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    ABSTRACT: Most of the 48 million annual deaths in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) occur without medical attention at the time of death so that the causes of death (COD) are largely unknown. A review of low-cost methods of obtaining nationally representative COD data is timely. Despite clear historic evidence of their usefulness, most LMICs lack reliable nationally representative COD data. Indirect methods to estimate COD for most countries are inadequate, mainly because they currently rely on an average ratio of 1 nationally representative COD to every 850 estimated deaths in order to measure the cause of 25 million deaths across 110 LMICs. Direct measurement of COD is far more reliable and relevant for country priorities. Five feasible methods to expand COD data are: sample registration systems (which form the basis for the ongoing Million Death Study in India; MDS); strengthening the INDEPTH network of 42 demographic surveillance sites; adding retrospective COD surveys to the demographic household and health surveys in 90 countries; post-census retrospective mortality surveys; and for smaller countries, systematic assembly of health records. Lessons learned from the MDS, especially on low-cost, high-quality methods of verbal autopsy, paired with emerging use of electronic data capture and other innovations, can make COD systems low-cost and relevant for a wide range of childhood and adult conditions. Low-cost systems to obtain and report CODs are possible. If implemented widely, COD systems could identify disease control priorities, help detect emerging epidemics, enable evaluation of disease control programs, advance indirect methods, and improve the accountability for expenditures of disease control programs.
    BMC Medicine 01/2014; 12(1):19. DOI:10.1186/1741-7015-12-19 · 7.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To analyse trends in under-five mortality rate in South Africa (1990-2011), particularly the contribution of AIDS deaths. Three nationally-used models for estimating AIDS deaths in children were systematically reviewed. The model outputs were compared with under-five mortality rate estimates for South Africa from two global estimation models. All estimates were compared with available empirical data. Differences between the models resulted in varying point estimates for under-five mortality but the trends were similar, with mortality increasing to a peak around 2005. The three models showing the contribution of AIDS suggest a maximum of 37-39% of child deaths were due to AIDS in 2004-2005 which has since declined. While the rate of progress from 1990 is not the 4.4% needed to meet Millennium Development Goal 4 for child survival, South Africa's average annual rate of under-five mortality decline between 2006 and 2011 was between 6.3%-10.2%. In 2005, South Africa was one of only four countries globally with an under-five mortality rate higher than the 1990 Millennium Development Goal baseline. Over the past five years the country has achieved a rate of child mortality reduction exceeded by only three other countries. This rapid turnaround is likely due to scale up of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and to a lesser degree, the expanded roll-out of antiretroviral therapy. Emphasis on these programmes must continue, but failure to address other aspects of care including integrated high quality maternal and neonatal care means that the decline in child mortality could stall.
    AIDS (London, England) 07/2013; DOI:10.1097/01.aids.0000432987.53271.40 · 6.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Resuscitation with bag and mask is a high-impact intervention that can reduce neonatal deaths in resource-poor countries. This study assessed the capacity to perform newborn resuscitation at facilities offering comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC) in Afghanistan, as well as individual and facility characteristics associated with providers' knowledge and clinical skills. Assessors interviewed 82 doctors and 142 midwives at 78 facilities on their knowledge of newborn resuscitation and observed them perform the procedure on an anatomical model. Supplies, equipment, and infrastructure were assessed at each facility. Descriptive statistics and simple and multivariate regression analyses were performed using STATA 11.2 and SAS 9.1.3. Over 90% of facilities had essential equipment for newborn resuscitation, including a mucus extractor, bag, and mask. More than 80% of providers had been trained on newborn resuscitation, but midwives were more likely than doctors to receive such training as part of pre-service education (59% and 35%, respectively, p < 0.001). No significant differences were found between doctors and midwives on knowledge, clinical skills, or confidence in performing newborn resuscitation. Doctors and midwives scored 71% and 66%, respectively, on knowledge questions and 66% and 71% on the skills assessment; 75% of doctors and 83% of midwives felt very confident in their ability to perform newborn resuscitation. Training was associated with greater knowledge (p < 0.001) and clinical skills (p < 0.05) in a multivariable model that adjusted for facility type, provider type, and years of experience offering EmONC services. Lack of equipment and training do not pose major barriers to newborn resuscitation in Afghanistan, but providers' knowledge and skills need strengthening in some areas. Midwives proved to be as capable as doctors of performing newborn resuscitation, which validates the major investment made in midwifery education. Competency-based pre-service and in-service training, complemented by supportive supervision, is an effective way to build providers' capacity to perform newborn resuscitation. This kind of training could also help skilled birth attendants based in the community, at private clinics, or at primary care facilities save the lives of newborns.
    BMC Pediatrics 09/2013; 13(1):140. DOI:10.1186/1471-2431-13-140 · 1.92 Impact Factor