ART centres in Uttarakhand: Some reflections from the field: By Supriya Chand

ART centres in Uttarakhand: Some reflections from the field: By Supriya Chand

Hivaids

One of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is to control the spread of HIV/AIDS. This puts a continuing concern on improving health services. Many projects are run by the government to address these concerns effectually. One such program is operation of ICTCs/STIs/ART centres in government hospitals. These centres have been successful in providing pre and post test counselling through trained counsellors to the individual/s coming for HIV screening. However, there are many challenges and barriers faced at bot  Institution (Hospitals and Health workers) and community level (community members).

supriya

Poor infrastructure and facilities

A standard approved size room is given to counsellors for their work. However, at some of the ICTCs/STIs the counsellors are facing troubles in carrying out their work in the given space. The problems range from room given at one far end of the building, electricity/store room being converted into counselling room, room given at first/higher floors, absence of proper waiting area outside the counseling room etc. This could be taken care if room is allotted after making sure it is easily accessible, comfortable as well as guards the privacy of visitor.

The counsellors at almost all the ICTCs/STIs have to bear the burden of administrative issues. These range from low salary amount, delayed salary payments, petty politics at the workplace (at some centres), absence/delayed supply of essential work material like Kits for STI counselling. These problems could result in burnout of counsellor. Hence the concerned authorities should maintain the SOP strictly so as to enable counsellors to do their work effectively. Apart from these, often the counsellors have deal with the interference and pressure from local authorities (local leader/s, group/s etc.) in their work.

In the state of Uttarakhand, in the areas at great altitude most of the ICTCs/STIs counsellors have less patient’s visits. This is mainly due to absence of specialist doctors and specialised services in the hospitals at these places. The provision of these would mean more patients visiting the centre.

Capacity building for counsellors

The minimum qualification for counsellor’s job is bachelor’s degree. Hence some counsellors are neither from psychology/sociology/social work background, nor received any training in counselling. Some of them lack even the basic skills of counselling. This could be addressed by making either the aforesaid subjects or a training/experience of counselling compulsory for applying for the post. The newly appointed counsellors should be allotted centres only once they have completed induction training. In Indian society HIV/AIDS is still considered to be a taboo issue. Though the counselors are trained, some of them have their own prejudice. Often they are not sensitive and have indifferent attitude towards the sero-positive individuals. This could lead to patients getting discouraged about coming for treatment. Hence, providing trainings to sensitize health workers is utmost importance for success.

Governance issues

The sero –positive patients could avail ART medicines from the Link ART centres. However, their number is less in Uttarakhand, so more number of such centres would be beneficial for community as this would provide access to necessary medicines to the concerned person without many troubles. Patient load is high at some centres, which results in limited counselling period so taking up significant points can make session effective. Additional workload like filling of many formats daily apart from report to be submitted to concerned authorities is another issue, which could be dealt promptly with following proper work plan.

Need for community care centres

Distance is one major problem, which restricts people from accessing the health facilities. Finance is another issue which requires attention. Most of the people are poor in terms of finance hence lack both money and time (since they could utilize that time for work) to visit the facilities until their health issue becomes dead serious. Promoting NGOs/local groups to work would help people like providing vehicle support for reaching health facility

The community care centre (CCC) for sero-positive patients is not present at local levels hence a sero-positive individual who is at Srinagar in the state has to come down to Dehradun to avail the service. Also availability of seats at such centre is another issue.

Improving awareness in the community

HIV/AIDS is still a taboo subject, so there is a hesitation among community members to seek help like visiting health facilities for fear of character judgement or being out casted from community. There is absence/lack of complete and correct information on the subject. This results in people believing in many myths and misconceptions and often not approaching health facility for timely treatment. All this could be successfully answered by sensitizing community on the subject. This could be done through awareness campaigns, street plays, informative wall paintings etc. Involvement of community head and Panchayat members would also prove to be fruitful.

Supriya Chand  was a  student of e-learning course in Public Health Management(ePHM) conducted by Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, India.

Disclaimer: IPH blogs provide a platform for ePHM students to share their reflections on different public health topics. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and not necessarily represent the views of IPH.

Right to clean air: By Ajeet Pal Singh

Right to clean air: By Ajeet Pal Singh

health programmes, public health internships, public health online, public health scholarships, public health management, doctor of public health, public health website, public health careers, careers in public health, public health organizations, bachelors in public health, public health centre, public health administration,public health advocacy,public health and education,public health and family welfare,public health and government,public health and health promotion,public health and mental health,public health and nutrition,public health and policy,public health and the government,public health application,public health as a course,public health books,public health building,public health care,public health careers,public health centre,public health centres,public health certificate,public health certificate online,public health certificate programs,public health certification,public health classes,public health college,public health colleges,public health course

The effects of air pollution on the lungs and heart are now widely appreciated, with more incriminating evidence of its role in cardiac disease.  Air quality is represented by the annual mean concentration of fine particulate matter: PM10 and PM2.5, referring to particles smaller than 10 or 2.5 microns. The Global Burden of Disease Study identified fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in outdoor air and household air pollution from use of solid fuels as the ninth and fourth leading risk factors, respectively, for disease worldwide, and the World Health Organization attributes one in every eight deaths to air pollution. This research stems from improved understanding of the role of air pollution in initiating systemic inflammation, a response that may affect multiple organ systems.

ajeetSimilarly a study conducted in India found that average pollution levels were up to eight times higher on city roads.They reported that the exposures that one experiences on and near roads can substantially exceed what one would measure at an official monitoring site.

There is growing evidence that air pollution is an important risk factor for an increasing number of common diseases; in a recent systematic analysis study, it was found that the increase in each of the common gaseous and particulate air pollutants were significantly associated with admission to hospital for stroke or stroke related mortality, with associations strongest for strokes on the same day as exposure.

Need for political will

To curb the problem of bad air quality, a strong political will is required. It is the lack on information and knowledge about air quality due to obsolete technology and limited number of monitoring stations, which often leads to a poor decision-making. Moreover, lax standards is a major impediment. So it is important to chalk out an effective plan for thorough monitoring fulfilling the minimum requirement of monitoring for at least 104 days in a year along with that an increase in the number of monitoring sites too. This is because effective air quality planning requires accurate data. Parameters like network design of monitoring sites, maintenance, calibration of equipment and quality audits of data should be given urgent attention. Capacity for autonomous air quality planning free from industry bias is something that is needed from state regulatory authorities. Monitoring is also important to formulate policies to control it, to create awareness and sensitise people to prepare them for hard decisions. Last but not the least, decision makers should come up with plans for proactive climate change preparedness. For example, instituting policies that make bicycle commuting more accessible and convenient will help to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and decrease obesity rates by facilitating physical activity.

Health system preparedness

Health systems have a major role to play in dealing with the consequences of several diseases. For this, a trained and competent workforce is central to the success of health system. Medical care providers should be trained to recognise and manage emerging health threats that may be associated with climate change. Furthermore, respiratory health should be promoted through better prevention, detection, treatment and education efforts. Besides this, allocating a unit for respiratory illness with adequate resources in terms of medicines, masks, nebulizers, ventilators and so on is something that can help to deal with the load of patients coming in times of climate change with several respiratory problems.

Increasing the number of a specialised professional i.e Pulmonologists is something that should be thought about. Moreover, training sessions should be organized for all levels of healthcare providers – from paramedics to doctors –  to deal with patients on urgent basis. Timely referrals to higher health centre with effective transportation can also another issue that needs to be looked in to.

Measures that can be undertaken

1. Diesel vehicles which are more than 10 years old should not be permitted to ply, especially in cities

2. Tightening vehicle emissions standards to world-class levels and extensive adoption of cleaner fuels in passenger vehicles (CNG, low-sulfur diesel).

3. Cleaning up the high emitting trucks that ply at night, reducing urban burning of wood and wastes, reducing emissions from  diesel backup generators, and cleaning up rural industries such as brick kilns.

4.  Switch to polluting methods, whenever possible. For example, solar electricity is now price competitive with imported coal power in the Indian market.

Scope for public health involvement

Public health practitioners have a responsibility to effectively engage with policy makers about the need for proactive climate change preparedness .By providing a critical health perspective, public health professionals can communicate the significant health impact that are likely to occur if adequate preparedness measures are not adopted. Public health professionals can educate policymakers about the health benefits that will result from sound climate preparedness planning. Public health department and agencies should take help of communication tools tailored to community,and population which would have greater impact on community members. Few are as follows –

1. Use variety of media outreach strategies that would be effective for different age groups (like radio,local news,social media sites,etc.)

2. Have brochures and media outreach in multiple languages

3. Door to door outreach may be more effective for some communities

4. Use non-traditional outlets of education and outreach(like meals on wheels,celebrities, sporting events etc.)

Ajeet Pal Singh  was a  student of e-learning course in Public Health Management(ePHM) conducted by Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, India.

Disclaimer: IPH blogs provide a platform for ePHM students to share their reflections on different public health topics. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and not necessarily represent the views of IPH.

e-learning course on Public Health Management 2015

e-learning course on Public Health Management 2015

FINAL-TEXT

e-learning course on Public Health Management 2015

After successfully managing three consecutive batches for the online course in Public Health Management (e-PHM), we kick started the fourth batch on 19th of August 2015. This batch brings along with it 31 amazing students from diverse backgrounds working across the country and internationally as well!

For the first time, we have five participants from Universitas of Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta who are working in the department of public health. The diverse work backgrounds of the participants include UNICEF, National Institute of Epidemiology, St.John’s Research Institute, Bangalore Baptist Hospital, Department of Environmental Science and various NGOePHM2015s like JANANI and SAATHI.

We also have participants who are pursuing their PG in the field of community medicine and hospital & healthcare management. The course consists of eight modules and each module consists of four units. Each unit will have one to two classrooms that is a PowerPoint presentation with audio recording and corresponding exercises. Each module ends with a final module test based on the content covered. The students are expected to complete these units and based on their completion we are presenting their progress. Based on the feedback provided, this new batch has new features to make the learning experience more interesting and fun. Keeping in mind the work backgrounds of our participants who have to travel constantly and have limited internet access, we have introduced a new feature called “Learn on the go”. This feature allows them to download MP3 versions of our classrooms and listen to them on the go! Out of 31 students, 30 have logged in and viewed our course. The number of students who have managed to complete Module – 1 are 19, which is about 61% of the total students.

We are currently in the process of identifying any challenges faced by the participants and address them as we move forward in the course. We look forward to providing a good learning experience to the participants!

Generating demand for Health programmes leading to its success: an example of  Tuberculosis from northern India: By Moumita Biswas

Generating demand for Health programmes leading to its success: an example of Tuberculosis from northern India: By Moumita Biswas

public health internships, public health online, public health scholarships, public health management, doctor of public health, public health website, public health careers, careers in public health, public health organizations, bachelors in public health, public health centre, public health administration,public health advocacy,public health and education,public health and family welfare,public health and government,public health and health promotion,public health and mental health,public health and nutrition,public health and policy,public health and the government,public health application,public health as a course,public health books,public health building,public health care,public health careers,public health centre,public health centres,public health certificate,public health certificate online,public health certificate programs

In India, only 20% people with minor illness, and only 50% people with serious illness come to Government hospitals. Thus, there is a need to understand the reasons influencing health care seeking practices to generate demand for health programmes. Amongst rural and tribal communities in Madhya Pradesh, it has been generally noticed that the first point of contact for any illness is a private provider, many-a-times an untrained practitioner, since they are easily accessible. Literacy level is quite low in the state, particularly in rural and tribal communities, resulting in being unaware of the basic symptoms of Tuberculosis (TB) and availability of free treatment and diagnostics at Government health facilities. Some TB patients also discontinue treatment, due to lack of awareness. At times these people also get required medications from a local pharmacist, since they have low faith in Government health system and when condition worsens (both in terms of health as well as finances), they visit a Government health facility. Also these communities are generally dependent on daily labour, leading to delayed TB diagnosis and treatment, in fear of loss of wages. Alcoholism & tobacco use of all forms is predominant in these communities, thus affecting the treatment adherence.

Barriers & constrainMoumita's photots

With reference to the programme delivery, a number of barriers play a role in influencing health care seeking behaviour of rural and tribal communities of Madhya Pradesh, such as unavailability of health staff, poor accessibility due to distance, unavailability of medicines and other requirements, to name a few. A major proportion of rural and tribal communities are residing far off from the Government health facilities, and thus even if the PHC is open and there are health staff providing services round the clock, it is difficult for a sick person to reach the PHC.

Beliefs influencing TB health seeking behaviour

Rural people in India and tribal populations in particular, have their own beliefs and practices regarding health. Some tribal groups still believe that a disease is always caused by hostile spirits or by the breach of some taboo. They therefore seek remedies through magic and religious practices.

Amongst tribals in Madhya Pradesh, evil spirits are attributed to be the cause of TB. The belief that TB occurs due to supernatural powers lead to the concept of seeking relief through magic, keeping the allopathic medical practitioner as a last resort. There are also beliefs that they cannot get TB, hence leading to delayed treatment seeking.

Lessons learnt and way forward

To summarize, there are many reasons for people to go to a particular health provider. Most important reasons include awareness, money, distance and availability of staff. These factors play a role in creating demand for any health programme, particularly the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP). Hence, there is a need to address the issues that influence TB health seeking behavior such as improving the availability of trained staff at health facilities, enhance level of awareness amongst the community about TB – IEC activities to be increased, regular patient provider meetings to ensure treatment adherence as well as improved faith in Government health system. Also in RNTCP, there is a scope for involvement of NGOs in the programme – since most of the rural and tribal habitations are quite interior, Sputum collection centres can be established through NGOs nearer to these communities.

Moumita Biswas was a  student of e-learning course in Public Health Management(ePHM) conducted by Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, India.

Disclaimer: IPH blogs provide a platform for ePHM students to share their reflections on different public health topics. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and not necessarily represent the views of IPH.

Role of NRCs (Nutrition Rehabilitation centre) in preventing malnutrition related deaths among under 5 children in Odisha: By Niranjan Bariyar

Introduction

Acute malnutrition or wasting is a failure to gain weight or actual weight loss caused by inadequate food intake, incorrect feeding practices, infections or a combination of these. Considered both a medical and social disorder, Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) is defined by very low weight for height (Z-score below -3 SD of the median WHO child growth standards), or a mid-upper arm circumference <115 mm/<11.5cm, or by the presence of bipedal nutritional edema.

Case fatality rate of SAM children with complications can be reduced by 90% through standard case management protocol like specialized treatment and prevention interventions at NRCs (Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres). Under national health programme in India, SAM cases are divided into two categories – those with medical complications such as diarrhea, fever, and pneumonia, needing facility based care and those without complications who can be managed in the community. Not more than 10% of SAM children require facility based care, after which follow up in the community is required to prevent relapse.

Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres in Odisha

Odisha is an underprivileged state in Eastern India and is categorized as an Empowered Action Group (EAG) state. It means it is among the nine states of India characterized with relatively higher fertility and mortality and accounts for 48% of the country’s population. Infant Mortality Rate of Odisha is 56 and Under 5 mortality rate stands at 75 (AHS 2012 – 13). Under-nutrition is the underlying cause in 55% of all the under 5 deaths. In Odisha, severe wasting among under 5 children is 5.2%, whereas in non-EAG states it ranges from 2 -4%. Scheduled caste and tribes comprise 40% of the state’s population who are socio economically the most challenged community. Various data sources like NFHS-31,AHS- 20132, Census 20113 and DLHS-34 show that Odisha still has high poverty levels, low female literacy, high incidence of malaria and diarrhea and poor IYCF practices. All these contribute to the poor nutritional status including SAM among under fives.

NRCs have been started under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in Odisha and so far, 44 have been established with uniform bed strength of 10 per NRC. Currently around 75% of children are discharged as cured.

Challenges faced

Data from 16 NRCs of Western Odisha from July to December 2014 reveals several challenges faced by the NRCs

1. Poor bed occupancy rate (just over 50%) – this is due to poor detection of SAM in the field due to low levels of use of Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC tape) and poor detection of SAM with complications even at the Community Health Centers (CHC).

2. Few admissions of SAM children with complications (from case sheets maintained at the NRCs. Data on fever, diarrhea and ARI are not captured in the NRC MIS). SAM children with complications are admitted to the pediatric ward in larger hospitals and not to the NRC though there is a pediatrician in charge to manage such children.

3. High default rate (12.5%). Undernutrition being so prevalent in the community, it is considered normal and many mothers think it is un-necessary to admit children for being “thin”, especially when they fail to recognize symptoms of complications. Other responsibilities at home, loss of wages, cost of transport to and from the centre – all contribute to the default rate as well as to poor follow-up after discharge.

4. Poor follow up after discharge (less than 10% attend 3 follow up visits after discharge)

Therefore NRCs in Odisha mostly manage children who were low birth weight and fail to gain weight even after two months; mothers following poor IYCF practices; non-breastfed children and SAM children without complications referred by ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) workers and supervisors.

The perception of severe under-nutrition as an abnormal condition can only be changed through intense nutrition education of the community, regular weighing of children and discussion of weights with the parents, and through proper counseling at the NRCs. NRC activities also needs to be more interactive and engage mothers. SAM children with complications mostly come from remote and vulnerable tribal pockets. Pressure for livelihood generation and household management do not allow mothers to get admitted in NRCs along with their children. Hence, wage loss compensation for mothers admitted in NRC should be increased to the current minimum wage, along with increased attention to improve nutritional status of tribal women through life cycle approach. Innovative strategies like working with self-help groups (SHGs), and the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) groups can also be adopted.

NRCs will reduce child mortality but will not improve the general nutritional status of children in the community. Therefore preventive and promotive efforts must be continued.Strengthening of community based mechanisms for identification, prevention and management of severe acute malnutrition is a must, in the absence of which NRCs will not be effective. Facility based approach may prevent some under 5 deaths, but will not be useful in addressing this problem in the community

1 National Family Health Survey, 2005-06.

2 Annual Health Survey, Odisha 2013, Registrar General of India.

3 Census 2011, Registrar General of India

4 District Level Health Survey 3, Registrar General of India

Niranjan Bariyar was a  student of e-learning course in Public Health Management(ePHM) conducted by Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, India.

Disclaimer: IPH blogs provide a platform for ePHM students to share their reflections on different public health topics. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and not necessarily represent the views of IPH.