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      Impact of lay health worker programmes on the health outcomes of mother-child pairs of HIV exposed children in Africa: A scoping review

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          Abstract

          Background

          Increased demand for healthcare services in countries experiencing high HIV disease burden and often coupled with a shortage of health workers, has necessitated task shifting from professional health workers to Lay Health Workers (LHWs) in order to improve healthcare delivery. Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services particularly benefit from task-shifting to LHWs or similar cadres. However, evidence on the roles and usefulness of LHWs in MCH service delivery in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is not fully known.

          Objectives

          To examine evidence of the roles and impact of lay health worker programmes focusing on Women Living with HIV (WLH) and their HIV-exposed infants (HEIs).

          Methods

          A scoping review approach based on Arksey and O’Malley’s guiding principles was used to retrieve, review and analyse existing literature. We searched for articles published between January 2008 and July 2018 in seven (7) databases, including: MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, Joanna Briggs, The Cochrane Library, EBM reviews and Web of Science. The critical constructs used for the literature search were “lay health worker”, “community health worker”, “peer mentor”, “mentor mother,” “Maternal and Child health worker”, “HIV positive mothers”, “HIV exposed infants” and PMTCT.

          Results

          Thirty-three (33) full-text articles meeting the eligibility criteria were identified and included in the final analysis. Most (n = 13, 39.4%) of the included studies were conducted in South Africa and used a cluster RCT design (n = 13, 39.4%). The most commonly performed roles of LHWs in HIV specific MCH programmes included: community engagement and sensitisation, psychosocial support, linkage to care, encouraging women to bring their infants back for HIV testing and supporting default tracing. Community awareness on Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (MTCT), proper and consistent use of condoms, clinic attendance and timely HIV testing of HEIs, as well as retention in care for infected persons, have all improved because of LHW programmes.

          Conclusion

          LHWs play significant roles in the management of WLH and their HEIs, improving MCH outcomes in the process. LHW interventions are beneficial in increasing access to PMTCT services and reducing MTCT of HIV, though their impact on improving adherence to ART remains scanty. Further research is needed to evaluate ART adherence in LHW interventions targeted at WLH. LHW programmes can be enhanced by increasing supportive supervision and remuneration of LHWs.

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          Most cited references 35

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          Role and outcomes of community health workers in HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review

          Introduction The provision of HIV treatment and care in sub-Saharan Africa faces multiple challenges, including weak health systems and attrition of trained health workers. One potential response to overcome these challenges has been to engage community health workers (CHWs). Methodology A systematic literature search for quantitative and qualitative studies describing the role and outcomes of CHWs in HIV care between inception and December 2012 in sub-Saharan Africa was performed in the following databases: PubMed, PsychINFO, Embase, Web of Science, JSTOR, WHOLIS, Google Scholar and SAGE journals online. Bibliographies of included articles were also searched. A narrative synthesis approach was used to analyze common emerging themes on the role and outcomes of CHWs in HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa. Results In total, 21 studies met the inclusion criteria, documenting a range of tasks performed by CHWs. These included patient support (counselling, home-based care, education, adherence support and livelihood support) and health service support (screening, referral and health service organization and surveillance). CHWs were reported to enhance the reach, uptake and quality of HIV services, as well as the dignity, quality of life and retention in care of people living with HIV. The presence of CHWs in clinics was reported to reduce waiting times, streamline patient flow and reduce the workload of health workers. Clinical outcomes appeared not to be compromised, with no differences in virologic failure and mortality comparing patients under community-based and those under facility-based care. Despite these benefits, CHWs faced challenges related to lack of recognition, remuneration and involvement in decision making. Conclusions CHWs can clearly contribute to HIV services delivery and strengthen human resource capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. For their contribution to be sustained, CHWs need to be recognized, remunerated and integrated in wider health systems. Further research focusing on comparative costs of CHW interventions and successful models for mainstreaming CHWs into wider health systems is needed.
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            Barriers and facilitators to the implementation of lay health worker programmes to improve access to maternal and child health: qualitative evidence synthesis.

             Claire Glenton (corresponding) ,  Christopher Colvin,  Benedicte Carlsen (2013)
            Lay health workers (LHWs) perform functions related to healthcare delivery, receive some level of training, but have no formal professional or paraprofessional certificate or tertiary education degree. They provide care for a range of issues, including maternal and child health. For LHW programmes to be effective, we need a better understanding of the factors that influence their success and sustainability. This review addresses these issues through a synthesis of qualitative evidence and was carried out alongside the Cochrane review of the effectiveness of LHWs for maternal and child health. The overall aim of the review is to explore factors affecting the implementation of LHW programmes for maternal and child health. We searched MEDLINE, OvidSP (searched 21 December 2011); MEDLINE Ovid In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, OvidSP (searched 21 December 2011); CINAHL, EBSCO (searched 21 December 2011); British Nursing Index and Archive, OvidSP (searched 13 May 2011). We searched reference lists of included studies, contacted experts in the field, and included studies that were carried out alongside the trials from the LHW effectiveness review. Studies that used qualitative methods for data collection and analysis and that focused on the experiences and attitudes of stakeholders regarding LHW programmes for maternal or child health in a primary or community healthcare setting. We identified barriers and facilitators to LHW programme implementation using the framework thematic synthesis approach. Two review authors independently assessed study quality using a standard tool. We assessed the certainty of the review findings using the CerQual approach, an approach that we developed alongside this and related qualitative syntheses. We integrated our findings with the outcome measures included in the review of LHW programme effectiveness in a logic model. Finally, we identified hypotheses for subgroup analyses in future updates of the review of effectiveness. We included 53 studies primarily describing the experiences of LHWs, programme recipients, and other health workers. LHWs in high income countries mainly offered promotion, counselling and support. In low and middle income countries, LHWs offered similar services but sometimes also distributed supplements, contraceptives and other products, and diagnosed and treated children with common childhood diseases. Some LHWs were trained to manage uncomplicated labour and to refer women with pregnancy or labour complications.Many of the findings were based on studies from multiple settings, but with some methodological limitations. These findings were assessed as being of moderate certainty. Some findings were based on one or two studies and had some methodological limitations. These were assessed have low certainty.Barriers and facilitators were mainly tied to programme acceptability, appropriateness and credibility; and health system constraints. Programme recipients were generally positive to the programmes, appreciating the LHWs' skills and the similarities they saw between themselves and the LHWs. However, some recipients were concerned about confidentiality when receiving home visits. Others saw LHW services as not relevant or not sufficient, particularly when LHWs only offered promotional services. LHWs and recipients emphasised the importance of trust, respect, kindness and empathy. However, LHWs sometimes found it difficult to manage emotional relationships and boundaries with recipients. Some LHWs feared blame if care was not successful. Others felt demotivated when their services were not appreciated. Support from health systems and community leaders could give LHWs credibility, at least if the health systems and community leaders had authority and respect. Active support from family members was also important.Health professionals often appreciated the LHWs' contributions in reducing their workload and for their communication skills and commitment. However, some health professionals thought that LHWs added to their workload and feared a loss of authority.LHWs were motivated by factors including altruism, social recognition, knowledge gain and career development. Some unsalaried LHWs wanted regular payment, while others were concerned that payment might threaten their social status or lead recipients to question their motives. Some salaried LHWs were dissatisfied with their pay levels. Others were frustrated when payment differed across regions or institutions. Some LHWs stated that they had few opportunities to voice complaints. LHWs described insufficient, poor quality, irrelevant and inflexible training programmes, calling for more training in counselling and communication and in topics outside their current role, including common health problems and domestic problems. LHWs and supervisors complained about supervisors' lack of skills, time and transportation. Some LHWs appreciated the opportunity to share experiences with fellow LHWs.In some studies, LHWs were traditional birth attendants who had received additional training. Some health professionals were concerned that these LHWs were over-confident about their ability to manage danger signs. LHWs and recipients pointed to other problems, including women's reluctance to be referred after bad experiences with health professionals, fear of caesarean sections, lack of transport, and cost. Some LHWs were reluctant to refer women on because of poor co-operation with health professionals.We organised these findings and the outcome measures included in the review of LHW programme effectiveness in a logic model. Here we proposed six chains of events where specific programme components lead to specific intermediate or long-term outcomes, and where specific moderators positively or negatively affect this process. We suggest how future updates of the LHW effectiveness review could explore whether the presence of these components influences programme success. Rather than being seen as a lesser trained health worker, LHWs may represent a different and sometimes preferred type of health worker. The close relationship between LHWs and recipients is a programme strength. However, programme planners must consider how to achieve the benefits of closeness while minimizing the potential drawbacks. Other important facilitators may include the development of services that recipients perceive as relevant; regular and visible support from the health system and the community; and appropriate training, supervision and incentives.
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              Universal test and treat and the HIV epidemic in rural South Africa: a phase 4, open-label, community cluster randomised trial

              Universal antiretroviral therapy (ART), as per the 2015 WHO recommendations, might reduce population HIV incidence. We investigated the effect of universal test and treat on HIV acquisition at population level in a high prevalence rural region of South Africa.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Funding acquisitionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Writing – review & editing
                Role: MethodologyRole: ValidationRole: Writing – original draft
                Role: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Conceptualization
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Funding acquisitionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Funding acquisition
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Funding acquisitionRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                31 January 2019
                2019
                : 14
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ] mothers2mothers, Cape Town, South Africa
                [2 ] School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
                [3 ] School of Public Health, University of Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
                [4 ] Center for Health Policy, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
                Medical Research Council, SOUTH AFRICA
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Article
                PONE-D-18-30085
                10.1371/journal.pone.0211439
                6355001
                30703152
                264f2049-8b89-4b0b-8af5-ca7f2d78393c
                © 2019 Schmitz et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, Pages: 20
                Product
                Funding
                The authors received no specific funding for this work.
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