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Publication History View all

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    ABSTRACT: In 2003 five northern Nigerian states boycotted the oral polio vaccine due to fears that it was unsafe. Though the international responses have been scrutinised in the literature, this paper argues that lessons still need to be learnt from the boycott: that the origins and continuation of the boycott were due to specific local factors. We focus mainly on Kano state, which initiated the boycotts and continued to reject immunisations for the longest period, to provide a focused analysis of the internal dynamics and complex multifaceted causes of the boycott. We argue that the delay in resolving the year-long boycott was largely due to the spread of rumours at local levels, which were intensified by the outspoken involvement of high-profile individuals whose views were misunderstood or underestimated. We use sociological concepts to analyse why these men gained influence amongst northern Nigerian communities. This study has implications on contemporary policy: refusals still challenge the Global Polio Eradication Initiative; and polio remains endemic to Nigeria (Nigeria accounted for over half of global cases in 2012). This paper sheds light on how this problem may be tackled with the ultimate aim of vaccinating more children and eradicating polio.
    Global Public Health 12/2013;
  • BMJ (online) 10/2013; 347:f6060.
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    The Lancet 05/2013; 381(9879):1783-1787.
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Maternal and neonatal mortality rates remain high in many low-income and middle-income countries. Different approaches for the improvement of birth outcomes have been used in community-based interventions, with heterogeneous effects on survival. We assessed the effects of women's groups practising participatory learning and action, compared with usual care, on birth outcomes in low-resource settings. METHODS: We did a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials undertaken in Bangladesh, India, Malawi, and Nepal in which the effects of women's groups practising participatory learning and action were assessed to identify population-level predictors of effect on maternal mortality, neonatal mortality, and stillbirths. We also reviewed the cost-effectiveness of the women's group intervention and estimated its potential effect at scale in Countdown countries. FINDINGS: Seven trials (119 428 births) met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analyses of all trials showed that exposure to women's groups was associated with a 37% reduction in maternal mortality (odds ratio 0·63, 95% CI 0·32-0·94), a 23% reduction in neonatal mortality (0·77, 0·65-0·90), and a 9% non-significant reduction in stillbirths (0·91, 0·79-1·03), with high heterogeneity for maternal (I(2)=58·8%, p=0·024) and neonatal results (I(2)=64·7%, p=0·009). In the meta-regression analyses, the proportion of pregnant women in groups was linearly associated with reduction in both maternal and neonatal mortality (p=0·026 and p=0·011, respectively). A subgroup analysis of the four studies in which at least 30% of pregnant women participated in groups showed a 55% reduction in maternal mortality (0·45, 0·17-0·73) and a 33% reduction in neonatal mortality (0·67, 0·59-0·74). The intervention was cost effective by WHO standards and could save an estimated 283 000 newborn infants and 41 100 mothers per year if implemented in rural areas of 74 Countdown countries. INTERPRETATION: With the participation of at least a third of pregnant women and adequate population coverage, women's groups practising participatory learning and action are a cost-effective strategy to improve maternal and neonatal survival in low-resource settings. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, Ammalife, and National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care for Birmingham and the Black Country programme.
    The Lancet 05/2013; 381(9879):1736-1746.
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Women's groups and health education by peer counsellors can improve the health of mothers and children. We assessed their effects on mortality and breastfeeding rates in rural Malawi. METHODS: We did a 2×2 factorial, cluster-randomised trial in 185 888 people in Mchinji district. 48 equal-sized clusters were randomly allocated to four groups with a computer-generated number sequence. 24 facilitators guided groups through a community action cycle to tackle maternal and child health problems. 72 trained volunteer peer counsellors made home visits at five timepoints during pregnancy and after birth to support breastfeeding and infant care. Primary outcomes for the women's group intervention were maternal, perinatal, neonatal, and infant mortality rates (MMR, PMR, NMR, and IMR, respectively); and for the peer counselling were IMR and exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) rates. Analysis was by intention to treat. The trial is registered as ISRCTN06477126. FINDINGS: We monitored outcomes of 26 262 births between 2005 and 2009. In a factorial model adjusted only for clustering and the volunteer peer counselling intervention, in women's group areas, for years 2 and 3, we noted non-significant decreases in NMR (odds ratio 0·93, 0·64-1·35) and MMR (0·54, 0·28-1·04). After adjustment for parity, socioeconomic quintile, and baseline measures, effects were larger for NMR (0·85, 0·59-1·22) and MMR (0·48, 0·26-0·91). Because of the interaction between the two interventions, a stratified analysis was done. For women's groups, in adjusted analyses, MMR fell by 74% (0·26, 0·10-0·70), and NMR by 41% (0·59, 0·40-0·86) in areas with no peer counsellors, but there was no effect in areas with counsellors (1·09, 0·40-2·98, and 1·38, 0·75-2·54). Factorial analysis for the peer counselling intervention for years 1-3 showed a fall in IMR of 18% (0·82, 0·67-1·00) and an improvement in EBF rates (2·42, 1·48-3·96). The results of the stratified, adjusted analysis showed a 36% reduction in IMR (0·64, 0·48-0·85) but no effect on EBF (1·18, 0·63-2·25) in areas without women's groups, and in areas with women's groups there was no effect on IMR (1·05, 0·82-1·36) and an increase in EBF (5·02, 2·67-9·44). The cost of women's groups was US$114 per year of life lost (YLL) averted and that of peer counsellors was $33 per YLL averted, using stratified data from single intervention comparisons. INTERPRETATION: Community mobilisation through women's groups and volunteer peer counsellor health education are methods to improve maternal and child health outcomes in poor rural populations in Africa. FUNDING: Saving Newborn Lives, UK Department for International Development, and Wellcome Trust.
    The Lancet 05/2013; 381(9879):1721-1735.
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    ABSTRACT: While it is widely agreed that HIV-related stigma may impede access to treatment and support, there is little evidence describing who is most likely to experience different forms of stigma and discrimination and how these affect disclosure and access to care. This study examined experiences of interpersonal discrimination, internalized stigma, and discrimination at health care facilities among HIV-positive adults aged 18 years and older utilizing health facilities in four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (N = 536). Prevalence of interpersonal discrimination across all countries was 34.6 %, with women significantly more likely to experience interpersonal discrimination than men. Prevalences of internalized stigma varied across countries, ranging from 9.6 % (Malawi) to 45.0 % (Burkina Faso). Prevalence of health care discrimination was 10.4 % across all countries. In multiple regression analyses, we found positive, significant, and independent associations between disclosure and interpersonal discrimination and disclosure and support group utilization, and positive associations between both internalized stigma and health care discrimination and referral for medications.
    AIDS and Behavior 03/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Nigeria has the largest number of HIV/AIDS cases in West Africa, with 3.3 million people estimated to be living with the disease. The country remains a fragile democratic state and has allocated insufficient resources to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS among its citizens. The preponderance of President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) dollars, expert knowledge, conservative ideology and activities has shaped the direction of HIV/AIDS sexual-transmission prevention programmes in Nigeria. PEPFAR channels significant resources through Nigerian faith-based organisations (FBOs), and considers these organisations integral for HIV prevention strategies. In many instances, HIV/AIDS prevention programmes managed by FBOs reflect their ideologies of morality and sexuality. There is a convergence of religious ideology concerning morality and HIV infectivity between American and Nigerian conservatives; this produces a fertile ground for the influence and expansion of the conservative activities of PEPFAR in Nigeria. The paper highlights this nexus and draws attention to the biopolitical underpinning of PEPFAR in shaping Nigeria's HIV prevention programmes. The paper further notes both positive and negative effects of PEPFAR activities and attempts by the Obama administration to redirect PEPFAR to a more holistic approach in order to optimise outcomes.
    Global Public Health 02/2013;
  • Sexually transmitted diseases 02/2013; 40(2):95-6.
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    ABSTRACT: Despite an increase in the proportion of women who access antenatal care, mother-to-child transmission of syphilis continues to be a consequence of undiagnosed, untreated, or inadequately treated maternal syphilis. We reviewed evidence on the optimal timing of antenatal interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission of syphilis and its associated adverse outcomes. Systematic review and meta-analysis of published literature. English-language articles were included if they (1) reported the gestational age at which the mother was screened or tested for syphilis; (2) reported on pregnancy outcome. No publication date limits were set. We identified a total of 1,199 publications, of which 84 were selected for further review and five were included. All showed a lower prevalence of any adverse outcome among women who received an intervention (to include screening and treatment) in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy compared to the third trimester. The overall odds ratio for any adverse outcome was 2.24 (95% CI 1.28, 3.93). All sub-analyses by type of outcome presented important heterogeneity between studies, except for those studies reporting an infected infant (odds ratio 2.92, 95% CI 0.66, 12.87; I = 48.2%, p = 0.165). Our review has shown that the timing of antenatal care interventions makes a significant difference in the risk of having an adverse outcome due to syphilis. Women who sought care in the first two trimesters of their pregnancy, and received the appropriate intervention, were more likely to have a healthy infant, compared to women screened and treated in the third trimester. Encouraging ALL pregnant women to seek care in the first two trimesters of their pregnancy should be a priority for health programmes. For interventions to be effective within these health programmes, health systems and community engagement programmes need to be strengthened to enable pregnant women to seek antenatal care early.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(2):e56713.
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    ABSTRACT: Quality of life measurement is a useful addition to measurement of health outcomes in evaluation of the benefits of many health and welfare interventions. The WHOQOL-BREF measures quality of life from a broad multi-dimensional perspective but was not used in Malawi. The objective of this study was to translate the WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire into the main local language of Malawi: Chichewa; and to validate it quantitatively with respect to internal consistency, domain structure, and discriminant validity for this context. WHO-mandated guidelines were followed for translation, adaptation, pre-testing (focus groups), piloting (patient interviews) and data coding. Analyses using descriptive statistics, correlation and regression were undertaken to investigate the validity of the WHOQOL-BREF in the ways described above. Additional regression analyses examined the impact of socio-demographic variables on the domain scores. 309 respondents completed the questionnaire (with >98% response rates for all questions except Q21 (sex life)). 259 were sick with a variety of health problems, and 50 were considered healthy. All domains showed adequate internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha > =0.7) with all item scores also most highly correlated with the scores of their assigned domain. All domain scores varied by health problem, and more depressed respondents had significantly lower scores in all domains than those less depressed. Domain scores and their associations with socio-demographic variables are presented and discussed. This study demonstrates that the new Chichewa WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire is acceptable and comprehensible to respondents in Malawi. The questionnaire also passed a number of tests of the validity of its psychometric properties. In the pilot population we found that older age was associated with lower Physical domain scores. Conversely, higher levels of educational attainment were found to be associated with higher quality of life in all domains except for Social Relationships. Respondents living as married or single were found to have higher quality of life in the Physical, Psychological and Social domains, and those who were widowed lower Physical quality of life.
    BMC Research Notes 07/2012; 5:346.
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