Community Health science Unit

Lilongwe, Malawi

Community Health science Unit

Lilongwe, Malawi

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Nsona H.,Community Health science Unit | Mleme T.,National Statistical Office | Jamali A.,National Statistical Office
American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene | Year: 2015

Program managers, investors, and evaluators need real-time information on how program strategies are being scaled up and implemented. Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM) of childhood illnesses is a strategy for increasing access to diagnosis and treatment of malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea through community-based health workers. We collected real-time data on iCCM implementation strength through cell phone interviews with communitybased health workers in Malawi and calculated indicators of implementation strength and utilization at district level using consensus definitions from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and iCCM partners. All of the iCCM implementation strength indicators varied widely within and across districts. Results show that Malawi has made substantial progress in the scale-up of iCCM since the 2008 program launch. However, there are wide differences in iCCM implementation strength by district. Districts that performed well according to the survey measures demonstrate that MOH implementation strength targets are achievable with the right combination of supportive structures. Using the survey results, specific districts can now be targeted with additional support. Copyright © 2015 by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.


McCollum E.D.,University of Malawi | Bjornstad E.,University of Malawi | Preidis G.A.,Baylor College of Medicine | Hosseinipour M.C.,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Lufesi N.,Community Health science Unit
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene | Year: 2013

Background: Although hypoxemic children have high mortality, little is known about hypoxemia prevalence and oxygen administration in African hospitals. We aimed to determine the hypoxemia prevalence and quality of oxygen treatment by local clinicians for hospitalized Malawian children. Methods: The study was conducted in five Malawian hospitals during January-April 2011. We prospectively measured the peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2) using pulse oximetry for all children, 15 years old and also determined clinical eligibility for oxygen treatment using WHO criteria for children, 5 years old. We determined oxygen treatment quality by Malawian clinicians by comparing their use of WHO criteria for patients, 5 years old using two standards: hypoxemia (SpO2, 90%) and the use of WHO criteria by study staff. Results: Forty of 761 (5.3%) hospitalized children, 15 years old had SpO2, 90%. No hospital used pulse oximetry routinely, and only 9 of 40 (22.5%) patients, 15 years old with SpO2, 90% were treated with oxygen by hospital staff. Study personnel using WHO criteria for children, 5 years old achieved a higher sensitivity (40.0%) and lower specificity (82.7%) than Malawian clinicians (sensitivity 25.7%, specificity 94.1%). Conclusion: Although hypoxemia is common, the absence of routine pulse oximetry results in most hospitalized, hypoxemic Malawian children not receiving available oxygen treatment. © Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 2013. All rights reserved.


Chinkhumba J.,Malaria Alert Center | Skarbinski J.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Chilima B.,Community Health science Unit | Campbell C.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | And 6 more authors.
Malaria Journal | Year: 2010

Background. Malaria rapid diagnostics tests (RDTs) can increase availability of laboratory-based diagnosis and improve the overall management of febrile patients in malaria endemic areas. In preparation to scale-up RDTs in health facilities in Malawi, an evaluation of four RDTs to help guide national-level decision-making was conducted. Methods. A cross sectional study of four histidine rich-protein-type-2- (HRP2) based RDTs at four health centres in Blantyre, Malawi, was undertaken to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of RDTs, assess prescriber adherence to RDT test results and explore operational issues regarding RDT implementation. Three RDTs were evaluated in only one health centre each and one RDT was evaluated in two health centres. Light microscopy in a reference laboratory was used as the gold standard. Results. A total of 2,576 patients were included in the analysis. All of the RDTs tested had relatively high sensitivity for detecting any parasitaemia [Bioline SD (97%), First response malaria (92%), Paracheck (91%), ICT diagnostics (90%)], but low specificity [Bioline SD (39%), First response malaria (42%), Paracheck (68%), ICT diagnostics (54%)]. Specificity was significantly lower in patients who self-treated with an anti-malarial in the previous two weeks (odds ratio (OR) 0.5; p-value < 0.001), patients 5-15 years old versus patients > 15 years old (OR 0.4, p-value < 0.001) and when the RDT was performed by a community health worker versus a laboratory technician (OR 0.4; p-value < 0.001). Health workers correctly prescribed anti-malarials for patients with positive RDT results, but ignored negative RDT results with 58% of patients with a negative RDT result treated with an anti-malarial. Conclusions. The results of this evaluation, combined with other published data and global recommendations, have been used to select RDTs for national scale-up. In addition, the study identified some key issues that need to be further delineated: the low field specificity of RDTs, variable RDT performance by different cadres of health workers and the need for a robust quality assurance system. Close monitoring of RDT scale-up will be needed to ensure that RDTs truly improve malaria case management. © 2010 Chinkhumba et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


PubMed | Community Health science Unit, University of Witwatersrand, Ministry of Health, Health in Reach and 2 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Qualitative health research | Year: 2016

Delayed diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) among individuals suspected of having TB may lead to continued transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in communities, higher mortality rates, and increase in government health expenditure because of prolonged illness due to late diagnosis and treatment initiation. The study explored factors leading to delayed health care seeking among individuals living in Ntcheu District, Malawi. Two key informant interviews, 16 in-depth interviews, and three focus group discussions were conducted. Participants were aged 18 years and older and never had TB. Data were analyzed using content analysis and factors were identified: inadequate knowledge about cause and transmission of TB, low self-awareness of personal risk to TB, cultural and traditional beliefs about sources of TB, stigma, and strong belief in witchcraft as a cause of illness. The TB Control Program needs to invest in social mobilization and education of communities to mitigate early health care seeking.


Kohler H.-P.,University of Pennsylvania | Watkins S.C.,University of Pennsylvania | Behrman J.R.,University of Pennsylvania | Anglewicz P.,Tulane University | And 10 more authors.
International Journal of Epidemiology | Year: 2015

The Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH) is one of very few long-standing, publicly available longitudinal cohort studies in a sub-Saharan African (SSA) context. It provides a rare record of more than a decade of demographic, socioeconomic and health conditions in one of the world's poorest countries. The MLSFH was initially established in 1998 to study social network influences on fertility behaviours and HIV risk perceptions, and over time the focus of the study expanded to include health, sexual behaviours, intergenerational relations and family/household dynamics. The currently available data include MLSFH rounds collected in 1998, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 for up to 4000 individuals, providing information about socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, sexual behaviours, marriage, household/family structure, risk perceptions, social networks and social capital, intergenerational relations, HIV/AIDS and other dimensions of health. The MLSFH public use data can be requested on the project website: http://www.malawi.pop.upenn.edu/. © The Author 2014; all rights reserved. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association.


PubMed | Community Health Science Unit, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Médecins Sans Frontières and Ministry of Health
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Tropical medicine & international health : TM & IH | Year: 2016

Since 1985, Malawi has experienced a dual epidemic of HIV and tuberculosis (TB) which has been moderated recently by the advent of antiretroviral therapy (ART). The aim of this study was to describe the association over several decades between HIV/AIDS, the scale-up of ART and TB case notifications.Aggregate data were extracted from annual reports of the National TB Control Programme, the Ministry of Health HIV Department and the National Statistics Office. ART coverage was calculated using the total HIV population as denominator (derived from UNAIDS Spectrum software).In 1970, there were no HIV-infected persons but numbers had increased to a maximum of 1.18 million by 2014. HIV prevalence reached a maximum of 10.8% in 2000, thereafter decreasing to 7.5% by 2014. Numbers alive on ART increased from 2586 in 2003 to 536527 (coverage 45.3%) by 2014. In 1985, there were 5286 TB cases which reached a maximum of 28234 in 2003 and then decreased to 17723 by 2014 (37% decline from 2003). There were increases in all types of new TB between 1998-2003 which then declined by 30% for extrapulmonary TB, by 37% for new smear-positive PTB and by 50% for smear-negative PTB. Previously treated TB cases reached a maximum of 3443 in 2003 and then declined by 42% by 2014.The rise and fall of TB in Malawi between 1985 and 2014 was strongly associated with HIV infection and ART scale-up; this has implications for ending the TB epidemic in high HIV-TB burden countries.


PubMed | Community Health science Unit, Ministry of Health, Baylor College of Medicine, University of Malawi and 4 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2017

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) impact on childhood pneumonia during programmatic conditions in Africa is poorly understood. Following PCV13 introduction in Malawi in November 2011, we evaluated the case burden and rates of childhood pneumonia.Between January 1, 2012-June 30, 2014 we conducted active pneumonia surveillance in children <5 years at seven hospitals, 18 health centres, and with 38 community health workers in two districts, central Malawi. Eligible children had clinical pneumonia per Malawi guidelines, defined as fast breathing only, chest indrawing +/- fast breathing, or, 1 clinical danger sign. Since pulse oximetry was not in the Malawi guidelines, oxygenation <90% defined hypoxemic pneumonia, a distinct category from clinical pneumonia. We quantified the pneumonia case burden and rates in two ways. We compared the period immediately following vaccine introduction (early) to the period with >75% three-dose PCV13 coverage (post). We also used multivariable time-series regression, adjusting for autocorrelation and exploring seasonal variation and alternative model specifications in sensitivity analyses. The early versus post analysis showed an increase in cases and rates of total, fast breathing, and indrawing pneumonia and a decrease in danger sign and hypoxemic pneumonia, and pneumonia mortality. At 76% three-dose PCV13 coverage, versus 0%, the time-series model showed a non-significant increase in total cases (+47%, 95% CI: -13%, +149%, p = 0.154); fast breathing cases increased 135% (+39%, +297%, p = 0.001), however, hypoxemia fell 47% (-5%, -70%, p = 0.031) and hospital deaths decreased 36% (-1%, -58%, p = 0.047) in children <5 years. We observed a shift towards disease without danger signs, as the proportion of cases with danger signs decreased by 65% (-46%, -77%, p<0.0001). These results were generally robust to plausible alternative model specifications.Thirty months after PCV13 introduction in Malawi, the health system burden and rates of the severest forms of childhood pneumonia, including hypoxemia and death, have markedly decreased.


PubMed | Community Health science Unit, World Health Organization, Ministry of Health, Health in Reach and 2 more.
Type: | Journal: Journal of multidisciplinary healthcare | Year: 2016

Knowledge and perceptions about tuberculosis (TB) can influence care-seeking behavior and adherence to treatment. Previous studies in Malawi were conducted to assess knowledge and attitudes regarding TB in adults, with limited data on knowledge in children.This study assessed knowledge and perceptions about TB in children aged 10-14 years attending primary school in Ntcheu District, Malawi.A cross-sectional study was conducted in four primary schools in Ntcheu District. Data on knowledge and perception of TB were collected using a structured questionnaire. Pearson chi-square test was used to determine the association between socioeconomic factors and TB knowledge and perception. A P<0.05 was considered significant.The study found that the learners had high knowledge regarding the cause, spread, and TB preventive measures. Almost 90% of learners knew that TB is caused by a germ, however, a lower proportion knew about TB symptoms ie, night sweats (49%) and enlarged cervical lymph nodes (40%). We found that 68% of learners did not know the duration of anti-TB treatment. No association was found between age, learners grade, and knowledge (P>0.05).Lack of knowledge regarding TB and gaps identified, may be due to a deficiency in the content of the school curriculum or the availability of information, education, and communication materials. This is the first study to report on knowledge and perceptions of TB among primary school learners in Malawi. These results will inform the development of relevant information, education, and communication materials to enhance awareness about TB among school going children.


Kohler I.V.,University of Pennsylvania | Soldo B.J.,University of Pennsylvania | Anglewicz P.,Tulane University | Chilima B.,Community Health science Unit | Kohler H.-P.,University of Pennsylvania
Population Health Metrics | Year: 2013

Background: The objective of these analyses is to document the relationship between biomarker-based indicators of health and socioeconomic status (SES) in a low-income African population where the cumulative effects of exposure to multiple stressors on physiological functions and health in general are expected to be highly detrimental for the well-being of individuals.Methods: Biomarkers were collected subsequent to the 2008 round of the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH), a population-based study in rural Malawi, including blood lipids (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, ratio of total cholesterol to HDL), biomarkers of renal and liver organ function (albumin and creatinine) and wide-range C-reactive protein (CRP) as a non-specific biomarker for inflammation. These biomarkers represent widely used indicators of health that are individually or cumulatively recognized as risk factors for age-related diseases among prime-aged and elderly individuals. Quantile regressions are used to estimate the age-gradient and the within-day variation of each biomarker distribution. Differences in biomarker levels by socioeconomic status are investigated using descriptive and multivariate statistics.Results: Overall, the number of significant associations between the biomarkers and socioeconomic measures is very modest. None of the biomarkers significantly varies with schooling. Except for CRP where being married is weakly associated with lower risk of having an elevated CRP level, marriage is not associated with the biomarkers measured in the MLSFH. Similarly, being Muslim is associated with a lower risk of having elevated CRP but otherwise religion does not predict being in the high-risk quartiles of any of the MLSFH biomarkers. Wealth does not predict being in the high-risk quartile of any of the MLSFH biomarkers, with the exception of a weak effect on creatinine. Being overweight or obese is associated with increased likelihood of being in the high-risk quartile for cholesterol, Chol/HDL ratio, and LDL.Conclusions: The results provide only weak evidence for variation of the biomarkers by socioeconomic indicators in a poor Malawian context. Our findings underscore the need for further research to understand the determinants of health outcomes in a poor low-income context such as rural Malawi. © 2013 Kohler et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Lazzerini M.,Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS Burlo Garofolo | Seward N.,University College London | Lufesi N.,Community Health science Unit | Banda R.,Parent and Child Health Initiative PACHI | And 7 more authors.
The Lancet Global Health | Year: 2016

Background: Few studies have reported long-term data on mortality rates for children admitted to hospital with pneumonia in Africa. We examined trends in case fatality rates for all-cause clinical pneumonia and its risk factors in Malawian children between 2001 and 2012. Methods: Individual patient data for children (<5 years) with clinical pneumonia who were admitted to hospitals participating in Malawi's Child Lung Health Programme between 2001 and 2012 were recorded prospectively on a standardised medical form. We analysed trends in pneumonia mortality and children's clinical characteristics, and we estimated the association of risk factors with case fatality for children younger than 2 months, 2-11 months of age, and 12-59 months of age using separate multivariable mixed effects logistic regression models. Findings: Between November, 2012, and May, 2013, we retrospectively collected all available hard copies of yellow forms from 40 of 41 participating hospitals. We examined 113 154 pneumonia cases, 104 932 (92·7%) of whom had mortality data and 6903 of whom died, and calculated an overall case fatality rate of 6·6% (95% CI 6·4-6·7). The case fatality rate significantly decreased between 2001 (15·2% [13·4-17·1]) and 2012 (4·5% [4·1-4·9]; ptrend<0·0001). Univariable analyses indicated that the decrease in case fatality rate was consistent across most subgroups. In multivariable analyses, the risk factors significantly associated with increased odds of mortality were female sex, young age, very severe pneumonia, clinically suspected Pneumocystis jirovecii infection, moderate or severe underweight, severe acute malnutrition, disease duration of more than 21 days, and referral from a health centre. Increasing year between 2001 and 2012 and increasing age (in months) were associated with reduced odds of mortality. Fast breathing was associated with reduced odds of mortality in children 2-11 months of age. However, case fatality rate in 2012 remained high for children with very severe pneumonia (11·8%), severe undernutrition (15·4%), severe acute malnutrition (34·8%), and symptom duration of more than 21 days (9·0%). Interpretation: Pneumonia mortality and its risk factors have steadily improved in the past decade in Malawi; however, mortality remains high in specific subgroups. Improvements in hospital care may have reduced case fatality rates though a lack of sufficient data on quality of care indicators and the potential of socioeconomic and other improvements outside the hospital precludes adequate assessment of why case-fatality rates fell. Results from this study emphasise the importance of effective national systems for data collection. Further work combining this with data on trends in the incidence of pneumonia in the community are needed to estimate trends in the overall risk of mortality from pneumonia in children in Malawi. Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. © 2016 Lazzerini et al. Open Access article distributed under the terms of CC BY.

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