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      Outsiders, insiders, and intermediaries: village health teams’ negotiation of roles to provide high quality sexual, reproductive and HIV care in Nakaseke, Uganda

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          Abstract

          Background

          Community health workers, known as Village Health Teams (VHTs) in Uganda, play a central role in increasing access to community-based health services. The objective of this research is to explore tensions that may emerge as VHTs navigate multiple roles as community members and care providers particularly when providing sensitive reproductive health and HIV care.

          Methods

          Twenty-five VHTs from a rural clinic in Uganda completed semi-structured interviews focused on experiences providing services. Interview questions focused on challenges VHTs face providing services and strategies for improving quality care. After translation from Luganda and transcription, interviews were analyzed using content analysis to identify emergent themes.

          Results

          Most VHTs were female ( n = 16). The average age was 46, and average length of VHT work, 11 years. Analyses revealed that all VHTs capitalized upon the duality of their position, shifting roles depending upon context. Three themes emerged around VHTs’ perceptions of their roles: community insiders, professional outsiders, and intermediaries. A caregiver “insider” role facilitated rapport and discussion of sensitive issues. As community members, VHTs leveraged existing community structures to educate clients in familiar settings such as “drinking places”. However, this role posed challenges as some VHTs felt compelled to share their own resources including food and transport money. Occupying a professional outsider role offered VHTs respect. Their specialized knowledge gave them authority to counsel others on effective forms of family planning. However, some VHTs faced opposition, suspicions about their motives, and violence in this role. In balancing these two roles, the VHTs adopted a third as intermediaries, connecting the community to services in the formalized health care system. Participants suggested that additional training, ongoing supervision, and the opportunity to collaborate with other VHTs would help them better navigate their different roles and, ultimately, improve the quality of service.

          Conclusions

          As countries scale up family planning and HIV services using VHTs, supportive supervision and ethical dilemma training are recommended so VHTs are prepared for the challenges of assuming multiple roles within communities.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (10.1186/s12913-019-4395-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 22

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          Low use of rural maternity services in Uganda: impact of women's status, traditional beliefs and limited resources.

          In Uganda, lack of resources and skilled staff to improve quality and delivery of maternity services, despite good policies and concerted efforts, have not yielded an increase in utilisation of these services by women or a reduction in the high ratio of maternal deaths. This paper reports a study conducted from November 2000 to October 2001 in Hoima, a rural district in western Uganda, whose aim was to enhance understanding of why, when faced with complications of pregnancy or delivery, women continue to choose high risk options leading to severe morbidity and even their own deaths. The findings demonstrate that adherence to traditional birthing practices and beliefs that pregnancy is a test of endurance and maternal death a sad but normal event, are important factors. The use of primary health units and the referral hospital, including when complications occur, was considered only as a last resort. Lack of skilled staff at primary health care level, complaints of abuse, neglect and poor treatment in hospital and poorly understood reasons for procedures, plus health workers' views that women were ignorant, also explain the unwillingness of women to deliver in health facilities and seek care for complications. Appropriate interventions are needed to address the barriers between rural mothers and the formal health care system, including community education on all aspects of essential obstetric care and sensitisation of service providers to the situation of rural mothers.
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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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              Voluntary HIV counselling and testing among men in rural western Uganda: Implications for HIV prevention

              Background Voluntary HIV counselling and testing (VCT) is one of the key strategies in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in Uganda. However, the utilization of VCT services particularly among men is low in Kasese district. We therefore conducted a study to determine the prevalence and factors associated with VCT use among men in Bukonzo West health sub-district, Kasese district. Methods A population-based cross-sectional study employing both quantitative and qualitative techniques of data collection was conducted between January and April 2005. Using cluster sampling, 780 men aged 18 years and above, residing in Bukonzo West health sub-district, were sampled from 38 randomly selected clusters. Data was collected on VCT use and independent variables. Focus group discussions (4) and key informant interviews (10) were also conducted. Binary logistic regression was performed to determine the predictors of VCT use among men. Results Overall VCT use among men was 23.3% (95% CI 17.2–29.4). Forty six percent (95% CI 40.8–51.2) had pre-test counselling and 25.9% (95%CI 19.9–31.9) had HIV testing. Of those who tested, 96% returned for post-test counselling and received HIV results. VCT use was higher among men aged 35 years and below (OR = 2.69, 95%CI 1.77–4.07), the non-subsistence farmers (OR = 2.37, 95%CI 2.37), the couple testing (OR = 2.37, 95%CI 1.02–8.83) and men with intention to disclose HIV test results to sexual partners (OR = 1.64, 95%CI 1.04–2.60). The major barriers to VCT use among men were poor utilization of VCT services due to poor access, stigma and confidentiality of services. Conclusion VCT use among men in Bukonzo West, Kasese district was low. In order to increase VCT use among men, the VCT programme needs to address HIV stigma and improve access and confidentiality of VCT services. Among the more promising interventions are the use of routine counselling and testing for HIV of patients seeking health care in health units, home based VCT programmes, and mainstreaming of HIV counselling and testing services in community development programmes.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                samanthaperry@uchicago.edu
                cfair@elon.edu
                Sahai.Burrowes@tu.edu
                sjholcombe@gmail.com
                rkalyesubula@gmail.com
                Journal
                BMC Health Serv Res
                BMC Health Serv Res
                BMC Health Services Research
                BioMed Central (London )
                1472-6963
                13 August 2019
                13 August 2019
                2019
                : 19
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7822, GRID grid.170205.1, School of Social Service Administration, , University of Chicago, ; Chicago, IL USA
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0686 4414, GRID grid.255496.9, Professor and Chair of Public Health Studies, , Elon University, ; Elon, NC USA
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0623 6962, GRID grid.265117.6, Associate Professor, Public Health Program, , Touro University California, ; Vallejo, CA USA
                [4 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2181 7878, GRID grid.47840.3f, University of California, ; Berkeley, CA USA
                [5 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0620 0548, GRID grid.11194.3c, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, ; Kampala, Uganda
                [6 ]African Community Center for Social Sustainability (ACCESS), Nakaseke, Uganda
                Article
                4395
                10.1186/s12913-019-4395-4
                6692941
                © The Author(s). 2019

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. 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.

                Funding
                Funded by: Elon University’s Lumen Prize and Elon College Fellows Program
                Award ID: N/A
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: Erik E. and Edith. H. Bergstrom Foundation
                Award ID: N/A
                Award Recipient :
                Categories
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2019

                Health & Social care

                sexual and reproductive health, hiv care, roles, village health teams, uganda

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