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In developing countries referral of severely ill children from primary care to district hospitals is common, but hospital care is often of poor quality. However, strategies to change multiple paediatric care practices in rural hospitals have rarely been evaluated. This cluster randomized trial was conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals, four of which were randomly assigned to a full intervention aimed at improving quality of clinical care (evidence-based guidelines, training, job aides, local facilitation, supervision, and face-to-face feedback; n = 4) and the remaining four to control intervention (guidelines, didactic training, job aides, and written feedback; n = 4). Prespecified structure, process, and outcome indicators were measured at baseline and during three and five 6-monthly surveys in control and intervention hospitals, respectively. Primary outcomes were process of care measures, assessed at 18 months postbaseline. In both groups performance improved from baseline. Completion of admission assessment tasks was higher in intervention sites at 18 months (mean = 0.94 versus 0.65, adjusted difference 0.54 [95% confidence interval 0.05-0.29]). Uptake of guideline recommended therapeutic practices was also higher within intervention hospitals: adoption of once daily gentamicin (89.2% versus 74.4%; 17.1% [8.04%-26.1%]); loading dose quinine (91.9% versus 66.7%, 26.3% [-3.66% to 56.3%]); and adequate prescriptions of intravenous fluids for severe dehydration (67.2% versus 40.6%; 29.9% [10.9%-48.9%]). The proportion of children receiving inappropriate doses of drugs in intervention hospitals was lower (quinine dose >40 mg/kg/day; 1.0% versus 7.5%; -6.5% [-12.9% to 0.20%]), and inadequate gentamicin dose (2.2% versus 9.0%; -6.8% [-11.9% to -1.6%]). Specific efforts are needed to improve hospital care in developing countries. A full, multifaceted intervention was associated with greater changes in practice spanning multiple, high mortality conditions in rural Kenyan hospitals than a partial intervention, providing one model for bridging the evidence to practice gap and improving admission care in similar settings. Source

English M.,KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme | English M.,University of Oxford
Implementation Science | Year: 2013

Background: District hospital services in Kenya and many low-income countries should deliver proven, effective interventions that could substantially reduce child and newborn mortality. However such services are often of poor quality. Researchers have therefore been challenged to identify intervention strategies that go beyond addressing knowledge, skill, or resource inadequacies to support health systems to deliver better services at scale. An effort to develop a system-oriented intervention tailored to local needs and context and drawing on theory is described.Methods: An intervention was designed to improve district hospital services for children based on four main strategies: a reflective process to distill root causes for the observed problems with service delivery; developing a set of possible intervention approaches to address these problems; a search of literature for theory that provided the most appropriate basis for intervention design; and repeatedly moving backwards and forwards between identified causes, proposed interventions, identified theory, and knowledge of the existing context to develop an overarching intervention that seemed feasible and likely to be acceptable and potentially sustainable.Results and discussion: In addition to human and resource constraints key problems included failures of relevant professionals to take responsibility for or ownership of the challenge of pediatric service delivery; inadequately prepared, poorly supported leaders of service units (mid-level managers) who are often professionally and geographically isolated and an almost complete lack of useful information for routinely monitoring or understanding service delivery practice or outcomes. A system-oriented intervention recognizing the pivotal role of leaders of service units but addressing the outer and inner setting of hospitals was designed to help shape and support an appropriate role for these professionals. It aims to foster a sense of ownership while providing the necessary understanding, knowledge, and skills for mid-level managers to work effectively with senior managers and frontline staff to improve services. The intervention will include development of an information system, feedback mechanisms, and discussion fora that promote positive change. The vehicle for such an intervention is a collaborative network partnering government and national professional associations. This case is presented to promote discussion on approaches to developing context appropriate interventions particularly in international health. © 2013 English; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

English M.,KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme | Schellenberg J.,London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Todd J.,London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Bulletin of the World Health Organization | Year: 2011

Research is needed to help identify interventions that will improve the capacity or functioning of health systems and thereby contribute to achieving global health goals. Well conducted, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), insofar as they reduce bias and confounding, provide the strongest evidence for identifying which interventions delivered directly to individuals are safe and effective. When ethically feasible, they can also help reduce bias and confounding when assessing interventions targeting entire health systems. However, additional challenges emerge when research focuses on interventions that target the multiple units of organization found within health systems. Hence, one cannot complacently assume that randomization can reduce or eliminate bias and confounding to the same degree in every instance. While others have articulated arguments in favour of alternative designs, this paper is intended to help people understand why the potential value afforded by RCTs may be threatened. Specifically, it suggests six points to be borne in mind when exploring the challenges entailed in designing or evaluating RCTs on health system interventions: (i)the number of units available for randomization; (ii)the complexity of the organizational unit under study; (iii)the complexity of the intervention; (iv) the complexity of the cause-effect pathway, (v)contamination; and (vi)outcome heterogeneity. The authors suggest that the latter may be informative and that the reasons behind it should be explored and not ignored. Based on improved understanding of the value and possible limitations of RCTs on health system interventions, the authors show why we need broader platforms of research to complement RCTs. Source

Wafula F.,Aidspan | Agweyu A.,KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme | Macintyre K.,Aidspan
Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes | Year: 2014

Background: Nearly 40% of Global Fund money goes toward procurement. However, no analyses have been published to show how costs vary across regions and time, despite the availability of procurement data collected through the Global Fund's price and quality reporting system. Methodology: We analyzed data for the 3 most widely procured commodities for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV. These were male condoms, HIV rapid tests, and the antiretroviral (ARV) combination of lamivudine/nevirapine/zidovudine. The compared costs, first across time (2005-2012), then across regions, and finally, between individual procurement reported through the price and quality reporting and pooled procurement reported through the Global Fund's voluntary pooled procurement system. All costs were adjusted for inflation and reported in US dollars. Key Findings: There were 2337 entries from 578 grants in 125 countries. The procurement cost for the ARV dropped substantially over the period, whereas those for condoms and HIV tests remained relatively stable. None of the commodity prices increased. Regional variations were pronounced for HIV tests, but minimal for condoms and the ARV. The unit cost for the 3-table ARV combination, for instance, varied between US$0.15 and US$0.23 in South Asia and the Eastern Europe/Central Asia regions, respectively, compared with a range of $0.23 (South Asia)$1.50 (Eastern Europe/Central Asia) for a single diagnostic test. Pooled procurement lowered costs for condoms but not the other commodities. Conclusions: We showed how global procurement costs vary by region and time. Such analyses should be done more often to identify and correct market insufficiencies. © 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Source

Chakravorty S.,Imperial College London | Williams T.N.,Imperial College London | Williams T.N.,KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme
Archives of Disease in Childhood | Year: 2015

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a single gene disorder causing a debilitating systemic syndrome characterised by chronic anaemia, acute painful episodes, organ infarction and chronic organ damage and by a significant reduction in life expectancy. The origin of SCD lies in the malarial regions of the tropics where carriers are protected against death from malaria and hence enjoy an evolutionary advantage. More recently, population migration has meant that SCD now has a worldwide distribution and that a substantial number of children are born with the condition in higher-income areas, including large parts of Europe and North and South America. Newborn screening, systematic clinical followup and prevention of sepsis and organ damage have led to an increased life expectancy among people with SCD in many such countries; however, in resource-limited settings where the majority continue to be born, most affected children continue to die in early childhood, usually undiagnosed, due to the lack of effective programmes for its early detection and treatment. As new therapies emerge, potentially leading to disease amelioration or cure, it is of paramount importance that the significant burden of SCD in resource-poor countries is properly recognised. Source

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