WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health
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   2015| January-June  | Volume 4 | Issue 1  
    Online since May 19, 2017

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Mosquito-borne diseases in Assam, north-east India: current status and key challenges
V Dev, VP Sharma, K Barman
January-June 2015, 4(1):20-29
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206616  PMID:28607271
Mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria, Japanese encephalitis (JE), lymphatic filariasis and dengue, are major public health concerns in the north-eastern state of Assam, deterring equitable socioeconomic and industrial development. Among these, malaria and JE are the predominant infections and are spread across the state. The incidence of malaria is, however, gradually receding, with a consistent decline in cases over the past few years, although entry and spread of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum remains a real threat in the country. JE, formerly endemic in upper Assam, is currently spreading fast across the state, with confirmed cases and a high case-fatality rate affecting all ages. Lymphatic filariasisis is prevalent but its distribution is confined to a few districts and disease transmission is steadily declining. Dengue has recently invaded the state, with a large concentration of cases in Guwahati city that are spreading to suburban areas. Control of these diseases requires robust disease surveillance and integrated vector management on a sustained basis, ensuring universal coverage of evidence-based key interventions based on sound epidemiological data. This paper aims to present a comprehensive review of the status of vector-borne diseases in Assam and to address the key challenges.
  6 3,156 266
Innovative social protection mechanism for alleviating catastrophic expenses on multidrug-resistant tuberculosis patients in Chhattisgarh, India
Debashish Kundu, Vijendra Katre, Kamalpreet Singh, Madhav Deshpande, Priyakanta Nayak, Kshitij Khaparde, Arindam Moitra, Sreenivas A Nair, Malik Parmar
January-June 2015, 4(1):69-77
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206624  PMID:28607277
Background: Patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) incur huge expenditures for diagnosis and treatment; these costs can be reduced through a well-designed and implemented social health insurance mechanism. The State of Chhattisgarh in India successfully established a partnership between the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) and the Health Insurance Programme, to form a universal health insurance scheme for all, by establishing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) and Mukhyamantri Swasthya Bima Yojana (MSBY) MDR-TB packages. The objective of this partnership was to absorb the catastrophic expenses incurred by patients with MDR-TB, from diagnosis to treatment completion, in the public and private sector. This paper documents the initial experience of a tailor-made health insurance programme, linked to covering catastrophic health expenditure for patients with MDR-TB. Methods: In this descriptive study, data on uptake of insurance claims through innovative MDR-TB packages from January 2013 to April 2014 were collected. A simple survey of costs for clinical investigation and inpatient care was conducted across two major urban districts in Chhattisgarh. In these selected districts, three health facilities from the private sector and one medical college from the public sector with a functional drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) centre were chosen by the RSBY and MSBY State Nodal Agency to complete a simple, structured questionnaire on existing market rates. The mean costs for clinical investigations and hospital stay were calculated for an individual patient with MDR-TB who would seek services from the private or public sector. Results: A total of 207 insurance claims for RSBY and MSBY MDR-TB packages were processed, of which 20 were from private and 187 from public health establishments, covered under the health insurance programme, free of charge. An estimated catastrophic expenditure, of approximately US$ 20 000, was saved through the RSBY and MSBY health insurance mechanism during the study period. Conclusion: The innovative RSBY and MSBY MDR-TB insurance package is a step towards reducing catastrophic expenses associated with treatment for MDR-TB.
  4 1,188 145
A cross-sectional survey of the models in Bihar and Tamil Nadu, India for pooled procurement of medicines
Maulik Chokshi, Habib Hasan Farooqui, Sakthivel Selvaraj, Preeti Kumar
January-June 2015, 4(1):78-85
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206625  PMID:28607278
Background: In India, access to medicine in the public sector is significantly affected by the efficiency of the drug procurement system and allied processes and policies. This study was conducted in two socioeconomically different states: Bihar and Tamil Nadu. Both have a pooled procurement system for drugs but follow different models. In Bihar, the volumes of medicines required are pooled at the state level and rate contracted (an open tender process invites bidders to quote for the lowest rate for the list of medicines), while actual invoicing and payment are done at district level. In Tamil Nadu, medicine quantities are also pooled at state level but payments are also processed at state level upon receipt of laboratory quality-assurance reports on the medicines. Methods: In this cross-sectional survey, a range of financial and non-financial data related to procurement and distribution of medicine, such as budget documents, annual reports, tender documents, details of orders issued, passbook details and policy and guidelines for procurement were analysed. In addition, a so-called ABC analysis of the procurement data was done to to identify high-value medicines. Results: It was observed that Tamil Nadu had suppliers for 100% of the drugs on their procurement list at the end of the procurement processes in 2006, 2007 and 2008, whereas Bihar’s procurement agency was only able to get suppliers for 56%, 59% and 38% of drugs during the same period. Further, it was observed that Bihar’s system was fuelling irrational procurement; for example, fluconazole (antifungal) alone was consuming 23.4% of the state’s drug budget and was being procured by around 34% of the districts during 2008-2009. Also, the ratios of procurement prices for Bihar compared with Tamil Nadu were in the range of 1.01 to 22.50. For 50% of the analysed drugs, the price ratio was more than 2, that is, Bihar’s procurement system was procuring the same medicines at more than twice the prices paid by Tamil Nadu. Conclusion: Centralized, automated pooled procurement models like that of Tamil Nadu are key to achieving the best procurement prices and highest possible access to medicines.
  3 1,047 167
Association between household air pollution sand neonatal mortality: an analysis of Annual Health Survey results, India
Sutapa Bandyopadhyay Neogi, Shivam Pandey, Jyoti Sharma, Maulik Chokshi, Monika Chauhan, Sanjay Zodpey, Vinod K Paul
January-June 2015, 4(1):30-37
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206618  PMID:28607272
Background: In India, household air pollution (HAP) is one of the leading risk factors contributing to the national burden of disease. Estimates indicate that 7.6% of all deaths in children aged under 5 years in the country can be attributed to HAP. This analysis attempts to establish the association between HAP and neonatal mortality rate (NMR). Methods: Secondary data from the Annual Health Survey, conducted in 284 districts of nine large states covering 1 404 337 live births, were analysed. The survey was carried out from July 2010 to March 2011 (reference period: January 2007 to December 2009). The primary outcome was NMR. The key exposure was the use of firewood/crop residues/cow dung as fuel. The covariates were: sociodemographic factors (place of residence, literacy status of mothers, proportion of women aged less than 18 years who were married, wealth index); health-system factors (three or more antenatal care visits made during pregnancy; institutional deliveries; proportion of neonates with a stay in the institution for less than 24 h; percentage of neonates who received a check-up within 24 h of birth); and behavioural factors (initiation of breast feeding within 1 h). Descriptive analysis, with district as the unit of analysis, was performed for rural and urban areas. Bivariate and multivariable linear regression analysis was carried out to investigate the association between HAP and NMR. Results: The mean rural NMR was 42.4/1000 live births (standard deviation [SD] = 11.4/1000) and urban NMR was 33.1/1000 live births (SD=12.6/1000). The proportion of households with HAP was 92.2% in rural areas, compared to 40.8% in urban areas, and the difference was statistically significant (P < 0.001). HAP was found to be strongly associated with NMR after adjustment (β = 0.22; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.09 to 0.35) for urban and rural areas combined. For rural areas separately, the association was significant (β = 0.30; 95% CI = 0.13 to 0.45) after adjustment. In univariable analysis, the analysis showed a significant association in urban areas (β = 0.23; 95% CI = 0.12 to 2.34) but failed to demonstrate an association in multivariable analysis (β = 0.001; 95% CI = -0.15 to 0.15). Conclusion: Secondary data from district level indicate that HAP is associated with NMR in rural areas, but not in urban areas in India.
  3 1,286 107
The validity of self-reported helmet use among motorcyclists in India
Shirin Wadhwaniya, Shivam Gupta, Shailaja Tetali, Lakshmi K Josyula, Gopalkrishna Gururaj, Adnan A Hyder
January-June 2015, 4(1):38-44
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206619  PMID:28607273
Background: Motorcyclists are the most vulnerable vehicle users in India. No published study has assessed the validity of self-reported estimates of helmet use in India. The objectives of this study were to assess helmet use by comparing observed and self-reported use and to identify factors influencing use among motorcyclists in Hyderabad, India. Methods: Population-based observations were recorded for 68 229 motorcyclists and 21 777 pillion riders (co-passengers). Concurrent roadside observations and interviews were conducted with 606 motorcyclists, who were asked whether they “always wear a helmet”. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine factors influencing helmet use. Results: In the population-based study, 22.6% (n = 15,426) of motorcyclists and 1.1% (n = 240) of pillion riders (co-passengers) were observed wearing helmets. In roadside interviews, 64.7% (n = 392) of the respondents reported always wearing a helmet, 2.2 times higher than the observed helmet use (29.4%, n = 178) in the same group. Compared with riders aged ≥40 years, riders in the age groups 30–39 years and 18–29 years had respectively 40% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.4 to 1.0, P < 0.05) and 70% (95% CI: 0.2 to 0.5, P < 0.001) lower odds of wearing a helmet after controlling for other covariates. Riders with postgraduate or higher education had higher odds of wearing a helmet (adjusted odds ratio [OR]: 4.1, 95% CI: 2.5 to 6.9, P < 0.001) than those with fewer than 12 grades of schooling. After adjusting for other covariates, younger riders also had 40% (95% CI: 0.3 to 0.9, P< 0.05) lower odds of self-reporting helmet use, while those with postgraduate or higher education had 2.1 times higher odds (95% CI: 1.3 to 3.3, P < 0.01) of reporting that they always wear a helmet. Police had stopped only 2.3% of respondents to check helmet use in the three months prior to the interview. Conclusion: Observed helmet use is low in Hyderabad, yet a larger proportion of motorcyclists claim to always wear a helmet, which suggests that observational studies can provide more valid estimates of helmet use. Interview findings suggest that a combination of increased enforcement, targeted social marketing and increased supply of standard helmets could be a strategy to increase helmet use in Hyderabad.
  3 875 67
Barriers and facilitators to development of standard treatment guidelines in India
Sangeeta Sharma, Gulshan R Sethi, Usha Gupta, Ranjit Roy Chaudhury
January-June 2015, 4(1):86-91
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206626  PMID:28607279
This paper describes 15 years’ experience of the development process of the first set of comprehensive standard treatment guidelines (STGs) for India and their adoption or adaptation by various state governments. The aim is to shorten the learning curve for those embarking on a similar exercise, given the key role of high-quality STGs that are accepted by the clinical community in furthering universal health coverage. The main overall obstacles to STG development are: (i) weak understanding of the concept; (ii) lack of time, enthusiasm and availability of local expertise; and (iii) managing consensus between specialists and generalists. Major concerns to prescribers are: encroachment on professional autonomy, loss of treating the patient as an individual and applying the same standards at all levels of health care. Processes to address these challenges are described. At the policy level, major threats to successful completion and focused implementation are: frequent changes in governance, shifts in priorities and discontinuity. In the authors’ experience, compared with each state developing their own STGs afresh, adaptation of pre-existing valid guidelines after an active adaptation process involving local clinical leaders is not only simpler and quicker but also establishes local ownership and facilitates acceptance of a quality document. Executive orders and in-service sensitization programmes to introduce STGs further enhance their adoption in clinical practice.
  3 826 49
Challenges in conducting community-based trials of primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases in resource-constrained rural settings
Twinkle Agrawal, Farah Naaz Fathima, Shailendra Kumar B Hegde, Rajnish Joshi, Nallasamy Srinivasan, Dominic Misquith
January-June 2015, 4(1):98-103
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206628  PMID:28607281
Cardiovascular diseases account for almost half of all deaths from noncommunicable diseases, and almost 80% of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries such as India. The PrePAre (Primary pREvention strategies at the community level to Promote treatment Adherence to pREvent cardiovascular disease) trial was a primary prevention trial of community health workers aimed at improving adherence to prescribed pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapies in cardiovascular diseases. It was conducted at three geographically, culturally and linguistically diverse sites across India, comprising 28 villages and 5699 households. Planning and implementing large-scale community-based trials is filled with numerous challenges that must be tackled, while keeping in mind the local community dynamics. Some of the challenges are especially pronounced when the focus of the activities is on promoting health in communities where treating disease is considered a priority rather than maintaining health. This report examines the challenges that were encountered while performing the different phases of the trial, along with the solutions and strategies used to tackle those difficulties. We must strive to find feasible and cost-effective solutions to these challenges and thereby develop targeted strategies for primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases in resource-constrained rural settings.
  3 1,070 65
A review of the Sri Lankan health-sector response to intimate partner violence: looking back, moving forward
Sepali Guruge, Vathsala Jayasuriya-Illesinghe, Nalika Gunawardena
January-June 2015, 4(1):6-11
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206622  PMID:28607269
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major health concern for women worldwide. Prevalence rates for IPV are high in the World Health Organization South-East Asia Region, but little is known about health-sector responses in this area. Health-care professionals can play an important role in supporting women who are seeking recourse from IPV. A comprehensive search was conducted to identify relevant published and grey literature over the last 35 years that focused on IPV, partner/ spousal violence, wife beating/abuse/battering, domestic violence, and Sri Lanka. Much of the information about current health-sector response to IPV in Sri Lanka was not reported in published and grey literature. Therefore, key personnel from the Ministry of Health, hospitals, universities and nongovernmental organizations were also interviewed to gain additional, accurate and timely information. It was found that the health-sector response to IPV in Sri Lanka is evolving, and consists of two models of service provision: (i) gender based violence desks, which integrate selective services at the provider/facility level; and (ii) Mithuru Piyasa (Friendly Abode) service points, which integrate comprehensive services at the provider/facility level and some at the system level. This paper presents each model’s strengths and limitations in providing comprehensive and integrated health services for women who experience IPV in the Sri Lankan context.
  2 824 86
Prevalence of household drinking-water contamination and of acute diarrhoeal illness in a periurban community in Myanmar
Su Latt Tun Myint, Thuzar Myint, Wah Wah Aung, Khin Thet Wai
January-June 2015, 4(1):62-68
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206623  PMID:28607276
Background: A major health consequence of rapid population growth in urban areas is the increased pressure on existing overstretched water and sanitation services. This study of an expanding periurban neighbourhood of Yangon Region, Myanmar, aimed to ascertain the prevalence of acute diarrhoea in children under 5 years; to identify household sources of drinking-water; to describe purification and storage practices; and to assess drinking-water contamination at point-of-use. Methods: A survey of the prevalence of acute diarrhoea in children under 5 years was done in 211 households in February 2013; demographic data were also collected, along with data and details of sources of drinking water, water purification, storage practices and waste disposal. During March–August, a subset of 112 households was revisited to collect drinking water samples. The samples were analysed by the multiple tube fermentation method to count thermotolerant (faecal) coliforms and there was a qualitative determination of the presence of Escherichia coli. Results: Acute diarrhoea in children under 5 years was reported in 4.74% (10/211, 95% CI: 3.0-9.0) of households within the past two weeks. More than half of the households used insanitary pit latrines and 36% disposed of their waste into nearby streams and ponds. Improved sources of drinking water were used, mainly the unchlorinated ward reservoir, a chlorinated tube well or purified bottled water. Nearly a quarter of households never used any method for drinking-water purification. Ninety-four per cent (105/112) of water samples were contaminated with thermotolerant (faecal) coliforms, ranging from 2.2 colony-forming units (CFU)/100 mL (21.4%) to more than 1000 CFU/100 mL (60.7%). Of faecal (thermotolerant)-coliform-positive water samples, 70% (47/68) grew E. coli. Conclusion: The prevalence of acute diarrhoea reported for children under 5 years was high and a high level of drinking-water contamination was detected, though it was unclear whether this was due to contamination at source or at point-of-use. Maintenance of drinking-water quality in study households is complex. Further research is crucial to prove the cost effectiveness in quality improvement of drinking water at point-of-use in resource-limited settings. In addition, empowerment of householders to use measures of treating water by boiling, filtration or chlorination, and safe storage with proper handling is essential.
  1 1,038 117
A cross-sectional study of exposure to mercury in schoolchildren living near the eastern seaboard industrial estate of Thailand
Punthip Teeyapant, Siriwan Leudang, Sittiporn Parnmen
January-June 2015, 4(1):45-53
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206620  PMID:28607274
Background: Industrial activity in Thailand’s coastal areas has significantly increased mercury concentrations in seawater, causing accumulation through the food chain. Continuous exposure to mercury has been linked to bioaccumulation in living organisms and potential adverse health effects in children. Methods: Blood samples were collected from 873 schoolchildren aged 6–13 years living in four sites near the eastern seaboard industrial estates of the Gulf of Thailand in 2011. Total mercury level in whole blood (Hg-B) was compared with standard reference values. Results: Mean (± standard deviation) concentrations of Hg-B from schoolgirls (2.19 ± 0.5 μg/L; n = 405) and schoolboys (2.29 ± 0.3 μg/L; n = 468) did not exceed the regulatory limits of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), the German Commission on Human Biological Monitoring (HBM I, II) or Clarke’s analysis of drugs and poisons reference values. Nevertheless, 67 children (34 girls and 33 boys) had individual values that exceeded the lowest of these standards (4 μg/L). Conclusion: The relatively low concentrations of Hg-B detected in this study suggested a relatively low risk for schoolchildren. However, 67 children had elevated mean total Hg-B concentrations, especially in the two sites located nearest the industrial area. This information may serve as an early warning of the potential for pollution to affect children living around industrial areas. Further regular monitoring, including studies assessing the health impact of mercury pollution in this region of Thailand, is to be encouraged.
  1 951 92
Inequality in maternal health-care services and safe delivery in eastern India
Arabinda Ghosh
January-June 2015, 4(1):54-61
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206621  PMID:28607275
Background: The target for Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG-5) is to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015. The United Nations 2014 report on MDG-5 concluded that little progress had been made in the South Asian countries, including India, which accounts for 17% of all maternal deaths globally. In resource-poor economies with widespread disparities even within the same country, it is very important to explore inequalities in safe delivery during childbirth by key socioeconomic factors in order to provide insights for future programming and policy actions. Methods: Data from the Indian District Level Household and Facility Survey 3 were analysed to examine inequalities in safe delivery in eastern India. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression models were used. Results: There were substantial inequalities in safe delivery by asset quintile, education of the woman and her husband, area of residence (rural or urban), religion and age at marriage (<18 years or ≥18 years); however, not all inequalities were the same. After adjusting for education levels of both parents, area of residence, religion and mother’s age at marriage, the odds of having a safe delivery were almost eightfold higher for those in the highest asset quintiles compared with those in the lowest quintiles. The odds for a safe pregnancy were three times higher for educated women compared with a base case of no education. The chances of having a safe delivery were twofold higher for women living in urban areas compared with those in rural areas (odds ratio 2.04, 95% confidence interval 1.91-2.17). Conclusion: Addressing inequalities in maternal health should be viewed as a central policy goal together with the achievement of MDG-5 targets. In addition to following the indirect route of improving maternal health via poverty alleviation, direct interventions are needed urgently. Women’s education has a strong potential to improve access for poor pregnant women to safe delivery services and to reduce disparities in maternal health outcomes in resource-poor economies.
  1 1,093 108
Demand-supply gaps in human resources to combat vector-borne disease in India: capacity-building measures in medical entomology
Anuja Pandey, Sanjay Zodpey, Raj Kumar
January-June 2015, 4(1):92-97
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206627  PMID:28607280
Vector-borne diseases account for a significant proportion of the global burden of infectious disease. They are one of the greatest contributors to human mortality and morbidity in tropical settings, including India. The World Health Organization declared vector-borne diseases as theme for the year 2014, and thus called for renewed commitment to their prevention and control. Human resources are critical to support public health systems, and medical entomologists play a crucial role in public health efforts to combat vector-borne diseases. This paper aims to review the capacity-building initiatives in medical entomology in India, to understand the demand and supply of medical entomologists, and to give future direction for the initiation of need-based training in the country. A systematic, predefined approach, with three parallel strategies, was used to collect and assemble the data regarding medical entomology training in India and assess the demand-supply gap in medical entomologists in the country. The findings suggest that, considering the high burden of vector-borne diseases in the country and the growing need of health manpower specialized in medical entomology, the availability of specialized training in medical entomology is insufficient in terms of number and intake capacity. The demand analysis of medical entomologists in India suggests a wide gap in demand and supply, which needs to be addressed to cater for the burden of vector-borne diseases in the country.
  1 949 61
National nursing and midwifery legislation in countries of South-East Asia with high HIV burdens
Nila K Elison, Andre R Verani, Carey McCarthy
January-June 2015, 4(1):12-19
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206615  PMID:28607270
This paper analyses nursing and midwifery legislation in high HIV-burden countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) South-East Asia Region, with respect to global standards, and suggests areas that could be further examined to strengthen the nursing and midwifery professions and HIV service delivery. To provide universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment, sufficient numbers of competent human resources for health are required. Competence in this context means possession and use of requisite knowledge and skills to fulfil the role delineated in scopes of practice. Traditionally, the purpose of professional regulation has been to set standards that ensure the competence of practising health workers, such as nurses and midwives. One particularly powerful form of professional regulation is assessed here: national legislation in the form of nursing and midwifery acts. Five countries of the WHO South-East Asia Region account for more than 99% of the region’s HIV burden: India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand. Online legislative archives were searched to obtain the most recent national nursing and midwifery legislation from these five countries. Indonesia was the only country included in this review without a national nursing and midwifery act. The national nursing and midwifery acts of India, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand were all fairly comprehensive, containing between 15 and 20 of the 21 elements in the International Council of Nurses Model Nursing Act. Legislation in Myanmar and Thailand partially delineates nursing scopes of practice, thereby providing greater clarity concerning professional expectations. Continuing education was the only element not included in any of these four countries’ legislation. Countries without a nursing and midwifery act may consider developing one, in order to facilitate professional regulation of training and practice. Countries considering reform to their existing nursing acts may benefit from comparing their legislation with that of other similarly situated countries and with global standards. Countries interested in improving the sustainability of scale-up for HIV services may benefit from a greater understanding of the manner in which nursing and midwifery is regulated, be it through continuing education, scopes of practice or other relevant requirements for training, registration and licensing.
  1 772 44
Towards sustainable access to safe drinking water in South-East Asia
January-June 2015, 4(1):1-2
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206614  PMID:28607267
  - 617 40
Family Planning – friendly Health facility Initiative to promote contraceptive utilization
Moazzam Ali, Vinit Sharma, Arvind Mathur, Marleen Temmerman
January-June 2015, 4(1):3-5
DOI:10.4103/2224-3151.206617  PMID:28607268
  - 777 75