Health system approaches to improve hypertension control require an effective referral network. A national referral strategy exists in Kenya; however, a number of barriers to referral completion persist. This paper is a baseline assessment of a hypertension referral network for a cluster-randomized trial to improve hypertension control and reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
Lusambili, A.M., et al., 2020. Deliver on Your Own: Disrespectful Maternity Care in rural Kenya. PloS one, 15(1), p.e0214836 - e0214836. Website Abstract
BACKGROUND: Under the Free Maternity Policy (FMP), Kenya has witnessed an increase in health facility deliveries rather than home deliveries with Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) resulting in improved maternal and neonatal outcomes. Despite these gains, maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rates in Kenya remain unacceptably high indicating that more needs to be done. AIM: Using data from the Access to Quality Care through Extending and Strengthening Health Systems (AQCESS) project's qualitative gender assessment, this paper examines women's experience of disrespectful care during pregnancy, labour, and delivery. The goal is to promote an improved understanding of the actual care conditions to inform the development of interventions that can lift the standard of care, increase maternity facility use, and improve health outcomes for both women and newborns. METHODOLOGY: We conducted sixteen focus group discussions (FGDs), two each for adolescent females, adult females, adult males, and community health committee members. As well, twenty-four key Informants interviews (KII) were also conducted including religious leaders, and persons from local government representatives, Ministry of Health (MOH), and local women's organizations. Data were captured through audio recordings and reflective field notes. RESEARCH SITE: Kisii and Kilifi Counties in Kenya. FINDINGS: Findings show nursing and medical care during labour and delivery were at times disrespectful, humiliating, uncompassionate, neglectful, or abusive. In both counties, male health workers were preferred by women giving birth, as they were perceived as more friendly and sensitive. Adolescent females were more likely to report abuse during maternity care while women with disabled children reported being stigmatized. Structural barriers related to transportation and available resources at facilities associated with disrespectful care were identified. CONCLUSIONS: A focus on quality and compassionate care as well as more facility resources will lead to increased, successful, and sustainable use of facility care. Interpreting these results within a systems perspective, Kenya needs to implement, enforce, and monitor quality of care guidelines for pregnancy and delivery including respectful maternity care of pregnant women. To ensure these procedures are enforced, measurable benchmarks for maternity care need to be established, and hospitals need to be regularly monitored to ensure these benchmarks are achieved.
Non-communicable disease (NCD) care in Sub-Saharan Africa is challenging due to barriers including poverty and insufficient health system resources. Local culture and context can impact the success of interventions and should be integrated early in intervention design. Human-centered design (HCD) is a methodology that can be used to engage stakeholders in intervention design and evaluation to tailor-make interventions to meet their specific needs.
Spirituality and religion are at the core of Kenyan life. Pastoral leaders play a key role in shaping the individual and community’s response to living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Involvement of religious leaders would therefore be critical in advocacy and education efforts in palliative care (PC) to address the needs of this population. The goal of this study was to evaluate the knowledge and perceptions of religious leaders in Western Kenya regarding PC. This was a mixed-methods study with 86 religious leaders utilizing a 25-question survey followed by 5-person focus group discussions. Eighty-one percent of participants agreed that pastors should encourage members with life-threatening illnesses to talk about death and dying. However, almost a third of participants (29%) also agreed with the statement that full use of PC can hasten death. The pastors underscored challenges in end-of-life spiritual preparation as well as the importance of traditional beliefs in shaping cultural norms. Pastors supported the need for community-based PC education and additional training in PC for religious leaders. The results of this study confirm the dominant role of religion and spirituality in PC in Kenya. This dominant role in shaping PC is tied closely to Kenyan attitudes and norms surrounding death and dying.
Although blood hemoglobin (Hgb) testing is a routine procedure in a variety of clinical situations, noninvasive, continuous, and real-time blood Hgb measurements are still challenging. Optical spectroscopy can offer noninvasive blood Hgb quantification, but requires bulky optical components that intrinsically limit the development of mobile health (mHealth) technologies. Here, we report spectral super-resolution (SSR) spectroscopy that virtually transforms the built-in camera (RGB sensor) of a smartphone into a hyperspectral imager for accurate and precise blood Hgb analyses. Statistical learning of SSR enables us to reconstruct detailed spectra from three color RGB data. Peripheral tissue imaging with a mobile application is further combined to compute exact blood Hgb content without a priori personalized calibration. Measurements over a wide range of blood Hgb values show reliable performance of SSR blood Hgb quantification. Given that SSR does not require additional hardware accessories, the mobility, simplicity, and affordability of conventional smartphones support the idea that SSR blood Hgb measurements can be used as an mHealth method.
Lusambili, A., et al., 2020. Nutritional Influences on the Health of Women and Children in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique: A Qualitative Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17. Website Abstract
In 2017, the Government of Mozambique declared localized acute malnutrition crises in a range of districts across Mozambique including Cabo Delgado. This is in spite of intensive efforts by different non-governmental organizations (NGO) and the Government of Mozambique to expand access to information on good nutritional practices as well as promote nutrition-specific interventions, such as cooking demonstrations, home gardens and the distribution of micronutrient powder to children. This paper examines and discusses key nutritional influences on the health of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique. We conducted 21 key informant interviews (KIIs) with a wide range of stakeholders and 16 in-depth interviews (IDIs) with women. In addition, we conducted four focus group discussions with each of the following groups: (1) pregnant adolescent girls, (2) pregnant women >20 yrs, (3) women >20 yrs with babies <6 mths who were not practicing exclusive breastfeeding, (4) women >20 yrs of children <2 yrs and (5) with fathers of children <2 yrs. Data were analyzed thematically using NVIVO software. There is no single widely held influence on pregnant and breast-feeding women’s nutritional decision-making, choices and food consumption. Rather, variables such as social-cultural, environmental, economic, gender, knowledge and information intersect in their roles in nutritional food choices.
Humphrey, J.M., et al., 2019. Stated-preference research in HIV: A scoping review. PLOS ONE, 14, p.1-23. Website Abstract
Discrete choice experiments (DCE), conjoint analysis (CA), and best-worst scaling (BWS) are quantitative techniques for estimating consumer preferences for products or services. These methods are increasingly used in healthcare research, but their applications within the field of HIV research have not yet been described. The objective of this scoping review was to systematically map the extent and nature of published DCE, CA, and BWS studies in the field of HIV and identify priority areas where these methods can be used in the future. Online databases were searched to identify published HIV-related DCE, CA and BWS studies in any country and year as the primary outcome. After screening 1,496 citations, 57 studies were identified that were conducted in 26 countries from 2000–2017. The frequency of published studies increased over time and covered HIV themes relating to prevention (n = 25), counselling and testing (n = 10), service delivery (n = 10), and antiretroviral therapy (n = 12). Most studies were DCEs (63%) followed by CA (37%) and BWS (4%). The median [IQR] sample size was 288 [138–496] participants, and 74% of studies used primary qualitative data to develop attributes. Only 30% of studies were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa where the burden of HIV is highest. Moreover, few studies surveyed key populations including men who have sex with men, transgender people, pregnant and postpartum women, adolescents, and people who inject drugs. These populations represent priorities for future stated-preference research. This scoping review can help researchers, policy makers, program implementers, and health economists to better understand the various applications of stated-preference research methods in the field of HIV.
Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), yet treatment and control rates for hypertension are very low in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Lack of effective referral networks between different levels of the health system is one factor that threatens the ability to achieve adequate blood pressure control and prevent CVD-related morbidity. Health information technology and peer support are two strategies that have improved care coordination and clinical outcomes for other disease entities in other settings; however, their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness in strengthening referral networks to improve blood pressure control and reduce CVD risk in low-resource settings are unknown.
More than 95% of Kenyan women receive antenatal care (ANC) and only 62% access skilled delivery. To explore women's opinion on delivery location, 20 focus group discussions were conducted at an urban and rural setting in western Kenya. Participants included health care workers, traditional birth attendants (TBAs), and women who attended at least four ANC visits and delivered. Six in-depth interviews were also conducted with a combination of women who gave birth in a facility and at home. Discussions were digitally recorded and transcribed for analysis. Data was subjected to content analysis for deductive and inductive codes. Emergent themes were logically organized to address the study topic. Findings revealed that delivery services were sought from both skilled attendants and TBAs. TBAs remain popular despite lack of acknowledgement from mainstream health care. Choice of delivery is influenced by financial access, availability and quality of skilled delivery services, physical access, culture, ignorance about childbirth processes, easy access to familiar TBAs, fear of hospitals and hospital procedures, and social stigma. Appreciation of TBA referral role, quality maternity service, and reproductive health education can encourage facility deliveries. Formal and informal health workers should cooperate in innovative ways and ensure safe motherhood in Kenya.