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Ahmed S.M.,Research and Evaluation Division | Hossain S.,Research and Evaluation Division | Kabir M.M.,BRAC Center | Roy S.,Research and Evaluation Division
Malaria Journal | Year: 2011

Background: BRAC, an indigenous non-governmental development organization (NGO), has been implementing a programme to prevent and control malaria in the 13 malaria-endemic districts of Bangladesh since 2007. One of the critical preventive interventions is the distribution of insecticidal bed nets (long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, LLINs and insecticide-treated ordinary nets, ITNs) to the community free of cost. This study aimed to assess progress in the possession, preferential use, and knowledge on use of the LLIN/ITNs including the programme's avowed pro-poor inclination one and three and half years after intervention began. Methods. A convenient sampling strategy based on malaria endemicity in the districts was adopted. First, thirty upazila (sub-district, with a population around 250,000)s were selected at random, with high prevalent districts contributing more upazilas; second, from each upazila, one (2008) to two (2011) villages (covered by insecticidal bed net distribution programme) were selected. From each village, households that had either one under-five child and/or a pregnant woman were included in the survey, one household being included only once. Data were collected using a pre-tested structured questionnaire. Results: In all, 3,760 households in 2008 and 7,895 households in 2011 were surveyed for collecting relevant information. Proportion of households with at least one LLIN, and at least one LLIN/ITN increased (22-59 to 62-67% and 22-64% to 74-76% respectively) over time, including increase in the mean number of LLIN/ITNs per household ( 1 to 1 +). The programme achieved > 80% coverage in sleeping under an LLIN/ITN in the case of under-five children and pregnant women, especially in the high-endemic districts. Knowledge regarding critical time of hanging the net also increased over time (7-22 to 44-54%), but remained low. The pro-poor inclination of the programme is reflected in the status of relevant indicators according to self-rated poverty status of the households. Conclusions: There has been a substantial improvement in possession and usage of insecticidal bed nets especially for the two most vulnerable groups (under-five children and pregnant women), including a reduction of gaps between the high and low endemic districts, and the deficit and non-deficit households during the study period. © 2011 Ahmed et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Kabir Z.N.,Karolinska Institutet | Nasreen H.,International Islamic University Malaysia | Edhborg M.,Research and Evaluation Division
Global Health Action | Year: 2014

Background: The prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV), a gross violation of human rights, ranges widely across the world with higher prevalence reported in low- and middle-income countries. Evidence related mainly to physical health shows that IPV has both direct and indirect impacts on women's health. Little is known about the impact of IPV on the mental health of women, particularly after childbirth. Objective: To describe the prevalence of IPV experienced by women 6-8 months after childbirth in rural Bangladesh and the factors associated with physical IPV. The study also aims to investigate the association between IPV and maternal depressive symptoms after childbirth. Design: The study used cross-sectional data at 6-8 months postpartum. The sample included 660 mothers of newborn children. IPV was assessed by physical, emotional, and sexual violence. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale assessed maternal depressive symptoms. Results: Prevalence of physical IPV was 52%, sexual 65%, and emotional 84%. The husband's education (OR: 0.41, CI: 0.23-0.73), a poor relationship with the husband (OR: 2.64, CI: 1.07-6.54), and emotional violence by spouse (OR: 1.58, CI: 1.35-1.83) were significantly associated with physical IPV experienced by women. The perception of a fussy and difficult child (OR: 1.05, CI: 1.02-1.08), a poor relationship with the husband (OR: 4.95, CI: 2.55-9.62), and the experience of physical IPV (OR: 2.83, CI: 1.72-4.64) were found to be significant predictors of maternal depressive symptoms among women 6-8 months after childbirth. Neither forced sex nor emotional violence by an intimate partner was found to be significantly associated with maternal depressive symptoms 6-8 months postpartum. Conclusions: It is important to screen for both IPV and depressive symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum. Since IPV and spousal relationships are the most important predictors of maternal depressive symptoms in this study, couple-focused interventions at the community level are suggested. © 2014 Zarina N. Kabir et al.

Mistry S.K.,Research and Evaluation Division | Puthussery S.,University of Bedfordshire
Public Health | Year: 2015

Objective: To assess and synthesize the published evidence on risk factors of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence in South Asia. Study design: A systematically conducted narrative review. Methods: A systematic review was conducted of all primary studies published between January 1990 and June 2013 from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Maldives located through the following data bases: PubMed, PubMed central, EMBASE, MEDLINE, BioMed central, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and electronic libraries of the authors' institutions. Data extraction and quality appraisal of included studies was done independently by two authors and findings were synthesized in a narrative manner as meta-analysis was found to be inappropriate due to heterogeneity of the included studies. Results: Eleven primary studies were included in the final review, all of which were conducted in school settings in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Prevalence of overweight and obesity showed wide variations in the included studies. The key individual risk factors with statistically significant associations to overweight and obesity included: lack of physical activities reported in six studies; prolonged TV watching/playing computer games reported in four studies; frequent consumption of fast food/junk food reported in four studies; and frequent consumption of calorie dense food items reported in two studies. Family level risk factors included higher socioeconomic status reported in four studies and family history of obesity reported in three studies. Conclusion: This review provides evidence of key contributors to the increasing burden of obesity and overweight among children and adolescents in South Asia, and demonstrates the nutritional transition that characterizes other developing countries and regions around the world. The findings have implications for policy, practice and the development of interventions at various levels to promote healthy eating and physical activity among children and adolescents in the region as well as more globally. © 2014 The Royal Society for Public Health.

Ahmed S.M.,Research and Evaluation Division | Hossain M.A.,Research and Evaluation Division | RajaChowdhury A.M.,Brac University | Bhuiya A.U.,ICDDRB
Human Resources for Health | Year: 2011

Background: Bangladesh is identified as one of the countries with severe health worker shortages. However, there is a lack of comprehensive data on human resources for health (HRH) in the formal and informal sectors in Bangladesh. This data is essential for developing an HRH policy and plan to meet the changing health needs of the population. This paper attempts to fill in this knowledge gap by using data from a nationally representative sample survey conducted in 2007.Methods: The study population in this survey comprised all types of currently active health care providers (HCPs) in the formal and informal sectors. The survey used 60 unions/wards from both rural and urban areas (with a comparable average population of approximately 25 000) which were proportionally allocated based on a 'Probability Proportion to Size' sampling technique for the six divisions and distribution areas. A simple free listing was done to make an inventory of the practicing HCPs in each of the sampled areas and cross-checking with community was done for confirmation and to avoid duplication. This exercise yielded the required list of different HCPs by union/ward.Results: HCP density was measured per 10 000 population. There were approximately five physicians and two nurses per 10 000, the ratio of nurse to physician being only 0.4. Substantial variation among different divisions was found, with gross imbalance in distribution favouring the urban areas. There were around 12 unqualified village doctors and 11 salespeople at drug retail outlets per 10 000, the latter being uniformly spread across the country. Also, there were twice as many community health workers (CHWs) from the non-governmental sector than the government sector and an overwhelming number of traditional birth attendants. The village doctors (predominantly males) and the CHWs (predominantly females) were mainly concentrated in the rural areas, while the paraprofessionals were concentrated in the urban areas. Other data revealed the number of faith/traditional healers, homeopaths (qualified and non-qualified) and basic care providers.Conclusions: Bangladesh is suffering from a severe HRH crisis--in terms of a shortage of qualified providers, an inappropriate skills-mix and inequity in distribution--which requires immediate attention from policy makers. © 2011 Ahmed et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Harawa N.T.,Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science | McCuller W.J.,Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science | Chavers C.,Research and Evaluation Division | Janson M.,Research and Evaluation Division
AIDS and Behavior | Year: 2013

We examined the frequencies of HIV-related risk factors among women reporting and not reporting sex with a man who has sex with men and women (MSMW). We used data from 15,625 visits of Black and Hispanic/Latina females, ages 15-64 years, to Los Angeles County HIV testing sites (2007-2008). The following risk factors were associated with reporting an MSMW partner: number of sex partners, use of party drugs, anal sex, and sexual partners with other risk factors. Overall, females who reported an MSMW partner differed little in their likelihood of testing HIV positive (0.93%) compared to those who did not (0.58%, p value = 0.19). Among females reporting one male sex partner, having an MSMW partner was strongly associated with HIV (2.8 vs. 0.63%, p = 0.03). Interventions targeting women who report other risky behaviors may reach many who have been with MSMW. Women with one partner are an important focus of such efforts. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Mallick D.,Deakin University | Rafi M.,Research and Evaluation Division
World Development | Year: 2010

This paper uses household and village-level survey data to investigate the food security of male- and female-headed households in Bangladesh with particular attention to indigenous ethnic groups, and finds no significant differences in the food security between these two types of households. The absence of social and cultural restrictions among the indigenous groups permitting their females greater freedom to participate in the labor force coupled with informal redistributive mechanism is attributed to their less food insecurity. This result indicates that noneconomic institutions can significantly impact economic outcomes such as food security. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Choudhury N.,Research and Evaluation Division | Choudhury N.,International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research Bangladesh B | Ahmed S.M.,Research and Evaluation Division
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth | Year: 2011

Background: Although many studies have been carried out to learn about maternal care practices in rural areas and urban-slums of Bangladesh, none have focused on ultra poor women. Understanding the context in which women would be willing to accept new practices is essential for developing realistic and relevant behaviour change messages. This study sought to fill in this knowledge gap by exploring maternal care practices among women who participated in a grant-based livelihood programme for the ultra poor. This is expected to assist the designing of the health education messages programme in an effort to improve maternal morbidity and survival towards achieving the UN millennium Development Goal 5.Methods: Qualitative method was used to collect data on maternal care practices during pregnancy, delivery, and post-partum period from women in ultra poor households. The sample included both currently pregnant women who have had a previous childbirth, and lactating women, participating in a grant-based livelihood development programme. Rangpur and Kurigram districts in northern Bangladesh were selected for data collection.Results: Women usually considered pregnancy as a normal event unless complications arose, and most of them refrained from seeking antenatal care (ANC) except for confirmation of pregnancy, and no prior preparation for childbirth was taken. Financial constraints, coupled with traditional beliefs and rituals, delayed care-seeking in cases where complications arose. Delivery usually took place on the floor in the squatting posture and the attendants did not always follow antiseptic measures such as washing hands before conducting delivery. Following the birth of the baby, attention was mainly focused on the expulsion of the placenta and various maneuvres were adapted to hasten the process, which were sometimes harmful. There were multiple food-related taboos and restrictions, which decreased the consumption of protein during pregnancy and post-partum period. Women usually failed to go to the healthcare providers for illnesses in the post-partum period.Conclusion: This study shows that cultural beliefs and norms have a strong influence on maternal care practices among the ultra poor households, and override the beneficial economic effects from livelihood support intervention. Some of these practices, often compromised by various taboos and beliefs, may become harmful at times. Health behavior education in this livelihood support program can be carefully tailored to local cultural beliefs to achieve better maternal outcomes. © 2011 Choudhury and Ahmed; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Ahmed S.M.,Research and Evaluation Division | Zerihun A.,Evaluation and Research Unit
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Background: The use of insecticidal bed nets is found to be an effective public health tool for control of malaria, especially for under-five children and pregnant women. BRAC, an indigenous Bangladeshi non-governmental development organization, started working in the East African state of Uganda in June 2006. As part of its efforts to improve the health and well-being of its participants, BRAC Uganda has been distributing long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLIN) at a subsidized price through health volunteers since February 2008. This study was conducted in March-April 2009 to examine how equitable the programme had been in consistence with BRAC Uganda's pro-poor policy. Methodology/Principal Findings: Information on possession of LLINs and relevant knowledge on its proper use and maintenance was collected from households either with an under-five child and/or a pregnant woman. The sample included three villages from each of the 10 branch offices where BRAC Uganda's community-based health programme was operating. Data were collected by trained enumerators through face-to-face interviews using a hand-held personal digital assistant (PDA). Findings reveal that the study population had superficial knowledge on malaria and its transmission, including the use and maintenance of LLINs. The households' rate of possession of bed nets (41-59%), and the proportion of under-five children (17-19%) and pregnant women (25-27%) who reported sleeping under an LLIN were not encouraging. Inequity was observed in the number of LLINs possessed by the households, in the knowledge on its use and maintenance, and between the two programme areas. Conclusions/Significance: The BRAC Uganda's LLINs distribution at a subsidized price appeared to be inadequate and inequitable, and BRAC's knowledge dissemination is insufficient for initiating preventive actions such as proper use of LLINs to interrupt malaria transmission. Findings contribute to the on-going debate on LLINs distribution in Africa and make a strong case for its free distribution. © 2010 Ahmed, Zerihun.

Hashima-E-Nasreen,Research and Evaluation Division
Global health action | Year: 2011

Evidence exists about prevention of postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) by oral administration of misoprostol in low-income countries, but effectiveness of prevention by lay community health workers (CHW) is not sufficient. This study aimed to investigate whether a single dose (400 μg) of oral misoprostol could prevent PPH in a community home-birth setting and to assess its acceptability and feasibility among rural Bangladeshi women. This quasi-experimental trial was conducted among 2,017 rural women who had home deliveries between November 2009 and February 2010 in two rural districts of northern Bangladesh. In the intervention district 1,009 women received 400 μg of misoprostol immediately after giving birth by the lay CHWs, and in the control district 1,008 women were followed after giving birth with no specific intervention against PPH. Primary PPH (within 24 hours) was measured by women's self-reported subjective measures of the normality of blood loss using the 'cultural consensus model.' Baseline data provided socio-economic, reproductive, obstetric, and bleeding disorder information. The incidence of primary PPH was found to be lower in the intervention group (1.6%) than the control group (6.2%) (p<0.001). Misoprostol provided 81% protection (RR: 0.19; 95% CI: 0.08-0.48) against developing primary PPH. The proportion of retained and manually removed placentae was found to be higher in the control group compared to the intervention group. Women in the control group were more likely to need an emergency referral to a higher level facility and blood transfusion than the intervention group. Unexpectedly few women experienced transient side effects of misoprostol. Eighty-seven percent of the women were willing to use the drug in future pregnancy and would recommend to other pregnant women. Community-based distribution of oral misoprostol (400 μg) by CHW appeared to be effective, safe, acceptable, and feasible in reducing the incidence of PPH in rural areas of Bangladesh. This strategy should be scaled up across the country where access to skilled attendance is limited.

Nahar S.,National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine NIPSOM | Banu M.,Research and Evaluation Division | Nasreen H.E.,Research and Evaluation Division
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth | Year: 2011

Background: Recognizing the burden of maternal mortality in urban slums, in 2007 BRAC (formally known as Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) has established a woman-focused development intervention, Manoshi (the Bangla abbreviation of mother, neonate and child), in urban slums of Bangladesh. The intervention emphasizes strengthening the continuum of maternal, newborn and child care through community, delivery centre (DC) and timely referral of the obstetric complications to the emergency obstetric care (EmOC) facilities. This study aimed to assess whether Manoshi DCs reduces delays in accessing EmOC.Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted during October 2008 to January 2009 in the slums of Dhaka city among 450 obstetric complicated cases referred either from DCs of Manoshi or from their home to the EmOC facilities. Trained female interviewers interviewed at their homestead with structured questionnaire. Pearson's chi-square test, t-test and Mann-Whitney test were performed.Results: The median time for making the decision to seek care was significantly longer among women who were referred from home than referred from DCs (9.7 hours vs. 5.0 hours, p < 0.001). The median time to reach a facility and to receive treatment was found to be similar in both groups. Time taken to decide to seek care was significantly shorter in the case of life-threatening complications among those who were referred from DC than home (0.9 hours vs.2.3 hours, p = 0.002). Financial assistance from Manoshi significantly reduced the first delay in accessing EmOC services for life-threatening complications referred from DC (p = 0.006). Reasons for first delay include fear of medical intervention, inability to judge maternal condition, traditional beliefs and financial constraints. Role of gender was found to be an important issue in decision making. First delay was significantly higher among elderly women, multiparity, non life-threatening complications and who were not involved in income-generating activities.Conclusions: Manoshi program reduces the first delay for life-threatening conditions but not non-life-threatening complications even though providing financial assistance. Programme should give more emphasis on raising awareness through couple/family-based education about maternal complications and dispel fear of clinical care to accelerate seeking EmOC. © 2011 Nahar et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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