[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: We report a cluster-randomised trial of a home-based counselling strategy, designed for large-scale implementation, in a population of 1.2 million people in rural southern Tanzania. We hypothesised that the strategy would improve neonatal survival by around 15%. Methods and Findings: In 2010 we trained 824 female volunteers to make three home visits to women and their families during pregnancy and two visits to them in the first few days of the infant’s life in 65 wards, selected randomly from all 132 wards in six districts in Mtwara and Lindi regions, constituting typical rural areas in Southern Tanzania. The remaining wards were comparison areas. Participants were not blinded to the intervention. The primary analysis was an intention-to-treat analysis comparing the neonatal mortality (day 0–27) per 1,000 live births in intervention and comparison wards based on a representative survey in 185,000 households in 2013 with a response rate of 90%. We included 24,381 and 23,307 live births between July 2010 and June 2013 and 7,823 and 7,555 live births in the last year in intervention and comparison wards, respectively. We also compared changes in neonatal mortality and newborn care practices in intervention and comparison wards using baseline census data from 2007 including 225,000 households and 22,243 births in five of the six intervention districts. Amongst the 7,823 women with a live birth in the year prior to survey in intervention wards, 59% and 41% received at least one volunteer visit during pregnancy and postpartum, respectively. Neonatal mortality reduced from 35.0 to 30.5 deaths per 1,000 live births between 2007 and 2013 in the five districts, respectively. There was no evidence of an impact of the intervention on neonatal survival (odds ratio [OR] 1.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.9–1.2, p = 0.339). Newborn care practices reported by mothers were better in intervention than in comparison wards, including immediate breastfeeding (42% of 7,287 versus 35% of 7,008, OR 1.4, CI 1.3–1.6, p < 0.001), feeding only breast milk for the first 3 d (90% of 7,557 versus 79% of 7,307, OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.8–2.7, p < 0.001), and clean hands for home delivery (92% of 1,351 versus 88% of 1,799, OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.0–2.3, p = 0.033). Facility delivery improved dramatically in both groups from 41% of 22,243 in 2007 and was 82% of 7,820 versus 75% of 7,553 (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.2–2.0, p = 0.002) in intervention and comparison wards in 2013. Methodological limitations include our inability to rule out some degree of leakage of the intervention into the comparison areas and response bias for newborn care behaviours. Conclusion: Neonatal mortality remained high despite better care practices and childbirth in facilities becoming common. Public health action to improve neonatal survival in this setting should include a focus on improving the quality of facility-based childbirth care. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01022788
PLoS Medicine 09/2015; 12(9):e1001881. DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001881 · 14.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background Quality improvement (QI) methods engage stakeholders in identifying problems, creating strategies called change ideas to
address those problems, testing those change ideas and scaling them up where successful. These methods have rarely been used
at the community level in low-income country settings. Here we share experiences from rural Tanzania and Uganda, where QI
was applied as part of the Expanded Quality Management Using Information Power (EQUIP) intervention with the aim of improving
maternal and newborn health. Village volunteers were taught how to generate change ideas to improve health-seeking behaviours
and home-based maternal and newborn care practices. Interaction was encouraged between communities and health staff.
Aim To describe experiences implementing EQUIP’s QI approach at the community level.
Methods A mixed methods process evaluation of community-level QI was conducted in Tanzania and a feasibility study in Uganda. We
outlined how village volunteers were trained in and applied QI techniques and examined the interaction between village volunteers
and health facilities, and in Tanzania, the interaction with the wider community also.
Results Village volunteers had the capacity to learn and apply QI techniques to address local maternal and neonatal health problems.
Data collection and presentation was a persistent challenge for village volunteers, overcome through intensive continuous
mentoring and coaching. Village volunteers complemented health facility staff, particularly to reinforce behaviour change
on health facility delivery and birth preparedness. There was some evidence of changing social norms around maternal and newborn
health, which EQUIP helped to reinforce.
Conclusions Community-level QI is a participatory research approach that engaged volunteers in Tanzania and Uganda, putting them in a
central position within local health systems to increase health-seeking behaviours and improve preventative maternal and newborn
Health Policy and Planning 10/2014; DOI:10.1093/heapol/czu070 · 3.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Donors and other development partners commonly introduce innovative practices and technologies to improve health in low and middle income countries. Yet many innovations that are effective in improving health and survival are slow to be translated into policy and implemented at scale. Understanding the factors influencing scale-up is important. We conducted a qualitative study involving 150 semi-structured interviews with government, development partners, civil society organisations and externally funded implementers, professional associations and academic institutions in 2012/13 to explore scale-up of innovative interventions targeting mothers and newborns in Ethiopia, the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and the six states of northeast Nigeria, which are settings with high burdens of maternal and neonatal mortality. Interviews were analysed using a common analytic framework developed for cross-country comparison and themes were coded using Nvivo. We found that programme implementers across the three settings require multiple steps to catalyse scale-up. Advocating for government to adopt and finance health innovations requires: designing scalable innovations; embedding scale-up in programme design and allocating time and resources; building implementer capacity to catalyse scale-up; adopting effective approaches to advocacy; presenting strong evidence to support government decision making; involving government in programme design; invoking policy champions and networks; strengthening harmonisation among external programmes; aligning innovations with health systems and priorities. Other steps include: supporting government to develop policies and programmes and strengthening health systems and staff; promoting community uptake by involving media, community leaders, mobilisation teams and role models. We conclude that scale-up has no magic bullet solution – implementers must embrace multiple activities, and require substantial support from donors and governments in doing so.
Social Science & Medicine 09/2014; 121. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.09.046 · 2.89 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
The lack of high quality timely data for evidence-informed decision making at the district level presents a challenge to improving maternal and newborn survival in low income settings. To address this problem, the EQUIP project (Expanded Quality Management using Information Power) implemented a continuous household and health facility survey for continuous feedback of data in two districts each in Tanzania and Uganda as part of a quality improvement innovation for mothers and newborns.Methods
Within EQUIP, continuous survey data were used for quality improvement (intervention districts) and for effect evaluation (intervention and comparison districts). Over 30 months of intervention (November 2011 to April 2014), EQUIP conducted continuous cross-sectional household and health facility surveys using 24 independent probability samples of household clusters to represent each district each month, and repeat censuses of all government health facilities. Using repeat samples in this way allowed data to be aggregated at six four-monthly intervals to track progress over time for evaluation, and for continuous feedback to quality improvement teams in intervention districts.In both countries, one continuous survey team of eight people was employed to complete approximately 7,200 household and 200 facility interviews in year one. Data were collected using personal digital assistants. After every four months, routine tabulations of indicators were produced and synthesized to report cards for use by the quality improvement teams.ResultsThe first 12 months were implemented as planned. Completion of household interviews was 96% in Tanzania and 91% in Uganda. Indicators across the continuum of care were tabulated every four months, results discussed by quality improvement teams, and report cards generated to support their work.Conclusions
The EQUIP continuous surveys were feasible to implement as a method to continuously generate and report on demand and supply side indicators for maternal and newborn health; they have potential to be expanded to include other health topics. Documenting the design and implementation of a continuous data collection and feedback mechanism for prospective description, quality improvement, and evaluation in a low-income setting potentially represents a new paradigm that places equal weight on data systems for course correction, as well as evaluation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Low birthweight babies need extra care, and families need to know whether their newborn is low birthweight in settings where many births are at home and weighing scales are largely absent. In the context of a trial to improve newborn health in southern Tanzania, a counselling card was developed that incorporated a newborn foot length measurement tool to screen newborns for low birth weight and prematurity. This was used by community volunteers at home visits and shows a scale picture of a newborn foot with markers for a ‘short foot’ (<8 cm). The tool built on previous hospital based research that found newborn foot length <8 cm to have sensitivity and specificity to identify low birthweight (<2500 g) of 87% and 60% respectively.
Reliability of the tool used by community volunteers to identify newborns with short feet was tested. Between July-December 2010 a researcher accompanied volunteers to the homes of babies younger than seven days and conducted paired measures of newborn foot length using the counselling card tool and using a plastic ruler. Intra-method reliability of foot length measures was assessed using kappa scores, and differences between measurers were analysed using Bland and Altman plots.
142 paired measures were conducted. The kappa statistic for the foot length tool to classify newborns as having small feet indicated that it was moderately reliable when applied by volunteers, with a kappa score of 0.53 (95% confidence interval 0.40 – 0.66) . Examination of differences revealed that community volunteers systematically underestimated the length of newborn feet compared to the researcher (mean difference −0.26 cm (95% confidence interval −0.31—0.22), thus overestimating the number of newborns needing extra care.
The newborn foot length tool used by community volunteers to identify small babies born at home was moderately reliable in southern Tanzania where a large number of births occur at home and scales are not available. Newborn foot length is not the best anthropometric proxy for birthweight but was simple to implement at home in the first days of life when the risk of newborn death is highest.
BMC Public Health 08/2014; 14(1):859. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-14-859 · 2.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Hypothermia contributes to neonatal morbidity and mortality in low-income countries, yet little is known about thermal care practices in rural African settings. We assessed adoption and community acceptability of recommended thermal care practices in rural Tanzania.
A multi-method qualitative study, enhanced with survey data. For the qualitative component we triangulated birth narrative interviews with focus group discussions with mothers and traditional birth attendants. Results were then contrasted to related quantitative data. Qualitative analyses sought to identify themes linked to a) immediately drying and wrapping of the baby; b) bathing practices, including delaying for at least 6 hours and using warm water; c) day to day care such as covering the baby’s head, covering the baby; and d) keeping the baby skin-to-skin. Quantitative data (n = 22,243 women) on the thermal care practices relayed by mothers who had delivered in the last year are reported accordingly.
42% of babies were dried and 27% wrapped within five minutes of birth mainly due to an awareness that this reduced cold. The main reason for delayed wrapping and drying was not attending to the baby until the placenta was delivered. 45% of babies born at a health facility and 19% born at home were bathed six or more hours after birth. The main reason for delayed bathing was health worker advice. The main reason for early bathing believed that the baby is dirty, particularly if the baby had an obvious vernix as this was believed to be sperm. On the other hand, keeping the baby warm and covered day-to-day was considered normal practice. Skin-to-skin care was not a normalised practice, and some respondents wondered if it might be harmful to fragile newborns.
Most thermal care behaviours needed improving. Many sub-optimal practices had cultural and symbolic origins. Drying the baby on birth was least symbolically imbued, although resisted by prioritizing of the mothers. Both practical interventions, for instance, having more than one attendant to help both mother and baby, and culturally anchored sensitization are recommended.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Sub-Saharan Africa over one million newborns die annually. We developed a sustainable and scalable home-based counselling intervention for delivery by community volunteers in rural southern Tanzania to improve newborn care practices and survival. Here we report the effect on newborn care practices one year after full implementation.
All 132 wards in the 6-district study area were randomised to intervention or comparison groups. Starting in 2010, in intervention areas trained volunteers made home visits during pregnancy and after childbirth to promote recommended newborn care practices including hygiene, breastfeeding and identification and extra care for low birth weight babies. In 2011, in a representative sample of 5,240 households, we asked women who had given birth in the previous year both about counselling visits and their childbirth and newborn care practices.
Four of 14 newborn care practices were more commonly reported in intervention than comparison areas: delaying the baby’s first bath by at least six hours (81% versus 68%, OR 2.0 (95% CI 1.2-3.4)), exclusive breastfeeding in the three days after birth (83% versus 71%, OR 1.9 (95% CI 1.3-2.9)), putting nothing on the cord (87% versus 70%, OR 2.8 (95% CI 1.7-4.6)), and, for home births, tying the cord with a clean thread (69% versus 39%, OR 3.4 (95% CI 1.5-7.5)). For other behaviours there was little evidence of differences in reported practices between intervention and comparison areas including childbirth in a health facility or with a skilled attendant, thermal care practices, breastfeeding within an hour of birth and, for home births, the birth attendant having clean hands, cutting the cord with a clean blade and birth preparedness activities.
A home-based counselling strategy using volunteers and designed for scale-up can improve newborn care behaviours in rural communities of southern Tanzania. Further research is needed to evaluate if, and at what cost, these gains will lead to improved newborn survival.
Trial Registration Number NCT01022788 (http://www.clinicaltrials.gov, 2009)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Each year almost 3 million newborns die within the first 28 days of life, 2.6 million babies are stillborn, and 287,000 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth worldwide. Effective and cost-effective interventions and behaviours for mothers and newborns exist, but their coverage remains inadequate in low- and middle-income countries, where the vast majority of deaths occur. Cost-effective strategies are needed to increase the coverage of life-saving maternal and newborn interventions and behaviours in resource-constrained settings.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Home visits by community health workers may help to improve newborn survival, but sustained high-quality supervision of community volunteers is challenging.
To compare facility-led and community-linked supervision approaches of 824 community health volunteers working to improve newborn care in Southern Tanzania.
Using a before-after design, we compared 6 months of supervision reports from each approach.
During the community-linked approach over 50 times more supervision contacts were recorded than during the facility-only supervision approach (1.04 contacts per volunteer per month vs 0.02), and the volunteer-supervisor ratio reduced from 7.8 to 1.6.
Involving community leaders has the potential to improve supervision of community health volunteers.ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01022788; http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01022788?term=INSIST&rank=1.
International Health 04/2014; 6(4). DOI:10.1093/inthealth/ihu016 · 1.30 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Maternal and newborn mortality remain unacceptably high in sub-Saharan Africa. Tanzania and Uganda are committed to reduce maternal and newborn mortality, but progress has been limited and many essential interventions are unavailable in primary and referral facilities. Quality management has the potential to overcome low implementation levels by assisting teams of health workers and others finding local solutions to problems in delivering quality care and the underutilization of health services by the community. Existing evidence of the effect of quality management on health worker performance in these contexts has important limitations, and the feasibility of expanding quality management to the community level is unknown. We aim to assess quality management at the district, facility, and community levels, supported by information from high-quality, continuous surveys, and report effects of the quality management intervention on the utilization and quality of services in Tanzania and Uganda.
In Uganda and Tanzania, the Expanded Quality Management Using Information Power (EQUIP) intervention is implemented in one intervention district and evaluated using a plausibility design with one non-randomly selected comparison district. The quality management approach is based on the collaborative model for improvement, in which groups of quality improvement teams test new implementation strategies (change ideas) and periodically meet to share results and identify the best strategies. The teams use locally-generated community and health facility data to monitor improvements. In addition, data from continuous health facility and household surveys are used to guide prioritization and decision making by quality improvement teams as well as for evaluation of the intervention. These data include input, process, output, coverage, implementation practice, and client satisfaction indicators in both intervention and comparison districts. Thus, intervention districts receive quality management and continuous surveys, and comparison districts-only continuous surveys.
EQUIP is a district-scale, proof-of-concept study that evaluates a quality management approach for maternal and newborn health including communities, health facilities, and district health managers, supported by high-quality data from independent continuous household and health facility surveys. The study will generate robust evidence about the effectiveness of quality management and will inform future nationwide implementation approaches for health system strengthening in low-resource settings.Trial registration: PACTR201311000681314.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Achievement of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 for child survival requires acceleration of gains in newborn survival, and current trends in improving maternal health will also fall short of reaching MDG 5 without more strategic actions. We present a Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) strategy for accelerating progress on MDGs 4 and 5, sustaining the gains beyond 2015, and further bringing down maternal and child mortality by two thirds by 2030.
The strategy takes into account current trends in coverage and cause-specific mortality, builds on lessons learned about what works in large-scale implementation programs, and charts a course to reach those who do not yet access services. A central hypothesis of this strategy is that enhancing interactions between frontline workers and mothers and families is critical for increasing the effective coverage of life-saving interventions. We describe a framework for measuring and evaluating progress which enables continuous course correction and improvement in program performance and impact.
Evidence for the hypothesis and impact of this strategy is being gathered and will be synthesized and disseminated in order to advance global learning and to maximise the potential to improve maternal and neonatal survival.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Progress towards reaching Millennium Development Goals four (child health) and five (maternal health) is lagging behind, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, despite increasing efforts to scale up high impact interventions. Increasing the proportion of birth attended by a skilled attendant is a main indicator of progress, but not much is known about the quality of childbirth care delivered by these skilled attendants. With a view to reducing maternal mortality through health systems improvement we describe the care routinely offered in childbirth offered at dispensaries, health centres and hospitals in five districts in rural Southern Tanzania. We use data from a health facility census assessing 159 facilities in five districts in early 2009. A structural and operational assessment was undertaken based on staff reports using a modular questionnaire assessing staffing, work load, equipment and supplies as well as interventions routinely implemented during childbirth.
Health centres and dispensaries attended a median of eight and four deliveries every month respectively. Dispensaries had a median of 2.5 (IQR 2--3) health workers including auxiliary staff instead of the recommended four clinical officer and certified nurses. Only 28% of first-line facilities (dispensaries and health centres) reported offering active management in the third stage of labour (AMTSL). Essential childbirth care comprising eight interventions including AMTSL, infection prevention, partograph use including foetal monitoring and newborn care including early breastfeeding, thermal care at birth and prevention of ophthalmia neonatorum was offered by 5% of dispensaries, 38% of health centres and 50% of hospitals consistently. No first-line facility had provided all signal functions for emergency obstetric complications in the previous six months.
Essential interventions for childbirth care are not routinely implemented in first-line facilities or hospitals. Dispensaries have both low staffing and low caseload which constraints the ability to provide high-quality childbirth care. Improvements in quality of care are essential so that women delivering in facility receive "skilled attendance" and adequate care for common obstetric complications such as post-partum haemorrhage.
BMC Research Notes 10/2013; 6(1):435. DOI:10.1186/1756-0500-6-435
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To review evidence from sub-Saharan Africa for the association between the practice or promotion of essential newborn care behaviours and neonatal survival.
We searched MEDLINE for English language, peer-reviewed literature published since 2005. The study population was neonates residing in a sub-Saharan Africa country who were not HIV positive. Outcomes were all-cause neonatal or early neonatal mortality or one of the three main causes of neonatal mortality: complications of preterm birth, infections and intrapartum-related neonatal events. Interventions included were the practice or promotion of recommended newborn care behaviours including warmth, hygiene, breastfeeding, resuscitation and management of illness. We included study designs with a concurrent comparison group. Study quality was assessed using the Cochrane EPOC or Newcastle-Ottawa tools and summarised using GRADE.
Eleven papers met the search criteria and most were at low risk of bias. We found evidence that delivering on a clean surface, newborn resuscitation, early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding, Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) for low-birthweight babies, and distribution of clean delivery kits were associated with reduced risks of neonatal mortality or the main causes of neonatal mortality. There was evidence that training community birth attendants in resuscitation and administering antibiotics, and establishing women's groups can improve neonatal survival.
There is a remarkable lack of robust evidence from sub-Saharan Africa on the association between practice or promotion of newborn care behaviours and newborn survival.
Tropical Medicine & International Health 09/2013; 18(11). DOI:10.1111/tmi.12193 · 2.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Improving newborn survival is essential if Ethiopia is to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4. The national Health Extension Program (HEP) includes community-based newborn survival interventions. We report the effect of these interventions on changes in maternal and newborn health care practices between 2008 and 2010 in 101 districts, comprising 11.6 million people, or 16% of Ethiopia's population.
Using data from cross-sectional surveys in December 2008 and December 2010 from a representative sample of 117 communities (kebeles), we estimated the prevalence of maternal and newborn care practices, and a program intensity score in each community. Women with children aged 0 to 11 months reported care practices for their most recent pregnancy and childbirth. The program intensity score ranged between zero and ten and was derived from four outreach activities of the HEP front-line health workers. Dose-response relationships between changes in program intensity and the changes in maternal and newborn health were investigated using regression methods, controlling for secular trend, respondents' background characteristics, and community-level factors. Between 2008 and 2010, median program intensity score increased 2.4-fold. For every unit increase in the score, the odds of receiving antenatal care increased by 1.13 times (95% CI 1.03-1.23); the odds of birth preparedness increased by 1.31 times (1.19-1.44); the odds of receiving postnatal care increased by 1.60 times (1.34-1.91); and the odds of initiating breastfeeding immediately after birth increased by 1.10 times (1.02-1.20). Program intensity score was not associated with skilled deliveries, nor with some of the other newborn health care indicators.
The results of our analysis suggest that Ethiopia's HEP platform has improved maternal and newborn health care practices at scale. However, implementation research will be required to address the maternal and newborn care practices that were not influenced by the HEP outreach activities.
PLoS ONE 06/2013; 8(6):e65160. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0065160 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We studied coverage and timeliness of vaccination and risk factors for low and delayed vaccine uptake in children aged <2 years in rural Tanzania.
We used data from a cluster survey conducted in 2004, which included 1403 children. Risk factors were analysed by log-binomial regression adjusted for the clustering. The analysis was restricted to BCG, first and third dose of Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis vaccines (DTP-1 and DTP-3) and first dose of measles-containing vaccine (MCV-1).
Coverage for BCG, DTP-1, DTP-3 and MCV-1 was 94%, 96%, 90% and 86%, respectively. Delayed vaccination (>1 month after the recommended age) occurred in 398/1205 (33%) children for BCG, 404/1189 (34%) for DTP-1, 683/990 (69%) for DTP-3 and 296/643 (46%) for MCV-1. Coverage was lower for all vaccines except DTP-1 in children living ≥5 km from a healthcare facility. Delayed uptake was associated with poverty. Low and delayed MCV-1 vaccination was associated with low maternal education. Delayed BCG vaccination was associated with ethnicity and rainy season.
Despite reasonably high vaccination coverage, we observed substantial vaccination delays, particularly for DTP-3 and MCV-1. We found specific factors associated with low and/or delayed vaccine uptake. These findings can help to improve strategies to reach children who remain inadequately protected.
International Health 06/2013; 5(2):139-47. DOI:10.1093/inthealth/iht006 · 1.30 Impact Factor