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      Use of mobile phone consultations during home visits by Community Health Workers for maternal and newborn care: community experiences from Masindi and Kiryandongo districts, Uganda

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          Abstract

          Background

          Home visits by Community Health Workers [In Uganda Community Health Workers are given the collective term of Village Health Teams (VHTs). Hereafter referred to as VHTs] is recommended to improve maternal and newborn care. We investigated perceived maternal and newborn benefits of home visits made by VHTs, combined with mobile phone consultations with professional health workers for advice.

          Methods

          A qualitative study was conducted in Masindi and Kiryandongo districts, Uganda, in December-2013 to March-2014. Study participants were drawn from the intervention arm of a randomised community-intervention trial. In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 prenatal and 16 postnatal women who were visited by VHTs; 5 group discussions and 16 key informant interviews were held with VHTs and 10 Key Informant Interviews with professional health workers. Data were analysed using latent content analysis techniques.

          Results

          Majority women and VHTs contend that the intervention improved access to maternal and newborn information; reduced costs of accessing care and facilitated referral. Women, VHTs and professional health workers acknowledged that the intervention induced attitudinal change among women and VHTs towards adapting recommended maternal and newborn care practices. Mobile phone consultations between VHTs and professional health workers were considered to reinforce VHT knowledge on maternal newborn care and boosted the social status of VHTs in community. A minority of VHTs perceived the implementation of recommended maternal and newborn care practices as difficult. Some professional health workers did not approve of the transfer of promotional maternal and newborn responsibility to VHTs. For a range of reasons, a number of professional health workers were not always available on phone or at the health centre to address VHT concerns.

          Conclusions

          Results suggest that home visits made by VHTs for maternal and newborn care are reasonably well accepted. Our study highlights potential benefits of combining home visits with phone consultations between VHTs and professional health workers. However, the challenge of attitudinal change among VHTs towards certain strongly culturally-embedded behavioural post-partum practices, resistance from part of the professional health workforce to collaborate with VHTs and the problematic availability of professional health workers are important systemic problems that need to be addressed.

          Trial registration

          Current Controlled Trials NCT02084680.Registered 14 March 2014.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12889-015-1939-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references41

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          Effect of community-based newborn-care intervention package implemented through two service-delivery strategies in Sylhet district, Bangladesh: a cluster-randomised controlled trial.

          Neonatal mortality accounts for a high proportion of deaths in children under the age of 5 years in Bangladesh. Therefore the project for advancing the health of newborns and mothers (Projahnmo) implemented a community-based intervention package through government and non-government organisation infrastructures to reduce neonatal mortality. In Sylhet district, 24 clusters (with a population of about 20 000 each) were randomly assigned in equal numbers to one of two intervention arms or to the comparison arm. Because of the study design, masking was not feasible. All married women of reproductive age (15-49 years) were eligible to participate. In the home-care arm, female community health workers (one per 4000 population) identified pregnant women, made two antenatal home visits to promote birth and newborn-care preparedness, made postnatal home visits to assess newborns on the first, third, and seventh days of birth, and referred or treated sick neonates. In the community-care arm, birth and newborn-care preparedness and careseeking from qualified providers were promoted solely through group sessions held by female and male community mobilisers. The primary outcome was reduction in neonatal mortality. Analysis was by intention to treat. The study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number 00198705. The number of clusters per arm was eight. The number of participants was 36059, 40159, and 37598 in the home-care, community-care, and comparison arms, respectively, with 14 769, 16 325, and 15 350 livebirths, respectively. In the last 6 months of the 30-month intervention, neonatal mortality rates were 29.2 per 1000, 45.2 per 1000, and 43.5 per 1000 in the home-care, community-care, and comparison arms, respectively. Neonatal mortality was reduced in the home-care arm by 34% (adjusted relative risk 0.66; 95% CI 0.47-0.93) during the last 6 months versus that in the comparison arm. No mortality reduction was noted in the community-care arm (0.95; 0.69-1.31). A home-care strategy to promote an integrated package of preventive and curative newborn care is effective in reducing neonatal mortality in communities with a weak health system, low health-care use, and high neonatal mortality.
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            Effect of community-based behaviour change management on neonatal mortality in Shivgarh, Uttar Pradesh, India: a cluster-randomised controlled trial.

            In rural India, most births take place in the home, where high-risk care practices are common. We developed an intervention of behaviour change management, with a focus on prevention of hypothermia, aimed at modifying practices and reducing neonatal mortality. We did a cluster-randomised controlled efficacy trial in Shivgarh, a rural area in Uttar Pradesh. 39 village administrative units (population 104,123) were allocated to one of three groups: a control group, which received the usual services of governmental and non-governmental organisations in the area; an intervention group, which received a preventive package of interventions for essential newborn care (birth preparedness, clean delivery and cord care, thermal care [including skin-to-skin care], breastfeeding promotion, and danger sign recognition); or another intervention group, which received the package of essential newborn care plus use of a liquid crystal hypothermia indicator (ThermoSpot). In the intervention clusters, community health workers delivered the packages via collective meetings and two antenatal and two postnatal household visitations. Outcome measures included changes in newborn-care practices and neonatal mortality rate compared with the control group. Analysis was by intention to treat. This study is registered as International Standard Randomised Control Trial, number NCT00198653. Improvements in birth preparedness, hygienic delivery, thermal care (including skin-to-skin care), umbilical cord care, skin care, and breastfeeding were seen in intervention arms. There was little change in care-seeking. Compared with controls, neonatal mortality rate was reduced by 54% in the essential newborn-care intervention (rate ratio 0.46 [95% CI 0.35-0.60], p<0.0001) and by 52% in the essential newborn care plus ThermoSpot arm (0.48 [95% CI 0.35-0.66], p<0.0001). A socioculturally contextualised, community-based intervention, targeted at high-risk newborn-care practices, can lead to substantial behavioural modification and reduction in neonatal mortality. This approach can be applied to behaviour change along the continuum of care, harmonise vertical interventions, and build community capacity for sustained development. USAID and Save the Children-US through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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              Effectiveness of community health workers delivering preventive interventions for maternal and child health in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review

              Background Community Health Workers are widely utilised in low- and middle-income countries and may be an important tool in reducing maternal and child mortality; however, evidence is lacking on their effectiveness for specific types of programmes, specifically programmes of a preventive nature. This review reports findings on a systematic review analysing effectiveness of preventive interventions delivered by Community Health Workers for Maternal and Child Health in low- and middle-income countries. Methods A search strategy was developed according to the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre’s (EPPI-Centre) guidelines and systematic searching of the following databases occurred between June 8 – 11th, 2012: CINAHL, Embase, Ovid Nursing Database, PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science and POPLINE. Google, Google Scholar and WHO search engines, as well as relevant systematic reviews and reference lists from included articles were also searched. Inclusion criteria were: i) Target beneficiaries should be pregnant or recently pregnant women and/or children under-5 and/or caregivers of children under-5; ii) Interventions were required to be preventive and delivered by Community Health Workers at the household level. No exclusion criteria were stipulated for comparisons/controls or outcomes. Study characteristics of included articles were extracted using a data sheet and a peer tested quality assessment. A narrative synthesis of included studies was compiled with articles being coded descriptively to synthesise results and draw conclusions. Results A total of 10,281 studies were initially identified and through the screening process a total of 17 articles detailing 19 studies were included in the review. Studies came from ten different countries and consisted of randomized controlled trials, cluster randomized controlled trials, before and after, case control and cross sectional studies. Overall quality of evidence was found to be moderate. Five main preventive intervention categories emerged: malaria prevention, health education, breastfeeding promotion, essential newborn care and psychosocial support. All categories showed some evidence for the effectiveness of Community Health Workers; however they were found to be especially effective in promoting mother-performed strategies (skin to skin care and exclusive breastfeeding). Conclusions Community Health Workers were shown to provide a range of preventive interventions for Maternal and Child Health in low- and middle-income countries with some evidence of effective strategies, though insufficient evidence is available to draw conclusions for most interventions and further research is needed.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                mangwirichard@gmail.com
                atuyambe@musph.ac.ug
                jkiguli@musph.ac.ug
                cgorach@musph.ac.ug
                pkolsteren@itg.be
                bcriel@itg.be
                Journal
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                1471-2458
                18 June 2015
                18 June 2015
                2015
                : 15
                : 560
                Affiliations
                [ ]Department of Community Health and Behavioural Sciences, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, School of Public Health, P.O Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda
                [ ]Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nationalestraat 155, B 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
                Article
                1939
                10.1186/s12889-015-1939-3
                4471930
                25563658
                63576c07-7050-4138-8246-80b338cb198e
                © Ayiasi et al. 2015

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                History
                : 28 February 2015
                : 12 June 2015
                Categories
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2015

                Public health
                village health teams,home visits,mobile phone consultation,maternal and newborn care practices

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