Professor Mike English

Research Area: Global Health
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health and Clinical Trials & Epidemiology
Keywords: health systems, child health and hospital care
Web Links:

How might a network change practices - a realist CMO configuration

How might a network change practices - a realist CMO configuration

Change in adoption of MUAC screening across 14 hospitals

Change in adoption of MUAC screening across 14 hospitals

Mike English is a UK trained paediatrician who has worked in Kenya for over 20 years supported by a series of Wellcome Trust fellowships. His work often takes Child and Newborn Health as a focus but increasingly tackles health services or wider health systems issues. He works as part of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) in collaboration in Kenya with the Ministry of Health, the University of Nairobi, Strathmore University and with a wide set of international collaborators.

The work of his team has included: developing national, evidence-based guidelines for care of severely ill children and newborns, clinical trials and epidemiological studies, cluster randomised implementation trials, and qualitative studies of health worker and managers’ behaviour as part of mixed-methods health systems research. He co-leads Health Systems Research in KWTRP and established the Oxford Health Systems Research Collaboration (OHSCAR) that supports Kenyan work. Recently Mike helped establish a team focused on delivering simulation based training using gamification through mobile phones and virtual reality (https://oxlifeproject.org/).

Mike’s fellowship initiated the Kenyan Clinical Information Network (CIN) in 2013. Working with 15 hospitals and focused on generating high quality routine data the CIN is exploring how to improve hospital care at scale while using aggregate data to trial feedback interventions and understand practice variation. Other major current work includes a 4.5 year project on how to improve health care provision for sick newborns, work that spans measures of quality, use of ergonomic methods to inform thinking on possible task-shifting, and innovative work on the challenges facing the nursing workforce.

Mike frequently provides advice to the Kenyan government and WHO on a range of issues related to child and newborn survival and health systems performance and is a member of the Lancet Global Health Commission on High Quality Health Systems in the SDG Era (https://www.hqsscommission.org/). .

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Sasha Shepperd Department of Population Health Sciences Oxford University United Kingdom
Professor James A Berkley Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Kilifi Kenya
Professor Kevin Marsh Tropical Medicine Oxford University, NDM Research Building United Kingdom
Professor Vicki Marsh Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Kilifi Kenya
Dr Gregory Fegan Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Kilifi Kenya
Professor Bob W Snow Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Nairobi Kenya
Dr Abdisalan Noor Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Nairobi Kenya
Professor Dejan Zurovac Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Nairobi Kenya
Dr Emelda Okiro Tropical Medicine KEMRI Wellcome Trust Kenya
Professor Catherine (Sassy) Molyneux Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Kilifi Kenya
Dr Jane Chuma Tropical Medicine KEMRI Wellcome Trust Kenya
Professor Caroline Jones Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Kilifi Kenya
Professor Lucy Gilson School of Public Health University of Cape Town South Africa
Dr Sue Cleary Health Economics Unit University of Cape Town South Africa
Dr Andrew Argent Red Cross Children's Hospital, Western Cape South Africa
Dr Lee Wallis Western Cape Health Authority South Africa
Professor Sue Dopson Said Business School Oxford University United Kingdom
Professor Winnie Yip Blavatnik School of Public Policy Oxford University United Kingdom
Dr Alison Grant Department of Primary Care Oxford University United Kingdom
Professor Gerry McGivern Warwick Business School United Kingdom
Dr Bruno Marchal Institute of Tropical Medicin University of Antwerp Belgium
Dr Grace Irimu Department of paediatrics University of Nairobi Kenya
Professor Fred Were Department of Paediatrics University of Nairobi Kenya
Dr Rachel Nyamai Division of Paediatrics Ministry of Health Kenya
Dr Wycliffe Mogoa Division of Curative Services Ministry of Health Kenya
Malla L, Perera-Salazar R, McFadden E, English M. 2017. Comparative effectiveness of injectable penicillin versus a combination of penicillin and gentamicin in children with pneumonia characterised by indrawing in Kenya: protocol for an observational study. BMJ Open, 7 (9), pp. e016784. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: WHO treatment guidelines are widely recommended for guiding treatment for millions of children with pneumonia every year across multiple low-income and middle-income countries. Guidelines are based on synthesis of available evidence that provides moderate certainty in evidence of effects for forms of pneumonia that can result in hospitalisation. However, trials have included fewer children from Africa than other settings, and it is suggested that African children with pneumonia have higher mortality. Thus, despite improving access to recommended treatments and deployment with high coverage of childhood vaccines, pneumonia remains one of the top causes of mortality for children in Kenya. Establishing whether there are benefits of alternative treatment regimens to help reduce mortality would require pragmatic clinical trials. However, these remain relatively expensive and time consuming. This protocol describes an approach to using secondary analysis of a new, large observational dataset as a potentially cheaper and quicker way to examine the comparative effectiveness of penicillin versus penicillin plus gentamicin in treatment of indrawing pneumonia. Addressing this question is important, as although it is now recommended that this form of pneumonia is treated with oral medication as an outpatient, it remains associated with non-trivial mortality that may be higher outside trial populations. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will use a large observational dataset that captures data on all admissions to 13 Kenyan county hospitals. These data represent the findings of clinicians in practice and, because the system was developed for large observational research, pose challenges of non-random treatment allocation and missing data. To overcome these challenges, this analysis will use a rigorous approach to study design, propensity score methods and multiple imputation to minimise bias. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The primary data are held by hospitals participating in the Kenyan Clinical Information Network project with de-identifed data shared with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)-Wellcome Trust Research Programme for agreed analyses. The use of data for the analysis described received ethical clearance from the KEMRI scientific and ethical review committee. The findings of this analysis will be published.

Ayieko P, Irimu G, English M. 2017. Effect of enhanced feedback to hospitals that are part of an emerging clinical information network on uptake of revised childhood pneumonia treatment policy: study protocol for a cluster randomized trial. Trials, 18 (1), pp. 416. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The national pneumonia treatment guidelines in Kenya changed in February 2016 but such guideline changes are often characterized by prolonged delays in affecting practice. We designed an enhanced feedback intervention, delivered within an ongoing clinical network that provides a general form of feedback, aimed at improving and sustaining uptake of the revised pneumonia treatment policy. The objective was to determine whether an enhanced feedback intervention will improve correctness of classification and treatment of childhood pneumonia, compared to an existing approach to feedback, after nationwide treatment policy change and within an existing hospital network. METHODS/DESIGN: A pragmatic, cluster randomized trial conducted within a clinical network of 12 Kenyan county referral hospitals providing inpatient pediatric care to children (aged 2-59 months) with acute medical conditions between March and November 2016. The intervention comprised enhanced feedback (monthly written feedback incorporating goal setting, and action planning delivered by a senior clinical coordinator for selected pneumonia indicators) and this was compared to standard feedback (2-monthly written feedback on multiple quality of pediatric care indicators) both delivered within a clinical network promoting clinical leadership linked to mentorship and peer-to-peer support, and improved use of health information on service delivery. The 12 hospitals were randomized to receive either enhanced feedback (n = 6) or standard feedback (n = 6) delivered over a 9-month period following nationwide pneumonia treatment policy change. The primary outcome is the proportion of all admitted patients with pneumonia (fulfilling criteria for treatment with orally administered amoxicillin) who are correctly classified and treated in the first 24 h. The secondary outcome will be measured over the course of the admission as any change in treatment for pneumonia after the first 24 h. DISCUSSION: This trial protocol employs a pragmatic trial design during a period of nationwide change in treatment guidelines to address two high-priority areas within implementation research: promoting adoption of health policies and optimizing effectiveness of feedback. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov, ID: NCT02817971 . Registered retrospectively on 27 June 2016.

English M, Irimu G, Nyamai R, Were F, Garner P, Opiyo N. 2017. Developing guidelines in low-income and middle-income countries: lessons from Kenya. Arch Dis Child, 102 (9), pp. 846-851. | Show Abstract | Read more

There are few examples of sustained nationally organised, evidence-informed clinical guidelines development processes in Sub-Saharan Africa. We describe the evolution of efforts from 2005 to 2015 to support evidence-informed decision making to guide admission hospital care practices in Kenya. The approach to conduct reviews, present evidence, and structure and promote transparency of consensus-based procedures for making recommendations improved over four distinct rounds of policy making. Efforts to engage important voices extended from government and academia initially to include multiple professional associations, regulators and practitioners. More than 100 people have been engaged in the decision-making process; an increasing number outside the research team has contributed to the conduct of systematic reviews, and 31 clinical policy recommendations has been developed. Recommendations were incorporated into clinical guideline booklets that have been widely disseminated with a popular knowledge and skills training course. Both helped translate evidence into practice. We contend that these efforts have helped improve the use of evidence to inform policy. The systematic reviews, Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approaches and evidence to decision-making process are well understood by clinicians, and the process has helped create a broad community engaged in evidence translation together with a social or professional norm to use evidence in paediatric care in Kenya. Specific sustained efforts should be made to support capacity and evidence-based decision making in other African settings and clinical disciplines.

Tuti T, Nzinga J, Njoroge M, Brown B, Peek N, English M, Paton C, van der Veer SN. 2017. A systematic review of electronic audit and feedback: intervention effectiveness and use of behaviour change theory. Implement Sci, 12 (1), pp. 61. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Audit and feedback is a common intervention for supporting clinical behaviour change. Increasingly, health data are available in electronic format. Yet, little is known regarding if and how electronic audit and feedback (e-A&F) improves quality of care in practice. OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to assess the effectiveness of e-A&F interventions in a primary care and hospital context and to identify theoretical mechanisms of behaviour change underlying these interventions. METHODS: In August 2016, we searched five electronic databases, including MEDLINE and EMBASE via Ovid, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials for published randomised controlled trials. We included studies that evaluated e-A&F interventions, defined as a summary of clinical performance delivered through an interactive computer interface to healthcare providers. Data on feedback characteristics, underlying theoretical domains, effect size and risk of bias were extracted by two independent review authors, who determined the domains within the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF). We performed a meta-analysis of e-A&F effectiveness, and a narrative analysis of the nature and patterns of TDF domains and potential links with the intervention effect. RESULTS: We included seven studies comprising of 81,700 patients being cared for by 329 healthcare professionals/primary care facilities. Given the extremely high heterogeneity of the e-A&F interventions and five studies having a medium or high risk of bias, the average effect was deemed unreliable. Only two studies explicitly used theory to guide intervention design. The most frequent theoretical domains targeted by the e-A&F interventions included 'knowledge', 'social influences', 'goals' and 'behaviour regulation', with each intervention targeting a combination of at least three. None of the interventions addressed the domains 'social/professional role and identity' or 'emotion'. Analyses identified the number of different domains coded in control arm to have the biggest role in heterogeneity in e-A&F effect size. CONCLUSIONS: Given the high heterogeneity of identified studies, the effects of e-A&F were found to be highly variable. Additionally, e-A&F interventions tend to implicitly target only a fraction of known theoretical domains, even after omitting domains presumed not to be linked to e-A&F. Also, little evaluation of comparative effectiveness across trial arms was conducted. Future research should seek to further unpack the theoretical domains essential for effective e-A&F in order to better support strategic individual and team goals.

Gathara D, Malla L, Ayieko P, Karuri S, Nyamai R, Irimu G, van Hensbroek MB, Allen E, English M, Clinical Information Network. 2017. Variation in and risk factors for paediatric inpatient all-cause mortality in a low income setting: data from an emerging clinical information network. BMC Pediatr, 17 (1), pp. 99. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Hospital mortality data can inform planning for health interventions and may help optimize resource allocation if they are reliable and appropriately interpreted. However such data are often not available in low income countries including Kenya. METHODS: Data from the Clinical Information Network covering 12 county hospitals' paediatric admissions aged 2-59 months for the periods September 2013 to March 2015 were used to describe mortality across differing contexts and to explore whether simple clinical characteristics used to classify severity of illness in common treatment guidelines are consistently associated with inpatient mortality. Regression models accounting for hospital identity and malaria prevalence (low or high) were used. Multiple imputation for missing data was based on a missing at random assumption with sensitivity analyses based on pattern mixture missing not at random assumptions. RESULTS: The overall cluster adjusted crude mortality rate across hospitals was 6 · 2% with an almost 5 fold variation across sites (95% CI 4 · 9 to 7 · 8; range 2 · 1% - 11 · 0%). Hospital identity was significantly associated with mortality. Clinical features included in guidelines for common diseases to assess severity of illness were consistently associated with mortality in multivariable analyses (AROC =0 · 86). CONCLUSION: All-cause mortality is highly variable across hospitals and associated with clinical risk factors identified in disease specific guidelines. A panel of these clinical features may provide a basic common data framework as part of improved health information systems to support evaluations of quality and outcomes of care at scale and inform health system strengthening efforts.

English M, Ayieko P, Nyamai R, Were F, Githanga D, Irimu G. 2017. What do we think we are doing? How might a clinical information network be promoting implementation of recommended paediatric care practices in Kenyan hospitals? Health Res Policy Syst, 15 (1), pp. 4. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The creation of a clinical network was proposed as a means to promote implementation of a set of recommended clinical practices targeting inpatient paediatric care in Kenya. The rationale for selecting a network as a strategy has been previously described. Here, we aim to describe network activities actually conducted over its first 2.5 years, deconstruct its implementation into specific components and provide our 'insider' interpretation of how the network is functioning as an intervention. METHODS: We articulate key activities that together have constituted network processes over 2.5 years and then utilise a recently published typology of implementation components to give greater granularity to this description from the perspective of those delivering the intervention. Using the Behaviour Change Wheel we then suggest how the network may operate to achieve change and offer examples of change before making an effort to synthesise our understanding in the form of a realist context-mechanism-outcome configuration. RESULTS: We suggest our network is likely to comprise 22 from a total of 73 identifiable intervention components, of which 12 and 10 we consider major and minor components, respectively. At the policy level, we employed clinical guidelines, marketing and communication strategies with intervention characteristics operating through incentivisation, persuasion, education, enablement, modelling and environmental restructuring. These might influence behaviours by enhancing psychological capability, creating social opportunity and increasing motivation largely through a reflective pathway. CONCLUSIONS: We previously proposed a clinical network as a solution to challenges implementing recommended practices in Kenyan hospitals based on our understanding of theory and context. Here, we report how we have enacted what was proposed and use a recent typology to deconstruct the intervention into its elements and articulate how we think the network may produce change. We offer a more generalised statement of our theory of change in a context-mechanism-outcome configuration. We hope this will complement a planned independent evaluation of 'how things work', will help others interpret results of change reported more formally in the future and encourage others to consider further examination of networks as means to scale up improvement practices in health in lower income countries.

Morgan MC, Maina B, Waiyego M, Mutinda C, Aluvaala J, Maina M, English M. 2017. Oxygen saturation ranges for healthy newborns within 24 hours at 1800 m. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed, 102 (3), pp. F266-F268. | Show Abstract | Read more

There are minimal data to define normal oxygen saturation (SpO2) levels for infants within the first 24 hours of life and even fewer data generalisable to the 7% of the global population that resides at an altitude of >1500 m. The aim of this study was to establish the reference range for SpO2 in healthy term and preterm neonates within 24 hours in Nairobi, Kenya, located at 1800 m. A random sample of clinically well infants had SpO2 measured once in the first 24 hours. A total of 555 infants were enrolled. The 5th-95th percentile range for preductal and postductal SpO2 was 89%-97% for the term and normal birthweight groups, and 90%-98% for the preterm and low birthweight (LBW) groups. This may suggest that 89% and 97% are reasonable SpO2 bounds for well term, preterm and LBW infants within 24 hours at an altitude of 1800 m.

Murphy GA, Gathara D, Aluvaala J, Mwachiro J, Abuya N, Ouma P, Snow RW, English M. 2016. Nairobi Newborn Study: a protocol for an observational study to estimate the gaps in provision and quality of inpatient newborn care in Nairobi City County, Kenya. BMJ Open, 6 (12), pp. e012448. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Progress has been made in Kenya towards reducing child mortality as part of efforts aligned with the fourth Millennium Development Goal. However, little advancement has been made in reducing mortality among newborns, which now accounts for 45% of all child deaths. The frequently unanticipated nature of neonatal illness, its severity and the high dependency of sick newborns on skilled care make the provision of inpatient hospital services one key component of strategies to improve newborn survival. METHODS AND ANALYSES: This project aims to assess the availability and quality of inpatient newborn care in hospitals in Nairobi City County across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors and align this to the estimated need for such services, providing a description of the quantity and quality gaps between capacity and demand. The population level burden of disease will be estimated using morbidity incidence estimates from a literature review applied to subcounty estimates of population-adjusted births, providing a spatially disaggregated estimate of need within the county. This will be followed by a survey of neonatal services across all health facilities providing 24/7 inpatient newborn care in the county. The survey will include: a retrospective audit of admission registers to estimate the usage of facilities and case-mix of patients; a structural assessment of facilities to gain insight into capacity; a questionnaire to nursing staff focusing on the process of delivering key obstetric and neonatal interventions; and a retrospective case audit to assess adherence to guidelines by clinicians. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This study has been approved by the Kenya Medical Research Institute Scientific and Ethics Review Unit (SSC protocol No.2999). Results will be disseminated: to participating facilities through individualised reports and a joint workshop; to local and national stakeholders through meetings and a summary report; and to the international community through peer-review publication and international meetings.

Barasa EW, Molyneux S, English M, Cleary S. 2017. Hospitals as complex adaptive systems: A case study of factors influencing priority setting practices at the hospital level in Kenya. Soc Sci Med, 174 pp. 104-112. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is a dearth of literature on priority setting and resource allocation (PSRA) practices in hospitals, particularly in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Using a case study approach, we examined PSRA practices in 2 public hospitals in coastal Kenya. We collected data through a combination of in-depth interviews of national level policy makers, hospital managers, and frontline practitioners in the case study hospitals (n = 72), review of documents such as hospital plans and budgets, minutes of meetings and accounting records, and non-participant observations of PSRA practices in case study hospitals over a period of 7 months. In this paper, we apply complex adaptive system (CAS) theory to examine the factors that influence PSRA practices. We found that PSRA practices in the case hospitals were influenced by, 1) inadequate financing level and poorly designed financing arrangements, 2) limited hospital autonomy and decision space, and 3) inadequate management and leadership capacity in the hospital. The case study hospitals exhibited properties of complex adaptive systems (CASs) that exist in a dynamic state with multiple interacting agents. Weaknesses in system 'hardware' (resource scarcity) and 'software' (including PSRA guidelines that reduced hospitals decision space, and poor leadership skills) led to the emergence of undesired properties. The capacity of hospitals to set priorities should be improved across these interacting aspects of the hospital organizational system. Interventions should however recognize that hospitals are CAS. Rather than rectifying isolated aspects of the system, they should endeavor to create conditions for productive emergence.

Maina M, Akech S, Mwaniki P, Gachau S, Ogero M, Julius T, Ayieko P, Irimu G, English M. 2017. Inappropriate prescription of cough remedies among children hospitalised with respiratory illness over the period 2002-2015 in Kenya. Trop Med Int Health, 22 (3), pp. 363-369. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To examine trends in prescription of cough medicines over the period 2002-2015 in children aged 1 month to 12 years admitted to Kenyan hospitals with cough, difficulty breathing or diagnosed with a respiratory tract infection. METHODS: We reviewed hospitalisation records of children included in four studies providing cross-sectional prevalence estimates from government hospitals for six time periods between 2002 and 2015. Children with an atopic illness were excluded. Amongst eligible children, we determined the proportion prescribed any adjuvant medication for cough. Active ingredients in these medicines were often multiple and were classified into five categories: antihistamines, antitussives, mucolytics/expectorants, decongestants and bronchodilators. From late 2006, guidelines discouraging cough medicine use have been widely disseminated and in 2009 national directives to decrease cough medicine use were issued. RESULTS: Across the studies, 17 963 children were eligible. Their median age and length of hospital stay were comparable. The proportion of children who received cough medicines shrank across the surveys: approximately 6% [95% CI: 5.4, 6.6] of children had a prescription in 2015 vs. 40% [95% CI: 35.5, 45.6] in 2002. The most common active ingredients were antihistamines and bronchodilators. The relative proportion that included antihistamines has increased over time. CONCLUSIONS: There has been an overall decline in the use of cough medicines among hospitalised children over time. This decline has been associated with educational, policy and mass media interventions.

Thomas J, Ayieko P, Ogero M, Gachau S, Makone B, Nyachiro W, Mbevi G, Chepkirui M, Malla L, Oliwa J et al. 2017. Blood Transfusion Delay and Outcome in County Hospitals in Kenya. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 96 (2), pp. 511-517. | Show Abstract | Read more

Severe anemia is a leading indication for blood transfusion and a major cause of hospital admission and mortality in African children. Failure to initiate blood transfusion rapidly enough contributes to anemia deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. This article examines delays in accessing blood and outcomes in transfused children in Kenyan hospitals. Children admitted with nonsurgical conditions in 10 Kenyan county hospitals participating in the Clinical Information Network who had blood transfusion ordered from September 2013 to March 2016 were studied. The delay in blood transfusion was calculated from the date when blood transfusion was prescribed to date of actual transfusion. Five percent (2,875/53,174) of admissions had blood transfusion ordered. Approximately half (45%, 1,295/2,875) of children who had blood transfusion ordered at admission had a documented hemoglobin < 5 g/dl and 36% (2,232/6,198) of all children admitted with a diagnosis of anemia were reported to have hemoglobin < 5 g/dL. Of all the ordered transfusions, 82% were administered and documented in clinical records, and three-quarters of these (75%, 1,760/2,352) were given on the same day as ordered but these proportions varied from 71% to 100% across the 10 hospitals. Children who had a transfusion ordered but did not receive the prescribed transfusion had a mortality of 20%, compared with 12% among those transfused. Malaria-associated anemia remains the leading indication for blood transfusion in acute childhood illness admissions. Delays in transfusion are common and associated with poor outcomes. Variance in delay across hospitals may be a useful indicator of health system performance.

Mbevi G, Ayieko P, Irimu G, Akech S, English M, Clinical Information Network authors. 2016. Prevalence, aetiology, treatment and outcomes of shock in children admitted to Kenyan hospitals. BMC Med, 14 (1), pp. 184. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Shock may complicate several acute childhood illnesses in hospitals within low-income countries and has a high case fatality. Hypovolemic shock secondary to diarrhoea/dehydration and septic shock are thought to be common, but there are few reliable data on prevalence or treatment that differ for the two major forms of shock. Examining prevalence and treatment practices has become important since reports suggest high risks from liberal use of fluid boluses in African children. The present study aims to estimate the prevalence, fluid management practices and outcomes of shock among hospitalised children. METHODS: We analysed paediatric in-patient data collected using discharge case record review between October 2013 and February 2016 from 14 hospitals in Kenya which are part of a network (referred to as the Clinical Information Network) using similar tools for standardised clinical records with care directed by the local clinical team leaders. Data are from a period after dissemination of national guidance seeking to limit use of bolus fluids. RESULTS: A total of 74,402 children were admitted between October 2013 and February 2016. Children aged < 30 days or > 5 years, with severe acute malnutrition, surgical/burns, or cases with pre-defined minimum data sets were excluded from analysis. This resulted in 42,937 patients meeting the inclusion criteria. Prevalence of clinically diagnosed shock was 1.5 % (n = 622) and overall bolus use was 0.9 % (n = 366); 41 % (256/622) of children with clinically diagnosed shock did not receive a fluid bolus (but had a fluid plan for management of dehydration). Identified cases appeared mostly to be hypovolaemic shock secondary to dehydration/diarrhoea (94 %, 582/622), with a high case fatality (34 %, 211/622). Overall mortality for all admitted children was 5 % (2115/42,937) and was 7.9 % (798/10,096) in children with dehydration/diarrhoea. The diagnosis of hypovolaemic shock was nearly always accompanied by additional clinical diagnosis (99 %), most often pneumonia or malaria. Where bolus fluids were used, they were prescribed in accordance with guidelines (isotonic fluid at correct volume) in 92 % of cases. Inappropriate use of bolus fluids to treat milder forms of impaired circulation appeared very rarely. CONCLUSION: A diagnosis of shock is uncommon at admission and use of fluid bolus is rare in admissions to Kenyan hospitals. A fluid bolus, when prescribed, is mostly used in children with hypovolemic shock secondary to dehydration and case fatality in these cases is high. We found little evidence of liberal use of fluid bolus that might cause harm in a period following dissemination of national guidelines suggesting very strict criteria for fluid bolus use.

Amboko BI, Ayieko P, Ogero M, Julius T, Irimu G, English M, Clinical Information Network authors. 2016. Malaria investigation and treatment of children admitted to county hospitals in western Kenya. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 506. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Up to 90 % of the global burden of malaria morbidity and mortality occurs in sub-Saharan Africa and children under-five bear a disproportionately high malaria burden. Effective inpatient case management can reduce severe malaria mortality and morbidity, but there are few reports of how successfully international and national recommendations are adopted in management of inpatient childhood malaria. METHODS: A descriptive cross-sectional study of inpatient malaria case management practices was conducted using data collected over 24 months in five hospitals from high malaria risk areas participating in the Clinical Information Network (CIN) in Kenya. This study describes documented clinical features, laboratory investigations and treatment of malaria in children (2-59 months) and adherence to national guidelines. RESULTS: A total of 13,014 children had a malaria diagnosis on admission to the five hospitals between March, 2014 and February, 2016. Their median age was 24 months (IQR 12-36 months). The proportion with a diagnostic test for malaria requested was 11,981 (92.1 %). Of 10,388 patients with malaria test results documented, 8050 (77.5 %) were positive and anti-malarials were prescribed in 6745 (83.8 %). Malaria treatment was prescribed in 1613/2338 (69.0 %) children with a negative malaria result out of which only 52 (3.2 %) had a repeat malaria test done as recommended in national guidelines. Documentation of clinical features was good across all hospitals, but quinine remained the most prescribed malaria drug (47.2 % of positive cases) although a transition to artesunate (46.1 %) was observed. Although documented clinical features suggested approximately half of positive malaria patients were not severe cases artemether-lumefantrine was prescribed on admission in only 3.7 % cases. CONCLUSIONS: Despite improvements in inpatient malaria care, high rates of presumptive treatment for test negative children and likely over-use of injectable anti-malarial drugs were observed. Three years after national policy change, there is a gradual transition to artesunate. Continued efforts to support improved routine inpatient malaria care through dissemination and implementation of guidelines, and access to recommended drugs are needed together with improved capacity of hospitals to investigate other causes of severe illness in children. Efforts to improve clinical information could help track progress.

Barasa EW, Cleary S, English M, Molyneux S. 2016. The influence of power and actor relations on priority setting and resource allocation practices at the hospital level in Kenya: a case study. BMC Health Serv Res, 16 (1), pp. 536. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Priority setting and resource allocation in healthcare organizations often involves the balancing of competing interests and values in the context of hierarchical and politically complex settings with multiple interacting actor relationships. Despite this, few studies have examined the influence of actor and power dynamics on priority setting practices in healthcare organizations. This paper examines the influence of power relations among different actors on the implementation of priority setting and resource allocation processes in public hospitals in Kenya. METHODS: We used a qualitative case study approach to examine priority setting and resource allocation practices in two public hospitals in coastal Kenya. We collected data by a combination of in-depth interviews of national level policy makers, hospital managers, and frontline practitioners in the case study hospitals (n = 72), review of documents such as hospital plans and budgets, minutes of meetings and accounting records, and non-participant observations in case study hospitals over a period of 7 months. We applied a combination of two frameworks, Norman Long's actor interface analysis and VeneKlasen and Miller's expressions of power framework to examine and interpret our findings RESULTS: The interactions of actors in the case study hospitals resulted in socially constructed interfaces between: 1) senior managers and middle level managers 2) non-clinical managers and clinicians, and 3) hospital managers and the community. Power imbalances resulted in the exclusion of middle level managers (in one of the hospitals) and clinicians and the community (in both hospitals) from decision making processes. This resulted in, amongst others, perceptions of unfairness, and reduced motivation in hospital staff. It also puts to question the legitimacy of priority setting processes in these hospitals. CONCLUSIONS: Designing hospital decision making structures to strengthen participation and inclusion of relevant stakeholders could improve priority setting practices. This should however, be accompanied by measures to empower stakeholders to contribute to decision making. Strengthening soft leadership skills of hospital managers could also contribute to managing the power dynamics among actors in hospital priority setting processes.

Barasa EW, Cleary S, Molyneux S, English M. 2017. Setting healthcare priorities: a description and evaluation of the budgeting and planning process in county hospitals in Kenya. Health Policy Plan, 32 (3), pp. 329-337. | Show Abstract | Read more

This paper describes and evaluates the budgeting and planning processes in public hospitals in Kenya. We used a qualitative case study approach to examine these processes in two hospitals in Kenya. We collected data by in-depth interviews of national level policy makers, hospital managers, and frontline practitioners in the case study hospitals (n = 72), a review of documents, and non-participant observations within the hospitals over a 7 month period. We applied an evaluative framework that considers both consequentialist and proceduralist conditions as important to the quality of priority-setting processes. The budgeting and planning process in the case study hospitals was characterized by lack of alignment, inadequate role clarity and the use of informal priority-setting criteria. With regard to consequentialist conditions, the hospitals incorporated economic criteria by considering the affordability of alternatives, but rarely considered the equity of allocative decisions. In the first hospital, stakeholders were aware of - and somewhat satisfied with - the budgeting and planning process, while in the second hospital they were not. Decision making in both hospitals did not result in reallocation of resources. With regard to proceduralist conditions, the budgeting and planning process in the first hospital was more inclusive and transparent, with the stakeholders more empowered compared to the second hospital. In both hospitals, decisions were not based on evidence, implementation of decisions was poor and the community was not included. There were no mechanisms for appeals or to ensure that the proceduralist conditions were met in both hospitals. Public hospitals in Kenya could improve their budgeting and planning processes by harmonizing these processes, improving role clarity, using explicit priority-setting criteria, and by incorporating both consequentialist (efficiency, equity, stakeholder satisfaction and understanding, shifted priorities, implementation of decisions), and proceduralist (stakeholder engagement and empowerment, transparency, use of evidence, revisions, enforcement, and incorporating community values) conditions.

Edgcombe H, Paton C, English M. 2016. Enhancing emergency care in low-income countries using mobile technology-based training tools. Arch Dis Child, 101 (12), pp. 1149-1152. | Show Abstract | Read more

In this paper, we discuss the role of mobile technology in developing training tools for health workers, with particular reference to low-income countries (LICs). The global and technological context is outlined, followed by a summary of approaches to using and evaluating mobile technology for learning in healthcare. Finally, recommendations are made for those developing and using such tools, based on current literature and the authors' involvement in the field.

Opondo C, Allen E, Todd J, English M. 2016. The Paediatric Admission Quality of Care (PAQC) score: designing a tool to measure the quality of early inpatient paediatric care in a low-income setting. Trop Med Int Health, 21 (10), pp. 1334-1345. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Evaluating clinician compliance with recommended steps in clinical guidelines provides one measure of quality of process of care but can result in a multiplicity of indicators across illnesses, making it problematic to produce any summative picture of process quality, information that may be most useful to policy-makers and managers. OBJECTIVE: We set out to develop a clinically logical summative measure of the quality of care provided to children admitted to hospital in Kenya spanning the three diagnoses present in 60% or more of admissions that would provide a patient-level measure of quality of care in the face of comorbidity. METHODS: We developed a conceptual model of care based on three domains: assessment, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. Individual items within domains correspond to recommended processes of care within national clinical practice guidelines. Summative scores were created to reduce redundancy and enable aggregation across illnesses while maintaining a clear link to clinical domains and our conceptual model. The potential application of the score was explored using data from more than 12 000 children from eight hospitals included in a prior intervention study in Kenya. RESULTS: Summative scores obtained from items representing discrete clinical decision points reduced redundancy, aided balance of score contribution across domains and enabled direct comparison of disease-specific scores and the calculation of scores for children with comorbidity. CONCLUSION: This work describes the development of a summative Paediatric Admission Quality of Care score measured at the patient level that spans three common diseases. The score may be an efficient tool for assessing quality with an ability to adjust for case mix or other patient-level factors if needed. The score principles may have applicability to multiple illnesses and settings. Future analysis will be needed to validate the score.

Mijovic H, McKnight J, English M. 2016. What does the literature tell us about health workers' experiences of task-shifting projects in sub-Saharan Africa? A systematic, qualitative review. J Clin Nurs, 25 (15-16), pp. 2083-2100. | Show Abstract | Read more

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To review systematically, qualitative literature covering the implementation of task shifting in sub-Saharan Africa to address the growing interest in interventions of this kind. This review aims to distil the key practical findings to both guide a specific project aiming to improve the quality of neonatal care in Kenya and to contribute to the broader literature. BACKGROUND: Task-shifting programmes aim to improve access to healthcare by delegating specific tasks from higher to lower skilled health workers. Evidence suggests that task-shifting programmes in sub-Saharan Africa may improve patient outcomes, but they have also been criticised for providing fragmented, unsustainable services. This systematic review of qualitative literature summarises factors affecting implementation of task shifting and how such interventions in sub-Saharan Africa may have affected health workers' feelings about their own positions and their ability to provide care. DESIGN: Following literature search, a modified Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP) framework was used to assess quality. Thereafter, analysis adopted a thematic synthesis approach. METHODS: A systematic literature search identified qualitative studies examining task -shifting interventions in sub-Saharan Africa. Thematic synthesis was used to identify overarching themes arising from across the studies and infer how task-shifting interventions may impact on the health workers from whom tasks are being shifted. RESULTS: From the 230 studies screened, 13 met the inclusion criteria. Overarching themes identified showed that task shifting has been associated with jurisdictional debates linked to new cadres working beyond their scope of practice, and tension around compensation and career development for those taking on tasks that were being delegated. CONCLUSIONS: Based on the qualitative data available, it appears that task shifting may negatively impact the sense of agency and the ability to perform of health workers' from whom tasks are shifted. The potential implications of task shifting on all health workers should be considered prior to implementing task-shifting solutions.

Yoshida S, Martines J, Lawn JE, Wall S, Souza JP, Rudan I, Cousens S, neonatal health research priority setting group, Aaby P, Adam I et al. 2016. Setting research priorities to improve global newborn health and prevent stillbirths by 2025. J Glob Health, 6 (1), pp. 010508. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In 2013, an estimated 2.8 million newborns died and 2.7 million were stillborn. A much greater number suffer from long term impairment associated with preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction, congenital anomalies, and perinatal or infectious causes. With the approaching deadline for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, there was a need to set the new research priorities on newborns and stillbirth with a focus not only on survival but also on health, growth and development. We therefore carried out a systematic exercise to set newborn health research priorities for 2013-2025. METHODS: We used adapted Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) methods for this prioritization exercise. We identified and approached the 200 most productive researchers and 400 program experts, and 132 of them submitted research questions online. These were collated into a set of 205 research questions, sent for scoring to the 600 identified experts, and were assessed and scored by 91 experts. RESULTS: Nine out of top ten identified priorities were in the domain of research on improving delivery of known interventions, with simplified neonatal resuscitation program and clinical algorithms and improved skills of community health workers leading the list. The top 10 priorities in the domain of development were led by ideas on improved Kangaroo Mother Care at community level, how to improve the accuracy of diagnosis by community health workers, and perinatal audits. The 10 leading priorities for discovery research focused on stable surfactant with novel modes of administration for preterm babies, ability to diagnose fetal distress and novel tocolytic agents to delay or stop preterm labour. CONCLUSION: These findings will assist both donors and researchers in supporting and conducting research to close the knowledge gaps for reducing neonatal mortality, morbidity and long term impairment. WHO, SNL and other partners will work to generate interest among key national stakeholders, governments, NGOs, and research institutes in these priorities, while encouraging research funders to support them. We will track research funding, relevant requests for proposals and trial registers to monitor if the priorities identified by this exercise are being addressed.

Tuti T, Bitok M, Malla L, Paton C, Muinga N, Gathara D, Gachau S, Mbevi G, Nyachiro W, Ogero M et al. 2016. Improving documentation of clinical care within a clinical information network: an essential initial step in efforts to understand and improve care in Kenyan hospitals. BMJ Glob Health, 1 (1), pp. e000028. | Show Abstract | Read more

In many low income countries health information systems are poorly equipped to provide detailed information on hospital care and outcomes. Information is thus rarely used to support practice improvement. We describe efforts to tackle this challenge and to foster learning concerning collection and use of information. This could improve hospital services in Kenya. We are developing a Clinical Information Network, a collaboration spanning 14 hospitals, policy makers and researchers with the goal of improving information available on the quality of inpatient paediatric care across common childhood illnesses in Kenya. Standardised data from hospitals' paediatric wards are collected using non-commercial and open source tools. We have implemented procedures for promoting data quality which are performed prior to a process of semi-automated analysis and routine report generation for hospitals in the network. In the first phase of the Clinical Information Network, we collected data on over 65 000 admission episodes. Despite clinicians' initial unfamiliarity with routine performance reporting, we found that, as an initial focus, both engaging with each hospital and providing them information helped improve the quality of data and therefore reports. The process has involved mutual learning and building of trust in the data and should provide the basis for collaborative efforts to improve care, to understand patient outcome, and to evaluate interventions through shared learning. We have found that hospitals are willing to support the development of a clinically focused but geographically dispersed Clinical Information Network in a low-income setting. Such networks show considerable promise as platforms for collaborative efforts to improve care, to provide better information for decision making, and to enable locally relevant research.

English M, Irimu G, Agweyu A, Gathara D, Oliwa J, Ayieko P, Were F, Paton C, Tunis S, Forrest CB. 2016. Building Learning Health Systems to Accelerate Research and Improve Outcomes of Clinical Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. PLoS Med, 13 (4), pp. e1001991. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mike English and colleagues argue that as efforts are made towards achieving universal health coverage it is also important to build capacity to develop regionally relevant evidence to improve healthcare.

Kihuba E, Gheorghe A, Bozzani F, English M, Griffiths UK. 2016. Opportunities and challenges for implementing cost accounting systems in the Kenyan health system. Glob Health Action, 9 pp. 30621. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Low- and middle-income countries need to sustain efficiency and equity in health financing on their way to universal health care coverage. However, systems meant to generate quality economic information are often deficient in such settings. We assessed the feasibility of streamlining cost accounting systems within the Kenyan health sector to illustrate the pragmatic challenges and opportunities. DESIGN: We reviewed policy documents, and conducted field observations and semi-structured interviews with key informants in the health sector. We used an adapted Human, Organization and Technology fit (HOT-fit) framework to analyze the components and standards of a cost accounting system. RESULTS: Among the opportunities for a viable cost accounting system, we identified a supportive broad policy environment, political will, presence of a national data reporting architecture, good implementation experience with electronic medical records systems, and the availability of patient clinical and resource use data. However, several practical issues need to be considered in the design of the system, including the lack of a framework to guide the costing process, the lack of long-term investment, the lack of appropriate incentives for ground-level staff, and a risk of overburdening the current health management information system. CONCLUSION: To facilitate the implementation of cost accounting into the health sector, the design of any proposed system needs to remain simple and attuned to the local context.

Kihuba E, Gheorghe A, Bozzani F, English M, Griffiths UK. 2016. Opportunities and challenges for implementing cost accounting systems in the Kenyan health system. Glob Health Action, 9 (1), pp. 30621. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background Low- and middle-income countries need to sustain efficiency and equity in health financing on their way to universal health care coverage. However, systems meant to generate quality economic information are often deficient in such settings. We assessed the feasibility of streamlining cost accounting systems within the Kenyan health sector to illustrate the pragmatic challenges and opportunities. Design We reviewed policy documents, and conducted field observations and semi-structured interviews with key informants in the health sector. We used an adapted Human, Organization and Technology fit (HOT-fit) framework to analyze the components and standards of a cost accounting system. Results Among the opportunities for a viable cost accounting system, we identified a supportive broad policy environment, political will, presence of a national data reporting architecture, good implementation experience with electronic medical records systems, and the availability of patient clinical and resource use data. However, several practical issues need to be considered in the design of the system, including the lack of a framework to guide the costing process, the lack of long-term investment, the lack of appropriate incentives for ground-level staff, and a risk of overburdening the current health management information system. Conclusion To facilitate the implementation of cost accounting into the health sector, the design of any proposed system needs to remain simple and attuned to the local context.

Hodkinson P, Argent A, Wallis L, Reid S, Perera R, Harrison S, Thompson M, English M, Maconochie I, Ward A. 2016. Pathways to Care for Critically Ill or Injured Children: A Cohort Study from First Presentation to Healthcare Services through to Admission to Intensive Care or Death. PLoS One, 11 (1), pp. e0145473. | Show Abstract | Read more

PURPOSE: Critically ill or injured children require prompt identification, rapid referral and quality emergency management. We undertook a study to evaluate the care pathway of critically ill or injured children to identify preventable failures in the care provided. METHODS: A year-long cohort study of critically ill and injured children was performed in Cape Town, South Africa, from first presentation to healthcare services until paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission or emergency department death, using expert panel review of medical records and caregiver interview. Main outcomes were expert assessment of overall quality of care; avoidability of severity of illness and PICU admission or death and the identification of modifiable factors. RESULTS: The study enrolled 282 children, 252 emergency PICU admissions, and 30 deaths. Global quality of care was graded good in 10% of cases, with half having at least one major impact modifiable factor. Key modifiable factors related to access to care and identification of the critically ill, assessment of severity, inadequate resuscitation, and delays in decision making and referral. Children were transferred with median time from first presentation to PICU admission of 12.3 hours. There was potentially avoidable severity of illness in 185 (74%) of children, and death prior to PICU admission was avoidable in 17/30 (56.7%) of children. CONCLUSIONS: The study presents a novel methodology, examining quality of care across an entire system, and highlighting the complexity of the pathway and the modifiable events amenable to interventions, that could reduce mortality and morbidity, and optimize utilization of scarce critical care resources; as well as demonstrating the importance of continuity and quality of care.

English M, Karumbi J, Maina M, Aluvaala J, Gupta A, Zwarenstein M, Opiyo N. 2016. The need for pragmatic clinical trials in low and middle income settings - taking essential neonatal interventions delivered as part of inpatient care as an illustrative example. BMC Med, 14 (1), pp. 5. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pragmatic randomized trials aim to examine the effects of interventions in the full spectrum of patients seen by clinicians who receive routine care. Such trials should be employed in parallel with efforts to implement many interventions which appear promising but where evidence of effectiveness is limited. We illustrate this need taking the case of essential interventions to reduce inpatient neonatal mortality in low and middle income countries (LMIC) but suggest the arguments are applicable in most clinical areas. DISCUSSION: A set of basic interventions have been defined, based on available evidence, that could substantially reduce early neonatal deaths if successfully implemented at scale within district and sub-district hospitals in LMIC. However, we illustrate that there remain many gaps in the evidence available to guide delivery of many inpatient neonatal interventions, that existing evidence is often from high income settings and that it frequently indicates uncertainty in the magnitude or even direction of estimates of effect. Furthermore generalizing results to LMIC where conditions include very high patient staff ratios, absence of even basic technologies, and a reliance on largely empiric management is problematic. Where there is such uncertainty over the effectiveness of interventions in different contexts or in the broad populations who might receive the intervention in routine care settings pragmatic trials that preserve internal validity while promoting external validity should be increasingly employed. Many interventions are introduced without adequate evidence of their effectiveness in the routine settings to which they are introduced. Global efforts are needed to support pragmatic research to establish the effectiveness in routine care of many interventions intended to reduce mortality or morbidity in LMIC. Such research should be seen as complementary to efforts to optimize implementation.

Enoch AJ, English M, Shepperd S. 2016. Does pulse oximeter use impact health outcomes? A systematic review. Arch Dis Child, 101 (8), pp. 694-700. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Do newborns, children and adolescents up to 19 years have lower mortality rates, lower morbidity and shorter length of stay in health facilities where pulse oximeters are used to inform diagnosis and treatment (excluding surgical care) compared with health facilities where pulse oximeters are not used? DESIGN: Studies were obtained for this systematic literature review by systematically searching the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, Cochrane, Medion, PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, Global Health, CINAHL, WHO Global Health Library, international health organisation and NGO websites, and study references. PATIENTS: Children 0-19 years presenting for the first time to hospitals, emergency departments or primary care facilities. INTERVENTIONS: Included studies compared outcomes where pulse oximeters were used for diagnosis and/or management, with outcomes where pulse oximeters were not used. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: mortality, morbidity, length of stay, and treatment and management changes. RESULTS: The evidence is low quality and hypoxaemia definitions varied across studies, but the evidence suggests pulse oximeter use with children can reduce mortality rates (when combined with improved oxygen administration) and length of emergency department stay, increase admission of children with previously unrecognised hypoxaemia, and change physicians' decisions on illness severity, diagnosis and treatment. Pulse oximeter use generally increased resource utilisation. CONCLUSIONS: As international organisations are investing in programmes to increase pulse oximeter use in low-income settings, more research is needed on the optimal use of pulse oximeters (eg, appropriate oxygen saturation thresholds), and how pulse oximeter use affects referral and admission rates, length of stay, resource utilisation and health outcomes.

Ayieko P, Ogero M, Makone B, Julius T, Mbevi G, Nyachiro W, Nyamai R, Were F, Githanga D, Irimu G et al. 2016. Characteristics of admissions and variations in the use of basic investigations, treatments and outcomes in Kenyan hospitals within a new Clinical Information Network. Arch Dis Child, 101 (3), pp. 223-229. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Lack of detailed information about hospital activities, processes and outcomes hampers planning, performance monitoring and improvement in low-income countries (LIC). Clinical networks offer one means to advance methods for data collection and use, informing wider health system development in time, but are rare in LIC. We report baseline data from a new Clinical Information Network (CIN) in Kenya seeking to promote data-informed improvement and learning. METHODS: Data from 13 hospitals engaged in the Kenyan CIN between April 2014 and March 2015 were captured from medical and laboratory records. We use these data to characterise clinical care and outcomes of hospital admission. RESULTS: Data were available for a total of 30 042 children aged between 2 months and 15 years. Malaria (in five hospitals), pneumonia and diarrhoea/dehydration (all hospitals) accounted for the majority of diagnoses and comorbidity was found in 17 710 (59%) patients. Overall, 1808 deaths (6%) occurred (range per hospital 2.5%-11.1%) with 1037 deaths (57.4%) occurring by day 2 of admission (range 41%-67.8%). While malaria investigations are commonly done, clinical health workers rarely investigate for other possible causes of fever, test for blood glucose in severe illness or ascertain HIV status of admissions. Adherence to clinical guideline-recommended treatment for malaria, pneumonia, meningitis and acute severe malnutrition varied widely across hospitals. CONCLUSION: Developing clinical networks is feasible with appropriate support. Early data demonstrate that hospital mortality remains high in Kenya, that resources to investigate severe illness are limited, that care provided and outcomes vary widely and that adoption of effective interventions remains slow. Findings suggest considerable scope for improving care within and across sites.

Tuti T, Bitok M, Paton C, Makone B, Malla L, Muinga N, Gathara D, English M. 2016. Innovating to enhance clinical data management using non-commercial and open source solutions across a multi-center network supporting inpatient pediatric care and research in Kenya. J Am Med Inform Assoc, 23 (1), pp. 184-192. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To share approaches and innovations adopted to deliver a relatively inexpensive clinical data management (CDM) framework within a low-income setting that aims to deliver quality pediatric data useful for supporting research, strengthening the information culture and informing improvement efforts in local clinical practice. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The authors implemented a CDM framework to support a Clinical Information Network (CIN) using Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap), a noncommercial software solution designed for rapid development and deployment of electronic data capture tools. It was used for collection of standardized data from case records of multiple hospitals' pediatric wards. R, an open-source statistical language, was used for data quality enhancement, analysis, and report generation for the hospitals. RESULTS: In the first year of CIN, the authors have developed innovative solutions to support the implementation of a secure, rapid pediatric data collection system spanning 14 hospital sites with stringent data quality checks. Data have been collated on over 37 000 admission episodes, with considerable improvement in clinical documentation of admissions observed. Using meta-programming techniques in R, coupled with branching logic, randomization, data lookup, and Application Programming Interface (API) features offered by REDCap, CDM tasks were configured and automated to ensure quality data was delivered for clinical improvement and research use. CONCLUSION: A low-cost clinically focused but geographically dispersed quality CDM (Clinical Data Management) in a long-term, multi-site, and real world context can be achieved and sustained and challenges can be overcome through thoughtful design and implementation of open-source tools for handling data and supporting research.

Li HK, Agweyu A, English M, Bejon P. 2015. An unsupported preference for intravenous antibiotics. PLoS Med, 12 (5), pp. e1001825. | Read more

Aluvaala J, Okello D, Murithi G, Wafula L, Wanjala L, Isika N, Wasunna A, Were F, Nyamai R, English M. 2015. Delivery outcomes and patterns of morbidity and mortality for neonatal admissions in five Kenyan hospitals. J Trop Pediatr, 61 (4), pp. 255-259. | Show Abstract | Read more

A cross-sectional survey was conducted in neonatal and maternity units of five Kenyan district public hospitals. Data for 1 year were obtained: 3999 maternal and 1836 neonatal records plus tallies of maternal deaths, deliveries and stillbirths. There were 40 maternal deaths [maternal mortality ratio: 276 per 100 000 live births, 95% confidence interval (CI): 197-376]. Fresh stillbirths ranged from 11 to 43 per 1000 births. A fifth (19%, 263 of 1384, 95% CI: 11-30%) of the admitted neonates died. Compared with normal birth weight, odds of death were significantly higher in all of the low birth weight (LBW, <2500 g) categories, with the highest odds for the extremely LBW (<1000 g) category (odds ratio: 59, 95% CI: 21-158, p < 0.01). The observed maternal mortality, stillbirths and neonatal mortality call for implementation of the continuum of care approach to intervention delivery with particular emphasis on LBW babies.

English M, English R, English A. 2015. Millennium Development Goals progress: a perspective from sub-Saharan Africa. Arch Dis Child, 100 Suppl 1 (Suppl 1), pp. S57-S58. | Show Abstract | Read more

Sub-Saharan Africa is a highly diverse geo-political region. Any brief discussion of the progress made over the last 15 years towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will therefore not do justice to the true complexity of context and events. Our focus will be MDG4-to reduce child mortality by 66% from 1990 levels. We will touch briefly on MDG1, to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, MDG2, to achieve universal primary education, and MDG5, to improve maternal health, which are inextricably linked with child well-being. We will also draw on an eclectic mix of additional global indicators. Acknowledging the limitations of this approach, we first offer a summary of expected progress and then point to debates on future goals.

Mwinga S, Kulohoma C, Mwaniki P, Idowu R, Masasabi J, English M, SIRCLE Collaboration. 2015. Quality of surgical care in hospitals providing internship training in Kenya: a cross sectional survey. Trop Med Int Health, 20 (2), pp. 240-249. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate services in hospitals providing internship training to graduate doctors in Kenya. METHODS: A survey of 22 internship training hospitals was conducted. Availability of key resources spanning infrastructure, personnel, equipment and drugs was assessed by observation. Outcomes and process of care for pre-specified priority conditions (head injury, chest injury, fractures, burns and acute abdomen) were evaluated by auditing case records. RESULTS: Each hospital had at least one consultant surgeon. Scheduled surgical outpatient clinics, major ward rounds and elective (half day) theatre lists were provided once per week in 91%, 55% and 9%, respectively. In all other hospitals, these were conducted twice weekly. Basic drugs were not always available (e.g. gentamicin, morphine and pethidine in 50%, injectable antistaphylococcal penicillins in 5% hospitals). Fewer than half of hospitals had all resources needed to provide oxygen. One hundred and forty-five of 956 cases evaluated underwent operations under general or spinal anaesthesia. We found operation notes for 99% and anaesthetic records for 72%. Pre-operatively measured vital signs were recorded in 80% of cases, and evidence of consent to operation was found in 78%. Blood loss was documented in only one case and sponge and instrument counts in 7%. CONCLUSIONS: Evaluation of surgical services would be improved by development and dissemination of clear standards of care. This survey suggests that internship hospitals may be poorly equipped and documented care suggests inadequacies in quality and training.

Muinga N, Sen B, Ayieko P, Todd J, English M. 2015. Access to and value of information to support good practice for staff in Kenyan hospitals. Glob Health Action, 8 (1), pp. 26559. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Studies have sought to define information needs of health workers within very specific settings or projects. Lacking in the literature is how hospitals in low-income settings are able to meet the information needs of their staff and the use of information communication technologies (ICT) in day-to-day information searching. OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to explore where professionals in Kenyan hospitals turn to for work-related information in their day-to-day work. Additionally, it examined what existing solutions are provided by hospitals with regard to provision of best practice care. Lastly, the study explored the use of ICT in information searching. DESIGN: Data for this study were collected in July 2012. Self-administered questionnaires (SAQs) were distributed across 22 study hospitals with an aim to get a response from 34 health workers per hospital. RESULTS: SAQs were collected from 657 health workers. The most popular sources of information to guide work were fellow health workers and printed guidelines while the least popular were scientific journals. Of value to health workers were: national treatment policies, new research findings, regular reports from surveillance data, information on costs of services and information on their performance of routine clinical tasks; however, hospitals only partially met these needs. Barriers to accessing information sources included: 'not available/difficult to get' and 'difficult to understand'. ICT use for information seeking was reported and with demographic specific differences noted from the multivariate logistic regression model; nurses compared to medical doctors and older workers were less likely to use ICT for health information searching. Barriers to accessing Internet were identified as: high costs and the lack of the service at home or at work. CONCLUSIONS: Hospitals need to provide appropriate information by improving information dissemination efforts and providing an enabling environment that allows health workers find the information they need for best practice.

Aluvaala J, Nyamai R, Were F, Wasunna A, Kosgei R, Karumbi J, Gathara D, English M, Kamau K, Kimani F et al. 2015. Assessment of neonatal care in clinical training facilities in Kenya Archives of Disease in Childhood, 100 (1), pp. 42-47. | Show Abstract | Read more

Objective An audit of neonatal care services provided by clinical training centres was undertaken to identify areas requiring improvement as part of wider efforts to improve newborn survival in Kenya. Design Cross-sectional study using indicators based on prior work in Kenya. Statistical analyses were descriptive with adjustment for clustering of data. Setting Neonatal units of 22 public hospitals. Patients Neonates aged < 7 days. Main outcome measures Quality of care was assessed in terms of availability of basic resources (principally equipment and drugs) and audit of case records for documentation of patient assessment and treatment at admission. Results All hospitals had oxygen, 19/22 had resuscitation and phototherapy equipment, but some key resources were missing-for example kangaroo care was available in 14/22. Out of 1249 records, 56.9% (95% CI 36.2% to 77.6%) had a standard neonatal admission form. A median score of 0 out of 3 for symptoms of severe illness (IQR 0-3) and a median score of 6 out of 8 for signs of severe illness (IQR 4-7) were documented. Maternal HIV status was documented in 674/1249 (54%, 95% CI 41.9% to 66.1%) cases. Drug doses exceeded recommendations by > 20% in prescriptions for penicillin (11.6%, 95% CI 3.4% to 32.8%) and gentamicin (18.5%, 95% CI 13.4% to 25%), respectively. Conclusions Basic resources are generally available, but there are deficiencies in key areas. Poor documentation limits the use of routine data for quality improvement. Significant opportunities exist for improvement in service delivery and adherence to guidelines in hospitals providing professional training.

Gathara D, English M, van Hensbroek MB, Todd J, Allen E. 2015. Exploring sources of variability in adherence to guidelines across hospitals in low-income settings: a multi-level analysis of a cross-sectional survey of 22 hospitals. Implement Sci, 10 (1), pp. 60. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Variability in processes of care and outcomes has been reported widely in high-income settings (at geographic, hospital, physician group and individual physician levels); however, such variability and the factors driving it are rarely examined in low-income settings. METHODS: Using data from a cross-sectional survey undertaken in 22 hospitals (60 case records from each hospital) across Kenya that aimed at evaluating the quality of routine hospital services, we sought to explore variability in four binary inpatient paediatric process indicators. These included three prescribing tasks and use of one diagnostic. To examine for sources of variability, we examined intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) and their changes using multi-level mixed models with random intercepts for hospital and clinician levels and adjusting for patient and clinician level covariates. RESULTS: Levels of performance varied substantially across indicators and hospitals. The absolute values for ICCs also varied markedly ranging from a maximum of 0.48 to a minimum of 0.09 across the models for HIV testing and prescription of zinc, respectively. More variation was attributable at the hospital level than clinician level after allowing for nesting of clinicians within hospitals for prescription of quinine loading dose for malaria (ICC = 0.30), prescription of zinc for diarrhoea patients (ICC = 0.11) and HIV testing for all children (ICC = 0.43). However, for prescription of correct dose of crystalline penicillin, more of the variability was explained by the clinician level (ICC = 0.21). Adjusting for clinician and patient level covariates only altered, marginally, the ICCs observed in models for the zinc prescription indicator. CONCLUSIONS: Performance varied greatly across place and indicator. The variability that could be explained suggests interventions to improve performance might be best targeted at hospital level factors for three indicators and clinician factors for one. Our data suggest that better understanding of performance and sources of variation might help tailor improvement interventions although further data across a larger set of indicators and sites would help substantiate these findings.

Gathara D, Nyamai R, Were F, Mogoa W, Karumbi J, Kihuba E, Mwinga S, Aluvaala J, Mulaku M, Kosgei R et al. 2015. Moving towards routine evaluation of quality of inpatient pediatric care in Kenya. PLoS One, 10 (3), pp. e0117048. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Regular assessment of quality of care allows monitoring of progress towards system goals and identifies gaps that need to be addressed to promote better outcomes. We report efforts to initiate routine assessments in a low-income country in partnership with government. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey undertaken in 22 'internship training' hospitals across Kenya that examined availability of essential resources and process of care based on review of 60 case-records per site focusing on the common childhood illnesses (pneumonia, malaria, diarrhea/dehydration, malnutrition and meningitis). RESULTS: Availability of essential resources was 75% (45/61 items) or more in 8/22 hospitals. A total of 1298 (range 54-61) case records were reviewed. HIV testing remained suboptimal at 12% (95% CI 7-19). A routinely introduced structured pediatric admission record form improved documentation of core admission symptoms and signs (median score for signs 22/22 and 8/22 when form used and not used respectively). Correctness of penicillin and gentamicin dosing was above 85% but correctness of prescribed intravenous fluid or oral feed volumes for severe dehydration and malnutrition were 54% and 25% respectively. Introduction of Zinc for diarrhea has been relatively successful (66% cases) but use of artesunate for malaria remained rare. Exploratory analysis suggests considerable variability of the quality of care across hospitals. CONCLUSION: Quality of pediatric care in Kenya has improved but can improve further. The approach to monitoring described in this survey seems feasible and provides an opportunity for routine assessments across a large number of hospitals as part of national efforts to sustain improvement. Understanding variability across hospitals may help target improvement efforts.

Barasa EW, Molyneux S, English M, Cleary S. 2015. Setting Healthcare Priorities at the Macro and Meso Levels: A Framework for Evaluation. Int J Health Policy Manag, 4 (11), pp. 719-732. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Priority setting in healthcare is a key determinant of health system performance. However, there is no widely accepted priority setting evaluation framework. We reviewed literature with the aim of developing and proposing a framework for the evaluation of macro and meso level healthcare priority setting practices. METHODS: We systematically searched Econlit, PubMed, CINAHL, and EBSCOhost databases and supplemented this with searches in Google Scholar, relevant websites and reference lists of relevant papers. A total of 31 papers on evaluation of priority setting were identified. These were supplemented by broader theoretical literature related to evaluation of priority setting. A conceptual review of selected papers was undertaken. RESULTS: Based on a synthesis of the selected literature, we propose an evaluative framework that requires that priority setting practices at the macro and meso levels of the health system meet the following conditions: (1) Priority setting decisions should incorporate both efficiency and equity considerations as well as the following outcomes; (a) Stakeholder satisfaction, (b) Stakeholder understanding, (c) Shifted priorities (reallocation of resources), and (d) Implementation of decisions. (2) Priority setting processes should also meet the procedural conditions of (a) Stakeholder engagement, (b) Stakeholder empowerment, (c) Transparency, (d) Use of evidence, (e) Revisions, (f) Enforcement, and (g) Being grounded on community values. CONCLUSION: Available frameworks for the evaluation of priority setting are mostly grounded on procedural requirements, while few have included outcome requirements. There is, however, increasing recognition of the need to incorporate both consequential and procedural considerations in priority setting practices. In this review, we adapt an integrative approach to develop and propose a framework for the evaluation of priority setting practices at the macro and meso levels that draws from these complementary schools of thought.

Muinga N, Sen B, Ayieko P, Todd J, English M. 2015. Access to and value of information to support good practice for staff in Kenyan hospitals. Glob Health Action, 8 (1), pp. 26559. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background Studies have sought to define information needs of health workers within very specific settings or projects. Lacking in the literature is how hospitals in low-income settings are able to meet the information needs of their staff and the use of information communication technologies (ICT) in day-to-day information searching. Objective The study aimed to explore where professionals in Kenyan hospitals turn to for work-related information in their day-to-day work. Additionally, it examined what existing solutions are provided by hospitals with regard to provision of best practice care. Lastly, the study explored the use of ICT in information searching. Design Data for this study were collected in July 2012. Self-administered questionnaires (SAQs) were distributed across 22 study hospitals with an aim to get a response from 34 health workers per hospital. Results SAQs were collected from 657 health workers. The most popular sources of information to guide work were fellow health workers and printed guidelines while the least popular were scientific journals. Of value to health workers were: national treatment policies, new research findings, regular reports from surveillance data, information on costs of services and information on their performance of routine clinical tasks; however, hospitals only partially met these needs. Barriers to accessing information sources included: 'not available/difficult to get' and 'difficult to understand'. ICT use for information seeking was reported and with demographic specific differences noted from the multivariate logistic regression model; nurses compared to medical doctors and older workers were less likely to use ICT for health information searching. Barriers to accessing Internet were identified as: high costs and the lack of the service at home or at work. Conclusions Hospitals need to provide appropriate information by improving information dissemination efforts and providing an enabling environment that allows health workers find the information they need for best practice.

Agweyu A, Gathara D, Oliwa J, Muinga N, Edwards T, Allen E, Maleche-Obimbo E, English M, Severe Pneumonia Study Group. 2015. Oral amoxicillin versus benzyl penicillin for severe pneumonia among kenyan children: a pragmatic randomized controlled noninferiority trial. Clin Infect Dis, 60 (8), pp. 1216-1224. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There are concerns that the evidence from studies showing noninferiority of oral amoxicillin to benzyl penicillin for severe pneumonia may not be generalizable to high-mortality settings. METHODS: An open-label, multicenter, randomized controlled noninferiority trial was conducted at 6 Kenyan hospitals. Eligible children aged 2-59 months were randomized to receive amoxicillin or benzyl penicillin and followed up for the primary outcome of treatment failure at 48 hours. A noninferiority margin of risk difference between amoxicillin and benzyl penicillin groups was prespecified at 7%. RESULTS: We recruited 527 children, including 302 (57.3%) with comorbidity. Treatment failure was observed in 20 of 260 (7.7%) and 21 of 261 (8.0%) of patients in the amoxicillin and benzyl penicillin arms, respectively (risk difference, -0.3% [95% confidence interval, -5.0% to 4.3%]) in per-protocol analyses. These findings were supported by the results of intention-to-treat analyses. Treatment failure by day 5 postenrollment was 11.4% and 11.0% and rising to 13.5% and 16.8% by day 14 in the amoxicillin vs benzyl penicillin groups, respectively. The most frequent cause of cumulative treatment failure at day 14 was clinical deterioration within 48 hours of enrollment (33/59 [55.9%]). Four patients died (overall mortality 0.8%) during the study, 3 of whom were allocated to the benzyl penicillin group. The presence of wheeze was independently associated with less frequent treatment failure. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings confirm noninferiority of amoxicillin to benzyl penicillin, provide estimates of risk of treatment failure in Kenya, and offer important additional evidence for policy making in sub-Saharan Africa. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT01399723.

Kihuba E, Gathara D, Mwinga S, Mulaku M, Kosgei R, Mogoa W, Nyamai R, English M. 2014. Assessing the ability of health information systems in hospitals to support evidence-informed decisions in Kenya. Glob Health Action, 7 (1), pp. 24859. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background Hospital management information systems (HMIS) is a key component of national health information systems (HIS), and actions required of hospital management to support information generation in Kenya are articulated in specific policy documents. We conducted an evaluation of core functions of data generation and reporting within hospitals in Kenya to facilitate interpretation of national reports and to provide guidance on key areas requiring improvement to support data use in decision making. Design The survey was a cross-sectional, cluster sample study conducted in 22 hospitals in Kenya. The statistical analysis was descriptive with adjustment for clustering. Results Most of the HMIS departments complied with formal guidance to develop departmental plans. However, only a few (3/22) had carried out a data quality audit in the 12 months prior to the survey. On average 3% (range 1-8%) of the total hospital income was allocated to the HMIS departments. About half of the records officer positions were filled and about half (13/22) of hospitals had implemented some form of electronic health record largely focused on improving patient billing and not linked to the district HIS. Completeness of manual patient registers varied, being 90% (95% CI 80.1-99.3%), 75.8% (95% CI 68.7-82.8%), and 58% (95% CI 50.4-65.1%) in maternal child health clinic, maternity, and pediatric wards, respectively. Vital events notification rates were low with 25.7, 42.6, and 71.3% of neonatal deaths, infant deaths, and live births recorded, respectively. Routine hospital reports suggested slight over-reporting of live births and under-reporting of fresh stillbirths and neonatal deaths. Conclusions Study findings indicate that the HMIS does not deliver quality data. Significant constraints exist in data quality assurance, supervisory support, data infrastructure in respect to information and communications technology application, human resources, financial resources, and integration.

Tuyisenge L, Kyamanya P, Van Steirteghem S, Becker M, English M, Lissauer T. 2014. Knowledge and skills retention following emergency triage, assessment and treatment plus admission course for final year medical students in Rwanda: A longitudinal cohort study Archives of Disease in Childhood, 99 (11), pp. 993-997. | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2014, BMJ Publishing Group. All rights reserved. Aim: To determine whether, after the Emergency Triage, Assessment and Treatment plus Admission (ETAT+) course, a comprehensive paediatric life support course, final year medical undergraduates in Rwanda would achieve a high level of knowledge and practical skills and if these were retained. To guide further course development, student feedback was obtained. Methods: Longitudinal cohort study of knowledge and skills of all final year medical undergraduates at the University of Rwanda in academic year 2011-2012 who attended a 5-day ETAT+ course. Students completed a precourse knowledge test. Knowledge and clinical skills assessments, using standardised marking, were performed immediately postcourse and 3-9 months later. Feedback was obtained using printed questionnaires. Results: 84 students attended the course and reevaluation. Knowledge test showed a significant improvement, from median 47% to 71% correct answers (p < 0.001). For two clinical skills scenarios, 98% passed both scenarios, 37% after a retake, 2% failed both scenarios. Three to nine months later, students were reevaluated, median score for knowledge test 67%, not significantly different from postcourse (p > 0.1). For clinical skills, 74% passed, with 32% requiring a retake, 8% failed after retake, 18% failed both scenarios, a significant deterioration (p < 0.0001). Conclusions Students performed well on knowledge and skills immediately after a comprehensive ETAT+ course. Knowledge was maintained 3-9 months later. Clinical skills, which require detailed sequential steps, declined, but most were able to perform them satisfactorily after feedback. The course was highly valued, but several short courses and more practical teaching were advocated.

Aluvaala J, Nyamai R, Were F, Wasunna A, Kosgei R, Karumbi J, Gathara D, English M, SIRCLE/Ministry of Health Hospital Survey Group. 2015. Assessment of neonatal care in clinical training facilities in Kenya. Arch Dis Child, 100 (1), pp. 42-47. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: An audit of neonatal care services provided by clinical training centres was undertaken to identify areas requiring improvement as part of wider efforts to improve newborn survival in Kenya. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using indicators based on prior work in Kenya. Statistical analyses were descriptive with adjustment for clustering of data. SETTING: Neonatal units of 22 public hospitals. PATIENTS: Neonates aged <7 days. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Quality of care was assessed in terms of availability of basic resources (principally equipment and drugs) and audit of case records for documentation of patient assessment and treatment at admission. RESULTS: All hospitals had oxygen, 19/22 had resuscitation and phototherapy equipment, but some key resources were missing—for example kangaroo care was available in 14/22. Out of 1249 records, 56.9% (95% CI 36.2% to 77.6%) had a standard neonatal admission form. A median score of 0 out of 3 for symptoms of severe illness (IQR 0-3) and a median score of 6 out of 8 for signs of severe illness (IQR 4-7) were documented. Maternal HIV status was documented in 674/1249 (54%, 95% CI 41.9% to 66.1%) cases. Drug doses exceeded recommendations by >20% in prescriptions for penicillin (11.6%, 95% CI 3.4% to 32.8%) and gentamicin (18.5%, 95% CI 13.4% to 25%), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Basic resources are generally available, but there are deficiencies in key areas. Poor documentation limits the use of routine data for quality improvement. Significant opportunities exist for improvement in service delivery and adherence to guidelines in hospitals providing professional training.

Mwaniki P, Ayieko P, Todd J, English M. 2014. Assessment of paediatric inpatient care during a multifaceted quality improvement intervention in Kenyan district hospitals--use of prospectively collected case record data. BMC Health Serv Res, 14 (1), pp. 312. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In assessing quality of care in developing countries, retrospectively collected data are usually used given their availability. Retrospective data however suffer from such biases as recall bias and non-response bias. Comparing results obtained using prospectively and retrospectively collected data will help validate the use of the easily available retrospective data in assessing quality of care in past and future studies. METHODS: Prospective and retrospective datasets were obtained from a cluster randomized trial of a multifaceted intervention aimed at improving paediatric inpatient care conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals by improving management of children admitted with pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea and/or dehydration. Four hospitals received a full intervention and four a partial intervention. Data were collected through 3 two weeks surveys conducted at baseline, after 6 and 18 months. Retrospective data was sampled from paediatric medical records of patients discharged in the preceding six months of the survey while prospective data was collected from patients discharged during the two week period of each survey. Risk Differences during post-intervention period of 16 quality of care indicators were analyzed separately for prospective and retrospective datasets and later plotted side by side for comparison. RESULTS: For the prospective data there was strong evidence of an intervention effect for 8 of the indicators and weaker evidence of an effect for one indicator, with magnitude of effect sizes varying from 23% to 60% difference. For the retrospective data, 10 process (these include the 8 indicators found to be statistically significant in prospective data analysis) indicators had statistically significant differences with magnitude of effects varying from 10% to 42%. The bar-graph comparing results from the prospective and retrospective datasets showed similarity in terms of magnitude of effects and statistical significance for all except two indicators. CONCLUSION: Multifaceted interventions can help improve adoption of clinical guidelines and hence improve the quality of care. The similar inference reached after analyses based on prospective assessment of case management is a useful finding as it supports the utility of work based on examination of retrospectively assembled case records allowing longer time periods to be studied while constraining costs. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42996612. Trial registration date: 20/11/2008.

Muinga N, Ayieko P, Opondo C, Ntoburi S, Todd J, Allen E, English M. 2014. Using health worker opinions to assess changes in structural components of quality in a Cluster Randomized Trial. BMC Health Serv Res, 14 (1), pp. 282. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The 'resource readiness' of health facilities to provide effective services is captured in the structure component of the classical Donabedian paradigm often used for assessment of the quality of care in the health sector. Periodic inventories are commonly used to confirm the presence (or absence) of equipment or drugs by physical observation or by asking those in charge to indicate whether an item is present or not. It is then assumed that this point observation is representative of the everyday status. However the availability of an item (consumables) may vary. Arguably therefore a more useful assessment for resources would be one that captures this fluctuation in time. Here we report an approach that may circumvent these difficulties. METHODS: We used self-administered questionnaires (SAQ) to seek health worker views of availability of key resources supporting paediatric care linked to a cluster randomized trial of a multifaceted intervention aimed at improving this care conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals. Four hospitals received a full intervention and four a partial intervention. Data were collected pre-intervention and after 6 and 18 months from health workers in three clinical areas asked to score item availability using an 11-point scale. Mean scores for items common to all 3 areas and mean scores for items allocated to domains identified using exploratory factor analysis (EFA) were used to describe availability and explore changes over time. RESULTS: SAQ were collected from 1,156 health workers. EFA identified 11 item domains across the three departments. Mean availability scores for these domains were often <5/10 at baseline reflecting lack of basic resources such as oxygen, nutrition and second line drugs. An improvement in mean scores occurred in 8 out of 11 domains in both control and intervention groups. A calculation of difference in difference of means for intervention vs. control suggested an intervention effect resulting in greater changes in 5 out of 11 domains. CONCLUSION: Using SAQ data to assess resource availability experienced by health workers provides an alternative to direct observations that provide point prevalence estimates. Further the approach was able to demonstrate poor access to resources, change over time and variability across place.

Tuyisenge L, Kyamanya P, Van Steirteghem S, Becker M, English M, Lissauer T. 2014. Knowledge and skills retention following Emergency Triage, Assessment and Treatment plus Admission course for final year medical students in Rwanda: a longitudinal cohort study. Arch Dis Child, 99 (11), pp. 993-997. | Show Abstract | Read more

AIM: To determine whether, after the Emergency Triage, Assessment and Treatment plus Admission (ETAT+) course, a comprehensive paediatric life support course, final year medical undergraduates in Rwanda would achieve a high level of knowledge and practical skills and if these were retained. To guide further course development, student feedback was obtained. METHODS: Longitudinal cohort study of knowledge and skills of all final year medical undergraduates at the University of Rwanda in academic year 2011-2012 who attended a 5-day ETAT+ course. Students completed a precourse knowledge test. Knowledge and clinical skills assessments, using standardised marking, were performed immediately postcourse and 3-9 months later. Feedback was obtained using printed questionnaires. RESULTS: 84 students attended the course and re-evaluation. Knowledge test showed a significant improvement, from median 47% to 71% correct answers (p<0.001). For two clinical skills scenarios, 98% passed both scenarios, 37% after a retake, 2% failed both scenarios. Three to nine months later, students were re-evaluated, median score for knowledge test 67%, not significantly different from postcourse (p>0.1). For clinical skills, 74% passed, with 32% requiring a retake, 8% failed after retake, 18% failed both scenarios, a significant deterioration (p<0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Students performed well on knowledge and skills immediately after a comprehensive ETAT+ course. Knowledge was maintained 3-9 months later. Clinical skills, which require detailed sequential steps, declined, but most were able to perform them satisfactorily after feedback. The course was highly valued, but several short courses and more practical teaching were advocated.

English M, Gathara D, Mwinga S, Ayieko P, Opondo C, Aluvaala J, Kihuba E, Mwaniki P, Were F, Irimu G et al. 2014. Adoption of recommended practices and basic technologies in a low-income setting Archives of Disease in Childhood, 99 (5), pp. 452-456. | Show Abstract | Read more

Objective: In global health considerable attention is focused on the search for innovations; however, reports tracking their adoption in routine hospital settings from low-income countries are absent. Design and setting: We used data collected on a consistent panel of indicators during four separate cross-sectional, hospital surveys in Kenya to track changes over a period of 11 years (2002-2012). Main outcome measures: Basic resource availability, use of diagnostics and uptake of recommended practices. Results: There appeared little change in availability of a panel of 28 basic resources (median 71% in 2002 to 82% in 2012) although availability of specific feeds for severe malnutrition and vitamin K improved. Use of blood glucose and HIV testing increased but remained inappropriately low throughout. Commonly (malaria) and uncommonly (lumbar puncture) performed diagnostic tests frequently failed to inform practice while pulse oximetry, a simple and cheap technology, was rarely available even in 2012. However, increasing adherence to prescribing guidance occurred during a period from 2006 to 2012 in which efforts were made to disseminate guidelines. Conclusions: Findings suggest changes in clinical practices possibly linked to dissemination of guidelines at reasonable scale. However, full availability of basic resources was not attained and major gaps likely exist between the potential and actual impacts of simple diagnostics and technologies representing problems with availability, adoption and successful utilisation. These findings are relevant to debates on scaling up in low-income settings and to those developing novel therapeutic or diagnostic interventions.

Barasa EW, Molyneux S, English M, Cleary S. 2015. Setting healthcare priorities in hospitals: a review of empirical studies. Health Policy Plan, 30 (3), pp. 386-396. | Show Abstract | Read more

Priority setting research has focused on the macro (national) and micro (bedside) level, leaving the meso (institutional, hospital) level relatively neglected. This is surprising given the key role that hospitals play in the delivery of healthcare services and the large proportion of health systems resources that they absorb. To explore the factors that impact upon priority setting at the hospital level, we conducted a thematic review of empirical studies. A systematic search of PubMed, EBSCOHOST, Econlit databases and Google scholar was supplemented by a search of key websites and a manual search of relevant papers' reference lists. A total of 24 papers were identified from developed and developing countries. We applied a policy analysis framework to examine and synthesize the findings of the selected papers. Findings suggest that priority setting practice in hospitals was influenced by (1) contextual factors such as decision space, resource availability, financing arrangements, availability and use of information, organizational culture and leadership, (2) priority setting processes that depend on the type of priority setting activity, (3) content factors such as priority setting criteria and (4) actors, their interests and power relations. We observe that there is need for studies to examine these issues and the interplay between them in greater depth and propose a conceptual framework that might be useful in examining priority setting practices in hospitals.

Irimu GW, Greene A, Gathara D, Kihara H, Maina C, Mbori-Ngacha D, Zurovac D, Migiro S, English M. 2014. Factors influencing performance of health workers in the management of seriously sick children at a Kenyan tertiary hospital - Participatory action research BMC Health Services Research, 14 | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Implementation of World Health Organization case management guidelines for serious childhood illnesses remains a challenge in hospitals in low-income countries. Facilitators of and barriers to implementation of locally adapted clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have not been explored. Methods. This ethnographic study based on the theory of participatory action research (PAR) was conducted in Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya's largest teaching hospital. The primary intervention consisted of dissemination of locally adapted CPGs. The PRECEDE-PROCEED health education model was used as the conceptual framework to guide and examine further reinforcement activities to improve the uptake of the CPGs. Activities focussed on introduction of routine clinical audits and tailored educational sessions. Data were collected by a participant observer who also facilitated the PAR over an eighteen-month period. Naturalistic inquiry was utilized to obtain information from all hospital staff encountered while theoretical sampling allowed in-depth exploration of emerging issues. Data were analysed using interpretive description. Results: Relevance of the CPGs to routine work and emergence of a champion of change facilitated uptake of best-practices. Mobilization of basic resources was relatively easily undertaken while activities that required real intellectual and professional engagement of the senior staff were a challenge. Accomplishments of the PAR were largely with the passive rather than active involvement of the hospital management. Barriers to implementation of best-practices included i) mismatch between the hospital's vision and reality, ii) poor communication, iii) lack of objective mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating quality of clinical care, iv) limited capacity for planning strategic change, v) limited management skills to introduce and manage change, vi) hierarchical relationships, and vii) inadequate adaptation of the interventions to the local context. Conclusions: Educational interventions, often regarded as 'quick-fixes' to improve care in low-income countries, may be necessary but are unlikely to be sufficient to deliver improved services. We propose that an understanding of organizational issues that influence the behaviour of individual health professionals should guide and inform the implementation of best-practices. © 2014 Irimu et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Irimu GW, Greene A, Gathara D, Kihara H, Maina C, Mbori-Ngacha D, Zurovac D, Migiro S, English M. 2014. Factors influencing performance of health workers in the management of seriously sick children at a Kenyan tertiary hospital--participatory action research. BMC Health Serv Res, 14 (1), pp. 59. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Implementation of World Health Organization case management guidelines for serious childhood illnesses remains a challenge in hospitals in low-income countries. Facilitators of and barriers to implementation of locally adapted clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have not been explored. METHODS: This ethnographic study based on the theory of participatory action research (PAR) was conducted in Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya's largest teaching hospital. The primary intervention consisted of dissemination of locally adapted CPGs. The PRECEDE-PROCEED health education model was used as the conceptual framework to guide and examine further reinforcement activities to improve the uptake of the CPGs. Activities focussed on introduction of routine clinical audits and tailored educational sessions. Data were collected by a participant observer who also facilitated the PAR over an eighteen-month period. Naturalistic inquiry was utilized to obtain information from all hospital staff encountered while theoretical sampling allowed in-depth exploration of emerging issues. Data were analysed using interpretive description. RESULTS: Relevance of the CPGs to routine work and emergence of a champion of change facilitated uptake of best-practices. Mobilization of basic resources was relatively easily undertaken while activities that required real intellectual and professional engagement of the senior staff were a challenge. Accomplishments of the PAR were largely with the passive rather than active involvement of the hospital management. Barriers to implementation of best-practices included i) mismatch between the hospital's vision and reality, ii) poor communication, iii) lack of objective mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating quality of clinical care, iv) limited capacity for planning strategic change, v) limited management skills to introduce and manage change, vi) hierarchical relationships, and vii) inadequate adaptation of the interventions to the local context. CONCLUSIONS: Educational interventions, often regarded as 'quick-fixes' to improve care in low-income countries, may be necessary but are unlikely to be sufficient to deliver improved services. We propose that an understanding of organizational issues that influence the behaviour of individual health professionals should guide and inform the implementation of best-practices.

English M, Gathara D, Mwinga S, Ayieko P, Opondo C, Aluvaala J, Kihuba E, Mwaniki P, Were F, Irimu G et al. 2014. Adoption of recommended practices and basic technologies in a low-income setting. Arch Dis Child, 99 (5), pp. 452-456. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: In global health considerable attention is focused on the search for innovations; however, reports tracking their adoption in routine hospital settings from low-income countries are absent. DESIGN AND SETTING: We used data collected on a consistent panel of indicators during four separate cross-sectional, hospital surveys in Kenya to track changes over a period of 11 years (2002-2012). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Basic resource availability, use of diagnostics and uptake of recommended practices. RESULTS: There appeared little change in availability of a panel of 28 basic resources (median 71% in 2002 to 82% in 2012) although availability of specific feeds for severe malnutrition and vitamin K improved. Use of blood glucose and HIV testing increased but remained inappropriately low throughout. Commonly (malaria) and uncommonly (lumbar puncture) performed diagnostic tests frequently failed to inform practice while pulse oximetry, a simple and cheap technology, was rarely available even in 2012. However, increasing adherence to prescribing guidance occurred during a period from 2006 to 2012 in which efforts were made to disseminate guidelines. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest changes in clinical practices possibly linked to dissemination of guidelines at reasonable scale. However, full availability of basic resources was not attained and major gaps likely exist between the potential and actual impacts of simple diagnostics and technologies representing problems with availability, adoption and successful utilisation. These findings are relevant to debates on scaling up in low-income settings and to those developing novel therapeutic or diagnostic interventions.

Wakaba M, Mbindyo P, Ochieng J, Kiriinya R, Todd J, Waudo A, Noor A, Rakuom C, Rogers M, English M. 2014. The public sector nursing workforce in Kenya: a county-level analysis. Hum Resour Health, 12 (1), pp. 6. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Kenya's human resources for health shortage is well documented, yet in line with the new constitution, responsibility for health service delivery will be devolved to 47 new county administrations. This work describes the public sector nursing workforce likely to be inherited by the counties, and examines the relationships between nursing workforce density and key indicators. METHODS: National nursing deployment data linked to nursing supply data were used and analyzed using statistical and geographical analysis software. Data on nurses deployed in national referral hospitals and on nurses deployed in non-public sector facilities were excluded from main analyses. The densities and characteristics of the public sector nurses across the counties were obtained and examined against an index of county remoteness, and the nursing densities were correlated with five key indicators. RESULTS: Of the 16,371 nurses in the public non-tertiary sector, 76% are women and 53% are registered nurses, with 35% of the nurses aged 40 to 49 years. The nursing densities across counties range from 1.2 to 0.08 per 1,000 population. There are statistically significant associations of the nursing densities with a measure of health spending per capita (P value = 0.0028) and immunization rates (P value = 0.0018). A higher county remoteness index is associated with explaining lower female to male ratio of public sector nurses across counties (P value <0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: An overall shortage of nurses (range of 1.2 to 0.08 per 1,000) in the public sector countrywide is complicated by mal-distribution and varying workforce characteristics (for example, age profile) across counties. All stakeholders should support improvements in human resources information systems and help address personnel shortages and mal-distribution if equitable, quality health-care delivery in the counties is to be achieved.

Kihuba E, Gathara D, Mwinga S, Mulaku M, Kosgei R, Mogoa W, Nyamai R, English M. 2014. Assessing the ability of health information systems in hospitals to support evidence-informed decisions in Kenya. Glob Health Action, 7 (1), pp. 24859. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Hospital management information systems (HMIS) is a key component of national health information systems (HIS), and actions required of hospital management to support information generation in Kenya are articulated in specific policy documents. We conducted an evaluation of core functions of data generation and reporting within hospitals in Kenya to facilitate interpretation of national reports and to provide guidance on key areas requiring improvement to support data use in decision making. DESIGN: The survey was a cross-sectional, cluster sample study conducted in 22 hospitals in Kenya. The statistical analysis was descriptive with adjustment for clustering. RESULTS: Most of the HMIS departments complied with formal guidance to develop departmental plans. However, only a few (3/22) had carried out a data quality audit in the 12 months prior to the survey. On average 3% (range 1-8%) of the total hospital income was allocated to the HMIS departments. About half of the records officer positions were filled and about half (13/22) of hospitals had implemented some form of electronic health record largely focused on improving patient billing and not linked to the district HIS. Completeness of manual patient registers varied, being 90% (95% CI 80.1-99.3%), 75.8% (95% CI 68.7-82.8%), and 58% (95% CI 50.4-65.1%) in maternal child health clinic, maternity, and pediatric wards, respectively. Vital events notification rates were low with 25.7, 42.6, and 71.3% of neonatal deaths, infant deaths, and live births recorded, respectively. Routine hospital reports suggested slight over-reporting of live births and under-reporting of fresh stillbirths and neonatal deaths. CONCLUSIONS: Study findings indicate that the HMIS does not deliver quality data. Significant constraints exist in data quality assurance, supervisory support, data infrastructure in respect to information and communications technology application, human resources, financial resources, and integration.

Irimu GW, Greene A, Gathara D, Kihara H, Maina C, Mbori-Ngacha D, Zurovac D, Santau M, Todd J, English M. 2014. Explaining the uptake of paediatric guidelines in a Kenyan tertiary hospital--mixed methods research. BMC Health Serv Res, 14 (1), pp. 119. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Evidence-based standards for management of the seriously sick child have existed for decades, yet their translation in clinical practice is a challenge. The context and organization of institutions are known determinants of successful translation, however, research using adequate methodologies to explain the dynamic nature of these determinants in the quality-of-care improvement process is rarely performed. METHODS: We conducted mixed methods research in a tertiary hospital in a low-income country to explore the uptake of locally adapted paediatric guidelines. The quantitative component was an uncontrolled before and after intervention study that included an exploration of the intervention dose-effect relationship. The qualitative component was an ethnographic research based on the theoretical perspective of participatory action research. Interpretive integration was employed to derive meta-inferences that provided a more complete picture of the overall study results that reflect the complexity and the multifaceted ontology of the phenomenon studied. RESULTS: The improvement in health workers' performance in relation to the intensity of the intervention was not linear and was characterized by improved and occasionally declining performance. Possible root causes of this performance variability included challenges in keeping knowledge and clinical skills updated, inadequate commitment of the staff to continued improvement, limited exposure to positive professional role models, poor teamwork, failure to maintain professional integrity and mal-adaptation to institutional pressures. CONCLUSION: Implementation of best-practices is a complex process that is largely unpredictable, attributed to the complexity of contextual factors operating predominantly at professional and organizational levels. There is no simple solution to implementation of best-practices. Tackling root causes of inadequate knowledge translation in this tertiary care setting will require long-term planning, with emphasis on promotion of professional ethics and values and establishing an organizational framework that enhances positive aspects of professionalism. This study has significant implications for the quality of training in medical institutions and the development of hospital leadership.

Opiyo N, Molyneux E, Sinclair D, Garner P, English M. 2014. Immediate fluid management of children with severe febrile illness and signs of impaired circulation in low-income settings: a contextualised systematic review. BMJ Open, 4 (4), pp. e004934. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of intravenous fluid bolus compared to maintenance intravenous fluids alone as part of immediate emergency care in children with severe febrile illness and signs of impaired circulation in low-income settings. DESIGN: Systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs), and observational studies, including retrospective analyses, that compare fluid bolus regimens with maintenance fluids alone. The primary outcome measure was predischarge mortality. DATA SOURCES AND SYNTHESIS: We searched PubMed, The Cochrane Library (to January 2014), with complementary earlier searches on, Google Scholar and Clinical Trial Registries (to March 2013). As studies used different clinical signs to define impaired circulation we classified patients into those with signs of severely impaired circulation, or those with any signs of impaired circulation. The quality of evidence for each outcome was appraised using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. Findings are presented as risk ratios (RRs) with 95% CIs. RESULTS: Six studies were included. Two were RCTs, one large trial (n=3141 children) from a low-income country and a smaller trial from a middle-income country. The remaining studies were from middle-income or high-income settings, observational, and with few participants (34-187 children). SEVERELY IMPAIRED CIRCULATION: The large RCT included a small subgroup with severely impaired circulation. There were more deaths in those receiving bolus fluids (20-40 mL/kg/h, saline or albumin) compared to maintenance fluids (2.5-4 mL/kg/h; RR 2.40, 95% CI 0.84 to 6.88, p=0.054, 65 participants, low quality evidence). Three additional observational studies, all at high risk of confounding, found mixed effects on mortality (very low quality evidence). ANY SIGNS OF IMPAIRED CIRCULATION: The large RCT included children with signs of both severely and non-severely impaired circulation. Overall, bolus fluids increased 48 h mortality compared to maintenance fluids with an additional 3 deaths per 100 children treated (RR 1.45, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.86, 3141 participants, high quality evidence). In a second small RCT from India, no difference in 72 h mortality was detected between children who received 20-40 mL/kg Ringers lactate over 15 min and those who received 20 mL over 20 min up to a maximum of 60 mL/kg over 1 h (147 participants, low quality evidence). In one additional observational study, resuscitation consistent with Advanced Paediatric Life Support (APLS) guidelines, including fluids, was not associated with reduced mortality in the small subgroup with septic shock (very low quality evidence). SIGNS OF IMPAIRED CIRCULATION, BUT NOT SEVERELY IMPAIRED: Only the large RCT allowed an analysis for children with some signs of impaired circulation who would not meet the criteria for severe impairment. Bolus fluids increased 48 h mortality compared to maintenance alone (RR 1.36, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.76, high quality evidence). CONCLUSIONS: Prior to the publication of the large RCT, the global evidence base for bolus fluid therapy in children with severe febrile illness and signs of impaired circulation was of very low quality. This large study provides robust evidence that in low-income settings fluid boluses increase mortality in children with severe febrile illness and impaired circulation, and this increased risk is consistent across children with severe and less severe circulatory impairment.

Mulaku M, Opiyo N, Karumbi J, Kitonyi G, Thoithi G, English M. 2013. Evidence review of hydroxyurea for the prevention of sickle cell complications in low-income countries Archives of Disease in Childhood, 98 (11), pp. 908-914. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hydroxyurea is widely used in high-income countries for the management of sickle cell disease (SCD) in children. In Kenyan clinical guidelines, hydroxyurea is only recommended for adults with SCD. Yet many deaths from SCD occur in early childhood, deaths that might be prevented by an effective, disease modifying intervention. The aim of this review was to summarise the available evidence on the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of hydroxyurea in the management of SCD in children below 5 years of age to support guideline development in Kenya. We undertook a systematic review and used the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation system to appraise the quality of identified evidence. Overall, available evidence from 1 systematic review (n=26 studies), 2 randomised controlled trials (n=354 children), 14 observational studies and 2 National Institute of Health reports suggest that hydroxyurea may be associated with improved fetal haemoglobin levels, reduced rates of hospitalisation, reduced episodes of acute chest syndrome and decreased frequency of pain events in children with SCD. However, it is associated with adverse events (eg, neutropenia) when high to maximum tolerated doses are used. Evidence is lacking on whether hydroxyurea improves survival if given to young children. Majority of the included studies were of low quality and mainly from high-income countries. Overall, available limited evidence suggests that hydroxyurea may improve morbidity and haematological outcomes in SCD in children aged below 5 years and appears safe in settings able to provide consistent haematological monitoring.

Mulaku M, Opiyo N, Karumbi J, Kitonyi G, Thoithi G, English M. 2013. Evidence review of hydroxyurea for the prevention of sickle cell complications in low-income countries. Arch Dis Child, 98 (11), pp. 908-914. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hydroxyurea is widely used in high-income countries for the management of sickle cell disease (SCD) in children. In Kenyan clinical guidelines, hydroxyurea is only recommended for adults with SCD. Yet many deaths from SCD occur in early childhood, deaths that might be prevented by an effective, disease modifying intervention. The aim of this review was to summarise the available evidence on the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of hydroxyurea in the management of SCD in children below 5 years of age to support guideline development in Kenya. We undertook a systematic review and used the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation system to appraise the quality of identified evidence. Overall, available evidence from 1 systematic review (n=26 studies), 2 randomised controlled trials (n=354 children), 14 observational studies and 2 National Institute of Health reports suggest that hydroxyurea may be associated with improved fetal haemoglobin levels, reduced rates of hospitalisation, reduced episodes of acute chest syndrome and decreased frequency of pain events in children with SCD. However, it is associated with adverse events (eg, neutropenia) when high to maximum tolerated doses are used. Evidence is lacking on whether hydroxyurea improves survival if given to young children. Majority of the included studies were of low quality and mainly from high-income countries. Overall, available limited evidence suggests that hydroxyurea may improve morbidity and haematological outcomes in SCD in children aged below 5 years and appears safe in settings able to provide consistent haematological monitoring.

Belita A, Mbindyo P, English M. 2013. Absenteeism amongst health workers--developing a typology to support empiric work in low-income countries and characterizing reported associations. Hum Resour Health, 11 (1), pp. 34. | Show Abstract | Read more

The contribution of inadequate health worker numbers and emigration have been highlighted in the international literature, but relatively little attention has been paid to absenteeism as a factor that undermines health-care delivery in low income countries. We therefore aimed to review the literature on absenteeism from a health system manager's perspective to inform needed work on this topic. Specifically, we aimed to develop a typology of definitions that might be useful to classify different forms of absenteeism and identify factors associated with absenteeism. Sixty-nine studies were reviewed, only four were from sub-Saharan Africa where the human resources for health crisis is most acute. Forms of absenteeism studied and methods used vary widely. No previous attempt to develop an overarching approach to classifying forms of absenteeism was identified. A typology based on key characteristics is proposed to fill this gap and considers absenteeism as defined by two key attributes, whether it is: planned/unplanned, and voluntary/involuntary. Factors reported to influence rates of absenteeism may be broadly classified into three thematic categories: workplace and content, personal and organizational and cultural factors. The literature presents an inconsistent picture of the effects of specific factors within these themes perhaps related to true contextual differences or inconsistent definitions of absenteeism.

Mbindyo P, Blaauw D, English M. 2013. The role of Clinical Officers in the Kenyan health system: a question of perspective. Hum Resour Health, 11 (1), pp. 32. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Despite the increasing interest in using non-physician clinicians in many low-income countries, little is known about the roles they play in typical health system settings. Prior research has concentrated on evaluating their technical competencies compared to those of doctors. This work explored perceptions of the roles of Kenyan non-physician clinicians (Clinical Officers (COs). METHODS: Qualitative methods including in-depth interviews (with COs, nurses, doctors, hospital management, and policymakers, among others), participant observation and document analysis were used. A nomothetic-idiographic framework was used to examine tensions between institutions and individuals within them. A comparative approach was used to examine institutional versus individual notions of CO roles, how these roles play out in government and faith-based hospital (FBH) settings as well as differences arising from three specific work settings for COs within hospitals. RESULTS: The main finding was the discrepancy between policy documents that outline a broad role for COs that covers both technical and managerial roles, while respondents articulated a narrow technical role that focused on patient care and management. Respondents described a variety of images of COs, ranging from 'filter' to 'primary healthcare physician', when asked about CO roles. COs argued for a defined role associated with primary healthcare, feeling constrained by their technical role. FBH settings were found to additionally clarify CO roles when compared with public hospitals. Tensions between formal prescriptions of CO roles and actual practice were reported and coalesced around lack of recognition over COs work, role conflict among specialist COs, and role ambiguity. CONCLUSIONS: Even though COs are important service providers their role is not clearly understood, which has resulted in role conflict. It is suggested that their role be redefined, moving from that of 'substitute clinician' to professional 'primary care clinician', with this being supported by the health system.

Karumbi J, Mulaku M, Aluvaala J, English M, Opiyo N. 2013. Topical umbilical cord care. Pediatr Infect Dis J, 32 (7), pp. 801-802. | Read more

Ayieko P, Griffiths UK, Ndiritu M, Moisi J, Mugoya IK, Kamau T, English M, Scott JA. 2013. Assessment of health benefits and cost-effectiveness of 10-valent and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccination in Kenyan children. PLoS One, 8 (6), pp. e67324. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The GAVI Alliance supported 10-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV10) introduction in Kenya. We estimated the cost-effectiveness of introducing either PCV10 or the 13-valent vaccine (PCV13) from a societal perspective and explored the incremental impact of including indirect vaccine effects. METHODS: The costs and effects of pneumococcal vaccination among infants born in Kenya in 2010 were assessed using a decision analytic model comparing PCV10 or PCV13, in turn, with no vaccination. Direct vaccine effects were estimated as a reduction in the incidence of pneumococcal meningitis, sepsis, bacteraemic pneumonia and non-bacteraemic pneumonia. Pneumococcal disease incidence was extrapolated from a population-based hospital surveillance system in Kilifi and adjustments were made for variable access to care across Kenya. We used vaccine efficacy estimates from a trial in The Gambia and accounted for serotype distribution in Kilifi. We estimated indirect vaccine protection and serotype replacement by extrapolating from the USA. Multivariable sensitivity analysis was conducted using Monte Carlo simulation. We assumed a vaccine price of US$ 3.50 per dose. FINDINGS: The annual cost of delivering PCV10 was approximately US$14 million. We projected a 42.7% reduction in pneumococcal disease episodes leading to a US$1.97 million reduction in treatment costs and a 6.1% reduction in childhood mortality annually. In the base case analysis, costs per discounted DALY and per death averted by PCV10, amounted to US$ 59 (95% CI 26-103) and US$ 1,958 (95% CI 866-3,425), respectively. PCV13 introduction improved the cost-effectiveness ratios by approximately 20% and inclusion of indirect effects improved cost-effectiveness ratios by 43-56%. The break-even prices for introduction of PCV10 and PCV13 are US$ 0.41 and 0.51, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Introducing either PCV10 or PCV13 in Kenya is highly cost-effective from a societal perspective. Indirect effects, if they occur, would significantly improve the cost-effectiveness.

Gathara D, Irimu G, Kihara H, Maina C, Mbori-Ngacha D, Mwangi J, Allen E, English M. 2013. Hospital outcomes for paediatric pneumonia and diarrhoea patients admitted in a tertiary hospital on weekdays versus weekends: a retrospective study. BMC Pediatr, 13 (1), pp. 74. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Quality of patient care in hospitals has been shown to be inconsistent during weekends and night-time hours, and is often associated with reduced patient monitoring, poor antibiotic prescription practices and poor patient outcomes. Poorer care and outcomes are commonly attributed to decreased levels of staffing, supervision and expertise and poorer access to diagnostics. However, there are few studies examining this issue in low resource settings where mortality from common childhood illnesses is high and health care systems are weak. METHODS: This study uses data from a retrospective cross-sectional study aimed at "evaluating the uptake of best practice clinical guidelines in a tertiary hospital" with a pre and post intervention approach that spanned the period 2005 to 2009. We evaluated a primary hypothesis that mortality for children with pneumonia and/or dehydration aged 2-59 months admitted on weekends differed from those admitted on weekdays. A secondary hypothesis that poor quality of care could be a mechanism for higher mortality was also explored. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between mortality and the independent predictors of mortality. RESULTS: Our analysis indicates that there is no difference in mortality on weekends compared to weekdays even after adjusting for the significant predictors of mortality (OR = 1.15; 95% CI 0.90 -1.45; p = 0.27). There were similarly no significant differences between weekends and weekdays for the quality of care indicators, however, there was an overall improvement in mortality and quality of care through the period of study. CONCLUSION: Mortality and the quality of care does not differ by the day of admission in a Kenyan tertiary hospital, however mortality remains high suggesting that continued efforts to improve care are warranted.

English M. 2013. Designing a theory-informed, contextually appropriate intervention strategy to improve delivery of paediatric services in Kenyan hospitals. Implement Sci, 8 (1), pp. 39. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: District hospital services in Kenya and many low-income countries should deliver proven, effective interventions that could substantially reduce child and newborn mortality. However such services are often of poor quality. Researchers have therefore been challenged to identify intervention strategies that go beyond addressing knowledge, skill, or resource inadequacies to support health systems to deliver better services at scale. An effort to develop a system-oriented intervention tailored to local needs and context and drawing on theory is described. METHODS: An intervention was designed to improve district hospital services for children based on four main strategies: a reflective process to distill root causes for the observed problems with service delivery; developing a set of possible intervention approaches to address these problems; a search of literature for theory that provided the most appropriate basis for intervention design; and repeatedly moving backwards and forwards between identified causes, proposed interventions, identified theory, and knowledge of the existing context to develop an overarching intervention that seemed feasible and likely to be acceptable and potentially sustainable. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: In addition to human and resource constraints key problems included failures of relevant professionals to take responsibility for or ownership of the challenge of pediatric service delivery; inadequately prepared, poorly supported leaders of service units (mid-level managers) who are often professionally and geographically isolated and an almost complete lack of useful information for routinely monitoring or understanding service delivery practice or outcomes. A system-oriented intervention recognizing the pivotal role of leaders of service units but addressing the outer and inner setting of hospitals was designed to help shape and support an appropriate role for these professionals. It aims to foster a sense of ownership while providing the necessary understanding, knowledge, and skills for mid-level managers to work effectively with senior managers and frontline staff to improve services. The intervention will include development of an information system, feedback mechanisms, and discussion fora that promote positive change. The vehicle for such an intervention is a collaborative network partnering government and national professional associations. This case is presented to promote discussion on approaches to developing context appropriate interventions particularly in international health.

Smith R, Lagarde M, Blaauw D, Goodman C, English M, Mullei K, Pagaiya N, Tangcharoensathien V, Erasmus E, Hanson K. 2013. Appealing to altruism: an alternative strategy to address the health workforce crisis in developing countries? J Public Health (Oxf), 35 (1), pp. 164-170. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Recruitment and retention of health workers is a major concern. Policy initiatives emphasize financial incentives, despite mixed evidence of their effectiveness. Qualitative studies suggest that nurses especially may be more driven by altruistic motivations, but quantitative research has overlooked such values. This paper adds to the literature through characterizing the nature and determinants of nurses' altruism, based on a cross-country quantitative study. METHODS: An experimental 'dictator game' was undertaken with 1064 final year nursing students in Kenya, South Africa and Thailand between April 2007 and July 2008. This presents participants with a real financial endowment to split between themselves and another student, a patient or a poor person. Giving a greater share of this financial endowment to the other person is interpreted as reflecting greater altruism. RESULTS: Nursing students gave over 30% of their initial endowment to others (compared with 10% in similar experiments undertaken in other samples). Respondents in all three countries showed greater generosity to patients and the poor than to fellow students. CONCLUSIONS: Consideration needs to be given to how to appeal to altruistic values as an alternative strategy to encourage nurses to enter the profession and remain, such as designing recruitment strategies to increase recruitment of altruistic individuals who are more likely to remain in the profession.

Opiyo N, Shepperd S, Musila N, Allen E, Nyamai R, Fretheim A, English M. 2013. Comparison of alternative evidence summary and presentation formats in clinical guideline development: a mixed-method study. PLoS One, 8 (1), pp. e55067. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Best formats for summarising and presenting evidence for use in clinical guideline development remain less well defined. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of different evidence summary formats to address this gap. METHODS: Healthcare professionals attending a one-week Kenyan, national guideline development workshop were randomly allocated to receive evidence packaged in three different formats: systematic reviews (SRs) alone, systematic reviews with summary-of-findings tables, and 'graded-entry' formats (a 'front-end' summary and a contextually framed narrative report plus the SR). The influence of format on the proportion of correct responses to key clinical questions, the primary outcome, was assessed using a written test. The secondary outcome was a composite endpoint, measured on a 5-point scale, of the clarity of presentation and ease of locating the quality of evidence for critical neonatal outcomes. Interviews conducted within two months following completion of trial data collection explored panel members' views on the evidence summary formats and experiences with appraisal and use of research information. RESULTS: 65 (93%) of 70 participants completed questions on the prespecified outcome measures. There were no differences between groups in the odds of correct responses to key clinical questions. 'Graded-entry' formats were associated with a higher mean composite score for clarity and accessibility of information about the quality of evidence for critical neonatal outcomes compared to systematic reviews alone (adjusted mean difference 0.52, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.99). There was no difference in the mean composite score between SR with SoF tables and SR alone. Findings from interviews with 16 panelists indicated that short narrative evidence reports were preferred for the improved clarity of information presentation and ease of use. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that 'graded-entry' evidence summary formats may improve clarity and accessibility of research evidence in clinical guideline development. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN05154264.

Nzinga J, Mbaabu L, English M. 2013. Service delivery in Kenyan district hospitals - what can we learn from literature on mid-level managers? Hum Resour Health, 11 (1), pp. 10. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There is a growing emphasis on the need to tackle inadequate human resources for health (HRH) as an essential part of strengthening health systems; but the focus is mostly on macro-level issues, such as training, recruitment, skill mix and distribution. Few attempts have been made to understand the capability of health workers, their motivation and other structural and organizational aspects of systems that influence workforce performance. We have examined literature on the roles of mid-level managers to help us understand how they might influence service delivery quality in Kenyan hospitals. In the Kenyan hospital settings, these are roles that head of departments who are also clinical or nursing service providers might play. METHODS: A computerized search strategy was run in Pub Med, Cochrane Library, Directory of Open Access Journals Social Science Research Network, Eldis, Google Scholar and Human Resources for Health web site databases using both free-text and MeSH terms from 1980 to 2011. In addition, citation searching from excluded and included articles was used and relevant unpublished literature systematically identified. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: A total of 23 articles were finally included in the review from over 7000 titles and abstracts initially identified. The most widely documented roles of mid-level managers were decision-making or problem-solving, strategist or negotiator and communicator. Others included being a therapist or motivator, goal setting or articulation and mentoring or coaching. In addition to these roles, we identified important personal attributes of a good manager, which included interpersonal skills, delegation and accountability, and honesty. The majority of studies included in the review concerned the roles that mid-level managers are expected to play in times of organizational change. CONCLUSION: This review highlights the possible significance of mid-level managers in achieving delivery of high-quality services in Kenyan public hospitals and strongly suggests that approaches to strengthen this level of management will be valuable. The findings from this review should also help inform empirical studies of the roles of mid-level managers in these settings.

Karumbi J, Mulaku M, Aluvaala J, English M, Opiyo N. 2013. Topical umbilical cord care for prevention of infection and neonatal mortality. Pediatr Infect Dis J, 32 (1), pp. 78-83. | Show Abstract | Read more

Umbilical cord care varies often reflecting community or health-worker beliefs. We undertook a review of current evidence on topical umbilical cord care. Study quality was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation system, and a meta-analysis was conducted for comparable trials. Available moderate-quality to high-quality evidence indicate that cord cleansing with 4% chlorhexidine may reduce the risk of neonatal mortality and sepsis (omphalitis) in low-resource settings.

Barasa EW, Ayieko P, Cleary S, English M. 2012. Out-of-pocket costs for paediatric admissions in district hospitals in Kenya. Trop Med Int Health, 17 (8), pp. 958-961. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To describe out-of-pocket costs of inpatient care for children under 5 years of age in district hospitals in Kenya. METHODS: A total of 256 caretakers of admitted children were interviewed in 2-week surveys conducted in eight hospitals in four provinces in Kenya. Caretakers were asked to report care seeking behaviour and expenditure related to accessing inpatient care. Family socio-economic status was assessed through reported expenditure in the previous month. RESULTS: Seventy eight percent of caretakers were required to pay user charges to access inpatient care for children. User charges (mean, US$ 8.1; 95% CI, 6.4-9.7) were 59% of total out-of-pocket costs, while transport costs (mean, US$ 4.9; 95% CI, 3.9-6.0) and medicine costs (mean, US$ 0.7; 95% CI, 0.5-1.0) were 36% and 5%, respectively. The mean total out-of-pocket cost per paediatric admission was US$ 14.1 (95% CI, 11.9-16.2). Out-of-pocket expenditures on health were catastrophic for 25.4% (95% CI, 18.4-33.3) of caretakers interviewed. Out-of-pocket expenditures were regressive, with a greater burden being experienced by households with lower socio-economic status. CONCLUSION: Despite a policy of user fee exemption for children under 5 years of age in Kenya, our findings show that high unofficial user fees are still charged in district hospitals. Financing mechanisms that will offer financial risk protection to children seeking care need to be developed to remove barriers to child survival.

Barasa EW, Ayieko P, Cleary S, English M. 2012. A multifaceted intervention to improve the quality of care of children in district hospitals in Kenya: a cost-effectiveness analysis. PLoS Med, 9 (6), pp. e1001238. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: To improve care for children in district hospitals in Kenya, a multifaceted approach employing guidelines, training, supervision, feedback, and facilitation was developed, for brevity called the Emergency Triage and Treatment Plus (ETAT+) strategy. We assessed the cost effectiveness of the ETAT+ strategy, in Kenyan hospitals. Further, we estimate the costs of scaling up the intervention to Kenya nationally and potential cost effectiveness at scale. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Our cost-effectiveness analysis from the provider's perspective used data from a previously reported cluster randomized trial comparing the full ETAT+ strategy (n = 4 hospitals) with a partial intervention (n = 4 hospitals). Effectiveness was measured using 14 process measures that capture improvements in quality of care; their average was used as a summary measure of quality. Economic costs of the development and implementation of the intervention were determined (2009 US$). Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were defined as the incremental cost per percentage improvement in (average) quality of care. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis was used to assess uncertainty. The cost per child admission was US$50.74 (95% CI 49.26-67.06) in intervention hospitals compared to US$31.1 (95% CI 30.67-47.18) in control hospitals. Each percentage improvement in average quality of care cost an additional US$0.79 (95% CI 0.19-2.31) per admitted child. The estimated annual cost of nationally scaling up the full intervention was US$3.6 million, approximately 0.6% of the annual child health budget in Kenya. A "what-if" analysis assuming conservative reductions in mortality suggests the incremental cost per disability adjusted life year (DALY) averted by scaling up would vary between US$39.8 and US$398.3. CONCLUSION: Improving quality of care at scale nationally with the full ETAT+ strategy may be affordable for low income countries such as Kenya. Resultant plausible reductions in hospital mortality suggest the intervention could be cost-effective when compared to incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of other priority child health interventions.

Agweyu A, Opiyo N, English M. 2012. Experience developing national evidence-based clinical guidelines for childhood pneumonia in a low-income setting--making the GRADE? BMC Pediatr, 12 (1), pp. 1. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The development of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines has gained wide acceptance in high-income countries and reputable international organizations. Whereas this approach may be a desirable standard, challenges remain in low-income settings with limited capacity and resources for evidence synthesis and guideline development. We present our experience using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach for the recent revision of the Kenyan pediatric clinical guidelines focusing on antibiotic treatment of pneumonia. METHODS: A team of health professionals, many with minimal prior experience conducting systematic reviews, carried out evidence synthesis for structured clinical questions. Summaries were compiled and distributed to a panel of clinicians, academicians and policy-makers to generate recommendations based on best available research evidence and locally-relevant contextual factors. RESULTS: We reviewed six eligible articles on non-severe and 13 on severe/very severe pneumonia. Moderate quality evidence suggesting similar clinical outcomes comparing amoxicillin and cotrimoxazole for non-severe pneumonia received a strong recommendation against adopting amoxicillin. The panel voted strongly against amoxicillin for severe pneumonia over benzyl penicillin despite moderate quality evidence suggesting clinical equivalence between the two and additional factors favoring amoxicillin. Very low quality evidence suggesting ceftriaxone was as effective as the standard benzyl penicillin plus gentamicin for very severe pneumonia received a strong recommendation supporting the standard treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Although this exercise may have fallen short of the rigorous requirements recommended by the developers of GRADE, it was arguably an improvement on previous attempts at guideline development in low-income countries and offers valuable lessons for future similar exercises where resources and locally-generated evidence are scarce.

Lairumbi GM, Parker M, Fitzpatrick R, English MC. 2012. Forms of benefit sharing in global health research undertaken in resource poor settings: a qualitative study of stakeholders' views in Kenya. Philos Ethics Humanit Med, 7 (1), pp. 7. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Increase in global health research undertaken in resource poor settings in the last decade though a positive development has raised ethical concerns relating to potential for exploitation. Some of the suggested strategies to address these concerns include calls for providing universal standards of care, reasonable availability of proven interventions and more recently, promoting the overall social value of research especially in clinical research. Promoting the social value of research has been closely associated with providing fair benefits to various stakeholders involved in research. The debate over what constitutes fair benefits; whether those that addresses micro level issues of justice or those focusing on the key determinants of health at the macro level has continued. This debate has however not benefited from empirical work on what stakeholders consider fair benefits. This study explores practical experiences of stakeholders involved in global health research in Kenya, over what benefits are fair within a developing world context. METHODS AND RESULTS: We conducted in-depth interviews with key informants drawn from within the broader health research system in Kenya including researchers from the mainstream health research institutions, networks and universities, teaching hospitals, policy makers, institutional review boards, civil society organisations and community representative groups.The range of benefits articulated by stakeholders addresses both micro and macro level concerns for justice by for instance, seeking to engage with interests of those facilitating research, and the broader systemic issues that make resource poor settings vulnerable to exploitation. We interpret these views to suggest a need for global health research to engage with current crises that face people in these settings as well as the broader systemic issues that produce them. CONCLUSION: Global health research should provide benefits that address both the micro and macro level issues of justice in order to forestall exploitation. Embracing the two is however challenging in terms of how the various competing interests/needs should be balanced ethically, especially in the absence of structures to guide the process. This challenge should point to the need for greater dialogue to facilitate value clarification among stakeholders.

Barasa EW, Ayieko P, Cleary S, English M. 2012. Out-of-pocket costs for paediatric admissions in district hospitals in Kenya Tropical Medicine and International Health, 17 (8), pp. 958-961. | Show Abstract | Read more

Objective To describe out-of-pocket costs of inpatient care for children under 5years of age in district hospitals in Kenya. Methods A total of 256 caretakers of admitted children were interviewed in 2-week surveys conducted in eight hospitals in four provinces in Kenya. Caretakers were asked to report care seeking behaviour and expenditure related to accessing inpatient care. Family socio-economic status was assessed through reported expenditure in the previous month. Results Seventy eight percent of caretakers were required to pay user charges to access inpatient care for children. User charges (mean, US$ 8.1; 95% CI, 6.4-9.7) were 59% of total out-of-pocket costs, while transport costs (mean, US$ 4.9; 95% CI, 3.9-6.0) and medicine costs (mean, US$ 0.7; 95% CI, 0.5-1.0) were 36% and 5%, respectively. The mean total out-of-pocket cost per paediatric admission was US$ 14.1 (95% CI, 11.9-16.2). Out-of-pocket expenditures on health were catastrophic for 25.4% (95% CI, 18.4-33.3) of caretakers interviewed. Out-of-pocket expenditures were regressive, with a greater burden being experienced by households with lower socio-economic status. Conclusion Despite a policy of user fee exemption for children under 5years of age in Kenya, our findings show that high unofficial user fees are still charged in district hospitals. Financing mechanisms that will offer financial risk protection to children seeking care need to be developed to remove barriers to child survival. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Ginsburg AS, Van Cleve WC, Thompson MI, English M. 2012. Oxygen and pulse oximetry in childhood pneumonia: a survey of healthcare providers in resource-limited settings. J Trop Pediatr, 58 (5), pp. 389-393. | Show Abstract | Read more

Globally, pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children <5 years of age. Hypoxemia, a frequent complication of pneumonia, is a risk factor for death. To better understand the availability of oxygen and pulse oximetry, barriers to use and provider perceptions and practices regarding their role in childhood pneumonia, we conducted a survey using a convenience sampling strategy targeting clinicians working in resource-limited countries. Most respondents were physicians from public district and provincial hospitals with access to oxygen and pulse oximetry; however, reported therapeutic use for childhood pneumonia was low. Common barriers included insufficient supply, competition for use, lack of policies, guidelines and training and perceived high cost. Despite the frequency of hypoxemia, the inaccuracy of clinical predictors, the poor outcome hypoxemia portends and the effectiveness of pulse oximetry and oxygen in childhood pneumonia, our data indicate that these tools may be underused in resource-limited settings.

Irimu GW, Gathara D, Zurovac D, Kihara H, Maina C, Mwangi J, Mbori-Ngacha D, Todd J, Greene A, English M. 2012. Performance of health workers in the management of seriously sick children at a Kenyan tertiary hospital: before and after a training intervention. PLoS One, 7 (7), pp. e39964. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Implementation of WHO case management guidelines for serious common childhood illnesses remains a challenge in hospitals in low-income countries. The impact of locally adapted clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) on the quality-of-care of patients in tertiary hospitals has rarely been evaluated. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted, in Kenyatta National Hospital, an uncontrolled before and after study with an attempt to explore intervention dose-effect relationships, as CPGs were disseminated and training was progressively implemented. The emergency triage, assessment and treatment plus admission care (ETAT+) training and locally adapted CPGs targeted common, serious childhood illnesses. We compared performance in the pre-intervention (2005) and post-intervention periods (2009) using quality indicators for three diseases: pneumonia, dehydration and severe malnutrition. The indicators spanned four domains in the continuum of care namely assessment, classification, treatment, and follow-up care in the initial 48 hours of admission. In the pre-intervention period patients' care was largely inconsistent with the guidelines, with nine of the 15 key indicators having performance of below 10%. The intervention produced a marked improvement in guideline adherence with an absolute effect size of over 20% observed in seven of the 15 key indicators; three of which had an effect size of over 50%. However, for all the five indicators that required sustained team effort performance continued to be poor, at less than 10%, in the post-intervention period. Data from the five-year period (2005-09) suggest some dose dependency though the adoption rate of the best-practices varied across diseases and over time. CONCLUSION: Active dissemination of locally adapted clinical guidelines for common serious childhood illnesses can achieve a significant impact on documented clinical practices, particularly for tasks that rely on competence of individual clinicians. However, more attention must be given to broader implementation strategies that also target institutional and organisational aspects of service delivery to further enhance quality-of-care.

Opiyo N, Shepperd S, Musila N, English M, Fretheim A. 2012. The "Child Health Evidence Week" and GRADE grid may aid transparency in the deliberative process of guideline development. J Clin Epidemiol, 65 (9), pp. 962-969. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To explore the evidence translation process during a 1-week national guideline development workshop ("Child Health Evidence Week") in Kenya. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: Nonparticipant observational study of the discussions of a multidisciplinary guideline development panel in Kenya. Discussions were aided by GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation) grid. RESULTS: Three key thematic categories emerged: 1) "referral to other evidence to support or refute the proposed recommendations;" 2) "assessment of the presented research evidence;" and 3) "assessment of the local applicability of evidence." The types of evidence cited included research evidence and anecdotal evidence based on clinician experiences. Assessment of the research evidence revealed important challenges in the translation of evidence into recommendations, including absence of evidence, low quality or inconclusive evidence, inadequate reporting of key features of the management under consideration, and differences in panelists' interpretation of the research literature. A broad range of factors with potential to affect local applicability of evidence were discussed. CONCLUSION: The process of the "Child Health Evidence Week" combined with the GRADE grid may aid transparency in the deliberative process of guideline development, and provide a mechanism for comprehensive assessment, documentation, and reporting of multiple factors that influence the quality and applicability of guideline recommendations.

Ayieko P, Okiro EA, Edwards T, Nyamai R, English M. 2012. Variations in mortality in children admitted with pneumonia to Kenyan hospitals. PLoS One, 7 (11), pp. e47622. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The existing case fatality estimates of inpatient childhood pneumonia in developing countries are largely from periods preceding routine use of conjugate vaccines for infant immunization and such primary studies rarely explore hospital variations in mortality. We analysed case fatality rates of children admitted to nine Kenyan hospitals with pneumonia during the era of routine infant immunization with Hib conjugate vaccine to determine if significant variations exist between hospitals. METHODS: Pneumonia admissions and outcomes in paediatric wards are described using data collected over two time periods: a one-year period (2007-2008) in nine hospitals, and data from a 9.25-year period (1999-March 2008) in one of the participating hospitals. Hospital case fatality rates for inpatient pneumonia during 2007 to 2008 were modeled using a fixed effect binomial regression model with a logit link. Using an interrupted time series design, data from one hospital were analysed for trends in pneumonia mortality during the period between 1997 and March 2008. RESULTS: Overall, 195 (5.9%) children admitted to all 9 hospitals with pneumonia from March 2007 to March 2008 died in hospital. After adjusting for child's sex, comorbidity, and hospital effect, mortality was significantly associated with child's age (p<0.001) and pneumonia severity (p<0.001). There was evidence of significant variations in mortality between hospitals (LR χ(2) =52.19; p<0.001). Pneumonia mortality remained stable in the periods before (trend -0.03, 95% CI -0.1 to 0.02) and after Hib introduction (trend 0.04, 95% CI -0.04 to 0.11). CONCLUSIONS: There are important variations in hospital-pneumonia case fatality in Kenya and these variations are not attributed to temporal changes. Such variations in mortality are not addressed by existing epidemiological models and need to be considered in allocating resources to improve child health.

English M, Nzinga J, Mbindyo P, Ayieko P, Irimu G, Mbaabu L. 2011. Explaining the effects of a multifaceted intervention to improve inpatient care in rural Kenyan hospitals--interpretation based on retrospective examination of data from participant observation, quantitative and qualitative studies. Implement Sci, 6 (1), pp. 124. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: We have reported the results of a cluster randomized trial of rural Kenyan hospitals evaluating the effects of an intervention to introduce care based on best-practice guidelines. In parallel work we described the context of the study, explored the process and perceptions of the intervention, and undertook a discrete study on health worker motivation because this was felt likely to be an important contributor to poor performance in Kenyan public sector hospitals. Here, we use data from these multiple studies and insights gained from being participants in and observers of the intervention process to provide our explanation of how intervention effects were achieved as part of an effort to better understand implementation in low-income hospital settings. METHODS: Initial hypotheses were generated to explain the variation in intervention effects across place, time, and effect measure (indicator) based on our understanding of theory and informed by our implementation experience and participant observations. All data sources available for hospitals considered as cases for study were then examined to determine if hypotheses were supported, rejected, or required modification. Data included transcriptions of interviews and group discussions, field notes and that from the detailed longitudinal quantitative investigation. Potentially useful explanatory themes were identified, discussed by the implementing and research team, revised, and merged as part of an iterative process aimed at building more generic explanatory theory. At the end of this process, findings were mapped against a recently reported comprehensive framework for implementation research. RESULTS: A normative re-educative intervention approach evolved that sought to reset norms and values concerning good practice and promote 'grass-roots' participation to improve delivery of correct care. Maximal effects were achieved when this strategy and external support supervision helped create a soft-contract with senior managers clarifying roles and expectations around desired performance. This, combined with the support of facilitators acting as an expert resource and 'shop-floor' change agent, led to improvements in leadership, accountability, and resource allocation that enhanced workers' commitment and capacity and improved clinical microsystems. Provision of correct care was then particularly likely if tasks were simple and a good fit to existing professional routines. Our findings were in broad agreement with those defined as part of recent work articulating a comprehensive framework for implementation research. CONCLUSIONS: Using data from multiple studies can provide valuable insight into how an intervention is working and what factors may explain variability in effects. Findings clearly suggest that major intervention strategies aimed at improving child and newborn survival in low-income settings should go well beyond the fixed inputs (training, guidelines, and job aides) that are typical of many major programmes. Strategies required to deliver good care in low-income settings should recognize that this will need to be co-produced through engagement often over prolonged periods and as part of a directive but adaptive, participatory, information-rich, and reflective process.

English M, Schellenberg J, Todd J. 2011. Assessing health system interventions: key points when considering the value of randomization. Bull World Health Organ, 89 (12), pp. 907-912. | Show Abstract | Read more

Research is needed to help identify interventions that will improve the capacity or functioning of health systems and thereby contribute to achieving global health goals. Well conducted, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), insofar as they reduce bias and confounding, provide the strongest evidence for identifying which interventions delivered directly to individuals are safe and effective. When ethically feasible, they can also help reduce bias and confounding when assessing interventions targeting entire health systems. However, additional challenges emerge when research focuses on interventions that target the multiple units of organization found within health systems. Hence, one cannot complacently assume that randomization can reduce or eliminate bias and confounding to the same degree in every instance. While others have articulated arguments in favour of alternative designs, this paper is intended to help people understand why the potential value afforded by RCTs may be threatened. Specifically, it suggests six points to be borne in mind when exploring the challenges entailed in designing or evaluating RCTs on health system interventions: (i) the number of units available for randomization; (ii) the complexity of the organizational unit under study; (iii) the complexity of the intervention; (iv) the complexity of the cause-effect pathway, (v) contamination; and (vi) outcome heterogeneity. The authors suggest that the latter may be informative and that the reasons behind it should be explored and not ignored. Based on improved understanding of the value and possible limitations of RCTs on health system interventions, the authors show why we need broader platforms of research to complement RCTs.

Gathara D, Opiyo N, Wagai J, Ntoburi S, Ayieko P, Opondo C, Wamae A, Migiro S, Mogoa W, Wasunna A et al. 2011. Quality of hospital care for sick newborns and severely malnourished children in Kenya: a two-year descriptive study in 8 hospitals. BMC Health Serv Res, 11 (1), pp. 307. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Given the high mortality associated with neonatal illnesses and severe malnutrition and the development of packages of interventions that provide similar challenges for service delivery mechanisms we set out to explore how well such services are provided in Kenya. METHODS: As a sub-component of a larger study we evaluated care during surveys conducted in 8 rural district hospitals using convenience samples of case records. After baseline hospitals received either a full multifaceted intervention (intervention hospitals) or a partial intervention (control hospitals) aimed largely at improving inpatient paediatric care for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea/dehydration. Additional data were collected to: i) examine the availability of routine information at baseline and their value for morbidity, mortality and quality of care reporting, and ii) compare the care received against national guidelines disseminated to all hospitals. RESULTS: Clinical documentation for neonatal and malnutrition admissions was often very poor at baseline with case records often entirely missing. Introducing a standard newborn admission record (NAR) form was associated with an increase in median assessment (IQR) score to 25/28 (22-27) from 2/28 (1-4) at baseline. Inadequate and incorrect prescribing of penicillin and gentamicin were common at baseline. For newborns considerable improvements in prescribing in the post baseline period were seen for penicillin but potentially serious errors persisted when prescribing gentamicin, particularly to low-birth weight newborns in the first week of life. Prescribing essential feeds appeared almost universally inadequate at baseline and showed limited improvement after guideline dissemination. CONCLUSION: Routine records are inadequate to assess newborn care and thus for monitoring newborn survival interventions. Quality of documented inpatient care for neonates and severely malnourished children is poor with limited improvement after the dissemination of clinical practice guidelines. Further research evaluating approaches to improving care for these vulnerable groups is urgently needed. We also suggest pre-service training curricula should be better aligned to help improve newborn survival particularly.

Lairumbi GM, Parker M, Fitzpatrick R, Mike EC. 2011. Stakeholders understanding of the concept of benefit sharing in health research in Kenya: a qualitative study. BMC Med Ethics, 12 (1), pp. 20. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The concept of benefit sharing to enhance the social value of global health research in resource poor settings is now a key strategy for addressing moral issues of relevance to individuals, communities and host countries in resource poor settings when they participate in international collaborative health research.The influence of benefit sharing framework on the conduct of collaborative health research is for instance evidenced by the number of publications and research ethics guidelines that require prior engagement between stakeholders to determine the social value of research to the host communities. While such efforts as the production of international guidance on how to promote the social value of research through such strategies as benefit sharing have been made, the extent to which these ideas and guidelines have been absorbed by those engaged in global health research especially in resource poor settings remains unclear. We examine this awareness among stakeholders involved in health related research in Kenya. METHODS: We conducted in-depth interviews with key informants drawn from within the broader health research system in Kenya including researchers from the mainstream health research institutions, networks and universities, teaching hospitals, policy makers, institutional review boards, civil society organisations and community representative groups. RESULTS: Our study suggests that although people have a sense of justice and the moral aspects of research, this was not articulated in terms used in the literature and the guidelines on the ethics of global health research. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that while in theory several efforts can be made to address the moral issues of concern to research participants and their communities in resource poor settings, quick fixes such as benefit sharing are not going to be straightforward. We suggest a need to pay closer attention to the processes through which ethical principles are enacted in practice and distil lessons on how best to involve individuals and communities in promoting ethical conduct of global health research in resource poor settings.

Musila N, Opiyo N, English M. 2011. Treatment of African children with severe malaria - towards evidence-informed clinical practice using GRADE. Malar J, 10 (1), pp. 201. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Severe malaria is a major contributor of deaths in African children up to five years of age. One valuable tool to support health workers in the management of diseases is clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) developed using robust methods. A critical assessment of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Kenyan paediatric malaria treatment guidelines with quinine was undertaken, with a focus on the quality of the evidence and transparency of the shift from evidence to recommendations. METHODS: Systematic reviews of the literature were conducted using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) tool to appraise included studies. The findings were used to evaluate the WHO and Kenyan recommendations for the management of severe childhood malaria. RESULTS: The WHO 2010 malaria guidance on severe malaria in children, which informed the Kenyan guidelines, only evaluated the evidence on one topic on paediatric care using the GRADE tool. Using the GRADE tool, this work explicitly demonstrated that despite the established use of quinine in the management of paediatric cases of severe malaria for decades, low or very low quality evidence of important outcomes, but not critical outcomes such as mortality, have informed national and international guidance on the paediatric quinine dosing, route of administration and adverse effects. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the foreseeable shift to artesunate as the primary drug for treatment of severe childhood malaria, the findings reported here reflect that the particulars of quinine therapeutics for the management of severe malaria in African children have historically been a neglected research priority. This work supports the application of the GRADE tool to make transparent recommendations and to inform advocacy efforts for a greater research focus in priority areas in paediatric care in Africa and other low-income settings.

English M, Opiyo N. 2011. Getting to grips with GRADE-perspective from a low-income setting. J Clin Epidemiol, 64 (7), pp. 708-710. | Read more

Kosimbei G, Hanson K, English M. 2011. Do clinical guidelines reduce clinician dependent costs? Health Res Policy Syst, 9 (1), pp. 24. | Show Abstract | Read more

Clinician dependent costs are the costs of care that are under the discretion of the healthcare provider. These costs include the costs of drugs, tests and investigations, and discretionary outpatient visits and impatient stays. The purpose of this review was to summarize recent evidence, relevant to both developed and developing countries on whether evidence based clinical guidelines can change hospitals variable costs which are clinician dependent, and the degree of financial savings achieved at hospital level. Potential studies for inclusion were identified using structured searches of Econlit, J-Stor, and Pubmed databases. Two reviewers independently evaluated retrieved studies for inclusion. The methodological quality of the selected articles was assessed using the Oxford Centre for Evidence- Based Medicine (CEBM) levels of evidence. The results suggest that 10 of the 11 interventions were successful reducing financial costs. Most of the interventions, either in modeling studies or real interventions generate significant financial saving, although the former reported higher savings because the studies assumed 100 percent compliance.

Ayieko P, Ntoburi S, Wagai J, Opondo C, Opiyo N, Migiro S, Wamae A, Mogoa W, Were F, Wasunna A et al. 2011. A multifaceted intervention to implement guidelines and improve admission paediatric care in Kenyan district hospitals: a cluster randomised trial. PLoS Med, 8 (4), pp. e1001018. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In developing countries referral of severely ill children from primary care to district hospitals is common, but hospital care is often of poor quality. However, strategies to change multiple paediatric care practices in rural hospitals have rarely been evaluated. METHODS AND FINDINGS: This cluster randomized trial was conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals, four of which were randomly assigned to a full intervention aimed at improving quality of clinical care (evidence-based guidelines, training, job aides, local facilitation, supervision, and face-to-face feedback; n  =  4) and the remaining four to control intervention (guidelines, didactic training, job aides, and written feedback; n  =  4). Prespecified structure, process, and outcome indicators were measured at baseline and during three and five 6-monthly surveys in control and intervention hospitals, respectively. Primary outcomes were process of care measures, assessed at 18 months postbaseline. In both groups performance improved from baseline. Completion of admission assessment tasks was higher in intervention sites at 18 months (mean  =  0.94 versus 0.65, adjusted difference 0.54 [95% confidence interval 0.05-0.29]). Uptake of guideline recommended therapeutic practices was also higher within intervention hospitals: adoption of once daily gentamicin (89.2% versus 74.4%; 17.1% [8.04%-26.1%]); loading dose quinine (91.9% versus 66.7%, 26.3% [-3.66% to 56.3%]); and adequate prescriptions of intravenous fluids for severe dehydration (67.2% versus 40.6%; 29.9% [10.9%-48.9%]). The proportion of children receiving inappropriate doses of drugs in intervention hospitals was lower (quinine dose >40 mg/kg/day; 1.0% versus 7.5%; -6.5% [-12.9% to 0.20%]), and inadequate gentamicin dose (2.2% versus 9.0%; -6.8% [-11.9% to -1.6%]). CONCLUSIONS: Specific efforts are needed to improve hospital care in developing countries. A full, multifaceted intervention was associated with greater changes in practice spanning multiple, high mortality conditions in rural Kenyan hospitals than a partial intervention, providing one model for bridging the evidence to practice gap and improving admission care in similar settings.

English M, Wamae A, Nyamai R, Bevins B, Irimu G. 2011. Implementing locally appropriate guidelines and training to improve care of serious illness in Kenyan hospitals: a story of scaling-up (and down and left and right). Arch Dis Child, 96 (3), pp. 285-290. | Read more

Lubell Y, Staedke SG, Greenwood BM, Kamya MR, Molyneux M, Newton PN, Reyburn H, Snow RW, D'Alessandro U, English M et al. 2011. Likely health outcomes for untreated acute febrile illness in the tropics in decision and economic models; a Delphi survey. PLoS One, 6 (2), pp. e17439. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Modelling is widely used to inform decisions about management of malaria and acute febrile illnesses. Most models depend on estimates of the probability that untreated patients with malaria or bacterial illnesses will progress to severe disease or death. However, data on these key parameters are lacking and assumptions are frequently made based on expert opinion. Widely diverse opinions can lead to conflicting outcomes in models they inform. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A Delphi survey was conducted with malaria experts aiming to reach consensus on key parameters for public health and economic models, relating to the outcome of untreated febrile illnesses. Survey questions were stratified by malaria transmission intensity, patient age, and HIV prevalence. The impact of the variability in opinion on decision models is illustrated with a model previously used to assess the cost-effectiveness of malaria rapid diagnostic tests. Some consensus was reached around the probability that patients from higher transmission settings with untreated malaria would progress to severe disease (median 3%, inter-quartile range (IQR) 1-5%), and the probability that a non-malaria illness required antibiotics in areas of low HIV prevalence (median 20%). Children living in low transmission areas were considered to be at higher risk of progressing to severe malaria (median 30%, IQR 10-58%) than those from higher transmission areas (median 13%, IQR 7-30%). Estimates of the probability of dying from severe malaria were high in all settings (medians 60-73%). However, opinions varied widely for most parameters, and did not converge on resurveying. CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the uncertainty around potential consequences of untreated malaria and bacterial illnesses. The lack of consensus on most parameters, the wide range of estimates, and the impact of variability in estimates on model outputs, demonstrate the importance of sensitivity analysis for decision models employing expert opinion. Results of such models should be interpreted cautiously. The diversity of expert opinion should be recognised when policy options are debated.

Mwaniki MK, Talbert AW, Njuguna P, English M, Were E, Lowe BS, Newton CR, Berkley JA. 2011. Clinical indicators of bacterial meningitis among neonates and young infants in rural Kenya. BMC Infect Dis, 11 (1), pp. 301. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Meningitis is notoriously difficult to diagnose in infancy because its clinical features are non-specific. World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines suggest several indicative signs, based on limited data. We aimed to identify indicators of bacterial meningitis in young infants in Kenya, and compared their performance to the WHO guidelines. We also examined the feasibility of developing a scoring system for meningitis. METHODS: We studied all admissions aged < 60 days to Kilifi District Hospital, 2001 through 2005. We evaluated clinical indicators against microbiological findings using likelihood ratios. We prospectively validated our findings 2006 through 2007. RESULTS: We studied 2,411 and 1,512 young infants during the derivation and validation periods respectively. During derivation, 31/1,031 (3.0%) neonates aged < 7 days and 67/1,380 (4.8%) young infants aged 7-59 days (p < 0.001) had meningitis. 90% of cases could be diagnosed macroscopically (turbidity) or by microscopic leukocyte counting. Independent indicators of meningitis were: fever, convulsions, irritability, bulging fontanel and temperature ≥ 39°C. Areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve in the validation period were 0.62 [95%CI: 0.49-0.75] age < 7 days and 0.76 [95%CI: 0.68-0.85] thereafter (P = 0.07), and using the WHO signs, 0.50 [95%CI 0.35-0.65] age < 7 days and 0.82 [95%CI: 0.75-0.89] thereafter (P = 0.0001). The number needed to LP to identify one case was 21 [95%CI: 15-35] for our signs, and 28 [95%CI: 18-61] for WHO signs. With a scoring system, a cut-off of ≥ 1 sign offered the best compromise on sensitivity and specificity. CONCLUSION: Simple clinical signs at admission identify two thirds of meningitis cases in neonates and young infants. Lumbar puncture is essential to diagnosis and avoidance of unnecessary treatment, and is worthwhile without CSF biochemistry or bacterial culture. The signs of Meningitis suggested by the WHO perform poorly in the first week of life. A scoring system for meningitis in this age group is not helpful.

Kosimbei G, Hanson K, English M. 2011. Do clinical guidelines reduce clinician dependent costs? Health Research Policy and Systems, 9 | Show Abstract | Read more

Clinician dependent costs are the costs of care that are under the discretion of the healthcare provider. These costs include the costs of drugs, tests and investigations, and discretionary outpatient visits and impatient stays. The purpose of this review was to summarize recent evidence, relevant to both developed and developing countries on whether evidence based clinical guidelines can change hospitals variable costs which are clinician dependent, and the degree of financial savings achieved at hospital level. Potential studies for inclusion were identified using structured searches of Econlit, J-Stor, and Pubmed databases. Two reviewers independently evaluated retrieved studies for inclusion. The methodological quality of the selected articles was assessed using the Oxford Centre for Evidence- Based Medicine (CEBM) levels of evidence. The results suggest that 10 of the 11 interventions were successful reducing financial costs. Most of the interventions, either in modeling studies or real interventions generate significant financial saving, although the former reported higher savings because the studies assumed 100 percent compliance. © 2011 Kosimbei et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Opondo C, Ayieko P, Ntoburi S, Wagai J, Opiyo N, Irimu G, Allen E, Carpenter J, English M. 2011. Effect of a multi-faceted quality improvement intervention on inappropriate antibiotic use in children with non-bloody diarrhoea admitted to district hospitals in Kenya. BMC Pediatr, 11 (1), pp. 109. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There are few reports of interventions to reduce the common but irrational use of antibiotics for acute non-bloody diarrhoea amongst hospitalised children in low-income settings. We undertook a secondary analysis of data from an intervention comprising training of health workers, facilitation, supervision and face-to-face feedback, to assess whether it reduced inappropriate use of antibiotics in children with non-bloody diarrhoea and no co-morbidities requiring antibiotics, compared to a partial intervention comprising didactic training and written feedback only. This outcome was not a pre-specified end-point of the main trial. METHODS: Repeated cross-sectional survey data from a cluster-randomised controlled trial of an intervention to improve management of common childhood illnesses in Kenya were used to describe the prevalence of inappropriate antibiotic use in a 7-day period in children aged 2-59 months with acute non-bloody diarrhoea. Logistic regression models with random effects for hospital were then used to identify patient and clinician level factors associated with inappropriate antibiotic use and to assess the effect of the intervention. RESULTS: 9, 459 admission records of children were reviewed for this outcome. Of these, 4, 232 (44.7%) were diagnosed with diarrhoea, with 130 of these being bloody (dysentery) therefore requiring antibiotics. 1, 160 children had non-bloody diarrhoea and no co-morbidities requiring antibiotics-these were the focus of the analysis. 750 (64.7%) of them received antibiotics inappropriately, 313 of these being in the intervention hospitals vs. 437 in the controls. The adjusted logistic regression model showed the baseline-adjusted odds of inappropriate antibiotic prescription to children admitted to the intervention hospitals was 0.30 times that in the control hospitals (95%CI 0.09-1.02). CONCLUSION: We found some evidence that the multi-faceted, sustained intervention described in this paper led to a reduction in the inappropriate use of antibiotics in treating children with non-bloody diarrhoea. TRIAL REGISTRATION: International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register ISRCTN42996612.

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Lairumbi GM, Michael P, Fitzpatrick R, English MC. 2011. Ethics in practice: The state of the debate on promoting the social value of global health research in resource poor settings particularly Africa BMC Medical Ethics, 12 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Promoting the social value of global health research undertaken in resource poor settings has become a key concern in global research ethics. The consideration for benefit sharing, which concerns the elucidation of what if anything, is owed to participants, their communities and host nations that take part in such research, and the obligations of researchers involved, is one of the main strategies used for promoting social value of research. In the last decade however, there has been intense debate within academic bioethics literature seeking to define the benefits, the beneficiaries, and the scope of obligations for providing these benefits. Although this debate may be indicative of willingness at the international level to engage with the responsibilities of researchers involved in global health research, it remains unclear which forms of benefits or beneficiaries should be considered. International and local research ethics guidelines are reviewed here to delineate the guidance they provide. Methods. We reviewed documents selected from the international compilation of research ethics guidelines by the Office for Human Research Protections under the US Department of Health and Human Services. Results: Access to interventions being researched, the provision of unavailable health care, capacity building for individuals and institutions, support to health care systems and access to medical and public health interventions proven effective, are the commonly recommended forms of benefits. The beneficiaries are volunteers, disease or illness affected communities and the population in general. Interestingly however, there is a divide between "global opinion" and the views of particular countries within resource poor settings as made explicit by differences in emphasis regarding the potential benefits and the beneficiaries. Conclusion: Although in theory benefit sharing is widely accepted as one of the means for promoting the social value of international collaborative health research, there is less agreement amongst major guidelines on the specific responsibilities of researchers over what is ethical in promoting the social value of research. Lack of consensus might have practical implications for efforts aimed at enhancing the social value of global health research undertaken in resource poor settings. Further developments in global research ethics require more reflection, paying attention to the practical realities of implementing the ethical principles in real world context. © 2011 Lairumbi et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Cited:

24

Scopus

English M, Nzinga J, Mbindyo P, Ayieko P, Irimu G, Mbaabu L. 2011. Explaining the effects of a multifaceted intervention to improve inpatient care in rural Kenyan hospitals - interpretation based on retrospective examination of data from participant observation, quantitative and qualitative studies Implementation Science, 6 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: We have reported the results of a cluster randomized trial of rural Kenyan hospitals evaluating the effects of an intervention to introduce care based on best-practice guidelines. In parallel work we described the context of the study, explored the process and perceptions of the intervention, and undertook a discrete study on health worker motivation because this was felt likely to be an important contributor to poor performance in Kenyan public sector hospitals. Here, we use data from these multiple studies and insights gained from being participants in and observers of the intervention process to provide our explanation of how intervention effects were achieved as part of an effort to better understan d implementation in low-income hospital settings.Methods: Initial hypotheses were generated to explain the variation in intervention effects across place, time, and effect measure (indicator) based on our understanding of theory and informed by our implementation experience and participant observations. All data sources available for hospitals considered as cases for study were then examined to determine if hypotheses were supported, rejected, or required modification. Data included transcriptions of interviews and group discussions, field notes and that from the detailed longitudinal quantitative investigation. Potentially useful explanatory themes were identified, discussed by the implementing and research team, revised, and merged as part of an iterative process aimed at building more generic explanatory theory. At the end of this process, findings were mapped against a recently reported comprehensive framework for implementation research.Results: A normative re-educative intervention approach evolved that sought to reset norms and values concerning good practice and promote 'grass-roots' participation to improve delivery of correct care. Maximal effects were achieved when this strategy and external support supervision helped create a soft-contract with senior managers clarifying roles and expectations around desired performance. This, combined with the support of facilitators acting as an expert resource and 'shop-floor' change agent, led to improvements in leadership, accountability, and resource allocation that enhanced workers' commitment and capacity and improved clinical microsystems. Provision of correct care was then particularly likely if tasks were simple and a good fit to existing professional routines. Our findings were in broad agreement with those defined as part of recent work articulating a comprehensive framework for implementation research.Conclusions: Using data from multiple studies can provide valuable insight into how an intervention is working and what factors may explain variability in effects. Findings clearly suggest that major intervention strategies aimed at improving child and newborn survival in low-income settings should go well beyond the fixed inputs (training, guidelines, and job aides) that are typical of many major programmes. Strategies required to deliver good care in low-income settings should recognize that this will need to be co-produced through engagement often over prolonged periods and as part of a directive but adaptive, participatory, information-rich, and reflective process. © 2011 English et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Gathara D, Opiyo N, Wagai J, Ntoburi S, Ayieko P, Opondo C, Wamae A, Migiro S, Mogoa W, Wasunna A et al. 2011. Quality of hospital care for sick newborns and severely malnourished children in Kenya: A two-year descriptive study in 8 hospitals BMC Health Services Research, 11 | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Given the high mortality associated with neonatal illnesses and severe malnutrition and the development of packages of interventions that provide similar challenges for service delivery mechanisms we set out to explore how well such services are provided in Kenya. Methods. As a sub-component of a larger study we evaluated care during surveys conducted in 8 rural district hospitals using convenience samples of case records. After baseline hospitals received either a full multifaceted intervention (intervention hospitals) or a partial intervention (control hospitals) aimed largely at improving inpatient paediatric care for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea/dehydration. Additional data were collected to: i) examine the availability of routine information at baseline and their value for morbidity, mortality and quality of care reporting, and ii) compare the care received against national guidelines disseminated to all hospitals. Results: Clinical documentation for neonatal and malnutrition admissions was often very poor at baseline with case records often entirely missing. Introducing a standard newborn admission record (NAR) form was associated with an increase in median assessment (IQR) score to 25/28 (22-27) from 2/28 (1-4) at baseline. Inadequate and incorrect prescribing of penicillin and gentamicin were common at baseline. For newborns considerable improvements in prescribing in the post baseline period were seen for penicillin but potentially serious errors persisted when prescribing gentamicin, particularly to low-birth weight newborns in the first week of life. Prescribing essential feeds appeared almost universally inadequate at baseline and showed limited improvement after guideline dissemination. Conclusion: Routine records are inadequate to assess newborn care and thus for monitoring newborn survival interventions. Quality of documented inpatient care for neonates and severely malnourished children is poor with limited improvement after the dissemination of clinical practice guidelines. Further research evaluating approaches to improving care for these vulnerable groups is urgently needed. We also suggest pre-service training curricula should be better aligned to help improve newborn survival particularly. © 2011 Gathara et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Lawn JE, Bahl R, Bergstrom S, Bhutta ZA, Darmstadt GL, Ellis M, English M, Kurinczuk JJ, Lee AC, Merialdi M et al. 2011. Setting research priorities to reduce almost one million deaths from birth asphyxia by 2015. PLoS Med, 8 (1), pp. e1000389. | Read more

Barasa EW, English M. 2011. Viewpoint: Economic evaluation of package of care interventions employing clinical guidelines. Trop Med Int Health, 16 (1), pp. 97-104. | Show Abstract | Read more

Increasingly attention is shifting towards delivering essential packages of care, often based on clinical practice guidelines, as a means to improve maternal, child and newborn survival in low-income settings. Cost effectiveness analysis (CEA), allied to the evaluation of less complex intervention, has become an increasingly important tool for priority setting. Arguably such analyses should be extended to inform decisions around the deployment of more complex interventions. In the discussion, we illustrate some of the challenges facing the extension of CEA to this area. We suggest that there are both practical and methodological challenges to overcome when conducting economic evaluation for packages of care interventions that incorporate clinical guidelines. Some might be overcome by developing specific guidance on approaches, for example clarity in identifying relevant costs. Some require consensus on methods. The greatest challenge, however, lies in how to incorporate, as measures of effectiveness, process measures of service quality. Questions on which measures to use, how multiple measures might be combined, how improvements in one area might be compared with those in another and what value is associated with improvement in health worker practices are yet to be answered.

Opiyo N, English M. 2011. What clinical signs best identify severe illness in young infants aged 0-59 days in developing countries? A systematic review. Arch Dis Child, 96 (11), pp. 1052-1059. | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite recent overall improvement in the survival of under-five children worldwide, mortality among young infants remains high, and accounts for an increasing proportion of child deaths in resource-poor settings. In such settings, clinical decisions for appropriate management of severely ill infants have to be made on the basis of presenting clinical signs, and with limited or no laboratory facilities. This review summarises the evidence from observational studies of clinical signs of severe illnesses in young infants aged 0-59 days, with a particular focus on defining a minimum set of best predictors of the need for hospital-level care. Available moderate to high quality evidence suggests that, among sick infants aged 0-59 days brought to a health facility, the following clinical signs-alone or in combination-are likely to be the most valuable in identifying infants at risk of severe illness warranting hospital-level care: history of feeding difficulty, history of convulsions, temperature (axillary) ≥37.5°C or <35.5°C, change in level of activity, fast breathing/respiratory rate ≥60 breaths per minute, severe chest indrawing, grunting and cyanosis.

Ntoburi S, Hutchings A, Sanderson C, Carpenter J, Weber M, English M, Paediatric Quality of Hospital Care Indicator Panel. 2010. Development of paediatric quality of inpatient care indicators for low-income countries - A Delphi study. BMC Pediatr, 10 (1), pp. 90. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Indicators of quality of care for children in hospitals in low-income countries have been proposed, but information on their perceived validity and acceptability is lacking. METHODS: Potential indicators representing structural and process aspects of care for six common conditions were selected from existing, largely qualitative WHO assessment tools and guidelines. We employed the Delphi technique, which combines expert opinion and existing scientific information, to assess their perceived validity and acceptability. Panels of experts, one representing an international panel and one a national (Kenyan) panel, were asked to rate the indicators over 3 rounds and 2 rounds respectively according to a variety of attributes. RESULTS: Based on a pre-specified consensus criteria most of the indicators presented to the experts were accepted: 112/137(82%) and 94/133(71%) for the international and local panels respectively. For the other indicators there was no consensus; none were rejected. Most indicators were rated highly on link to outcomes, reliability, relevance, actionability and priority but rated more poorly on feasibility of data collection under routine conditions. There was moderate to substantial agreement between the two panels of experts. CONCLUSIONS: This Delphi study provided evidence for the perceived usefulness of most of a set of measures of quality of hospital care for children proposed for use in low-income countries. However, both international and local experts expressed concerns that data for many process-based indicators may not currently be available. The feasibility of widespread quality assessment and responsiveness of indicators to intervention should be examined as part of continued efforts to improve approaches to informative hospital quality assessment.

Duke T, Graham SM, Cherian MN, Ginsburg AS, English M, Howie S, Peel D, Enarson PM, Wilson IH, Were W, Union Oxygen Systems Working Group. 2010. Oxygen is an essential medicine: a call for international action. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis, 14 (11), pp. 1362-1368. | Show Abstract

Hypoxaemia is commonly associated with mortality in developing countries, yet feasible and cost-effective ways to address hypoxaemia receive little or no attention in current global health strategies. Oxygen treatment has been used in medicine for almost 100 years, but in developing countries most seriously ill newborns, children and adults do not have access to oxygen or the simple test that can detect hypoxaemia. Improving access to oxygen and pulse oximetry has demonstrated a reduction in mortality from childhood pneumonia by up to 35% in high-burden child pneumonia settings. The cost-effectiveness of an oxygen systems strategy compares favourably with other higher profile child survival interventions, such as new vaccines. In addition to its use in treating acute respiratory illness, oxygen treatment is required for the optimal management of many other conditions in adults and children, and is essential for safe surgery, anaesthesia and obstetric care. Oxygen concentrators provide the most consistent and least expensive source of oxygen in health facilities where power supplies are reliable. Oxygen concentrators are sustainable in developing country settings if a systematic approach involving nurses, doctors, technicians and administrators is adopted. Improving oxygen systems is an entry point for improving the quality of care. For these broad reasons, and for its vital importance in reducing deaths due to lung disease in 2010: Year of the Lung, oxygen deserves a higher priority on the global health agenda.

Achoki R, Opiyo N, English M. 2010. Mini-review: Management of hypoglycaemia in children aged 0-59 months. J Trop Pediatr, 56 (4), pp. 227-234. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hypoglycaemia is associated with poor prognosis in many severe childhood illnesses especially in sub-Saharan Africa where the prevalence of malaria, diarrhoea and malnutrition remains high. Uncertainty, however, still persists regarding the significance, definition and management of childhood hypoglycaemia. As a step towards defining optimal, evidence-based diagnostic and management criteria, we (i) reviewed the evidence underlying current recommendations for the management of hypoglycaemia, and (ii) analysed a large set of data on blood glucose levels and associated outcomes of paediatric admissions in a rural hospital over an 11-year period. Current definitions and treatment protocols for hypoglycaemia are based on observational data and expert opinion. Future large pragmatic randomized trials would help define optimal treatment thresholds. Emerging evidence suggests that sublingual sugar is a feasible and effective therapy for correction of hypoglycaemia, and should be considered where intravenous glucose is delayed or impossible.

Mullei K, Mudhune S, Wafula J, Masamo E, English M, Goodman C, Lagarde M, Blaauw D. 2010. Attracting and retaining health workers in rural areas: investigating nurses' views on rural posts and policy interventions. BMC Health Serv Res, 10 Suppl 1 (Suppl 1), pp. S1. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Kenya has bold plans for scaling up priority interventions nationwide, but faces major human resource challenges, with a lack of skilled workers especially in the most disadvantaged rural areas. METHODS: We investigated reasons for poor recruitment and retention in rural areas and potential policy interventions through quantitative and qualitative data collection with nursing trainees. We interviewed 345 trainees from four purposively selected Medical Training Colleges (MTCs) (166 pre-service and 179 upgrading trainees with prior work experience). Each interviewee completed a self-administered questionnaire including likert scale responses to statements about rural areas and interventions, and focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted at each MTC. RESULTS: Likert scale responses indicated mixed perceptions of both living and working in rural areas, with a range of positive, negative and indifferent views expressed on average across different statements. The analysis showed that attitudes to working in rural areas were significantly positively affected by being older, but negatively affected by being an upgrading student. Attitudes to living in rural areas were significantly positively affected by being a student at the MTC furthest from Nairobi. During FGDs trainees raised both positive and negative aspects of rural life. Positive aspects included lower costs of living and more autonomy at work. Negative issues included poor infrastructure, inadequate education facilities and opportunities, higher workloads, and inadequate supplies and supervision. Particular concern was expressed about working in communities dominated by other tribes, reflecting Kenya's recent election-related violence. Quantitative and qualitative data indicated that students believed several strategies could improve rural recruitment and retention, with particular emphasis on substantial rural allowances and the ability to choose their rural location. Other interventions highlighted included provision of decent housing, and more rapid career advancement. However, recently introduced short term contracts in named locations were not favoured due to their lack of pension plans and job security. CONCLUSIONS: This study identified a range of potential interventions to increase rural recruitment and retention, with those most favored by nursing students being additional rural allowances, and allowing choice of rural location. Greater investment is needed in information systems to evaluate the impact of such policies.

Blaauw D, Erasmus E, Pagaiya N, Tangcharoensathein V, Mullei K, Mudhune S, Goodman C, English M, Lagarde M. 2010. Policy interventions that attract nurses to rural areas: a multicountry discrete choice experiment. Bull World Health Organ, 88 (5), pp. 350-356. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relative effectiveness of different policies in attracting nurses to rural areas in Kenya, South Africa and Thailand using data from a discrete choice experiment (DCE). METHODS: A labelled DCE was designed to model the relative effectiveness of both financial and non-financial strategies designed to attract nurses to rural areas. Data were collected from over 300 graduating nursing students in each country. Mixed logit models were used for analysis and to predict the uptake of rural posts under different incentive combinations. FINDINGS: Nurses' preferences for different human resource policy interventions varied significantly between the three countries. In Kenya and South Africa, better educational opportunities or rural allowances would be most effective in increasing the uptake of rural posts, while in Thailand better health insurance coverage would have the greatest impact. CONCLUSION: DCEs can be designed to help policy-makers choose more effective interventions to address staff shortages in rural areas. Intervention packages tailored to local conditions are more likely to be effective than standardized global approaches.

Mwaniki MK, Gatakaa HW, Mturi FN, Chesaro CR, Chuma JM, Peshu NM, Mason L, Kager P, Marsh K, English M et al. 2010. An increase in the burden of neonatal admissions to a rural district hospital in Kenya over 19 years. BMC Public Health, 10 (1), pp. 591. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Most of the global neonatal deaths occur in developing nations, mostly in rural homes. Many of the newborns who receive formal medical care are treated in rural district hospitals and other peripheral health centres. However there are no published studies demonstrating trends in neonatal admissions and outcome in rural health care facilities in resource poor regions. Such information is critical in planning public health interventions. In this study we therefore aimed at describing the pattern of neonatal admissions to a Kenyan rural district hospital and their outcome over a 19 year period, examining clinical indicators of inpatient neonatal mortality and also trends in utilization of a rural hospital for deliveries. METHODS: Prospectively collected data on neonates is compared to non-neonatal paediatric (≤ 5 years old) admissions and deliveries' in the maternity unit at Kilifi District Hospital from January 1(st) 1990 up to December 31(st) 2008, to document the pattern of neonatal admissions, deliveries and changes in inpatient deaths. Trends were examined using time series models with likelihood ratios utilised to identify indicators of inpatient neonatal death. RESULTS: The proportion of neonatal admissions of the total paediatric ≤ 5 years admissions significantly increased from 11% in 1990 to 20% by 2008 (trend 0.83 (95% confidence interval 0.45-1.21). Most of the increase in burden was from neonates born in hospital and very young neonates aged < 7 days. Hospital deliveries also increased significantly. Clinical diagnoses of neonatal sepsis, prematurity, neonatal jaundice, neonatal encephalopathy, tetanus and neonatal meningitis accounted for over 75% of the inpatient neonatal admissions. Inpatient case fatality for all ≤ 5 years declined significantly over the 19 years. However, neonatal deaths comprised 33% of all inpatient death among children aged ≤ 5 years in 1990, this increased to 55% by 2008. Tetanus 256/390 (67%), prematurity 554/1,280(43%) and neonatal encephalopathy 253/778(33%) had the highest case fatality. A combination of six indicators: irregular respiration, oxygen saturation of <90%, pallor, neck stiffness, weight < 1.5 kg, and abnormally elevated blood glucose > 7 mmol/l predicted inpatient neonatal death with a sensitivity of 81% and a specificity of 68%. CONCLUSIONS: There is clear evidence of increasing burden in neonatal admissions at a rural district hospital in contrast to reducing numbers of non-neonatal paediatrics' admissions aged ≤ 5 years. Though the inpatient case fatality for all admissions aged ≤ 5 years declined significantly, neonates now comprise close to 60% of all inpatient deaths. Simple indicators may identify neonates at risk of death.

Cited:

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Scopus

Mullei K, Mudhune S, Wafula J, Masamo E, English M, Goodman C, Lagarde M, Blaauw D. 2010. Attracting and retaining health workers in rural areas: Investigating nurses views on rural posts and policy interventions BMC Health Services Research, 10 (SUPPL. 1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background. Kenya has bold plans for scaling up priority interventions nationwide, but faces major human resource challenges, with a lack of skilled workers especially in the most disadvantaged rural areas. Methods. We investigated reasons for poor recruitment and retention in rural areas and potential policy interventions through quantitative and qualitative data collection with nursing trainees. We interviewed 345 trainees from four purposively selected Medical Training Colleges (MTCs) (166 pre-service and 179 upgrading trainees with prior work experience). Each interviewee completed a self-administered questionnaire including likert scale responses to statements about rural areas and interventions, and focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted at each MTC. Results. Likert scale responses indicated mixed perceptions of both living and working in rural areas, with a range of positive, negative and indifferent views expressed on average across different statements. The analysis showed that attitudes to working in rural areas were significantly positively affected by being older, but negatively affected by being an upgrading student. Attitudes to living in rural areas were significantly positively affected by being a student at the MTC furthest from Nairobi. During FGDs trainees raised both positive and negative aspects of rural life. Positive aspects included lower costs of living and more autonomy at work. Negative issues included poor infrastructure, inadequate education facilities and opportunities, higher workloads, and inadequate supplies and supervision. Particular concern was expressed about working in communities dominated by other tribes, reflecting Kenyas recent election-related violence. Quantitative and qualitative data indicated that students believed several strategies could improve rural recruitment and retention, with particular emphasis on substantial rural allowances and the ability to choose their rural location. Other interventions highlighted included provision of decent housing, and more rapid career advancement. However, recently introduced short term contracts in named locations were not favoured due to their lack of pension plans and job security. Conclusions. This study identified a range of potential interventions to increase rural recruitment and retention, with those most favored by nursing students being additional rural allowances, and allowing choice of rural location. Greater investment is needed in information systems to evaluate the impact of such policies. © 2010 Wafula et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Sengaa J, Ndiritua M, Osundwaa J, Irimua G, English M. 2010. Computer aided learning to link evidence to paediatric learning and practice: a pilot in a medical school in a low income setting. Int Health, 2 (3), pp. 212-215. | Show Abstract | Read more

Bridging the gap between research evidence and practice is problematic in low income settings. Wereport medical students' experience with a pilot computer aided learning (CAL) program developed to enable students to explore research evidence supporting national guidelines. We asked 50 students to enter data from pre-set clinical scenarios, diagnose the severity of pneumonia/asthma and suggest treatment and then compare their diagnosis and treatment with that suggested by a computer algorithm based on the guidelines. Links to evidence supporting the guideline-suggested diagnosis and treatment were provided. Brief evidence summaries and video clips were accessed by 92% of students and full text articles by 86%. The majority of the students showed an interest in the CAL approach and suggested the scope of the approach be expanded to other illnesses. Such a system might provide one means to help students understand the link between research and policy and ultimately influence practice.

Opiyo N, English M. 2010. In-service training for health professionals to improve care of the seriously ill newborn or child in low and middle-income countries (Review). Cochrane Database Syst Rev, (4), pp. CD007071. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: A variety of emergency care training courses based on developed country models are being promoted as a strategy to improve the quality of care of the seriously ill newborn or child in developing countries. Clear evidence of their effectiveness is lacking. OBJECTIVES: To investigate the effectiveness of in-service training of health professionals on their management and care of the seriously ill newborn or child in low and middle-income settings. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched The Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), the Specialised Register of the Cochrane EPOC group (both up to May 2009), MEDLINE (1950 to May 2009), EMBASE (1980 to May 2009), CINAHL (1982 to March 2008), ERIC / LILACS / WHOLIS (all up to October 2008), and ISI Science Citation Index Expanded and ISI Social Sciences Citation Index (both from 1975 to March 2009). We checked references of retrieved articles and reviews and contacted authors to identify additional studies. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs), cluster-randomised trials (CRTs), controlled clinical trials (CCTs), controlled before-after studies (CBAs) and interrupted time series studies (ITSs) that reported objectively measured professional practice, patient outcomes, health resource /services utilization, or training costs in healthcare settings (not restricted to studies in low-income settings). DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We independently selected studies for inclusion, abstracted data using a standardised form, and assessed study quality. Meta-analysis was not appropriate. Study results were summarised and appraised. MAIN RESULTS: Two studies of varied designs were included. In one RCT of moderate quality, Newborn Resuscitation Training (NRT) was associated with a significant improvement in performance of adequate initial resuscitation steps (risk ratio 2.45, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.75 to 3.42, P < 0.001, adjusted for clustering) and a reduction in the frequency of inappropriate and potentially harmful practices (mean difference 0.40, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.66, P = 0.004). In the second RCT, available limited data suggested that there was improvement in assessment of breathing and newborn care practices in the delivery room following implementation of Essential Newborn Care (ENC) training. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There is limited evidence that in-service neonatal emergency care courses improve health-workers' practices when caring for a seriously ill newborn although there is some evidence of benefit. Rigorous trials evaluating the impact of refresher emergency care training on long-term professional practices are needed. To optimise appropriate policy decisions, studies should aim to collect data on resource use and costs of training implementation.

Nokes DJ, Ngama M, Bett A, Abwao J, Munywoki P, English M, Scott JA, Cane PA, Medley GF. 2009. Incidence and severity of respiratory syncytial virus pneumonia in rural Kenyan children identified through hospital surveillance. Clin Infect Dis, 49 (9), pp. 1341-1349. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Although necessary for developing a rationale for vaccination, the burden of severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) disease in children in resource-poor settings remains poorly defined. METHODS: We conducted prospective surveillance of severe and very severe pneumonia in children aged <5 years admitted from 2002 through 2007 to Kilifi district hospital in coastal Kenya. Nasal specimens were screened for RSV antigen by immunofluorescence. Incidence rates were estimated for the well-defined population. RESULTS: Of 25,149 hospital admissions, 7359 patients (29%) had severe or very severe pneumonia, of whom 6026 (82%) were enrolled. RSV prevalence was 15% (20% among infants) and 27% during epidemics (32% among infants). The proportion of case patients aged 3 months was 65%, and the proportion aged 6 months was 43%. Average annual hospitalization rates were 293 hospitalizations per 100,000 children aged <5 years (95% confidence interval, 271-371 hospitalizations per 100,000 children aged <5 years) and 1107 hospitalizations per 100,000 infants (95% confidence interval, 1012-1211 hospitalizations per 100,000 infants). Hospital admission rates were double in the region close to the hospital. Few patients with RSV infection had life-threatening clinical features or concurrent serious illnesses, and the associated mortality was 2.2%. CONCLUSIONS: In this low-income setting, rates of hospital admission with RSV-associated pneumonia are substantial; they are comparable to estimates from the United States but considerably underestimate the burden in the full community. An effective vaccine for children aged >2 months (outside the age group of poor responders) could prevent a large portion of RSV disease. Severity data suggest that the justification for RSV vaccination will be based on the prevention of morbidity, not mortality.

Opondo C, Ntoburi S, Wagai J, Wafula J, Wasunna A, Were F, Wamae A, Migiro S, Irimu G, English M. 2009. Are hospitals prepared to support newborn survival? - An evaluation of eight first-referral level hospitals in Kenya. Trop Med Int Health, 14 (10), pp. 1165-1172. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the availability of resources that support the provision of basic neonatal care in eight first-referral level (district) hospitals in Kenya. METHODS: We selected two hospitals each from four of Kenya's eight provinces with the aim of representing the diversity of this part of the health system in Kenya. We created a checklist of 53 indicator items necessary for providing essential basic care to newborns and assessed their availability at each of the eight hospitals by direct observation, and then compared our observations with the opinions of health workers providing care to newborns on recent availability for some items, using a self-administered structured questionnaire. RESULTS: The hospitals surveyed were often unable to maintain a safe hygienic environment for patients and health care workers; staffing was insufficient and sometimes poorly organised to support the provision of care; some key equipment, laboratory tests, drugs and consumables were not available while patient management guidelines were missing in all sites. CONCLUSION: Hospitals appear relatively poorly prepared to fill their proposed role in ensuring newborn survival. More effective interventions are needed to improve them to meet the special needs of this at-risk group.

Berkley JA, Bejon P, Mwangi T, Gwer S, Maitland K, Williams TN, Mohammed S, Osier F, Kinyanjui S, Fegan G et al. 2009. HIV infection, malnutrition, and invasive bacterial infection among children with severe malaria. Clin Infect Dis, 49 (3), pp. 336-343. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, malnutrition, and invasive bacterial infection (IBI) are reported among children with severe malaria. However, it is unclear whether their cooccurrence with falciparum parasitization and severe disease happens by chance or by association among children in areas where malaria is endemic. METHODS: We examined 3068 consecutive children admitted to a Kenyan district hospital with clinical features of severe malaria and 592 control subjects from the community. We performed multivariable regression analysis, with each case weighted for its probability of being due to falciparum malaria, using estimates of the fraction of severe disease attributable to malaria at different parasite densities derived from cross-sectional parasitological surveys of healthy children from the same community. RESULTS: HIV infection was present in 133 (12%) of 1071 consecutive parasitemic admitted children (95% confidence interval [CI], 11%-15%). Parasite densities were higher in HIV-infected children. The odds ratio for admission associated with HIV infection for admission with true severe falciparum malaria was 9.6 (95% CI, 4.9-19); however, this effect was restricted to children aged 1 year. Malnutrition was present in 507 (25%) of 2048 consecutive parasitemic admitted children (95% CI, 23%-27%). The odd ratio associated with malnutrition for admission with true severe falciparum malaria was 4.0 (95% CI, 2.9-5.5). IBI was detected in 127 (6%) of 2048 consecutive parasitemic admitted children (95% CI, 5.2%-7.3%). All 3 comorbidities were associated with increased case fatality. CONCLUSIONS: HIV, malnutrition and IBI are biologically associated with severe disease due to falciparum malaria rather than being simply alternative diagnoses in co-incidentally parasitized children in an endemic area.

English M, Ntoburi S, Wagai J, Mbindyo P, Opiyo N, Ayieko P, Opondo C, Migiro S, Wamae A, Irimu G. 2009. An intervention to improve paediatric and newborn care in Kenyan district hospitals: understanding the context. Implement Sci, 4 (1), pp. 42. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: It is increasingly appreciated that the interpretation of health systems research studies is greatly facilitated by detailed descriptions of study context and the process of intervention. We have undertaken an 18-month hospital-based intervention study in Kenya aiming to improve care for admitted children and newborn infants. Here we describe the baseline characteristics of the eight hospitals as environments receiving the intervention, as well as the general and local health system context and its evolution over the 18 months. METHODS: Hospital characteristics were assessed using previously developed tools assessing the broad structure, process, and outcome of health service provision for children and newborns. Major health system or policy developments over the period of the intervention at a national level were documented prospectively by monitoring government policy announcements, the media, and through informal contacts with policy makers. At the hospital level, a structured, open questionnaire was used in face-to-face meetings with senior hospital staff every six months to identify major local developments that might influence implementation. These data provide an essential background for those seeking to understand the generalisability of reports describing the intervention's effects, and whether the intervention plausibly resulted in these effects. RESULTS: Hospitals had only modest capacity, in terms of infrastructure, equipment, supplies, and human resources available to provide high-quality care at baseline. For example, hospitals were lacking between 30 to 56% of items considered necessary for the provision of care to the seriously ill child or newborn. An increase in spending on hospital renovations, attempts to introduce performance contracts for health workers, and post-election violence were recorded as examples of national level factors that might influence implementation success generally. Examples of factors that might influence success locally included frequent and sometimes numerous staff changes, movements of senior departmental or administrative staff, and the presence of local 'donor' partners with alternative priorities. CONCLUSION: The effectiveness of interventions delivered at hospital level over periods realistically required to achieve change may be influenced by a wide variety of factors at national and local levels. We have demonstrated how dynamic such contexts are, and therefore the need to consider context when interpreting an intervention's effectiveness.

Mbindyo P, Gilson L, Blaauw D, English M. 2009. Contextual influences on health worker motivation in district hospitals in Kenya. Implement Sci, 4 (1), pp. 43. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Organizational factors are considered to be an important influence on health workers' uptake of interventions that improve their practices. These are additionally influenced by factors operating at individual and broader health system levels. We sought to explore contextual influences on worker motivation, a factor that may modify the effect of an intervention aimed at changing clinical practices in Kenyan hospitals. METHODS: Franco LM, et al's (Health sector reform and public sector health worker motivation: a conceptual framework. Soc Sci Med. 2002, 54: 1255-66) model of motivational influences was used to frame the study Qualitative methods including individual in-depth interviews, small-group interviews and focus group discussions were used to gather data from 185 health workers during one-week visits to each of eight district hospitals. Data were collected prior to a planned intervention aiming to implement new practice guidelines and improve quality of care. Additionally, on-site observations of routine health worker behaviour in the study sites were used to inform analyses. RESULTS: Study settings are likely to have important influences on worker motivation. Effective management at hospital level may create an enabling working environment modifying the impact of resource shortfalls. Supportive leadership may foster good working relationships between cadres, improve motivation through provision of local incentives and appropriately handle workers' expectations in terms of promotions, performance appraisal processes, and good communication. Such organisational attributes may counteract de-motivating factors at a national level, such as poor schemes of service, and enhance personally motivating factors such as the desire to maintain professional standards. CONCLUSION: Motivation is likely to influence powerfully any attempts to change or improve health worker and hospital practices. Some factors influencing motivation may themselves be influenced by the processes chosen to implement change.

Nzinga J, Mbindyo P, Mbaabu L, Warira A, English M. 2009. Documenting the experiences of health workers expected to implement guidelines during an intervention study in Kenyan hospitals. Implement Sci, 4 (1), pp. 44. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Although considerable efforts are directed at developing international guidelines to improve clinical management in low-income settings they appear to influence practice rarely. This study aimed to explore barriers to guideline implementation in the early phase of an intervention study in four district hospitals in Kenya. METHODS: We developed a simple interview guide based on a simple characterisation of the intervention informed by review of major theories on barriers to uptake of guidelines. In-depth interviews, non-participatory observation, and informal discussions were then used to explore perceived barriers to guideline introduction and general improvements in paediatric and newborn care. Data were collected four to five months after in-service training in the hospitals. Data were transcribed, themes explored, and revised in two rounds of coding and analysis using NVivo 7 software, subjected to a layered analysis, reviewed, and revised after discussion with four hospital staff who acted as within-hospital facilitators. RESULTS: A total of 29 health workers were interviewed. Ten major themes preventing guideline uptake were identified: incomplete training coverage; inadequacies in local standard setting and leadership; lack of recognition and appreciation of good work; poor communication and teamwork; organizational constraints and limited resources; counterproductive health worker norms; absence of perceived benefits linked to adoption of new practices; difficulties accepting change; lack of motivation; and conflicting attitudes and beliefs. CONCLUSION: While the barriers identified are broadly similar in theme to those reported from high-income settings, their specific nature often differs. For example, at an institutional level there is an almost complete lack of systems to introduce or reinforce guidelines, poor teamwork across different cadres of health worker, and failure to confront poor practice. At an individual level, lack of interest in the evidence supporting guidelines, feelings that they erode professionalism, and expectations that people should be paid to change practice threaten successful implementation.

Nzinga J, Ntoburi S, Wagai J, Mbindyo P, Mbaabu L, Migiro S, Wamae A, Irimu G, English M. 2009. Implementation experience during an eighteen month intervention to improve paediatric and newborn care in Kenyan district hospitals. Implement Sci, 4 (1), pp. 45. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: We have conducted an intervention study aiming to improve hospital care for children and newborns in Kenya. In judging whether an intervention achieves its aims, an understanding of how it is delivered is essential. Here, we describe how the implementation team delivered the intervention over 18 months and provide some insight into how health workers, the primary targets of the intervention, received it. METHODS: We used two approaches. First, a description of the intervention is based on an analysis of records of training, supervisory and feedback visits to hospitals, and brief logs of key topics discussed during telephone calls with local hospital facilitators. Record keeping was established at the start of the study for this purpose with analyses conducted at the end of the intervention period. Second, we planned a qualitative study nested within the intervention project and used in-depth interviews and small group discussions to explore health worker and facilitators' perceptions of implementation. After thematic analysis of all interview data, findings were presented, discussed, and revised with the help of hospital facilitators. RESULTS: Four hospitals received the full intervention including guidelines, training and two to three monthly support supervision and six monthly performance feedback visits. Supervisor visits, as well as providing an opportunity for interaction with administrators, health workers, and facilitators, were often used for impromptu, limited refresher training or orientation of new staff. The personal links that evolved with senior staff seemed to encourage local commitment to the aims of the intervention. Feedback seemed best provided as open meetings and discussions with administrators and staff. Supervision, although sometimes perceived as fault finding, helped local facilitators become the focal point of much activity including key roles in liaison, local monitoring and feedback, problem solving, and orientation of new staff to guidelines. In four control hospitals receiving a minimal intervention, local supervision and leadership to implement new guidelines, despite their official introduction, were largely absent. CONCLUSION: The actual content of an intervention and how it is implemented and received may be critical determinants of whether it achieves its aims. We have carefully described our intervention approach to facilitate appraisal of the quantitative results of the intervention's effect on quality of care. Our findings suggest ongoing training, external supportive supervision, open feedback, and local facilitation may be valuable additions to more typical in-service training approaches, and may be feasible.

Mbindyo PM, Blaauw D, Gilson L, English M. 2009. Developing a tool to measure health worker motivation in district hospitals in Kenya. Hum Resour Health, 7 (1), pp. 40. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: We wanted to try to account for worker motivation as a key factor that might affect the success of an intervention to improve implementation of health worker practices in eight district hospitals in Kenya. In the absence of available tools, we therefore aimed to develop a tool that could enable a rapid measurement of motivation at baseline and at subsequent points during the 18-month intervention study. METHODS: After a literature review, a self-administered questionnaire was developed to assess the outcomes and determinants of motivation of Kenyan government hospital staff. The initial questionnaire included 23 questions (from seven underlying constructs) related to motivational outcomes that were then used to construct a simpler tool to measure motivation. Parallel qualitative work was undertaken to assess the relevance of the questions chosen and the face validity of the tool. RESULTS: Six hundred eighty-four health workers completed the questionnaires at baseline. Reliability analysis and factor analysis were used to produce the simplified motivational index, which consisted of 10 equally-weighted items from three underlying factors. Scores on the 10-item index were closely correlated with scores for the 23-item index, indicating that in future rapid assessments might be based on the 10 questions alone. The 10-item motivation index was also able to identify statistically significant differences in mean health worker motivation scores between the study hospitals (p<0.001). The parallel qualitative work in general supported these conclusions and contributed to our understanding of the three identified components of motivation. CONCLUSION: The 10-item score developed may be useful to monitor changes in motivation over time within our study or be used for more extensive rapid assessments of health worker motivation in Kenya.

Amos B, Kisakye A, Makewa D, Mudhune S, Mwamtemi H, Nansera D, Ngwiri T, Wamae M, English M, Network for Surveillance of Pneumococcal Disease in the East African Region. 2009. Behind the data: establishing the Network for Surveillance of Pneumococcal Disease in the East African Region. Clin Infect Dis, 48 Suppl 2 (s2), pp. S162-S171. | Show Abstract | Read more

In a region with high rates of mortality among children aged <5 years, the underfunded health care systems of sub-Saharan Africa have few resources available to perform surveillance activities that can help determine the causes of morbidity and mortality in the region. At present, there are few examples of attempts to promote public health care surveillance that might inform current debates about how to expand and improve surveillance, particularly for bacterial diseases. Driven by this gap in knowledge, we attempted to explore the successes and failures of the Network for Surveillance of Pneumococcal Disease in the East African Region and to share the experiences of what are essentially nonresearch public-sector hospitals in East Africa, with the hopes that surveillance systems for other diseases, especially those that require complex diagnostic support, may be informed by these experiences. The state of services essential for surveillance and the measures taken to overcome any shortcomings are described, as is the progress made in improving clinical diagnosis, laboratory processing, and data management. For surveillance to play a role in public health care, ministries of health and associated institutions must own and push forward the surveillance agenda, with support from global partners, and take advantage of the developments that have been achieved within the institutions.

Wagai J, Senga J, Fegan G, English M. 2009. Examining agreement between clinicians when assessing sick children. PLoS One, 4 (2), pp. e4626. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Case management guidelines use a limited set of clinical features to guide assessment and treatment for common childhood diseases in poor countries. Using video records of clinical signs we assessed agreement among experts and assessed whether Kenyan health workers could identify signs defined by expert consensus. METHODOLOGY: 104 videos representing 11 clinical sign categories were presented to experts using a web questionnaire. Proportionate agreement and agreement beyond chance were calculated using kappa and the AC1 statistic. 31 videos were selected and presented to local health workers, 20 for which experts had demonstrated clear agreement and 11 for which experts could not demonstrate agreement. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Experts reached very high level of chance adjusted agreement for some videos while for a few videos no agreement beyond chance was found. Where experts agreed Kenyan hospital staff of all cadres recognised signs with high mean sensitivity and specificity (sensitivity: 0.897-0.975, specificity: 0.813-0.894); years of experience, gender and hospital had no influence on mean sensitivity or specificity. Local health workers did not agree on videos where experts had low or no agreement. Results of different agreement statistics for multiple observers, the AC1 and Fleiss' kappa, differ across the range of proportionate agreement. CONCLUSION: Videos provide a useful means to test agreement amongst geographically diverse groups of health workers. Kenyan health workers are in agreement with experts where clinical signs are clear-cut supporting the potential value of assessment and management guidelines. However, clinical signs are not always clear-cut. Video recordings offer one means to help standardise interpretation of clinical signs.

Snape MD, Maclennan JM, Lockhart S, English M, Yu LM, Moxon RE, Pollard AJ. 2009. Demonstration of immunologic memory using serogroup C meningococcal glycoconjugate vaccine. Pediatr Infect Dis J, 28 (2), pp. 92-97. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Studies of glycoconjugate vaccines have traditionally used an immune challenge with a plain polysaccharide vaccine to demonstrate immunologic memory. Plain polysaccharide vaccines are poorly immunogenic in children and can induce subsequent immunologic hyporesponsiveness. We therefore assessed the use of glycoconjugate vaccines as an alternative method of demonstrating immunologic memory. METHODS: Children immunized with hepatitis B vaccine or serogroup C meningococcal glycoconjugate vaccine (MenCC) at age 2, 3, 4 months received a plain polysaccharide meningococcal serogroup A/C vaccine (MenACP) or MenCC at age 12 months. A post hoc analysis of serum bactericidal activity responses to MenCC assessed whether this differed in MenCC primed and MenCC naive infants. RESULTS: MenCC primed children displayed higher geometric mean serum bactericidal titers than MenCC naive children following MenACP (1518 compared with 30; P = 0.003). A similar difference was seen after a dose of MenCC to toddlers (MenCC primed: 8663, MenCC naive: 710; P < 0.001). The latter comparison became a borderline significance after adjusting for higher pretoddler immunization serum bactericidal geometric mean titers in the MenCC primed group (P = 0.068). CONCLUSIONS: Administration of glycoconjugate vaccines provides an important alternative method of demonstrating immunologic memory, avoiding the use of plain polysaccharide vaccines that are potentially deleterious in children. This has implications for the design of all future clinical trials of glycoconjugate vaccines.

Cited:

50

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English M, Reyburn H, Goodman C, Snow RW. 2009. Abandoning presumptive antimalarial treatment for febrile children aged less than five years - A case of running before we can walk? PLoS Medicine, 6 (1), pp. 0007-0009. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background to the debate: Current guidelines recommend that all fever episodes in African children be treated presumptively with antimalarial drugs. But declining malarial transmission in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, declining proportions of fevers due to malaria, and the availability of rapid diagnostic tests mean it may be time for this policy to change. This debate examines whether enough evidence exists to support abandoning presumptive treatment and whether African health systems have the capacity to support a shift toward laboratory-confirmed rather than presumptive diagnosis and treatment of malaria in children under five. © 2009 English et al.

English M, Reyburn H, Goodman C, Snow RW. 2009. Abandoning presumptive antimalarial treatment for febrile children aged less than five years--a case of running before we can walk? PLoS Med, 6 (1), pp. e1000015. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND TO THE DEBATE: Current guidelines recommend that all fever episodes in African children be treated presumptively with antimalarial drugs. But declining malarial transmission in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, declining proportions of fevers due to malaria, and the availability of rapid diagnostic tests mean it may be time for this policy to change. This debate examines whether enough evidence exists to support abandoning presumptive treatment and whether African health systems have the capacity to support a shift toward laboratory-confirmed rather than presumptive diagnosis and treatment of malaria in children under five.

Gituma A, Masika M, Muchangi E, Nyagah L, Otieno V, Irimu G, Wasunna A, Ndiritu M, English M. 2009. Access, sources and value of new medical information: views of final year medical students at the University of Nairobi. Trop Med Int Health, 14 (1), pp. 118-122. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate final year medical students' access to new medical information. METHOD: Cross-sectional survey of final year medical students at the University of Nairobi using anonymous, self-administered questionnaires. RESULTS: Questionnaires were distributed to 85% of a possible 343 students and returned by 44% (152). Half reported having accessed some form of new medical information within the previous 12 months, most commonly from books and the internet. Few students reported regular access; and specific, new journal articles were rarely accessed. Absence of internet facilities, slow internet speed and cost impeded access to literature; and current training seems rarely to encourage students to seek new information. CONCLUSION: Almost half the students had not accessed any new medical information in their final year in medical school. This means they are ill prepared for a career that may increasingly demand life-long, self-learning.

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English M, Ntoburi S, Wagai J, Mbindyo P, Opiyo N, Ayieko P, Opondo C, Migiro S, Wamae A, Irimu G. 2009. An intervention to improve paediatric and newborn care in Kenyan district hospitals: Understanding the context Implementation Science, 4 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: It is increasingly appreciated that the interpretation of health systems research studies is greatly facilitated by detailed descriptions of study context and the process of intervention. We have undertaken an 18-month hospital-based intervention study in Kenya aiming to improve care for admitted children and newborn infants. Here we describe the baseline characteristics of the eight hospitals as environments receiving the intervention, as well as the general and local health system context and its evolution over the 18 months. Methods. Hospital characteristics were assessed using previously developed tools assessing the broad structure, process, and outcome of health service provision for children and newborns. Major health system or policy developments over the period of the intervention at a national level were documented prospectively by monitoring government policy announcements, the media, and through informal contacts with policy makers. At the hospital level, a structured, open questionnaire was used in face-to-face meetings with senior hospital staff every six months to identify maj or local developments that might influence implementation. These data provide an essential background for those seeking to understand the generalisability of reports describing the intervention's effects, and whether the intervention plausibly resulted in these effects. Results. Hospitals had only modest capacity, in terms of infrastructure, equipment, supplies, and human resources available to provide high-quality care at baseline. For example, hospitals were lacking between 30 to 56% of items considered necessary for the provision of care to the seriously ill child or newborn. An increase in spending on hospital renovations, attempts to introduce performance contracts for health workers, and post-election violence were recorded as examples of national level factors that might influence implementation success generally. Examples of factors that might influence success locally included frequent and sometimes numerous staff changes, movements of senior departmental or administrative staff, and the presence of local 'donor' partners with alternative priorities. Conclusion. The effectiveness of interventions delivered at hospital level over periods realistically required to achieve change may be influenced by a wide variety of factors at national and local levels. We have demonstrated how dynamic such contexts are, and therefore the need to consider context when interpreting an intervention's effectiveness. © 2009 English et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Nzioki C, Irimu G, Musoke R, English M. 2009. Audit of care for children aged 6 to 59 months admitted with severe malnutrition at kenyatta national hospital, kenya. Int Health, 1 (1), pp. 91-96. | Show Abstract | Read more

We conducted a prospective audit of 101 children with severe malnutrition aged 6 to 59 months admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya's largest tertiary level health facility, from February-April 2008. A structured tool was prepared to capture data to allow assessment of implementation of the WHO guidelines steps 1-8. Overall, 58% of children had marasmus and 47% of children were younger than one year old. Common co-morbidities at admission were diarrhoea (70.3%) and pneumonia (51.4%). The highest degree of implementation was observed for Step 5, treatment of potentially severe infections (90%, (95% CI 85.1-96.9)). Only 55% of the patients had F75 prescribed although this starter formula was available in this hospital. There was a delay in initiating feeds with a median time of 14.7 hours from the time of admission. There was modest implementation of Step 2, ensuring warmth (46.5%, 36.8-56.2), Step 3, treat dehydration (54.9%, 43.3-66.5) and Step 4, correct electrolyte imbalance, (45.5%, 35.6-55.8%). There was least implementation of Step 8, transition to catch-up feeding (23.8%, 13.6-34.0). We conclude that quality of care for children admitted with severe malnutrition at KNH is inadequate and often does not follow the WHO guidelines. Improving care will require a holistic and not simply medical approach.

Mueni E, Opiyo N, English M. 2009. Caffeine for the management of apnea in preterm infants. Int Health, 1 (2), pp. 190-195. | Show Abstract | Read more

Considerable uncertainty persists regarding the efficacy and safety of methylxanthines (caffeine, theophylline - in intravenous form named aminophylline) for the prevention and treatment of infant apnea. To help inform national guideline development in Kenya we undertook structured literature searches to identify current evidence on caffeine therapy for infant apnea. Available evidence shows that caffeine is as effective as intravenous theophylline (aminophylline), but is safer and easier to give and has better therapeutic properties. It is therefore recommended for the treatment of apnea of prematurity. Caffeine is also the preferred drug if clinicians plan to provide apnea prophylaxis. As prematurity is likely to result in more than 1 million deaths a year, mostly in resource-poor settings, greater efforts need to be made to ensure interventions such as caffeine, currently unavailable in countries such as Kenya, are made more widely available.

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55

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Mbindyo P, Gilson L, Blaauw D, English M. 2009. Contextual influences on health worker motivation in district hospitals in Kenya Implementation Science, 4 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background. Organizational factors are considered to be an important influence on health workers' uptake of interventions that improve their practices. These are additionally influenced by factors operating at individual and broader health system levels. We sought to explore contextual influences on worker motivation, a factor that may modify the effect of an intervention aimed at changing clinical practices in Kenyan hospitals. Methods. Franco LM, et al's (Health sector reform and public sector health worker motivation: a conceptual framework. Soc Sci Med. 2002, 54: 1255-66) model of motivational influences was used to frame the study Qualitative methods including individual in-depth interviews, small-group interviews and focus group discussions were used to gather data from 185 health workers during one-week visits to each of eight district hospitals. Data were collected prior to a planned intervention aiming to implement new practice guidelines and improve quality of care. Additionally, on-site observations of routine health worker behaviour in the study sites were used to inform analyses. Results. Study settings are likely to have important influences on worker motivation. Effective management at hospital level may create an enabling working environment modifying the impact of resource shortfalls. Supportive leadership may foster good working relationships between cadres, improve motivation through provision of local incentives and appropriately handle workers' expectations in terms of promotions, performance appraisal processes, and good communication. Such organisational attributes may counteract de-motivating factors at a national level, such as poor schemes of service, and enhance personally motivating factors such as the desire to maintain professional standards. Conclusion. Motivation is likely to influence powerfully any attempts to change or improve health worker and hospital practices. Some factors influencing motivation may themselves be influenced by the processes chosen to implement change.

Cited:

27

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Nzinga J, Mbindyo P, Mbaabu L, Warira A, English M. 2009. Documenting the experiences of health workers expected to implement guidelines during an intervention study in Kenyan hospitals Implementation Science, 4 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background. Although considerable efforts are directed at developing international guidelines to improve clinical management in low-income settings they appear to influence practice rarely. This study aimed to explore barriers to guideline implementation in the early phase of an intervention study in four district hospitals in Kenya. Methods. We developed a simple interview guide based on a simple characterisation of the intervention informed by review of major theories on barriers to uptake of guidelines. In-depth interviews, non-participatory observation, and informal discussions were then used to explore perceived barriers to guideline introduction and general improvements in paediatric and newborn care. Data were collected four to five months after in-service training in the hospitals. Data were transcribed, themes explored, and revised in two rounds of coding and analysis using NVivo 7 software, subjected to a layered analysis, reviewed, and revised after discussion with four hospital staff who acted as within-hospital facilitators. Results. A total of 29 health workers were interviewed. Ten major themes preventing guideline uptake were identified: incomplete training coverage; inadequacies in local standard setting and leadership; lack of recognition and appreciation of good work; poor communication and teamwork; organizational constraints and limited resources; counterproductive health worker norms; absence of perceived benefits linked to adoption of new practices; difficulties accepting change; lack of motivation; and conflicting attitudes and beliefs. Conclusion. While the barriers identified are broadly similar in theme to those reported from high-income settings, their specific nature often differs. For example, at an institutional level there is an almost complete lack of systems to introduce or reinforce guidelines, poor teamwork across different cadres of health worker, and failure to confront poor practice. At an individual level, lack of interest in the evidence supporting guidelines, feelings that they erode professionalism, and expectations that people should be paid to change practice threaten successful implementation. © 2009 Nzinga et al.

Cited:

22

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Nzinga J, Ntoburi S, Wagai J, Mbindyo P, Mbaabu L, Migiro S, Wamae A, Irimu G, English M. 2009. Implementation experience during an eighteen month intervention to improve paediatric and newborn care in Kenyan district hospitals Implementation Science, 4 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background. We have conducted an intervention study aiming to improve hospital care for children and newborns in Kenya. In judging whether an intervention achieves its aims, an understanding of how it is delivered is essential. Here, we describe how the implementation team delivered the intervention over 18 months and provide some insight into how health workers, the primary targets of the intervention, received it. Methods. We used two approaches. First, a description of the intervention is based on an analysis of records of training, supervisory and feedback visits to hospitals, and brief logs of key topics discussed during telephone calls with local hospital facilitators. Record keeping was established at the start of the study for this purpose with analyses conducted at the end of the intervention period. Second, we planned a qualitative study nested within the intervention project and used in-depth interviews and small group discussions to explore health worker and facilitators' perceptions of implementation. After thematic analysis of all interview data, findings were presented, discussed, and revised with the help of hospital facilitators. Results. Four hospitals received the full intervention including guidelines, training and two to three monthly support supervision and six monthly performance feedback visits. Supervisor visits, as well as providing an opportunity for interaction with administrators, health workers, and facilitators, were often used for impromptu, limited refresher training or orientation of new staff. The personal links that evolved with senior staff seemed to encourage local commitment to the aims of the intervention. Feedback seemed best provided as open meetings and discussions with administrators and staff. Supervision, although sometimes perceived as fault finding, helped local facilitators become the focal point of much activity including key roles in liaison, local monitoring and feedback, problem solving, and orientation of new staff to guidelines. In four control hospitals receiving a minimal intervention, local supervision and leadership to implement new guidelines, despite their official introduction, were largely absent. Conclusion. The actual content of an intervention and how it is implemented and received may be critical determinants of whether it achieves its aims. We have carefully described our intervention approach to facilitate appraisal of the quantitative results of the intervention's effect on quality of care. Our findings suggest ongoing training, external supportive supervision, open feedback, and local facilitation may be valuable additions to more typical in-service training approaches, and may be feasible. © 2009 Nzinga et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Cited:

48

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Ayieko P, Akumu AO, Griffiths UK, English M. 2009. The economic burden of inpatient paediatric care: household and provider costs for treatment of pneumonia, malaria and meningitis Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation, 7 (1), pp. 3-3. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Knowledge of treatment cost is essential in assessing cost effectiveness in healthcare. Evidence of the potential impact of implementing available interventions against childhood illnesses in developing countries challenges us to define the costs of treating these diseases. The purpose of this study is to describe the total costs associated with treatment of pneumonia, malaria and meningitis in children less than five years in seven Kenyan hospitals. Methods: Patient resource use data were obtained from largely prospective evaluation of medical records and household expenditure during illness was collected from interviews with caretakers. The estimates for costs per bed day were based on published data. A sensitivity analysis was conducted using WHO-CHOICE values for costs per bed day. Results: Treatment costs for 572 children (pneumonia = 205, malaria = 211, meningitis = 102 and mixed diagnoses = 54) and household expenditure for 390 households were analysed. From the provider perspective the mean cost per admission at the national hospital was US $95.58 for malaria, US $177.14 for pneumonia and US $284.64 for meningitis. In the public regional or district hospitals the mean cost per child treated ranged from US $47.19 to US $81.84 for malaria and US $54.06 to US $99.26 for pneumonia. The corresponding treatment costs in the mission hospitals were between US $43.23 to US $88.18 for malaria and US $ 43.36 to US $142.22 for pneumonia. Meningitis was treated for US $ 189.41 at the regional hospital and US $ 201.59 at one mission hospital. The total treatment cost estimates were sensitive to changes in the source of bed day costs. The median treatment related household payments within quintiles defined by total household expenditure differed by type of facility visited. Public hospitals recovered up to 40% of provider costs through user charges while mission facilities recovered 44% to 100% of costs. Conclusion: Treatments cost for inpatient malaria, pneumonia and meningitis vary by facility type, with mission and tertiary referral facilities being more expensive compared to primary referral. Households of sick children contribute significantly towards provider cost through payment of user fees. These findings could be used in cost effectiveness analysis of health interventions. © 2009 Ayieko et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

English M, Scott JA. 2008. What is the future for global case management guidelines for common childhood diseases? PLoS Med, 5 (12), pp. e241. | Read more

Irimu G, Wamae A, Wasunna A, Were F, Ntoburi S, Opiyo N, Ayieko P, Peshu N, English M. 2008. Developing and introducing evidence based clinical practice guidelines for serious illness in Kenya. Arch Dis Child, 93 (9), pp. 799-804. | Read more

English M, Irimu G, Wamae A, Were F, Wasunna A, Fegan G, Peshu N. 2008. Health systems research in a low-income country: easier said than done. Arch Dis Child, 93 (6), pp. 540-544. | Show Abstract | Read more

Small hospitals sit at the apex of the pyramid of primary care in the health systems of many low-income countries. If the Millennium Development Goal for child survival is to be achieved, hospital care for referred severely ill children will need to be improved considerably in parallel with primary care in many countries. Yet little is known about how to achieve this. This article describes the evolution and final design of an intervention study that is attempting to improve hospital care for children in Kenyan district hospitals. It illustrates many of the difficulties involved in reconciling epidemiological rigour and feasibility in studies at a health system, rather than an individual, level and the importance of the depth and breadth of analysis when trying to provide a plausible answer to the question: does it work? Although there are increasing calls for more health systems research in low-income countries, the importance of strong, broadly based local partnerships and long-term commitment even to initiate projects is not always appreciated.

Ntoburi S, Wagai J, Irimu G, English M. 2008. Debating the quality and performance of health systems at a global level is not enough, national debates are essential for progress. Trop Med Int Health, 13 (4), pp. 444-447. | Read more

Mweu E, English M. 2008. Typhoid fever in children in Africa. Trop Med Int Health, 13 (4), pp. 532-540. | Show Abstract | Read more

Estimates for the year 2000 suggested that there were approximately 21.5 million infections and 200,000 deaths from typhoid fever globally each year, making the disease one of the most serious infectious disease threats to public health on a global scale. However, these estimates were based on little data, especially from Africa. Global prominence and high-profile outbreaks have created the perception in Kenya that typhoid is a common cause of febrile illness. The Widal test is used widely in diagnosis. We have reviewed recent literature, taking the perspective of a healthcare provider, to collate information on the prevalence of typhoid in children particularly, and to explore the role of clinical diagnosis and diagnosis based on a crude, but common, interpretation of the Widal test. Data suggest that typhoid in children in rural Africa is uncommon, perhaps 100 times or 250 times less common than invasive disease because of Haemophilus influenzae or Streptococcus pneumoniae, respectively. Frequent use of the Widal test may result in many hundreds of over-treatment episodes for every true case treated and may perpetuate the perception that typhoid is common. Countries such as Kenya need better bacterial disease surveillance systems allied to better information for healthcare providers to promote appropriate decision-making on prevention and treatment strategies.

Scott JA, English M. 2008. What are the implications for childhood pneumonia of successfully introducing Hib and pneumococcal vaccines in developing countries? PLoS Med, 5 (4), pp. e86. | Read more

Opiyo N, Were F, Govedi F, Fegan G, Wasunna A, English M. 2008. Effect of newborn resuscitation training on health worker practices in Pumwani Hospital, Kenya. PLoS One, 3 (2), pp. e1599. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Birth asphyxia kills 0.7 to 1.6 million newborns a year globally with 99% of deaths in developing countries. Effective newborn resuscitation could reduce this burden of disease but the training of health-care providers in low income settings is often outdated. Our aim was to determine if a simple one day newborn resuscitation training (NRT) alters health worker resuscitation practices in a public hospital setting in Kenya. METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We conducted a randomised, controlled trial with health workers receiving early training with NRT (n = 28) or late training (the control group, n = 55). The training was adapted locally from the approach of the UK Resuscitation Council. The primary outcome was the proportion of appropriate initial resuscitation steps with the frequency of inappropriate practices as a secondary outcome. Data were collected on 97 and 115 resuscitation episodes over 7 weeks after early training in the intervention and control groups respectively. Trained providers demonstrated a higher proportion of adequate initial resuscitation steps compared to the control group (trained 66% vs control 27%; risk ratio 2.45, [95% CI 1.75-3.42], p<0.001, adjusted for clustering). In addition, there was a statistically significant reduction in the frequency of inappropriate and potentially harmful practices per resuscitation in the trained group (trained 0.53 vs control 0.92; mean difference 0.40, [95% CI 0.13-0.66], p = 0.004). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Implementation of a simple, one day newborn resuscitation training can be followed immediately by significant improvement in health workers' practices. However, evidence of the effects on long term performance or clinical outcomes can only be established by larger cluster randomised trials. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN92218092.

Nokes DJ, Okiro EA, Ngama M, Ochola R, White LJ, Scott PD, English M, Cane PA, Medley GF. 2008. Respiratory syncytial virus infection and disease in infants and young children observed from birth in Kilifi District, Kenya. Clin Infect Dis, 46 (1), pp. 50-57. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In developing countries, there are few data that characterize the disease burden attributable to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and clearly define which age group to target for vaccine intervention. METHODS: Six hundred thirty-five children, recruited during the period 2002-2003, were intensively monitored until each experienced 3 epidemics of RSV infection. RSV infection was diagnosed using immunofluorescence of nasal washing specimens collected at each episode of acute respiratory infection. Incidence estimates were adjusted for seasonality of RSV exposure. RESULTS: For 1187 child-years of observation (CYO), a total of 409 (365 primary and 82 repeat) episodes of RSV infection were identified. Adjusted incidence estimates of lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI), severe LRTI, and hospital admission were 90 cases per 1000 CYO, 43 cases per 1000 CYO, and 10 cases per 1000 CYO, respectively, and corresponding estimates among infants were 104 cases per 1000 CYO, 66 cases per 1000 CYO, and 13 cases per 1000 CYO, respectively. The proportion of cases of all-cause LRTI, and severe LRTI and hospitalizations attributable to RSV in the cohort was 13%, 19%, and 5%, respectively. Fifty-five percent to 65% of RSV-associated LRTI and severe LRTI occurred in children aged >6 months. The risk of RSV disease following primary symptomatic infection remained significant beyond the first year of life, and one-quarter of all reinfections were associated with LRTI. CONCLUSIONS: RSV accounts for a substantial proportion of the total respiratory disease in this rural population; we estimate that 85,000 cases of severe LRTI per year occur in infants in Kenya. The majority of this morbidity occurs during late infancy and early childhood--ages at which the risk of disease following infection remains significant. Disease resulting from reinfection is common. Our results inform the debate on the target age group and effectiveness of a vaccine.

Newton O, English M. 2007. Young infant sepsis: aetiology, antibiotic susceptibility and clinical signs. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 101 (10), pp. 959-966. | Show Abstract | Read more

Globally, young infant mortality comprises 40% of the estimated 10.8 million child deaths annually. Almost all (99%) of these deaths arise in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Achievement of the Millennium Development Goal for child survival, however, requires a significant improvement in the management of infections in young infants. We have reviewed current evidence from LMICs on one major cause of young infant mortality, severe infection, and have described the range of pathogens, reported antibiotic susceptibility and value of clinical signs in identifying severe bacterial illness. Evidence from the reviewed studies appears to show that common pathogens in young infant infections change over time and vary within and across settings. However, there are few good, large studies outside major urban settings and many reports describe infections of babies born in hospital when most young infant infections probably occur in the majority born at home. Yet what knowledge there is can aid in instituting prompt and appropriate therapy, and perhaps thus minimize the emergence of multidrug-resistant bacteraemia, a major threat at least in hospital settings. Improved country level data on pattern of microorganisms, resistance and antibiotic use are required to help reduce mortality through development of local, evidence-based clinical guidelines.

Bejon P, Berkley JA, Mwangi T, Ogada E, Mwangi I, Maitland K, Williams T, Scott JA, English M, Lowe BS et al. 2007. Defining childhood severe falciparum malaria for intervention studies. PLoS Med, 4 (8), pp. e251. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Clinical trials of interventions designed to prevent severe falciparum malaria in children require a clear endpoint. The internationally accepted definition of severe malaria is sensitive, and appropriate for clinical purposes. However, this definition includes individuals with severe nonmalarial disease and coincident parasitaemia, so may lack specificity in vaccine trials. Although there is no "gold standard" individual test for severe malaria, malaria-attributable fractions (MAFs) can be estimated among groups of children using a logistic model, which we use to test the suitability of various case definitions as trial endpoints. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A total of 4,583 blood samples were taken from well children in cross-sectional surveys and from 1,361 children admitted to a Kenyan District hospital with severe disease. Among children under 2 y old with severe disease and over 2,500 parasites per microliter of blood, the MAFs were above 85% in moderate- and low-transmission areas, but only 61% in a high-transmission area. HIV and malnutrition were not associated with reduced MAFs, but gastroenteritis with severe dehydration (defined by reduced skin turgor), lower respiratory tract infection (clinician's final diagnosis), meningitis (on cerebrospinal fluid [CSF] examination), and bacteraemia were associated with reduced MAFs. The overall MAF was 85% (95% confidence interval [CI] 83.8%-86.1%) without excluding these conditions, 89% (95% CI 88.4%-90.2%) after exclusions, and 95% (95% CI 94.0%-95.5%) when a threshold of 2,500 parasites/mul was also applied. Applying a threshold and exclusion criteria reduced sensitivity to 80% (95% CI 77%-83%). CONCLUSIONS: The specificity of a case definition for severe malaria is improved by applying a parasite density threshold and by excluding children with meningitis, lower respiratory tract infection (clinician's diagnosis), bacteraemia, and gastroenteritis with severe dehydration, but not by excluding children with HIV or malnutrition.

Akumu AO, English M, Scott JA, Griffiths UK. 2007. Economic evaluation of delivering Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine in routine immunization services in Kenya. Bull World Health Organ, 85 (7), pp. 511-518. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine was introduced into routine immunization services in Kenya in 2001. We aimed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of Hib vaccine delivery. METHODS: A model was developed to follow the Kenyan 2004 birth cohort until death, with and without Hib vaccine. Incidence of invasive Hib disease was estimated at Kilifi District Hospital and in the surrounding demographic surveillance system in coastal Kenya. National Hib disease incidence was estimated by adjusting incidence observed by passive hospital surveillance using assumptions about access to care. Case fatality rates were also assumed dependent on access to care. A price of US$ 3.65 per dose of pentavalent diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis-hep B-Hib vaccine was used. Multivariate Monte Carlo simulations were performed in order to assess the impact on the cost-effectiveness ratios of uncertainty in parameter values. FINDINGS: The introduction of Hib vaccine reduced the estimated incidence of Hib meningitis per 100,000 children aged < 5 years from 71 to 8; of Hib non-meningitic invasive disease from 61 to 7; and of non-bacteraemic Hib pneumonia from 296 to 34. The costs per discounted disability adjusted life year (DALY) and per discounted death averted were US$ 38 (95% confidence interval, CI: 26-63) and US$ 1197 (95% CI: 814-2021) respectively. Most of the uncertainty in the results was due to uncertain access to care parameters. The break-even pentavalent vaccine price--where incremental Hib vaccination costs equal treatment costs averted from Hib disease--was US$ 1.82 per dose. CONCLUSION: Hib vaccine is a highly cost-effective intervention in Kenya. It would be cost-saving if the vaccine price was below half of its present level.

Ayieko P, English M. 2007. Case management of childhood pneumonia in developing countries. Pediatr Infect Dis J, 26 (5), pp. 432-440. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pneumonia is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children worldwide. Appropriate management depends on accurate assessment of disease severity, and for the majority of children in developing countries the assessment is based on clinical signs alone. This article reviews recent evidence on clinical assessment and severity classification of pneumonia and reported results on the effectiveness of currently recommended treatments. METHODS: Potential studies for inclusion were identified by Medline (1990-2006) search. The Oxford Center for Evidence Based Medicine criteria were used to describe the methodologic quality of selected studies. RESULTS: In the included studies the sensitivity of current definitions of tachypnea for diagnosing radiologic pneumonia ranged from 72% to 94% with specificities between 38% and 99%; chest indrawing had reported sensitivities of between 46% and 78%. Data provide some support for the value of current clinical criteria for classifying pneumonia severity, with those meeting severe or very severe criteria being at considerably increased risk of death, hypoxemia or bacteremia. Results of randomized controlled trials report clinically defined improvement at 48 hours in at least 80% of children treated using recommended antibiotics. However, a limitation of these data may include inappropriate definitions of treatment failure. CONCLUSION: Particularly with regard to severe pneumonia, issues that specifically need to be addressed are the adequacy of penicillin monotherapy, or oral amoxicillin or alternative antibiotics; the timing of introduction of high-dose trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole in children at risk for or known to be infected by HIV and the value of pulse oximetry.

Maitland K, Berkley JA, Shebbe M, Peshu N, English M, Newton CR. 2006. Children with severe malnutrition: can those at highest risk of death be identified with the WHO protocol? PLoS Med, 3 (12), pp. e500. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: With strict adherence to international recommended treatment guidelines, the case fatality for severe malnutrition ought to be less than 5%. In African hospitals, fatality rates of 20% are common and are often attributed to poor training and faulty case management. Improving outcome will depend upon the identification of those at greatest risk and targeting limited health resources. We retrospectively examined the major risk factors associated with early (<48 h) and late in-hospital death in children with severe malnutrition with the aim of identifying admission features that could distinguish a high-risk group in relation to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Of 920 children in the study, 176 (19%) died, with 59 (33%) deaths occurring within 48 h of admission. Bacteraemia complicated 27% of all deaths: 52% died before 48 h despite 85% in vitro antibiotic susceptibility of cultured organisms. The sensitivity, specificity, and likelihood ratio of the WHO-recommended "danger signs" (lethargy, hypothermia, or hypoglycaemia) to predict early mortality was 52%, 84%, and 3.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.2 to 5.1), respectively. In addition, four bedside features were associated with early case fatality: bradycardia, capillary refill time greater than 2 s, weak pulse volume, and impaired consciousness level; the presence of two or more features was associated with an odds ratio of 9.6 (95% CI = 4.8 to 19) for early fatality (p < 0.0001). Conversely, the group of children without any of these seven features, or signs of dehydration, severe acidosis, or electrolyte derangements, had a low fatality (7%). CONCLUSIONS: Formal assessment of these features as emergency signs to improve triage and to rationalize manpower resources toward the high-risk groups is required. In addition, basic clinical research is necessary to identify and test appropriate supportive treatments.

Ayieko P, English M. 2006. In children aged 2-59 months with pneumonia, which clinical signs best predict hypoxaemia? J Trop Pediatr, 52 (5), pp. 307-310. | Read more

Newton O, English M. 2006. Newborn resuscitation: defining best practice for low-income settings. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 100 (10), pp. 899-908. | Show Abstract | Read more

Current resuscitation practices are often poor in low-income settings. The purpose of this review was to summarise recent evidence, relevant to developing countries, on best practice in the provision of newborn resuscitation. Potential studies for inclusion were identified using structured searches of MEDLINE via PubMed. Two reviewers independently evaluated retrieved studies for inclusion. The methodological quality of the selected articles was assessed using the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) levels of evidence, whilst the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) grading system was used for subsequent recommendations. Based on available evidence, where there is meconium-stained liquor, routine perineal suction of all babies and endotracheal suction of active babies do not prevent meconium aspiration syndrome and have potential risks. Adequate ventilation is possible with a bag-valve-mask device and room air is just as efficient as oxygen for initial resuscitation. This review supports the view that effective resuscitation is possible with basic equipment and minimal skills. Thus, where resources are limited, it should be possible to improve neonatal outcomes through promotion of the effective use of a bag-valve-mask alone, without access to more sophisticated and expensive technologies. Basic, effective resuscitation should therefore be available at all health facilities and potentially in the community.

Cowgill KD, Ndiritu M, Nyiro J, Slack MP, Chiphatsi S, Ismail A, Kamau T, Mwangi I, English M, Newton CR et al. 2006. Effectiveness of Haemophilus influenzae type b Conjugate vaccine introduction into routine childhood immunization in Kenya. JAMA, 296 (6), pp. 671-678. | Show Abstract | Read more

CONTEXT: Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) conjugate vaccine is not perceived as a public health priority in Africa because data on Hib disease burden and vaccine effectiveness are scarce. Hib immunization was introduced in Kenyan infants in 2001. OBJECTIVE: To define invasive Hib disease incidence and Hib vaccine program effectiveness in Kenya. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PATIENTS: Culture-based surveillance for invasive Hib disease at Kilifi District Hospital from 2000 through 2005 was linked to demographic surveillance of 38,000 children younger than 5 years in Kilifi District, Kenya. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and Hib vaccination status were determined for children with Hib disease admitted 2002-2005. INTERVENTIONS: Introduction of conjugate Hib vaccine within the routine childhood immunization program at ages 6, 10, and 14 weeks beginning November 2001. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Incidence of culture-proven Hib invasive disease before and after vaccine introduction and vaccine program effectiveness. RESULTS: Prior to vaccine introduction, the median age of children with Hib was 8 months; case fatality was 23%. Among children younger than 5 years, the annual incidence of invasive Hib disease 1 year before and 1 and 3 years after vaccine introduction was 66, 47, and 7.6 per 100,000, respectively. For children younger than 2 years, incidence was 119, 82, and 16 per 100,000, respectively. In 2004-2005, vaccine effectiveness was 88% (95% confidence interval, 73%-96%) among children younger than 5 years and 87% (95% confidence interval, 66%-96%) among children younger than 2 years. Of 53 children with Hib admitted during 2002-2005, 29 (55%) were age-ineligible to have received vaccine, 12 (23%) had not been vaccinated despite being eligible, and 12 (23%) had received 2 or more doses of vaccine (2 were HIV positive). CONCLUSIONS: In Kenya, introduction of Hib vaccine into the routine childhood immunization program reduced Hib disease incidence among children younger than 5 years to 12% of its baseline level. This impact was not observed until the third year after vaccine introduction.

Zurovac D, Midia B, Ochola SA, English M, Snow RW. 2006. Microscopy and outpatient malaria case management among older children and adults in Kenya. Trop Med Int Health, 11 (4), pp. 432-440. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the accuracy of routine malaria microscopy, and appropriate use and interpretation of malaria slides under operational conditions in Kenya. METHODS: Cross-sectional survey, using a range of quality of care assessment tools, at government facilities with malaria microscopy in two Kenyan districts of different intensity of malaria transmission. All patients older than 5 years presenting to outpatient departments were enrolled. Two expert microscopists assessed the accuracy of the routine malaria slide results. RESULTS: We analysed 359 consultations performed by 31 clinicians at 17 facilities. Clinical assessment was suboptimal. Blood slide microscopy was performed for 72.7% of patients, who represented 78.5% of febrile patients and 51.3% of afebrile patients. About 95.5% of patients with a positive malaria microscopy result and 79.3% of patients with a negative result received antimalarial treatment. Sulphadoxine-pyremethamine monotherapy was more commonly prescribed for patients with a negative test result (60.7%) than for patients with a positive result (32.4%). Conversely, amodiaquine or quinine were prescribed for only 14.7% of patients with a negative malaria microscopy result compared to 57.7% of patients with a positive result. The prevalence of confirmed malaria was low in both high (10.0%) and low-(16.3%) transmission settings. Combining data from both settings, the sensitivity of routine microscopy was 68.6%; its specificity, 61.5%; its positive predictive value, 21.6% and its negative predictive value, 92.7%. CONCLUSIONS: The potential benefits of microscopy are currently not realised because of the poor quality of routine testing and irrational clinical practices. Ambiguous clinical guidelines permitting treatment of older children and adults with a negative blood slide also undermine rational use of antimalarial drugs.

Brent AJ, Ahmed I, Ndiritu M, Lewa P, Ngetsa C, Lowe B, Bauni E, English M, Berkley JA, Scott JA. 2006. Incidence of clinically significant bacteraemia in children who present to hospital in Kenya: community-based observational study. Lancet, 367 (9509), pp. 482-488. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Estimates of the burden of invasive bacterial disease in sub-Saharan Africa have previously relied on selected groups of patients, such as inpatients; they are, therefore, probably underestimated, potentially hampering vaccine implementation. Our aim was to assess the incidence of bacteraemia in all children presenting to a hospital in Kenya, irrespective of clinical presentation or decision to admit. METHODS: We did a community-based observational study for which we cultured blood from 1093 children who visited a Kenyan hospital outpatient department. We estimated bacteraemia incidence with a Demographic Surveillance System, and investigated the clinical significance of bacteraemia and the capacity of clinical signs to identify cases. RESULTS: The yearly incidence of bacteraemia per 100,000 children aged younger than 2 years and younger than 5 years was 2440 (95% CI 1307-3573) and 1192 (692-1693), respectively. Incidence of pneumococcal bacteraemia was 597 (416-778) per 100,000 person-years of observation in children younger than age 5 years. Three-quarters of episodes had a clinical focus or required admission, or both; one in six was fatal. After exclusion of children with occult bacteraemia, the incidence of clinically significant bacteraemia per 100,000 children younger than age 2 years or 5 years fell to 1741 (790-2692) and 909 (475-1343), respectively, and the yearly incidence of clinically significant pneumococcal bacteraemia was 436 (132-739) per 100,000 children younger than 5 years old. Clinical signs identified bacteraemia poorly. INTERPRETATION: Clinically significant bacteraemia in children in Kilifi is twice as common, and pneumococcal bacteraemia four times as common, as previously estimated. Our data support the introduction of pneumococcal vaccine in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mwakyusa S, Wamae A, Wasunna A, Were F, Esamai F, Ogutu B, Muriithi A, Peshu N, English M. 2006. Implementation of a structured paediatric admission record for district hospitals in Kenya – results of a pilot study BMC International Health and Human Rights, 6 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: The structured admission form is an apparently simple measure to improve data quality. Poor motivation, lack of supervision, lack of resources and other factors are conceivably major barriers to their successful use in a Kenyan public hospital setting. Here we have examined the feasibility and acceptability of a structured paediatric admission record (PAR) for district hospitals as a means of improving documentation of illness. Methods: The PAR was primarily based on symptoms and signs included in the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) diagnostic algorithms. It was introduced with a three-hour training session, repeated subsequently for those absent, aiming for complete coverage of admitting clinical staff. Data from consecutive records before (n = 163) and from a 60% random sample of dates after intervention (n = 705) were then collected to evaluate record quality. The post-intervention period was further divided into four 2-month blocks by open, feedback meetings for hospital staff on the uptake and completeness of the PAR. Results: The frequency of use of the PAR increased from 50% in the first 2 months to 84% in the final 2 months, although there was significant variation in use among clinicians. The quality of documentation also improved considerably over t ime. For example documentation of skin turgor in cases of diarrhoea improved from 2% pre-intervention to 83% in the final 2 months of observation. Even in the area of preventive care documentation of immunization status improved from 1% of children before intervention to 21% in the final 2 months. Conclusion: The PAR was well accepted by most clinicians and greatly improved documentation of features recommended by IMCI for identifying and classifying severity of common diseases. The PAR could provide a useful platform for implementing standard referral care treatment guidelines. © 2006 Mwakyusa et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Casals-Pascual C, Kai O, Lowe B, English M, Williams TN, Maitland K, Newton CR, Peshu N, Roberts DJ. 2006. Lactate levels in severe malarial anaemia are associated with haemozoin-containing neutrophils and low levels of IL-12. Malar J, 5 pp. 101. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Hyperlactataemia is often associated with a poor outcome in severe malaria in African children. To unravel the complex pathophysiology of this condition the relationship between plasma lactate levels, parasite density, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, and haemozoin-containing leucocytes was studied in children with severe falciparum malarial anaemia. METHODS: Twenty-six children with a primary diagnosis of severe malarial anaemia with any asexual Plasmodium falciparum parasite density and Hb < 5 g/dL were studied and the association of plasma lactate levels and haemozoin-containing leucocytes, parasite density, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines was measured. The same associations were measured in non-severe malaria controls (N = 60). RESULTS: Parasite density was associated with lactate levels on admission (r = 0.56, P < 0.005). Moreover, haemozoin-containing neutrophils and IL-12 were strongly associated with plasma lactate levels, independently of parasite density (r = 0.60, P = 0.003 and r = -0.46, P = 0.02, respectively). These associations were not found in controls with uncomplicated malarial anaemia. CONCLUSION: These data suggest that blood stage parasites, haemozoin and low levels of IL-12 may be associated with the development of hyperlactataemia in severe malarial anaemia.

Gordon AL, English M, Tumaini Dzombo J, Karisa M, Newton CR. 2005. Neurological and developmental outcome of neonatal jaundice and sepsis in rural Kenya. Trop Med Int Health, 10 (11), pp. 1114-1120. | Show Abstract | Read more

Neonatal jaundice (NJ) and sepsis are common causes of neonatal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, but little is known about the long-term morbidity in this setting. This study aimed to describe the neurological and developmental sequelae of severe neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia and neonatal sepsis (NS) in a district hospital in rural Kenya. Twenty-three term infants with NJ [total serum bilirubin (TSB) >300 mumol/l] and 24 infants with a history of NS were identified from hospital records. These children were compared to 40 children from the community (CC) without neonatal problems. At ages 18-32 months, the children's neurological, motor and developmental status were assessed, and blood groups of the NJ and NS subjects and their mothers were determined. Ten (43%) of the NJ subjects were unable to sit and/or stand independently. The NJ subjects had significantly more neurological, motor and developmental difficulties and caused greater maternal concern than the CCs. Five (21%) of the NJ subjects had possible blood group incompatibility. The NS subjects had significantly more motor and eye-hand difficulties and maternal concerns expressed than the CCs. Severe NJ in term infants (of mainly non-haemolytic origin) was associated with a high prevalence of neurological and developmental sequelae at ages 18-32 months. The NS is also associated with neuro-developmental sequelae, but the pattern is different to those seen in NJ. Since NS is common in resource poor countries, this may be an important cause of neuro-developmental impairment in children living in this setting.

English M. 2005. Child survival: district hospitals and paediatricians. Arch Dis Child, 90 (9), pp. 974-978. | Show Abstract | Read more

In a previous article in this series, Zulfiquar Bhutta outlined many of the key sociopolitical issues, both national and international, that currently affect the delivery of health care to children in developing countries. The clear summary of our situation is that we are failing to provide even basic health care (both preventive and curative) that could reduce child mortality globally by more than half. Paediatricians, who have perhaps in the past felt they were at the forefront of articulating and promoting a global health agenda, should be challenged by these conclusions. The successful ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that unequivocally target health was not a finishing line, a goal achieved, but rather a foundation for action. Therefore while researchers might have felt some satisfaction at successes in defining optimum treatment approaches, the pathways to delivering services were, and remain, far from clear. Progress is further complicated by the diverse conditions and obstacles that may be encountered worldwide.

Berkley J, Mwangi I, Griffiths K, Ahmed I, Mithwani S, English M, Newton C, Maitland K. 2005. Assessment of severe malnutrition among hospitalized children in rural Kenya: comparison of weight for height and mid upper arm circumference. JAMA, 294 (5), pp. 591-597. | Show Abstract | Read more

CONTEXT: Severe malnutrition has a high mortality rate among hospitalized children in sub-Saharan Africa. However, reports suggest that malnutrition is often poorly assessed. The World Health Organization recommends using weight for height, but this method is problematic and often not undertaken in practice. Mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) and the clinical sign "visible severe wasting" are simple and inexpensive methods but have not been evaluated in this setting. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate MUAC and visible severe wasting as predictors of inpatient mortality at a district hospital in sub-Saharan Africa and to compare these with weight-for-height z score (WHZ). DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Cohort study with data collected at admission and at discharge or death. Predictive values for inpatient death were determined using the area under receiver operating characteristic curves. Participants were children aged 12 to 59 months admitted to a district hospital in rural Kenya between April 1, 1999, and July 31, 2002. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: MUAC, WHZ, and visible severe wasting as predictors of inpatient death. RESULTS: Overall, 4.4% (359) of children included in the study died while in the hospital. Sixteen percent (1282/8190) of admitted children had severe wasting (WHZ < or =-3) (n = 756), kwashiorkor (n = 778), or both. The areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves for predicting inpatient death did not significantly differ (MUAC: 0.75 [95% confidence interval, 0.72-0.78]; WHZ: 0.74 [95% confidence interval, 0.71-0.77]) (P = .39). Although sensitivity and specificity for subsequent inpatient death were 46% and 91%, respectively, for MUAC less than or equal to 11.5 cm, 42% and 92% for WHZ less than or equal to -3, and 47% and 93% for visible severe wasting, the 3 indices identified different sets of children and were independently associated with mortality. Clinical features of malnutrition were significantly more common among children with MUAC less than or equal to 11.5 cm than among those with WHZ less than or equal to -3. CONCLUSIONS: MUAC is a practical screening tool that performs at least as well as WHZ in predicting subsequent inpatient mortality among severely malnourished children hospitalized in rural Kenya. Visible severe wasting is also a potentially useful sign at this level, providing appropriate training has been given.

Bejon P, Mwangi I, Ngetsa C, Mwarumba S, Berkley JA, Lowe BS, Maitland K, Marsh K, English M, Scott JA. 2005. Invasive Gram-negative bacilli are frequently resistant to standard antibiotics for children admitted to hospital in Kilifi, Kenya. J Antimicrob Chemother, 56 (1), pp. 232-235. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: To determine the pattern of resistance among Gram-negative bacilli causing invasive bacterial disease for the antibiotics that are already in common use in Kilifi, Kenya and for two potential alternatives, ciprofloxacin and cefotaxime. Also, to determine whether prevalence and severity of resistance was increasing over time, to identify patients who are particularly at risk of resistant infections, and to explore which factors are associated with the development of resistance in our setting. METHODS: We used Etest to study antibiotic susceptibility patterns of 90 Gram-negative bacilli cultured in blood or CSF from paediatric inpatients over 8 years. RESULTS: Susceptibility to amoxicillin 28%, cefotaxime 95% and ciprofloxacin 99% did not vary significantly with age. Susceptibilities for isolates from children aged less than 14 days were: chloramphenicol, 81%; trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, 71%; and gentamicin, 91%. From older children, susceptibilities were: chloramphenicol, 62%; trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, 39%; and gentamicin, 73%. Chloramphenicol susceptibility was significantly more common among non-typhi salmonellae than other species (79% versus 53%, P < 0.0005). The combination of gentamicin and chloramphenicol covered 91% of all isolates. The prevalence of resistance did not increase over time and was not more common in patients with HIV or malnutrition. Age was the only clinical feature that predicted resistance. CONCLUSIONS: Gentamicin or chloramphenicol alone was suboptimal therapy for Gram-negative sepsis, although in this retrospective study, there was no association between resistance and mortality.

Scott JA, Mwarumba S, Ngetsa C, Njenga S, Lowe BS, Slack MP, Berkley JA, Mwangi I, Maitland K, English M, Marsh K. 2005. Progressive increase in antimicrobial resistance among invasive isolates of Haemophilus influenzae obtained from children admitted to a hospital in Kilifi, Kenya, from 1994 to 2002. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 49 (7), pp. 3021-3024. | Show Abstract | Read more

Etest susceptibilities to amoxicillin, chloramphenicol, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole of 240 invasive isolates of Haemophilus influenzae cultured from children in rural Kenya were 66%, 66%, and 38%, respectively. Resistance increased markedly over 9 years and was concentrated among serotype b isolates. In Africa, the increasing cost of treating resistant infections supports economic arguments for prevention through conjugate H. influenzae type b immunization.

Ross A, English M. 2005. Early infant growth monitoring--time well spent? Trop Med Int Health, 10 (5), pp. 404-411. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In sub-Saharan Africa, growth monitoring for every infant consumes time and resources with no evidence of any benefits. We consider an alternative pragmatic approach which provides scheduled monitoring for low birth weight infants only, and takes advantage of non-routine clinic visits for normal birth weight infants. We investigate the implications for the number of weighing episodes and performance as a screening tool using data from a cohort study of infants followed-up from birth to 98 days. METHODS: Babies delivered in a Kenyan district hospital and enrolled in a birth cohort were weighed at birth and at follow-up visits coinciding with their immunizations at 6, 10 and 14 weeks. Episodes of illness resulting in clinic visits, hospital admissions or death were identified and recorded. RESULTS: Four-fifths (81%) of the 2210 babies weighed 2500 g or more at birth, of whom 133 (7%) were admitted to hospital or died before 14 weeks of age. 85% of the deaths and 67% of admissions occurred within 3 weeks of birth. Most babies weighing 2500 g or more and who had weight measurements grew well. Only 4% of infants were exclusively breastfed at 14 weeks of age. Neither universal nor pragmatic growth monitoring was a good screening tool among this group of infants for episodes of illness in the short-term. Pragmatic monitoring would involve 72% fewer weighing episodes. CONCLUSIONS: A pragmatic approach in early infancy would not represent a major change in policy, would appear to have no disadvantages and would probably increase the time available for implementing interventions of greater benefit such as breastfeeding promotion.

Maitland K, Pamba A, English M, Peshu N, Marsh K, Newton C, Levin M. 2005. Randomized trial of volume expansion with albumin or saline in children with severe malaria: preliminary evidence of albumin benefit. Clin Infect Dis, 40 (4), pp. 538-545. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Metabolic acidosis is the best predictor of death in children with severe falciparum malaria; however, its treatment presents a therapeutic dilemma, because acidosis and hypovolemia may coexist with coma, which can be associated with elevated intracranial pressure. We postulated that volume resuscitation with albumin might correct acidosis and hypovolemia with a lower risk of precipitating cerebral edema than crystalloid. In an open-label, randomized, controlled trial, we compared the safety of resuscitation with albumin to saline in Kenyan children with severe malaria. METHODS: We randomly assigned children with severe malaria and metabolic acidosis (base deficit, >8 mmol/L) to receive fluid resuscitation with either 4.5% albumin or normal saline. A control (maintenance only) group was only included for patients with a base deficit of <15 mmol/L. The primary outcome measure was the percentage reduction in base deficit at 8 h. Secondary end points included death, the requirement for rescue therapies, and neurological sequelae in survivors. RESULTS: Of 150 children recruited for the trial, 61 received saline, 56 received albumin, and 33 served as control subjects. There was no significant difference in the resolution of acidosis between the groups; however, the mortality rate was significantly lower among patients who received albumin (3.6% [2 of 56 patients]) than among those who received saline (18% [11 of 61]; relative risk, 5.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-24.8; P=.013). CONCLUSIONS: In high-risk children with severe malaria and acidosis, fluid resuscitation with albumin may reduce mortality. Our study design did not enable us to determine whether saline administration is preferable to fluid restriction or whether saline administration is actually hazardous. Further studies are needed to confirm our findings before definitive treatment recommendations can be made.

Maitland K, Pamba A, English M, Peshu N, Levin M, Marsh K, Newton CR. 2005. Pre-transfusion management of children with severe malarial anaemia: a randomised controlled trial of intravascular volume expansion. Br J Haematol, 128 (3), pp. 393-400. | Show Abstract | Read more

Symptomatic severe malarial anaemia (SMA) has a high fatality rate of 30-40%; most deaths occur in children awaiting blood transfusion. Blood transfusion services in most of Africa are not capable of delivering adequate supplies of safe blood in a timely manner to critically ill children with SMA. Contrary to widely held belief, hypovolaemia, rather than heart failure, has emerged as a common complication in such children. We examined the safety of pre-transfusion management (PTM) by volume expansion, aimed at stabilizing children and obviating the urgency for blood transfusion. Kenyan children with severe falciparum anaemia (haemoglobin <5 g/dl) and respiratory distress were randomly assigned to 20 ml/kg of 4.5% albumin or 0.9% saline or maintenance only (control) while awaiting blood transfusion. PTM was apparently safe since it did not lead to the development of pulmonary oedema or other adverse events. There was no significant difference in the primary outcome [mean percentage reduction in base excess between admission and 8 h (95% confidence interval)] between the control group 42% (19-66%) albumin group 44% (32-57%) and saline group 36% (16-57%); adjusted analysis of variance F=0.31, P=0.7. However, the number of children requiring emergency interventions was significantly greater in the control group, four of 18 (22%) than the saline group 0 of 20 (P=0.03). We have established the safety of this PTM in children with SMA whilst awaiting blood transfusion at a hospital with an adequate blood-banking program. The impact on mortality should be assessed where blood transfusion services are unable to supply emergency transfusions.

Berkley JA, Lowe BS, Mwangi I, Williams T, Bauni E, Mwarumba S, Ngetsa C, Slack MP, Njenga S, Hart CA et al. 2005. Bacteremia among children admitted to a rural hospital in Kenya. N Engl J Med, 352 (1), pp. 39-47. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There are few epidemiologic data on invasive bacterial infections among children in sub-Saharan Africa. We studied every acute pediatric admission to a rural district hospital in Kenya to examine the prevalence, incidence, types, and outcome of community-acquired bacteremia. METHODS: Between August 1998 and July 2002, we cultured blood on admission from 19,339 inpatients and calculated the incidence of bacteremia on the basis of the population served by the hospital. RESULTS: Of a total of 1783 infants who were under 60 days old, 228 had bacteremia (12.8 percent), as did 866 of 14,787 children who were 60 or more days of age (5.9 percent). Among infants who were under 60 days old, Escherichia coli and group B streptococci predominated among a broad range of isolates (14 percent and 11 percent, respectively). Among infants who were 60 or more days of age, Streptococcus pneumoniae, nontyphoidal salmonella species, Haemophilus influenzae, and E. coli accounted for more than 70 percent of isolates. The minimal annual incidence of community-acquired bacteremia was estimated at 1457 cases per 100,000 children among infants under a year old, 1080 among children under 2 years, and 505 among children under 5 years. Of all in-hospital deaths, 26 percent were in children with community-acquired bacteremia. Of 308 deaths in children with bacteremia, 103 (33.4 percent) occurred on the day of admission and 217 (70.5 percent) within two days. CONCLUSIONS: Community-acquired bacteremia is a major cause of death among children at a rural sub-Saharan district hospital, a finding that highlights the need for prevention and for overcoming the political and financial barriers to widespread use of existing vaccines for bacterial diseases.

English M, Esamai F, Wasunna A, Were F, Ogutu B, Wamae A, Snow RW, Peshu N. 2004. Delivery of paediatric care at the first-referral level in Kenya. Lancet, 364 (9445), pp. 1622-1629. | Show Abstract | Read more

We aimed to investigate provision of paediatric care in government district hospitals in Kenya. We surveyed 14 first-referral level hospitals from seven of Kenya's eight provinces and obtained data for workload, outcome of admission, infrastructure, and resources and the views of hospital staff and caretakers of admitted children. Paediatric admission rates varied almost ten-fold. Basic anti-infective drugs, clinical supplies, and laboratory tests were available in at least 12 hospitals, although these might be charged for on discharge. In at least 11 hospitals, antistaphylococcal drugs, appropriate treatment for malnutrition, newborn feeds, and measurement of bilirubin were rarely or never available. Staff highlighted infrastructure and human and consumable resources as problems. However, a strong sense of commitment, support for the work of the hospital, and a desire for improvement were expressed. Caretakers' views were generally positive, although dissatisfaction with the physical environment in which care took place was common. The capacity of the district hospital in Kenya needs strengthening by comprehensive policies that address real needs if current or new interventions and services at this level of care are to enhance child survival.

Zurovac D, Rowe AK, Ochola SA, Noor AM, Midia B, English M, Snow RW. 2004. Predictors of the quality of health worker treatment practices for uncomplicated malaria at government health facilities in Kenya. Int J Epidemiol, 33 (5), pp. 1080-1091. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: When replacing failing drugs for malaria with more effective drugs, an important step towards reducing the malaria burden is that health workers (HW) prescribe drugs according to evidence-based guidelines. Past studies have shown that HW commonly do not follow guidelines, yet few studies have explored with appropriate methods why such practices occur. METHODS: We analysed data from a survey of government health facilities in four Kenyan districts in which HW consultations were observed, caretakers and HW were interviewed, and health facility assessments were performed. The analysis was limited to children 2-59 months old with uncomplicated malaria. Treatment was defined as recommended (antimalarial recommended by national guidelines), a minor error (effective, but non-recommended antimalarial), or inappropriate (no effective antimalarial). RESULTS: We evaluated 1006 consultations performed by 135 HW at 81 facilities: 567 children received recommended treatment, 314 had minor errors, and 125 received inappropriate treatment (weighted percentages: 56.9%, 30.4%, and 12.7%). Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that programmatic interventions such as in-service malaria training, provision of guidelines and wall charts, and more frequent supervision were significantly associated with better treatment quality. However, neither in-service training nor possession of the guideline document showed an effect by itself. More qualified HW made more errors: both major and minor errors (but generally more minor errors) when second-line drugs were in stock, and more major errors when second-line drugs were not in stock. Child factors such as age and a main complaint of fever were also associated with treatment quality. CONCLUSIONS: Our results support the use of several programmatic strategies that can redress HW deficiencies in malaria treatment. Targeted cost-effectiveness trials would help refine these strategies and provide more precise guidance on affordable and effective ways to strengthen and maintain HW practices.

English M, Esamai F, Wasunna A, Were F, Ogutu B, Wamae A, Snow RW, Peshu N. 2004. Assessment of inpatient paediatric care in first referral level hospitals in 13 districts in Kenya. Lancet, 363 (9425), pp. 1948-1953. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The district hospital is considered essential for delivering basic, cost-effective health care to children in resource poor countries. We aimed to investigate the performance of these facilities in Kenya. METHODS: Government hospitals providing first referral level care were prospectively sampled from 13 Kenyan districts. Workload statistics and data documenting the management and care of admitted children were obtained by specially trained health workers. FINDINGS: Data from 14 hospitals were surveyed with routine statistics showing considerable variation in inpatient paediatric mortality (range 4-15%) and specific case fatality rates (eg, anaemia 3-46%). The value of these routine data is seriously undermined by missing data, apparent avoidance of a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, and absence of standard definitions. Case management practices are often not in line with national or international guidelines. For malaria, signs defining severity such as the level of consciousness and degree of respiratory distress are often not documented (range per hospital 0-100% and 9-77%, respectively), loading doses of quinine are rarely given (3% of cases) and dose errors are not uncommon. Resource constraints such as a lack of nutritional supplements for malnourished children also restrict the provision of basic, effective care. INTERPRETATION: Even crude performance measures suggest there is a great need to improve care and data quality, and to identify and tackle key health system constraints at the first referral level in Kenya. Appropriate intervention might lead to more effective use of health workers' efforts in such hospitals.

English M, Ngama M, Mwalekwa L, Peshu N. 2004. Signs of illness in Kenyan infants aged less than 60 days. Bull World Health Organ, 82 (5), pp. 323-329. | Show Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Little data has been published on the presenting symptoms and signs among ill infants aged <60 days from developing countries. We aimed to describe and evaluate the potential of simple clinical features to identify severe illness among young infants who present to rural district hospitals in Kenya. METHODS: Standardized assessment tools were designed to record clinical symptoms and signs. Data were collected prospectively on all infants aged <60 days who weighed > or = 1.5 kg and were admitted over an 18-month period. The same data were collected, prospectively from infants recruited to a contemporaneous hospital birth cohort who became ill and were assessed and treated as outpatients at the same hospital. FINDINGS: Data on 467 outpatient consultations and 769 inpatient episodes were available for analysis. These data highlighted the importance of findings in the history, particularly breathing difficulties, abnormal feeding, and abnormal behaviour, as well as clinical signs in the evaluation of young infants. They indicated possible important differences in the panel of signs useful for detecting severe illness in infants aged 0-6 days and those aged 7-59 days. They also showed that some simplification of current guidelines that still preserved the sensitivity and specificity for detecting very severe disease might be possible. CONCLUSION: Simple clinical features may allow distinction between severe and non-severe illness to be made with reasonable confidence. Prospective studies on an adequate scale are needed urgently to provide current integrated management of childhood illness guidelines for young infants with an adequate evidence base.

Ngama MJ, Ouma B, English ME, Nokes DJ. 2004. Comparison of three methods of collecting nasal specimens for respiratory virus analysis. East Afr Med J, 81 (6), pp. 313-317. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Nasopharyngeal aspiration (NPA) is used widely in the collection of nasal specimens for respiratory virus diagnosis. The method has limitations in relation to technical expertise, patient anxiety, and apparatus dependence. Nasal washing (NW) offers an alternative approach. OBJECTIVE: To identify the merits of two different NW methods in comparison with NPA. DESIGN: Two hundred children with acute respiratory infection (ARI) were randomised to receive one of three collection devices: (i) standard NPA, (ii) NW using a 30ml ear-syringe bulb (NWb), or (iii) NW using a 5ml syringe (NWs) with a shortened (9cm) 8FG tube. Assessment focused on ease of procedure, acceptability to parent and child, and adequacy of epithelial cell yield for immunofluorescence testing. A short questionnaire was delivered. SETTING: Paediatric Ward of Kilifi District Hospital, (KDH) Kilifi, Kenya. SUBJECTS: Any child admitted with ARI between 5th November 2001 and 24th January 2002. RESULTS: Children recruited into NPA, NWb and NWs procedures numbered 62, 76 and 62, respectively (median age of 8 months). A higher proportion of children receiving NWb did not cry (43%) compared to those receiving NPA (13%) (OR 5.18; 95% CI 2.17-12.4). Whereas 66% of mothers were comfortable with NPA procedure, the proportion for NWs was 40% (OR 0.341; 0.163-0.714). Acceptability to the operator was marginally lower for NWs than NPA (79% vs 92%, OR 0.324, 0.107-0.974). For other observations there were no differences between the procedures; these were length of procedure (98% <5mins), the acceptable time interval for repeating a procedure (64% <1 week), comparison with blood collection (77% preferred the nasal specimen) and slides with 20 or more epithelial cells (overall 82%). CONCLUSION: Nasal washing methods provide simple and effective alternatives to NPA, with the NWb being the more acceptable, and have merits for use in resource poor and home settings.

English M, Muhoro A, Aluda M, Were S, Ross A, Peshu N. 2003. Outcome of delivery and cause-specific mortality and severe morbidity in early infancy: a Kenyan District Hospital birth cohort. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 69 (2), pp. 228-232. | Show Abstract

It has proven very difficult to determine the causes of early infant mortality and morbidity in Africa. We undertook a two-year, prospective birth cohort study in a rural Kenyan District Hospital to estimate cause-specific mortality and severe morbidity in infants too young to gain benefit from routine immunization approaches. A total of 2,359 infants eligible for the cohort were delivered. Of these, 136 (6%) were stillborn and 77 (3.5%) subsequently died. Prematurity (34%), birth asphyxia (27%), and infection (18.5%) were the predominant causes of death in the first 98 days of life, although infection accounted for 36% of all life-threatening illness episodes in the same period. The data suggest that health system constraints are likely to impede programmatic efforts to reduce early infant mortality and morbidity, and that infection prevention measures offer some promise for mortality reduction. Assessing the cost effectiveness of the latter, particularly for very specific interventions such as further maternal vaccination, will require very large trials.

Thomson AH, Kokwaro GO, Muchohi SN, English M, Mohammed S, Edwards G. 2003. Population pharmacokinetics of intramuscular gentamicin administered to young infants with suspected severe sepsis in Kenya. Br J Clin Pharmacol, 56 (1), pp. 25-31. | Show Abstract | Read more

AIMS: To determine the population pharmacokinetics of intramuscular (i.m.) gentamicin in African infants with suspected severe sepsis. METHODS: Samples were withdrawn 1 h after a single i.m. injection of 8 mg x kg(-1) gentamicin and the next morning prior to any further dosing. Concentration-time data were analysed with the population pharmacokinetic package NONMEM. Data were fitted using a one-compartment model with a log-normal model for interindividual variability and an additive residual error model. The influence of a range of clinical characteristics was tested on the pharmacokinetics of intramuscular gentamicin and the effect of incorporating interindividual variability on bioavailability was examined. RESULTS: The data set comprised 107 patients and 203 concentrations. Peak concentrations ranged from 3.0 mg x L(-1) to 19.8 mg x L(-1) (median 10.6 mg x L(-1)) and 'next day' samples from 0.3 mg x L(-1) to 6.2 mg x L(-1). The best models were clearance/bioavailability (CL) (L x h(-1)) = 0.0913 x weight (kg) x (age (days) + 1)/11)0.130 and volume of distribution/bioavailability (V) = 2.02 x (1 + 0.277 x (weight -3)). Therefore, an infant with the median weight of 3 kg and age 10 days would have a predicted CL of 0.274 L x h(-1) and V of 2.02 L. Interindividual variability in CL was 40% and in V was 42%. This model required a term for covariance between CL and V. When variability in bioavailability was introduced as an alternative model, interindividual variability in CL was 22%, in V 18% and in relative bioavailability 36%. CONCLUSIONS: Intramuscular administration of 8 mg x kg(-1) gentamicin daily to infants gives mean 1 h peak concentration of 10.6 mg x L(-1) and a trough concentration of less than 2 mg x L(-1). Wide variability in the peak concentration may reflect variable absorption rate or bioavailability.

Maitland K, Levin M, English M, Mithwani S, Peshu N, Marsh K, Newton CR. 2003. Severe P. falciparum malaria in Kenyan children: evidence for hypovolaemia. QJM, 96 (6), pp. 427-434. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The role of volume resuscitation in severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria is controversial. AIM: To examine the role of hypovolaemia in severe childhood malaria. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective review. METHODS: We studied 515 children admitted with severe malaria to a high-dependency unit (HDU) in Kilifi, Kenya. On admission to the HDU, children underwent a further assessment of vital signs and a standard clinical examination. RESULTS: Factors associated with a fatal outcome included deep breathing or acidosis (base excess below -8), hypotension (systolic blood pressure <80 mmHg), raised plasma creatinine (>80 micro mol/l), low oxygen saturation (<90%), dehydration and hypoglycaemia (<2.5 mmol/l). Shock was present in 212/372 (57%) children, of whom 37 (17.5%) died, and was absent in 160, of who only 7 (4.4%) died (chi(2) = 14.9; p = 0.001). DISCUSSION: Impaired tissue perfusion may play a role in the mortality of severe malaria. Moreover, volume resuscitation, an important life-saving intervention in children with hypovolaemia, should be considered in severe malaria with evidence of impaired tissue perfusion.

English M, Berkley J, Mwangi I, Mohammed S, Ahmed M, Osier F, Muturi N, Ogutu B, Marsh K, Newton CR. 2003. Hypothetical performance of syndrome-based management of acute paediatric admissions of children aged more than 60 days in a Kenyan district hospital. Bull World Health Organ, 81 (3), pp. 166-173. | Show Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether the outpatient, syndrome-based approach of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) protocol could be extended to the inpatient arena to give clear and simple minimum standards of care for poorly resourced facilities. METHODS: A prospective, one-year admission cohort retrospectively compared hypothetical performance of syndrome-based management with paediatrician-defined final diagnosis. Admission syndrome definitions were based on local adaptations to the IMCI protocol that encompassed 20 clinical features, measurement of oxygen saturation, and malaria microscopy. FINDINGS: After 315 children with clinically obvious diagnoses (e.g. sickle cell disease and burns) were excluded, 3705 admission episodes were studied. Of these, 2334 (63%) met criteria for at least one severe syndrome (mortality 8% vs <1% for "non-severe" cases), and half of these had features of two or more severe syndromes. No cases of measles were seen. Syndrome-based treatment would have been appropriate (sensitivity >95%) for severe pneumonia, severe malaria, and diarrhoea with severe dehydration, and probably for severe malnutrition (sensitivity 71%). Syndrome-directed treatment suggested the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics in 75/133 (56% sensitivity) children with bacteraemic and 63/71 (89% sensitivity) children with meningitis. CONCLUSIONS: Twenty clinical features, oxygen saturation measurements, and results of malaria blood slides could be used for inpatient, syndrome-based management of acute paediatric admissions. The addition of microscopy of the cerebrospinal fluid and haemoglobin measurements would improve syndrome-directed treatment considerably. This approach might rationalize admission policy and standardize inpatient paediatric care in resource-poor countries, although the clinical detection of bacteraemia remains a problem.

Gravenor MB, Lloyd AL, Kremsner PG, Missinou MA, English M, Marsh K, Kwiatkowski D. 2002. A model for estimating total parasite load in falciparum malaria patients. J Theor Biol, 217 (2), pp. 137-148. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe an age-structured mathematical model of the malaria parasite life cycle that uses clinical observations of peripheral parasitaemia to estimate population dynamics of sequestered parasites, which are hidden from the clinical investigator. First, the model was tested on parasite populations cultured in vitro, and was found to account for approximately 72% of the variation in that sub-population of parasites that would have been sequestered in vivo. Next, the model was applied to patients undergoing antimalarial therapy. Using individual data sets we found that although the model fitted the peripheral parasite curves very well, unique solutions for the fit could not be obtained; therefore, robust estimates of sequestered parasite dynamics remained unavailable. We conclude that even given detailed data on individual parasitaemia, estimates of sequestered numbers may be difficult to obtain. However, if data on individuals undergoing similar therapy are collected at equal time intervals, some of these problems may be overcome by estimating specific parameters over groups of patients. In this manner we estimated sequestered parasite density in a group of patients sampled at identical time points following antimalarial treatment. Using this approach we found significant relationships between changes in parasite density, age structure and temperature that were not apparent from the analysis of peripheral parasitaemia only.

English M, Ahmed M, Ngando C, Berkley J, Ross A. 2002. Blood transfusion for severe anaemia in children in a Kenyan hospital. Lancet, 359 (9305), pp. 494-495. | Show Abstract | Read more

Severe anaemia often secondary to malaria is a major contributor to child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. We have confirmed that use of simple clinical and laboratory criteria can identify those children likely to benefit most from treatment. We have also shown that the speed of response may be critical. The quality and capacity of blood transfusion services could therefore have a major, direct effect on inpatient child mortality.

English M, MacLennan JM, Bowen-Morris JM, Deeks J, Boardman M, Brown K, Smith S, Buttery J, Clarke J, Quataert S et al. 2000. A randomised, double-blind, controlled trial of the immunogenicity and tolerability of a meningococcal group C conjugate vaccine in young British infants. Vaccine, 19 (9-10), pp. 1232-1238. | Show Abstract | Read more

A double-blind, randomised, controlled trial was conducted in 248 British infants to assess the immunogenicity and tolerability of three doses of a meningococcal group C/CRM (197) conjugate vaccine (Lederle Laboratories, USA) given at 2, 3 and 4 months. Control children received three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine (Engerix B(R); SmithKline Beecham). At 5 months of age, 100% of children receiving the conjugate vaccine had specific immunoglobulin G concentrations >2.0 microg/ml (n=116) compared with only 4% of control children (n=121). Those receiving the conjugate also had 2.5- and 1.6-fold higher geometric mean concentrations of PRP and diphtheria antibodies, respectively. The vaccine was well tolerated.

English M. 2000. Life-threatening severe malarial anaemia. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 94 (6), pp. 585-588. | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite our improved understanding of the pathophysiology of severe malaria, major changes in clinical management have not been forthcoming. However, in the case of life-threatening severe malarial anaemia, preliminary evidence suggests that changes in current clinical practice rather than the introduction of novel interventions may improve child survival. This review argues that further research into the clinical physiology of this syndrome is required and could provide compelling evidence for changes in practice particularly with regard to blood transfusion. We focus on the syndrome of severe, symptomatic malarial anaemia associated with a metabolic acidosis which has a high fatality rate. However, it should be remembered that a far greater number of children without signs of life-threatening disease nonetheless experience significant morbidity from severe anaemia. Many of these less-severely ill children may also require blood transfusion. However, the mode and rationale for transfusion in this less-severely ill group is specifically not addressed. Indeed, the arguments presented should not be extrapolated to suggest a uniform approach to transfusion is warranted, the role of blood in the less-critically ill child with severe malaria anaemia being a further area that requires urgent research.

Snow RW, Howard SC, Mung'Ala-Odera V, English M, Molyneux CS, Waruiru C, Mwangi I, Roberts DJ, Donnelly CA, Marsh K. 2000. Paediatric survival and re-admission risks following hospitalization on the Kenyan coast. Trop Med Int Health, 5 (5), pp. 377-383. | Show Abstract | Read more

The district general hospital (DGH) is a common feature of health service provision in many developing countries. We have used linked demographic and clinical surveillance in a rural community located close to a DGH on the Kenyan coast to define the use and public health significance of essential clinical services provided by it. Of a birth cohort of over 4000 children followed for approximately 6 years, about a third were admitted to hospital at least once. Significantly more children admitted with major infectious diseases such as malaria and acute respiratory tract infections were readmitted with the same condition during the surveillance period than would have been expected by chance. Among surviving admissions, mortality post-discharge was significantly higher than in the cohort which had not been admitted within 3, 6 and 12 months. Most of the patients who died after discharge had been admitted with a diagnosis of gastroenteritis. Most children admitted to the DGH survive hospitalization and the remaining period of childhood. Despite no clinical trial evidence to support the claim, it seems reasonable to assume that in the absence of intensive clinical management provided by a DGH, a significant proportion of these children would not have survived. However, the DGH is able to define a group of at-risk children who re-present with severe complications of infectious disease, and of these several may have underlying conditions not amenable to DGH intervention and continue to have a poor prognosis. Both groups of children represent statistically significant subsets of a rural paediatric community and the future organization and co-ordination of DGH and primary care services need to work in unison to strengthen the service needs of children at risk.

English M. 2000. Impact of bacterial pneumonias on world child health. Paediatr Respir Rev, 1 (1), pp. 21-25. | Show Abstract | Read more

Lower respiratory infections (LRIs) are estimated to cause approximately 4 million deaths each year, the majority in previously healthy young children from low-income countries. Bacterial pneumonias are likely to account for the major proportion of deaths but because accurate diagnosis is difficult, their precise contribution is difficult to estimate. Effective protection against two of the most important pathogens (H. influenzae type B and S. pneumoniae) is now available even for young infants. The high cost of these interventions is however likely to prohibit their use in areas likely to benefit most. Case management which can be effective at reducing mortality and which is relatively cheap at present is likely therefore to remain the principal means of tackling bacterial pneumonias globally. Antibiotic resistance to cheap drugs and possibly HIV infection pose a potentially enormous threat to this strategy with the prospect of an increasing global death toll with an even more inequitable distribution of disease as we begin the new century.

English M, Ayieko P, Nyamai R, Were F, Githanga D, Irimu G. 2017. What do we think we are doing? How might a clinical information network be promoting implementation of recommended paediatric care practices in Kenyan hospitals? Health Res Policy Syst, 15 (1), pp. 4. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The creation of a clinical network was proposed as a means to promote implementation of a set of recommended clinical practices targeting inpatient paediatric care in Kenya. The rationale for selecting a network as a strategy has been previously described. Here, we aim to describe network activities actually conducted over its first 2.5 years, deconstruct its implementation into specific components and provide our 'insider' interpretation of how the network is functioning as an intervention. METHODS: We articulate key activities that together have constituted network processes over 2.5 years and then utilise a recently published typology of implementation components to give greater granularity to this description from the perspective of those delivering the intervention. Using the Behaviour Change Wheel we then suggest how the network may operate to achieve change and offer examples of change before making an effort to synthesise our understanding in the form of a realist context-mechanism-outcome configuration. RESULTS: We suggest our network is likely to comprise 22 from a total of 73 identifiable intervention components, of which 12 and 10 we consider major and minor components, respectively. At the policy level, we employed clinical guidelines, marketing and communication strategies with intervention characteristics operating through incentivisation, persuasion, education, enablement, modelling and environmental restructuring. These might influence behaviours by enhancing psychological capability, creating social opportunity and increasing motivation largely through a reflective pathway. CONCLUSIONS: We previously proposed a clinical network as a solution to challenges implementing recommended practices in Kenyan hospitals based on our understanding of theory and context. Here, we report how we have enacted what was proposed and use a recent typology to deconstruct the intervention into its elements and articulate how we think the network may produce change. We offer a more generalised statement of our theory of change in a context-mechanism-outcome configuration. We hope this will complement a planned independent evaluation of 'how things work', will help others interpret results of change reported more formally in the future and encourage others to consider further examination of networks as means to scale up improvement practices in health in lower income countries.

Barasa EW, Molyneux S, English M, Cleary S. 2017. Hospitals as complex adaptive systems: A case study of factors influencing priority setting practices at the hospital level in Kenya. Soc Sci Med, 174 pp. 104-112. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is a dearth of literature on priority setting and resource allocation (PSRA) practices in hospitals, particularly in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Using a case study approach, we examined PSRA practices in 2 public hospitals in coastal Kenya. We collected data through a combination of in-depth interviews of national level policy makers, hospital managers, and frontline practitioners in the case study hospitals (n = 72), review of documents such as hospital plans and budgets, minutes of meetings and accounting records, and non-participant observations of PSRA practices in case study hospitals over a period of 7 months. In this paper, we apply complex adaptive system (CAS) theory to examine the factors that influence PSRA practices. We found that PSRA practices in the case hospitals were influenced by, 1) inadequate financing level and poorly designed financing arrangements, 2) limited hospital autonomy and decision space, and 3) inadequate management and leadership capacity in the hospital. The case study hospitals exhibited properties of complex adaptive systems (CASs) that exist in a dynamic state with multiple interacting agents. Weaknesses in system 'hardware' (resource scarcity) and 'software' (including PSRA guidelines that reduced hospitals decision space, and poor leadership skills) led to the emergence of undesired properties. The capacity of hospitals to set priorities should be improved across these interacting aspects of the hospital organizational system. Interventions should however recognize that hospitals are CAS. Rather than rectifying isolated aspects of the system, they should endeavor to create conditions for productive emergence.

Edgcombe H, Paton C, English M. 2016. Enhancing emergency care in low-income countries using mobile technology-based training tools. Arch Dis Child, 101 (12), pp. 1149-1152. | Show Abstract | Read more

In this paper, we discuss the role of mobile technology in developing training tools for health workers, with particular reference to low-income countries (LICs). The global and technological context is outlined, followed by a summary of approaches to using and evaluating mobile technology for learning in healthcare. Finally, recommendations are made for those developing and using such tools, based on current literature and the authors' involvement in the field.

English M, Irimu G, Agweyu A, Gathara D, Oliwa J, Ayieko P, Were F, Paton C, Tunis S, Forrest CB. 2016. Building Learning Health Systems to Accelerate Research and Improve Outcomes of Clinical Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. PLoS Med, 13 (4), pp. e1001991. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mike English and colleagues argue that as efforts are made towards achieving universal health coverage it is also important to build capacity to develop regionally relevant evidence to improve healthcare.

English M, Karumbi J, Maina M, Aluvaala J, Gupta A, Zwarenstein M, Opiyo N. 2016. The need for pragmatic clinical trials in low and middle income settings - taking essential neonatal interventions delivered as part of inpatient care as an illustrative example. BMC Med, 14 (1), pp. 5. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pragmatic randomized trials aim to examine the effects of interventions in the full spectrum of patients seen by clinicians who receive routine care. Such trials should be employed in parallel with efforts to implement many interventions which appear promising but where evidence of effectiveness is limited. We illustrate this need taking the case of essential interventions to reduce inpatient neonatal mortality in low and middle income countries (LMIC) but suggest the arguments are applicable in most clinical areas. DISCUSSION: A set of basic interventions have been defined, based on available evidence, that could substantially reduce early neonatal deaths if successfully implemented at scale within district and sub-district hospitals in LMIC. However, we illustrate that there remain many gaps in the evidence available to guide delivery of many inpatient neonatal interventions, that existing evidence is often from high income settings and that it frequently indicates uncertainty in the magnitude or even direction of estimates of effect. Furthermore generalizing results to LMIC where conditions include very high patient staff ratios, absence of even basic technologies, and a reliance on largely empiric management is problematic. Where there is such uncertainty over the effectiveness of interventions in different contexts or in the broad populations who might receive the intervention in routine care settings pragmatic trials that preserve internal validity while promoting external validity should be increasingly employed. Many interventions are introduced without adequate evidence of their effectiveness in the routine settings to which they are introduced. Global efforts are needed to support pragmatic research to establish the effectiveness in routine care of many interventions intended to reduce mortality or morbidity in LMIC. Such research should be seen as complementary to efforts to optimize implementation.

Mwinga S, Kulohoma C, Mwaniki P, Idowu R, Masasabi J, English M, SIRCLE Collaboration. 2015. Quality of surgical care in hospitals providing internship training in Kenya: a cross sectional survey. Trop Med Int Health, 20 (2), pp. 240-249. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate services in hospitals providing internship training to graduate doctors in Kenya. METHODS: A survey of 22 internship training hospitals was conducted. Availability of key resources spanning infrastructure, personnel, equipment and drugs was assessed by observation. Outcomes and process of care for pre-specified priority conditions (head injury, chest injury, fractures, burns and acute abdomen) were evaluated by auditing case records. RESULTS: Each hospital had at least one consultant surgeon. Scheduled surgical outpatient clinics, major ward rounds and elective (half day) theatre lists were provided once per week in 91%, 55% and 9%, respectively. In all other hospitals, these were conducted twice weekly. Basic drugs were not always available (e.g. gentamicin, morphine and pethidine in 50%, injectable antistaphylococcal penicillins in 5% hospitals). Fewer than half of hospitals had all resources needed to provide oxygen. One hundred and forty-five of 956 cases evaluated underwent operations under general or spinal anaesthesia. We found operation notes for 99% and anaesthetic records for 72%. Pre-operatively measured vital signs were recorded in 80% of cases, and evidence of consent to operation was found in 78%. Blood loss was documented in only one case and sponge and instrument counts in 7%. CONCLUSIONS: Evaluation of surgical services would be improved by development and dissemination of clear standards of care. This survey suggests that internship hospitals may be poorly equipped and documented care suggests inadequacies in quality and training.

Gathara D, English M, van Hensbroek MB, Todd J, Allen E. 2015. Exploring sources of variability in adherence to guidelines across hospitals in low-income settings: a multi-level analysis of a cross-sectional survey of 22 hospitals. Implement Sci, 10 (1), pp. 60. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Variability in processes of care and outcomes has been reported widely in high-income settings (at geographic, hospital, physician group and individual physician levels); however, such variability and the factors driving it are rarely examined in low-income settings. METHODS: Using data from a cross-sectional survey undertaken in 22 hospitals (60 case records from each hospital) across Kenya that aimed at evaluating the quality of routine hospital services, we sought to explore variability in four binary inpatient paediatric process indicators. These included three prescribing tasks and use of one diagnostic. To examine for sources of variability, we examined intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) and their changes using multi-level mixed models with random intercepts for hospital and clinician levels and adjusting for patient and clinician level covariates. RESULTS: Levels of performance varied substantially across indicators and hospitals. The absolute values for ICCs also varied markedly ranging from a maximum of 0.48 to a minimum of 0.09 across the models for HIV testing and prescription of zinc, respectively. More variation was attributable at the hospital level than clinician level after allowing for nesting of clinicians within hospitals for prescription of quinine loading dose for malaria (ICC = 0.30), prescription of zinc for diarrhoea patients (ICC = 0.11) and HIV testing for all children (ICC = 0.43). However, for prescription of correct dose of crystalline penicillin, more of the variability was explained by the clinician level (ICC = 0.21). Adjusting for clinician and patient level covariates only altered, marginally, the ICCs observed in models for the zinc prescription indicator. CONCLUSIONS: Performance varied greatly across place and indicator. The variability that could be explained suggests interventions to improve performance might be best targeted at hospital level factors for three indicators and clinician factors for one. Our data suggest that better understanding of performance and sources of variation might help tailor improvement interventions although further data across a larger set of indicators and sites would help substantiate these findings.

Agweyu A, Gathara D, Oliwa J, Muinga N, Edwards T, Allen E, Maleche-Obimbo E, English M, Severe Pneumonia Study Group. 2015. Oral amoxicillin versus benzyl penicillin for severe pneumonia among kenyan children: a pragmatic randomized controlled noninferiority trial. Clin Infect Dis, 60 (8), pp. 1216-1224. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There are concerns that the evidence from studies showing noninferiority of oral amoxicillin to benzyl penicillin for severe pneumonia may not be generalizable to high-mortality settings. METHODS: An open-label, multicenter, randomized controlled noninferiority trial was conducted at 6 Kenyan hospitals. Eligible children aged 2-59 months were randomized to receive amoxicillin or benzyl penicillin and followed up for the primary outcome of treatment failure at 48 hours. A noninferiority margin of risk difference between amoxicillin and benzyl penicillin groups was prespecified at 7%. RESULTS: We recruited 527 children, including 302 (57.3%) with comorbidity. Treatment failure was observed in 20 of 260 (7.7%) and 21 of 261 (8.0%) of patients in the amoxicillin and benzyl penicillin arms, respectively (risk difference, -0.3% [95% confidence interval, -5.0% to 4.3%]) in per-protocol analyses. These findings were supported by the results of intention-to-treat analyses. Treatment failure by day 5 postenrollment was 11.4% and 11.0% and rising to 13.5% and 16.8% by day 14 in the amoxicillin vs benzyl penicillin groups, respectively. The most frequent cause of cumulative treatment failure at day 14 was clinical deterioration within 48 hours of enrollment (33/59 [55.9%]). Four patients died (overall mortality 0.8%) during the study, 3 of whom were allocated to the benzyl penicillin group. The presence of wheeze was independently associated with less frequent treatment failure. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings confirm noninferiority of amoxicillin to benzyl penicillin, provide estimates of risk of treatment failure in Kenya, and offer important additional evidence for policy making in sub-Saharan Africa. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT01399723.

English M, Gathara D, Mwinga S, Ayieko P, Opondo C, Aluvaala J, Kihuba E, Mwaniki P, Were F, Irimu G et al. 2014. Adoption of recommended practices and basic technologies in a low-income setting Archives of Disease in Childhood, 99 (5), pp. 452-456. | Show Abstract | Read more

Objective: In global health considerable attention is focused on the search for innovations; however, reports tracking their adoption in routine hospital settings from low-income countries are absent. Design and setting: We used data collected on a consistent panel of indicators during four separate cross-sectional, hospital surveys in Kenya to track changes over a period of 11 years (2002-2012). Main outcome measures: Basic resource availability, use of diagnostics and uptake of recommended practices. Results: There appeared little change in availability of a panel of 28 basic resources (median 71% in 2002 to 82% in 2012) although availability of specific feeds for severe malnutrition and vitamin K improved. Use of blood glucose and HIV testing increased but remained inappropriately low throughout. Commonly (malaria) and uncommonly (lumbar puncture) performed diagnostic tests frequently failed to inform practice while pulse oximetry, a simple and cheap technology, was rarely available even in 2012. However, increasing adherence to prescribing guidance occurred during a period from 2006 to 2012 in which efforts were made to disseminate guidelines. Conclusions: Findings suggest changes in clinical practices possibly linked to dissemination of guidelines at reasonable scale. However, full availability of basic resources was not attained and major gaps likely exist between the potential and actual impacts of simple diagnostics and technologies representing problems with availability, adoption and successful utilisation. These findings are relevant to debates on scaling up in low-income settings and to those developing novel therapeutic or diagnostic interventions.

Irimu GW, Greene A, Gathara D, Kihara H, Maina C, Mbori-Ngacha D, Zurovac D, Santau M, Todd J, English M. 2014. Explaining the uptake of paediatric guidelines in a Kenyan tertiary hospital--mixed methods research. BMC Health Serv Res, 14 (1), pp. 119. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Evidence-based standards for management of the seriously sick child have existed for decades, yet their translation in clinical practice is a challenge. The context and organization of institutions are known determinants of successful translation, however, research using adequate methodologies to explain the dynamic nature of these determinants in the quality-of-care improvement process is rarely performed. METHODS: We conducted mixed methods research in a tertiary hospital in a low-income country to explore the uptake of locally adapted paediatric guidelines. The quantitative component was an uncontrolled before and after intervention study that included an exploration of the intervention dose-effect relationship. The qualitative component was an ethnographic research based on the theoretical perspective of participatory action research. Interpretive integration was employed to derive meta-inferences that provided a more complete picture of the overall study results that reflect the complexity and the multifaceted ontology of the phenomenon studied. RESULTS: The improvement in health workers' performance in relation to the intensity of the intervention was not linear and was characterized by improved and occasionally declining performance. Possible root causes of this performance variability included challenges in keeping knowledge and clinical skills updated, inadequate commitment of the staff to continued improvement, limited exposure to positive professional role models, poor teamwork, failure to maintain professional integrity and mal-adaptation to institutional pressures. CONCLUSION: Implementation of best-practices is a complex process that is largely unpredictable, attributed to the complexity of contextual factors operating predominantly at professional and organizational levels. There is no simple solution to implementation of best-practices. Tackling root causes of inadequate knowledge translation in this tertiary care setting will require long-term planning, with emphasis on promotion of professional ethics and values and establishing an organizational framework that enhances positive aspects of professionalism. This study has significant implications for the quality of training in medical institutions and the development of hospital leadership.

Ayieko P, Griffiths UK, Ndiritu M, Moisi J, Mugoya IK, Kamau T, English M, Scott JA. 2013. Assessment of health benefits and cost-effectiveness of 10-valent and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccination in Kenyan children. PLoS One, 8 (6), pp. e67324. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The GAVI Alliance supported 10-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV10) introduction in Kenya. We estimated the cost-effectiveness of introducing either PCV10 or the 13-valent vaccine (PCV13) from a societal perspective and explored the incremental impact of including indirect vaccine effects. METHODS: The costs and effects of pneumococcal vaccination among infants born in Kenya in 2010 were assessed using a decision analytic model comparing PCV10 or PCV13, in turn, with no vaccination. Direct vaccine effects were estimated as a reduction in the incidence of pneumococcal meningitis, sepsis, bacteraemic pneumonia and non-bacteraemic pneumonia. Pneumococcal disease incidence was extrapolated from a population-based hospital surveillance system in Kilifi and adjustments were made for variable access to care across Kenya. We used vaccine efficacy estimates from a trial in The Gambia and accounted for serotype distribution in Kilifi. We estimated indirect vaccine protection and serotype replacement by extrapolating from the USA. Multivariable sensitivity analysis was conducted using Monte Carlo simulation. We assumed a vaccine price of US$ 3.50 per dose. FINDINGS: The annual cost of delivering PCV10 was approximately US$14 million. We projected a 42.7% reduction in pneumococcal disease episodes leading to a US$1.97 million reduction in treatment costs and a 6.1% reduction in childhood mortality annually. In the base case analysis, costs per discounted DALY and per death averted by PCV10, amounted to US$ 59 (95% CI 26-103) and US$ 1,958 (95% CI 866-3,425), respectively. PCV13 introduction improved the cost-effectiveness ratios by approximately 20% and inclusion of indirect effects improved cost-effectiveness ratios by 43-56%. The break-even prices for introduction of PCV10 and PCV13 are US$ 0.41 and 0.51, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Introducing either PCV10 or PCV13 in Kenya is highly cost-effective from a societal perspective. Indirect effects, if they occur, would significantly improve the cost-effectiveness.

English M. 2013. Designing a theory-informed, contextually appropriate intervention strategy to improve delivery of paediatric services in Kenyan hospitals. Implement Sci, 8 (1), pp. 39. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: District hospital services in Kenya and many low-income countries should deliver proven, effective interventions that could substantially reduce child and newborn mortality. However such services are often of poor quality. Researchers have therefore been challenged to identify intervention strategies that go beyond addressing knowledge, skill, or resource inadequacies to support health systems to deliver better services at scale. An effort to develop a system-oriented intervention tailored to local needs and context and drawing on theory is described. METHODS: An intervention was designed to improve district hospital services for children based on four main strategies: a reflective process to distill root causes for the observed problems with service delivery; developing a set of possible intervention approaches to address these problems; a search of literature for theory that provided the most appropriate basis for intervention design; and repeatedly moving backwards and forwards between identified causes, proposed interventions, identified theory, and knowledge of the existing context to develop an overarching intervention that seemed feasible and likely to be acceptable and potentially sustainable. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: In addition to human and resource constraints key problems included failures of relevant professionals to take responsibility for or ownership of the challenge of pediatric service delivery; inadequately prepared, poorly supported leaders of service units (mid-level managers) who are often professionally and geographically isolated and an almost complete lack of useful information for routinely monitoring or understanding service delivery practice or outcomes. A system-oriented intervention recognizing the pivotal role of leaders of service units but addressing the outer and inner setting of hospitals was designed to help shape and support an appropriate role for these professionals. It aims to foster a sense of ownership while providing the necessary understanding, knowledge, and skills for mid-level managers to work effectively with senior managers and frontline staff to improve services. The intervention will include development of an information system, feedback mechanisms, and discussion fora that promote positive change. The vehicle for such an intervention is a collaborative network partnering government and national professional associations. This case is presented to promote discussion on approaches to developing context appropriate interventions particularly in international health.

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