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1.
PLoS One ; 17(2): e0260367, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1793557

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The world is awash with claims about the effects of health interventions. Many of these claims are untrustworthy because the bases are unreliable. Acting on unreliable claims can lead to waste of resources and poor health outcomes. Yet, most people lack the necessary skills to appraise the reliability of health claims. The Informed Health Choices (IHC) project aims to equip young people in Ugandan lower secondary schools with skills to think critically about health claims and to make good health choices by developing and evaluating digital learning resources. To ensure that we create resources that are suitable for use in Uganda's secondary schools and can be scaled up if found effective, we conducted a context analysis. We aimed to better understand opportunities and barriers related to demand for the resources, how the learning content overlaps with existing curriculum and conditions in secondary schools for accessing and using digital resources, in order to inform resource development. METHODS: We used a mixed methods approach and collected both qualitative and quantitative data. We conducted document analyses, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, school visits, and a telephone survey regarding information communication and technology (ICT). We used a nominal group technique to obtain consensus on the appropriate number and length of IHC lessons that should be planned in a school term. We developed and used a framework from the objectives to code the transcripts and generated summaries of query reports in Atlas.ti version 7. FINDINGS: Critical thinking is a key competency in the lower secondary school curriculum. However, the curriculum does not explicitly make provision to teach critical thinking about health, despite a need acknowledged by curriculum developers, teachers and students. Exam oriented teaching and a lack of learning resources are additional important barriers to teaching critical thinking about health. School closures and the subsequent introduction of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated teachers' use of digital equipment and learning resources for teaching. Although the government is committed to improving access to ICT in schools and teachers are open to using ICT, access to digital equipment, unreliable power and internet connections remain important hinderances to use of digital learning resources. CONCLUSIONS: There is a recognized need for learning resources to teach critical thinking about health in Ugandan lower secondary schools. Digital learning resources should be designed to be usable even in schools with limited access and equipment. Teacher training on use of ICT for teaching is needed.


Subject(s)
Health Behavior/physiology , Health Education/methods , Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice/ethnology , Adolescent , Choice Behavior/physiology , Curriculum , Digital Technology , Female , Focus Groups , Humans , Information Dissemination/ethics , Information Dissemination/methods , Learning , Male , Reproducibility of Results , Schools/trends , Students , Thinking , Uganda/ethnology
2.
BMC Med Educ ; 22(1): 274, 2022 Apr 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1789116

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Epidemics and pandemics are causing high morbidity and mortality on a still-evolving scale exemplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Infection prevention and control (IPC) training for frontline health workers is thus essential. However, classroom or hospital ward-based training portends an infection risk due to the in-person interaction of participants. We explored the use of Virtual Reality (VR) simulations for frontline health worker training since it trains participants without exposing them to infections that would arise from in-person training. It does away with the requirement for expensive personal protective equipment (PPE) that has been in acute shortage and improves learning, retention, and recall. This represents the first attempt in deploying VR-based pedagogy in a Ugandan medical education context. METHODS: We used animated VR-based simulations of bedside and ward-based training scenarios for frontline health workers. The training covered the donning and doffing of PPE, case management of COVID-19 infected individuals, and hand hygiene. It used VR headsets to actualize an immersive experience, via a hybrid of fully-interactive VR and 360° videos. The level of knowledge acquisition between individuals trained using this method was compared to similar cohorts previously trained in a classroom setting. That evaluation was supplemented by a qualitative assessment based on feedback from participants about their experience. RESULTS: The effort resulted in a COVID-19 IPC curriculum adapted into VR, corresponding VR content, and a pioneer cohort of VR trained frontline health workers. The formalized comparison with classroom-trained cohorts showed relatively better outcomes by way of skills acquired, speed of learning, and rates of information retention (P-value = 4.0e-09). In the qualitative assessment, 90% of the participants rated the method as very good, 58.1% strongly agreed that the activities met the course objectives, and 97.7% strongly indicated willingness to refer the course to colleagues. CONCLUSION: VR-based COVID-19 IPC training is feasible, effective and achieves enhanced learning while protecting participants from infections within a pandemic setting in Uganda. It is a delivery medium transferable to the contexts of other highly infectious diseases.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Virtual Reality , Feasibility Studies , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Uganda
3.
Front Public Health ; 10: 837211, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1785445

ABSTRACT

Since 2012, the World Health Organization has recommended household contact investigation as an evidence-based intervention to find and treat individuals with active tuberculosis (TB), the most common infectious cause of death worldwide after COVID-19. Unfortunately, uptake of this recommendation has been suboptimal in low- and middle-income countries, where the majority of affected individuals reside, and little is known about how to effectively deliver this service. Therefore, we undertook a systematic process to design a novel, theory-informed implementation strategy to promote uptake of contact investigation in Uganda, using the COM-B (Capability-Opportunity-Motivation-Behavior) model and the Behavior Change Wheel (BCW) framework. We systematically engaged national, clinic-, and community-based stakeholders and collectively re-examined the results of our own formative, parallel mixed-methods studies. We identified three core behaviors within contact investigation that we wished to change, and multiple antecedents (i.e., barriers and facilitators) of those behaviors. The BCW framework helped identify multiple intervention functions targeted to these antecedents, as well as several policies that could potentially enhance the effectiveness of those interventions. Finally, we identified multiple behavior change techniques and policies that we incorporated into a multi-component implementation strategy, which we compared to usual care in a household cluster-randomized trial. We introduced some components in both arms, including those designed to facilitate initial uptake of contact investigation, with improvement relative to historical controls. Other components that we introduced to facilitate completion of TB evaluation-home-based TB-HIV evaluation and follow-up text messaging-returned negative results due to implementation failures. In summary, the Behavior Change Wheel framework provided a feasible and transparent approach to designing a theory-informed implementation strategy. Future studies should explore the use of experimental methods such as micro-randomized trials to identify the most active components of implementation strategies, as well as more creative and entrepreneurial methods such as human-centered design to better adapt the forms and fit of implementation strategies to end users.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Tuberculosis , Contact Tracing , Family Characteristics , Humans , Tuberculosis/prevention & control , Uganda
4.
PLoS One ; 17(4): e0266249, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1775457

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: This study explored students' perceptions of COVID-19 risks and preventive measures and assessed the impacts of the national lockdown on students in Uganda. METHODS: A web-based survey was conducted to explore students' perceived risks of COVID-19 and preventive measures; sources of COVID-19 information and impacts of the lockdown. Both undergraduate and post-graduate students (n = 398) participated in the study. Data were analysed using IBM-SPSS-26. RESULTS: Students acknowledged COVID-19 as a health risk, and their preventive behaviours were influenced by age, gender, marital status and living situation. Most students followed face mask guidelines but did not comply with lockdown restrictions. Social distancing was not always possible due to overcrowding. Students' main sources of COVID-19 information were local media (e.g., TV, radio) and social media. Most students (especially females) were unable to access online learning platforms due to poor internet connectivity, high costs and no access to computers. Meanwhile, a majority of those who studied online did not enjoy the experience. Students experienced depression, frustration, stress and anxiety during the lockdown; became less physically active and spent most of their time on social media, sleeping, eating or watching movies. Some students indulged in smoking, drinking alcohol, taking drugs and gambling for their first time, while others did them more often than before. CONCLUSION: The increase in sedentary activity, poor mental health and substance use over the lockdown period puts students at risk of health complications and poses a potential threat to the healthcare system. These risks may also negatively impact their future learning and academic potential. Further research is needed to understand the transitional experiences of students between physical and virtual learning, and how they can be supported. There is also a need to ascertain the feasibility of guidelines such as social distancing in developing countries, to increase compliance.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Attitude , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Students , Uganda/epidemiology
5.
BMC Public Health ; 22(1): 601, 2022 03 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1770516

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The effects of COVID-19 on harmful traditional practices such Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and Child or Forced Marriages (CFM) have not been well documented. We examined respondents' perceptions on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected FGM/C and CFM in Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, and Ethiopia. METHODS: A cross-sectional study design with a mixed methods approach was used. Data collection on participants' perceptions on the effects of COVID-19 on FGM/C and CFM took place between October-December 2020. Household surveys targeting women and men aged 15-49 years in Kenya (n = 312), Uganda (n = 278), Ethiopia (n = 251), and Senegal (n = 208) were conducted. Thirty-eight key informant interviews with programme implementers and policymakers were carried out in Kenya (n = 17), Uganda (n = 9), Ethiopia (n = 8), and Senegal (n = 4). RESULTS: In Kenya, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the increase in both FGM/C and CFM cases. Minimal increase of FGM/C cases was reported in Uganda and a significant increase in CFM cases. In Ethiopia, the COVID-19 pandemic had a limited perceived effect on changes in FGM/C and CFM. In Senegal, there were minimal perceived effects of COVID-19 on the number of FGM/C and CFM cases. The pandemic negatively affected implementation of interventions by the justice and legal system, the health system, and civil societies. CONCLUSIONS: The pandemic has had varied perceived effects on FGM/C and CFM across the four countries. Generally, the pandemic has negatively affected implementation of interventions by the various sectors that are responsible for preventing and responding to FGM/C and CFM. This calls for innovative approaches in intervening in the various communities to ensure that women and girls at risk of FGM/C and CFM or in need of services are reached during the pandemic. Evidence on how effective alternative approaches such as the use of call centres, radio talk shows and the use of local champions as part of risk communication in preventing and responding to FGM/C and CFM amid COVID-19 is urgently required.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Circumcision, Female , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Cross-Sectional Studies , Ethiopia , Female , Humans , Kenya/epidemiology , Male , Marriage , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Senegal , Uganda/epidemiology , Young Adult
6.
J Prim Care Community Health ; 13: 21501319211073415, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1770150

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused socio-economic disruptions across the globe. The pandemic disrupted the health system (HS) calling for reengineering in response to high infection rates, deaths, and resultant containment measures. To deal with COVID-19 and promote resilience, community health workers (CHWs) were engaged across countries. OBJECTIVE: Assess the preparedness of CHWs in supporting health system response in prevention and management of COVID-19 in Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda. METHODS: A mixed methods design study involving national and subnational jurisdictions in the 3 countries. Key informant interviews were conducted with policy actors (16) and health care workers (24) while in-depth interviews involved CHWs (14) and community members (312) subjected to survey interviews. RESULTS: Most (>50%) households survived on

Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Community Health Workers , Community Health Workers/education , Community Health Workers/psychology , Humans , Kenya/epidemiology , Qualitative Research , Senegal , Uganda/epidemiology
7.
Public Health Nutr ; 25(4): 930-943, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1758081

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: We determined the prevalence and identified predictors of food insecurity in four African countries. DESIGN: Cross-sectional analyses at study enrolment. SETTING: From January 2013 to March 2020, people living with HIV (PLWH) and without HIV were enrolled at twelve clinics in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria. PARTICIPANTS: Participants reporting not having enough food to eat over the past 12 months or receiving <3 meals/d were defined as food insecure. Robust Poisson regression models were used to estimate unadjusted and adjusted prevalence ratios (aPR) and 95 % CI for predictors of food insecurity among all participants and separately among PLWH. RESULTS: 1694/3496 participants (48·5 %) reported food insecurity at enrolment, with no difference by HIV status. Food insecurity was more common among older participants (50+ v. 18-24 years aPR 1·35, 95 % CI 1·15, 1·59). Having 2-5 (aPR 1·14, 95 % CI 1·01, 1·30) or >5 dependents (aPR 1·17, 95 % CI 1·02, 1·35), and residing in Kisumu West, Kenya (aPR 1·63, 95 % CI 1·42, 1·87) or Nigeria (aPR 1·20, 95 % CI 1·01, 1·41) was associated with food insecurity. Residing in Tanzania (aPR 0·65, 95 % CI 0·53, 0·80) and increasing education (secondary/above education v. none/some primary education aPR 0·73, 95 % CI 0·66, 0·81) was protective against food insecurity. Antiretroviral therapy (ART)-experienced PLWH were more likely to be food secure irrespective of viral load. CONCLUSION: Food insecurity was highly prevalent in our cohort though not significantly associated with HIV. Policies aimed at promoting education, elderly care, ART access in PLWH and financial independence could potentially improve food security in Africa.


Subject(s)
Food Supply , HIV Infections , Aged , Cohort Studies , Cross-Sectional Studies , Food Insecurity , HIV Infections/epidemiology , Humans , Prevalence , Uganda
8.
BMC Public Health ; 22(1): 577, 2022 03 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1759728

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the provision of essential reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) services in sub-Saharan Africa to varying degrees. Original models estimated as many as 1,157,000 additional child and 56,700 maternal deaths globally due to health service interruptions. To reduce potential impacts to populations related to RMNCH service delivery, national governments in Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zimbabwe swiftly issued policy guidelines related to essential RMNCH services during COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) issued recommendations to guide countries in preserving essential health services by June of 2020. METHODS: We reviewed and extracted content related to family planning (FP), antenatal care (ANC), intrapartum and postpartum care and immunization in national policies from Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe from March 2020 to February 2021, related to continuation of essential RMNCH services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a standardized tool, two to three analysts independently extracted content, and in-country experts reviewed outputs to verify observations. Findings were entered into NVivo software and categorized using pre-defined themes and codes. The content of each national policy guideline was compared to WHO guidance related to RMNCH essential services during COVID-19. RESULTS: All four country policy guidelines considered ANC, intrapartum care, FP, and immunization to be essential services and issued policy guidance for continuation of these services. Guidelines were issued in April 2020 by Mozambique, Kenya, and Uganda, and in June 2020 by Zimbabwe. Many elements of WHO's 2020 recommendations were included in country policies, with some notable exceptions. Each policy guideline was more detailed in some aspects than others - for example, Kenya's guidelines were particularly detailed regarding FP service provision, while Uganda's guidelines were explicit about immediate breastfeeding. All policy guidance documents contained a balance of measures to preserve essential RMNCH services while reducing COVID-19 transmission risk within these services. CONCLUSIONS: The national policy guidelines to preserve essential RMNCH services in these four countries reflected WHO recommendations, with some notable exceptions for ANC and birth companionship. Ongoing revision of country policy guidelines to adapt to changing pandemic conditions is recommended, as is further analysis of subnational-level policies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Child Health Services , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Child , Female , Humans , Infant, Newborn , Kenya/epidemiology , Mozambique , Pandemics/prevention & control , Policy , Pregnancy , Uganda , Zimbabwe/epidemiology
9.
BMC Public Health ; 22(1): 88, 2022 01 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1736371

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: To reduce the spread of COVID-19, several countries in Africa instituted countrywide lockdowns and other public health measures. Whereas lockdowns contributed to the control of the pandemic, there were concerns about the unintended consequences of these measures especially in the most vulnerable populations. We assessed unintended socio-economic and health consequences due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the mitigation measures among slum dwellers in Kampala to inform the on-going and future pandemic response strategies. METHODS: This was a mixed methods cross-sectional study conducted in Bwaise I and Bwaise III slums of Kawempe division, Kampala Uganda from October to December 2020. We used systematic sampling to randomly select 425 household heads for the face-to-face quantitative interviews. We also conducted six focus group discussions (FGDs) with slum dwellers and used photovoice among eight Community Health Workers (CHWs) to document unintended socio-economic and health consequences. Quantitative data were imported into STATA version 14.0 for analysis, while qualitative data were analysed thematically using NVivo version 12. Modified Poisson regression analysis was conducted to establish factors associated with impact on access to food. RESULTS: Most respondents reported limited access to food (71.1%; 302/425); disruption in education (77.1%; 270/350); drop in daily income and wages (86.1%; 329/382) and loss of employment (63.1; 125/198). Twenty five percent of the respondents (25.4%; 86/338) reported domestic violence as one of the challenges. Seven themes emerged from the qualitative findings on the impact of COVID-19 including: limited access to food; negative impact on children's rights (child labour and teenage pregnancies) and education; poor housing and lack of accommodation; negative social behaviours; negative impact on family and child care; reduced income and employment; and negative impact on health and access to health care services. CONCLUSION: The slum dwellers of Bwaise I and Bwaise III experienced several negative socio-economic and health consequences of COVID-19 and its prevention measures that severely affected their wellbeing. Children experienced severe consequences such as child labour and teenage pregnancies among the girls. Response activities should be contextualised to different settings and protocols to protect the vulnerable groups in the community such as children and women should be developed and mainstreamed in response activities.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Poverty Areas , Adolescent , Communicable Disease Control , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Humans , Pandemics , Pregnancy , SARS-CoV-2 , Uganda/epidemiology
10.
PLoS Negl Trop Dis ; 16(2): e0010205, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1731578

ABSTRACT

Uganda established a domestic Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) testing capacity in 2010 in response to the increasing occurrence of filovirus outbreaks. In July 2018, the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) experienced its 10th Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak and for the duration of the outbreak, the Ugandan Ministry of Health (MOH) initiated a national EVD preparedness stance. Almost one year later, on 10th June 2019, three family members who had contracted EVD in the DRC crossed into Uganda to seek medical treatment. Samples were collected from all the suspected cases using internationally established biosafety protocols and submitted for VHF diagnostic testing at Uganda Virus Research Institute. All samples were initially tested by RT-PCR for ebolaviruses, marburgviruses, Rift Valley fever (RVF) virus and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus. Four people were identified as being positive for Zaire ebolavirus, marking the first report of Zaire ebolavirus in Uganda. In-country Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and phylogenetic analysis was performed for the first time in Uganda, confirming the outbreak as imported from DRC at two different time point from different clades. This rapid response by the MoH, UVRI and partners led to the control of the outbreak and prevention of secondary virus transmission.


Subject(s)
Ebolavirus , Hemorrhagic Fever Virus, Crimean-Congo , Hemorrhagic Fever, Crimean , Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola , Animals , Democratic Republic of the Congo/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Ebolavirus/genetics , Hemorrhagic Fever, Crimean/epidemiology , Humans , Phylogeny , Uganda/epidemiology
11.
Afr Health Sci ; 21(4): 1533-1543, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1726491

ABSTRACT

Background: COVID19 pandemic forced most countries to lockdown, leading to the prolonged closure of many learning institutions. This dramatic shift led to increase of mental illness symptoms among university students. Objective: To determine the prevalence and factors associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress among Uganda's university students during the COVID-19 lockdown. Methods: We conducted a one-month online survey using the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21). Results: Participants n=321 were enrolled with mean age, 24.8(SD=5.1) years and 198(61.7%) were males. The prevalence of mental health symptoms among participants was 80.7%, 98.4%, and 77.9% for depression, high levels of anxiety, and stress, respectively. Statistically significant association between mental health symptoms on multi-logistic regression was found with Males (depression=2.97[1.61-5.48] and stress=1.90[1.07-3.35]), engagement in leisure activity (depression= 1.87[1.01-3.49] and stress=1.98[1.10-3.56]), and being finalist (stress=0.55[0.31- 0.97]). Use of addictive substances seem to potentially alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress in the short term. Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest a high prevalence of symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress among university students during the COVID-19 lockdown. Students' mental health should be monitored by all stakeholders, especially as the pandemic progresses.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Adult , Anxiety/psychology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control , Cross-Sectional Studies , Depression/psychology , Humans , Male , SARS-CoV-2 , Stress, Psychological/diagnosis , Students , Uganda/epidemiology , Universities , Young Adult
12.
BMC Infect Dis ; 22(1): 174, 2022 Feb 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1700789

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Globally, key subpopulations such as healthcare workers (HCW) may have a higher risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2. In Uganda, limited access to Personal Protective Equipment and lack of clarity on the extent/pattern of community spread may exacerbate this situation. The country established infection prevention/control measures such as lockdowns and proper hand hygiene. However, due to resource limitations and fatigue, compliance is low, posing continued onward transmission risk. This study aimed to describe extent of SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in selected populations within the Rakai region of Uganda. METHODS: From 30th November 2020 to 8th January 2021, we collected venous blood from 753 HCW at twenty-six health facilities in South-Central Uganda and from 227 population-cohort participants who reported specific COVID-19 like symptoms (fever, cough, loss of taste and appetite) in a prior phone-based survey conducted (between May and August 2020) during the first national lockdown. 636 plasma specimens collected from individuals considered high risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection, prior to the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Uganda were also retrieved. Specimens were tested for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 using the CoronaChek™ rapid COVID-19 IgM/IgG lateral flow test assay. IgM only positive samples were confirmed using a chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay (CMIA) (Architect AdviseDx SARS-CoV-2 IgM) which targets the spike protein. SARS-CoV-2 exposure was defined as either confirmed IgM, both IgM and IgG or sole IgG positivity. Overall seroprevalence in each participant group was estimated, adjusting for test performance. RESULTS: The seroprevalence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in HCW was 26.7% [95%CI: 23.5, 29.8] with no difference by sex, age, or cadre. We observed no association between PPE use and seropositivity among exposed healthcare workers. Of the phone-based survey participants, 15.6% [95%CI: 10.9, 20.3] had antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, with no difference by HIV status, sex, age, or occupation. Among 636 plasma specimens collected prior to the first confirmed COVID-19 case, 2.3% [95%CI: 1.2, 3.5] were reactive. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest high seroprevalence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 among HCW and substantial exposure in persons presenting with specific COVID-19 like symptoms in the general population of South-Central Uganda. Based on current limitations in serological test confirmation, it remains unclear whether seroprevalence among plasma specimens collected prior to confirmation of the first COVID-19 case implies prior SARS-CoV-2 exposure in Uganda.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antibodies, Viral , Communicable Disease Control , Health Personnel , Humans , Seroepidemiologic Studies , Uganda/epidemiology
13.
BMC Public Health ; 22(1): 373, 2022 02 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1700500

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Despite efforts to avert the negative effects of malaria, there remain barriers to the uptake of prevention measures, and these have hindered its eradication. This study explored the factors that influence uptake of malaria prevention strategies among pregnant women and children under-five years and the impact of COVID-19 in a malaria endemic rural district in Uganda. METHODS: This was a qualitative case study that used focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, and key informant interviews involving pregnant women, caregivers of children under-five years, traditional birth attendants, village health teams, local leaders, and healthcare providers to explore malaria prevention uptake among pregnant women and children under-five years. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and data were analyzed using thematic content approach. RESULTS: Seventy-two participants were enrolled in the Focus Group Discussions, 12 in the in-depth interviews, and 2 as key informants. Pregnant women and caregivers of children under-five years were able to recognize causes of malaria, transmission, and symptoms. All participants viewed malaria prevention as a high priority, and the use of insecticide-treated mosquito bed nets (ITNs) was upheld. Participants' own experiences indicated adverse effects of malaria to both pregnant women and children under-five. Home medication and the use of local herbs were a common practice. Some participants didn't use any of the malaria prevention methods due to deliberate refusal, perceived negative effects of the ITNs, and family disparity. The Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) control measures did not abate the risk of malaria infection but these were deleterious to healthcare access and the focus of malaria prevention. CONCLUSIONS: Although pregnant women and caregivers of children under-five years recognized symptoms of malaria infection, healthcare-seeking was not apt as some respondents used alternative approaches and delayed seeking formal healthcare. It is imperative to focus on the promotion of malaria prevention strategies and address drawbacks associated with misconceptions about these interventions, and promotion of health-seeking behaviors. As COVID-19 exacerbated the effect of malaria prevention uptake and healthcare seeking, it's critical to recommit and integrate COVID-19 prevention measures in normative living and restrict future barriers to healthcare access.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Malaria , Caregivers , Child , Female , Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice , Humans , Malaria/drug therapy , Malaria/epidemiology , Malaria/prevention & control , Pandemics , Pregnancy , Pregnant Women , Rural Population , SARS-CoV-2 , Uganda/epidemiology
14.
Soc Sci Med ; 298: 114826, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1692872

ABSTRACT

Global debates about vaccines as a key element of pandemic response and future preparedness in the era of Covid-19 currently focus on questions of supply, with attention to global injustice in vaccine distribution and African countries as rightful beneficiaries of international de-regulation and financing initiatives such as COVAX. At the same time, vaccine demand and uptake are seen to be threatened by hesitancy, often attributed to an increasingly globalised anti-vaxx movement and its propagation of misinformation and conspiracy, now reaching African populations through a social media 'infodemic'. Underplayed in these debates are the socio-political contexts through which vaccine technologies enter and are interpreted within African settings, and the crucial intersections between supply and demand. We explore these through a 'vaccine anxieties' framework attending to both desires for and worries about vaccines, as shaped by bodily, societal and wider political understandings and experiences. This provides an analytical lens to organise and interpret ethnographic and narrative accounts in local and national settings in Uganda and Sierra Leone, and their (dis)connections with global debates and geopolitics. In considering the socially-embedded reasons why people want or do not want Covid-19 vaccines, and how this intersects with the dynamics of vaccine supply, access and distribution in rapidly-unfolding epidemic situations, we bring new, expanded insights into debates about vaccine confidence and vaccine preparedness.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Social Media , Vaccines , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines/therapeutic use , Humans , Uganda
15.
PLoS One ; 17(2): e0263827, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1690707

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Uganda confirmed its first COVID-19 case in March 2020, leading to country-wide closures and a stay-at-home order. Infectious disease pandemics can overwhelm adaptive coping capacity (e.g., general self-efficacy and resilience) and increase the risk for mental distress. For individuals experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) and cohabitating with a perpetrator, stay-at-home orders can also increase risk of violence, which can further exacerbate mental distress. The present study explores women's perceived self-efficacy and resilient coping, mental health outcomes (depression and COVID-19 related anxiety), hazardous alcohol use and IPV in the context of Uganda's national 2020 lockdown. METHODS: A phone-based survey was undertaken from June-August of 2020 in Wakiso District, Uganda. The study sample consisted of Africa Medical and Behavioral Sciences Organization (AMBSO) Population Health Surveillance (APHS) study participants who agreed to be contacted for future research. The analytic sample was restricted to women aged 13-80 years. Bivariate analysis and multivariable models explored associations between experiences of IPV and measures of adaptive coping, mental health and alcohol use. RESULTS: A total of 556 women aged 13-79 years (mean age of 33.4 years) participated. Over half (55%) were currently married. The majority (60%) reported a decrease in alcohol use during the lockdown. Nearly half of the sample were experiencing physical or verbal IPV and reported an increase in violence during the lockdown. In adjusted analysis, alcohol use was associated with four times greater odds of recent physical IPV (aOR 4.06, 95% CI = 1.65-10.02, p = 0.0024), while participants had lower odds of experiencing any form of IPV as general self-efficacy increased (aOR 0.95, 95% CI = 0.91-0.99, p = 0.0308). CONCLUSION: Lockdown measures in Uganda may have mitigated increased alcohol consumption. IPV was exacerbated during lockdown; more than 2 in 5 IPV victims experienced increased physical or verbal violence. Development of programming and policies aimed at mitigating women's risk of IPV during future lockdowns are needed.


Subject(s)
Alcohol Drinking/psychology , COVID-19/psychology , Intimate Partner Violence/psychology , Mental Health , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Anxiety , Female , Humans , Mental Disorders , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Risk Factors , Rural Population/statistics & numerical data , Uganda/epidemiology , Young Adult
16.
Nature ; 587(7834): 331, 2020 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1671516
17.
Int J Infect Dis ; 112: 165-172, 2021 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1654545

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: Uganda has registered fewer coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases and deaths per capita than Western countries. The lower numbers of cases and deaths might be due to pre-existing cross-immunity induced by circulating common cold human coronaviruses (HCoVs) before the COVID-19 pandemic. To investigate pre-existing mucosal antibodies against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of COVID-19, a comparison was performed of IgA reactivity to SARS-CoV-2 and HCoVs in milk from mothers collected in 2018. METHODS: Ugandan and United States milk samples were run on an ELISA to measure specific IgA to SARS-CoV-2 and HCoVs NL63, OC43, HKU1, and 229E spike proteins. Pooled plasma from United States SARS-CoV-2-positive and negative cases were positive and negative controls, respectively. RESULTS: One Ugandan mother had high milk IgA reactivity against all HCoVs and SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins. Ugandan mothers had significantly higher IgA reactivity against the betacoronavirus HCoV-OC43 than United States mothers (P = 0.018). By contrast, United States mothers had significantly higher IgA reactivity against the alphacoronaviruses HCoV-229E and HCoV-NL63 than Ugandan mothers (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.035, respectively). CONCLUSION: Some Ugandan mothers have pre-existing HCoV-induced IgA antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, which may be passed to infants via breastfeeding.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antibodies, Viral , Cross Reactions , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin A , Milk, Human , Mothers , Pandemics , Uganda , United States
18.
Int J Infect Dis ; 112: 281-287, 2021 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1654535

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Serological testing is needed to better understand the epidemiology of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) have been developed to detect specific antibodies, IgM and IgG, to the virus. The performance of 25 of these RDTs was evaluated. METHODS: A serological reference panel of 50 positive and 100 negative plasma specimens was developed from SARS-CoV-2 PCR and antibody positive patients and pre-pandemic SARS-CoV-2-negative specimens collected in 2016. Test performance of the 25 RDTs was evaluated against this panel. RESULTS: A total of 10 RDTs had a sensitivity ≥98%, while 13 RDTs had a specificity ≥98% to anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies. Four RDTs (Boson, MultiG, Standard Q, and VivaDiag) had both sensitivity and specificity ≥98% to anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies. Only three RDTs had a sensitivity ≥98%, while 10 RDTs had a specificity ≥98% to anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgM antibodies. Three RDTs (Autobio, MultiG, and Standard Q) had sensitivity and specificity ≥98% to combined IgG/IgM. The RDTs that performed well also had perfect or almost perfect inter-reader agreement. CONCLUSIONS: This evaluation identified three RDTs with a sensitivity and specificity to IgM/IgG antibodies of ≥98% with the potential for widespread antibody testing in Uganda.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Academies and Institutes , Antibodies, Viral , Diagnostic Tests, Routine , Humans , Immunoglobulin M , Sensitivity and Specificity , Uganda/epidemiology
19.
N Engl J Med ; 386(3): 230-240, 2022 01 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1630266

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Rheumatic heart disease affects more than 40.5 million people worldwide and results in 306,000 deaths annually. Echocardiographic screening detects rheumatic heart disease at an early, latent stage. Whether secondary antibiotic prophylaxis is effective in preventing progression of latent rheumatic heart disease is unknown. METHODS: We conducted a randomized, controlled trial of secondary antibiotic prophylaxis in Ugandan children and adolescents 5 to 17 years of age with latent rheumatic heart disease. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either injections of penicillin G benzathine (also known as benzathine benzylpenicillin) every 4 weeks for 2 years or no prophylaxis. All the participants underwent echocardiography at baseline and at 2 years after randomization. Changes from baseline were adjudicated by a panel whose members were unaware of the trial-group assignments. The primary outcome was echocardiographic progression of latent rheumatic heart disease at 2 years. RESULTS: Among 102,200 children and adolescents who had screening echocardiograms, 3327 were initially assessed as having latent rheumatic heart disease, and 926 of the 3327 subsequently received a definitive diagnosis on the basis of confirmatory echocardiography and were determined to be eligible for the trial. Consent or assent for participation was provided for 916 persons, and all underwent randomization; 818 participants were included in the modified intention-to-treat analysis, and 799 (97.7%) completed the trial. A total of 3 participants (0.8%) in the prophylaxis group had echocardiographic progression at 2 years, as compared with 33 (8.2%) in the control group (risk difference, -7.5 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, -10.2 to -4.7; P<0.001). Two participants in the prophylaxis group had serious adverse events that were attributable to receipt of prophylaxis, including one episode of a mild anaphylactic reaction (representing <0.1% of all administered doses of prophylaxis). CONCLUSIONS: Among children and adolescents 5 to 17 years of age with latent rheumatic heart disease, secondary antibiotic prophylaxis reduced the risk of disease progression at 2 years. Further research is needed before the implementation of population-level screening can be recommended. (Funded by the Thrasher Research Fund and others; GOAL ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT03346525.).


Subject(s)
Anti-Bacterial Agents/therapeutic use , Antibiotic Prophylaxis , Penicillin G Benzathine/therapeutic use , Rheumatic Heart Disease/drug therapy , Adolescent , Anti-Bacterial Agents/administration & dosage , Child , Child, Preschool , Disease Progression , Echocardiography , Female , Humans , Injections, Intramuscular , Intention to Treat Analysis , Latent Infection/drug therapy , Male , Mass Screening , Penicillin G Benzathine/administration & dosage , Rheumatic Heart Disease/diagnostic imaging , Uganda
20.
Malar J ; 20(1): 475, 2021 Dec 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1635854

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In March 2020, the government of Uganda implemented a strict lockdown policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interrupted time series analysis (ITSA) was performed to assess whether major changes in outpatient attendance, malaria burden, and case management occurred after the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic in rural Uganda. METHODS: Individual level data from all outpatient visits collected from April 2017 to March 2021 at 17 facilities were analysed. Outcomes included total outpatient visits, malaria cases, non-malarial visits, proportion of patients with suspected malaria, proportion of patients tested using rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), and proportion of malaria cases prescribed artemether-lumefantrine (AL). Poisson regression with generalized estimating equations and fractional regression was used to model count and proportion outcomes, respectively. Pre-COVID trends (April 2017-March 2020) were used to predict the'expected' trend in the absence of COVID-19 introduction. Effects of COVID-19 were estimated over two six-month COVID-19 time periods (April 2020-September 2020 and October 2020-March 2021) by dividing observed values by expected values, and expressed as ratios. RESULTS: A total of 1,442,737 outpatient visits were recorded. Malaria was suspected in 55.3% of visits and 98.8% of these had a malaria diagnostic test performed. ITSA showed no differences between observed and expected total outpatient visits, malaria cases, non-malarial visits, or proportion of visits with suspected malaria after COVID-19 onset. However, in the second six months of the COVID-19 time period, there was a smaller mean proportion of patients tested with RDTs compared to expected (relative prevalence ratio (RPR) = 0.87, CI (0.78-0.97)) and a smaller mean proportion of malaria cases prescribed AL (RPR = 0.94, CI (0.90-0.99)). CONCLUSIONS: In the first year after the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Uganda, there were no major effects on malaria disease burden and indicators of case management at these 17 rural health facilities, except for a modest decrease in the proportion of RDTs used for malaria diagnosis and the mean proportion of malaria cases prescribed AL in the second half of the COVID-19 pandemic year. Continued surveillance will be essential to monitor for changes in trends in malaria indicators so that Uganda can quickly and flexibly respond to challenges imposed by COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Ambulatory Care , COVID-19/epidemiology , Malaria/epidemiology , Chronic Disease Indicators , Humans , Infection Control , Interrupted Time Series Analysis , Malaria/diagnosis , Malaria/therapy , Malaria/transmission , Rural Health , Uganda/epidemiology
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