chooses to participate, difficulty in adjusting for confounders, and limited specificity because of reliance only on syndromic definitions of disease limits. Overall, participatory disease surveillance data provides unique disease information that is not available through traditional surveillance sources.

The Ghana Essential Health Interventions Program: a Plausibility Trial of the Impact of Health Systems Strengthening on Maternal & Child Survival (Study Protocol)

May 15, 2013

Background: During the 1990s, researchers at the Navrongo Health Research Centre in northern Ghana developeda highly successful community health program. The keystone of the Navrongo approach was the deployment of nurses termed community health officers to village locations. A trial showed that, compared to areas relying on existing services alone, the approach reduced child mortality by half, maternal mortality by 40%, and fertility by nearly a birth -- from a total fertility rate of 5.5 in only five years. In 2000, the government of Ghana launched a national program called Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) to scale up the Navrongo model. However, CHPS scale-up has been slow in districts located outside of the Upper East Region, where the "Navrongo Experiment" was first carried out. This paper describes the Ghana Essential Health Intervention Project (GEHIP), a plausibility trial of strategies for strengthening CHPS, especially in the areas of maternal and newborn health, and generating the political will to scale up the program with strategies that are faithful to the original design. Description of the intervention: GEHIP improves the CHPS model by 1) extending the range and quality of services for newborns; 2) training community volunteers to conduct the World Health Organization service regimen known as integrated management of childhood illness (IMCI); 3) simplifying the collection of health management information and ensuring its use for decision making; 4) enabling community health nurses to manage emergencies, particularly obstetric complications and refer cases without delay; 5) adding $0.85 per capita annually to district budgets and marshalling grassroots political commitment to financing CHPS implementation; and 6) strengthening CHPS leadership at all levels of the system. Evaluation design: GEHIP impact is assessed by conducting baseline and endline survey research and computing the Heckman "difference in difference" test for under-5 mortality in three intervention districts relative to four comparison districts for core indicators of health status and survival rates. To elucidate results, hierarchical child survival hazard models will be estimated that incorporate measures of health system strength as survival determinants, adjusting for the potentially confounding effects of parental and household characteristics. Qualitative systems appraisal procedures will be used to monitor and explain GEHIP implementation innovations, constraints, and progress. Discussion: By demonstrating practical means of strengthening a real-world health system while monitoring costs and assessing maternal and child survival impact, GEHIP is expected to contribute to national health policy, planning, and resource allocation that will be needed to accelerate progress with the Millennium Development Goals.

From the Ground Up: Strengthening Health Systems at District Level (Introduction)

May 15, 2013

This supplement introduces the African Health Initiative (AHI), a research program comprised of five unique district health system-strengthening activities in Ghana, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia that beganin 2009. This supplement should be of interest to all engaged in improving delivery of district primary health care -- whether ministries of health, service providers, funders, or those who evaluate complex interventions. The five AHI projects, known as Population Health Implementation and Training (PHIT) Partnerships, are funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) with a common goal: to produce significant, measureable health improvements in a defined geographic area over a five to seven year grant period.With the partnerships in their fourth year of funding, it is now possible to capture lessons learned in project design and implementation. Evaluation of the African Health Initiative's impact on population health, including mortality, however, mustawait the conclusion of the grant period.

Community Health Workers for Art in Sub-Saharan Africa.learning from Experience - Capitalizing on New Opportunities

April 9, 2009

This article investigates whether present community health worker programmes for antiretroviral treatment are taking into account the lessons learnt from past experiences with community health worker programmes in primary health care and to what extent they are seizing the new antiretroviral treatment-specific opportunities.