Evaluating approaches to designing effective Co-Created hand-hygiene interventions for children in India, Sierra Leone and the UK.
ABSTRACT: Effective and culturally appropriate hand-hygiene education is essential to promote health-related practices to control and prevent diseases such as Diarrhoea, Ebola and COVID-19. In this paper we outline and evaluate the Co-Creation processes underpinning a handwashing intervention for young children (A Germ's Journey) developed and delivered in India, Sierra Leone and the UK, and consider the implications surrounding Imperialist/Colonial discourse and the White Saviour Complex. The paper focuses both on the ways Co-Creation was conceptualised by our collaborators in all three countries and the catalysts and challenges encountered. Qualitative data have been drawn from in-depth interviews with five key stakeholders, focus group data from 37 teachers in Sierra Leone and responses to open-ended questionnaires completed by teachers in India (N = 66) and UK (N = 63). Data were analysed using thematic analysis and three themes, each with three constituent subthemes are presented. In the theme 'Representations of and Unique Approaches to Co-Creation' we explore the ways in which Co-Creation was constructed in relation to teamwork, innovative practice and more continuous models of evaluation. In 'Advantages of Co-Creation' we consider issues around shared ownership, improved outcomes and more meaningful insights alongside the mitigation of risks and short-circuiting of problems. In 'Challenges of Co-Creation' we discuss issues around timing and organisation, attracting and working with appropriate partners and understanding the importance of local context with inherent social, economic and structural barriers, especially in low-and-middle-income countries. We consider how theoretical elements of Co-Creation can inform effective international public health interventions; crucial during a global pandemic in which handwashing is the most effective method to control the transmission of COVID-19. Finally we reflect on some of the methodological challenges of our own work and in managing the potentially conflicting goals of the ethical and participatory values of Co-Creation with pragmatic considerations about ensuring an effective final 'product'.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Sierra Leone, a low-income and post-conflict country, has an extreme shortage of qualified medical doctors. Given the complex challenges facing medical education in this country and the need for context-specific knowledge, the aim of this paper is to explore the undergraduate medical education experience in Sierra Leone through qualitative interviews with recent graduates. METHODS:In-depth interviews were conducted with purposively sampled junior doctors (n?=?15) who had graduated from the only medical school in Sierra Leone. Additionally, semi-structured interviews were held with senior teaching staff at the School (n?=?7). Interviews were conducted in October 2013. Results were thematically analysed. RESULTS:The analytical framework consisted of four themes. Medical school experiences (Theme 1) were described as 'stressful and tedious' but also 'interesting and enjoyable'. Various constraints were experienced linked to the Medical school capacity (Theme 2), including human (limited number of teachers, teaching skills), organisational (departmental differences, curriculum related challenges), physical (lacking teaching facilities on campus, transportation problems) and financial capacity (inadequate remunerations for teachers, most students receive scholarships). Medical school culture (Theme 3) was by some participants perceived as fearful and unfair. Findings suggest various coping strategies (Theme 4) were used at school ('creatively' hire extra teaching staff, teaching schedule upon availability of staff), staff (juggle multiple roles, teach flexibly), and student levels (comply with 'hidden' rules, negotiate teaching support from less qualified health personnel). CONCLUSIONS:This study has provided an insight into the student perspective on medical education in Sierra Leone. Numerous capacity related concerns were identified; which are unsurprising for an educational institution in a low-income and conflict affected country. While the School, staff and students have found creative ways to deal with these constraints, participants' accounts of stress imply more is needed. For example, findings suggest that: students could be better supported in their self-directed learning, more effort is required to ensure basic needs of students are met (like shelter and food), and the power imbalance between staff and students could be addressed. Also better alignment amongst learning objectives and assessment methods will likely diminish student distress and may, consequently, reduce exam failure and possibly drop-out.
Project description:Background:The growing burden of non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries presents substantive challenges for health systems. This is also the case in fragile, post-conflict and post-Ebola Sierra Leone, where NCDs represent an increasingly significant disease burden (around 30% of adult men and women have raised blood pressure). To date, documentation of health system challenges and opportunities for NCD prevention and control is limited in such settings. This paper aims to identify opportunities and challenges in provision of NCD prevention and care and highlight lessons for Sierra Leone and other fragile states in the battle against the growing NCD epidemic. Methods:This paper focuses on the case of Sierra Leone and uses a combination of participatory group model building at national and district level, in rural and urban districts, interviews with 28 key informants and review of secondary data and documents. Data is analysed using the WHO's health system assessment guide for NCDs. Results:We highlight multiple challenges typical to those encountered in other fragile settings to the delivery of preventive and curative NCD services. There is limited government and donor commitment to financing and implementation of the national NCD policy and strategy, limited and poorly distributed health workforce and pharmaceuticals, high financial barriers for users, and lack of access to quality-assured medicines with consequent high recourse to private and informal care seeking. We identify how to strengthen the system within existing (low) resources, including through improved clinical guides and tools, more effective engagement with communities, and regulatory and fiscal measures. Conclusion:Our study suggests that NCD prevention and control is of low but increasing priority in Sierra Leone; challenges to addressing this burden relate to huge numbers with NCDs (especially hypertension) requiring care, overall resource constraints and wider systemic issues, including poorly supported primary care services and access barriers. In addition to securing and strengthening political will and commitment and directing more resources and attention towards this area, there is a need for in-depth exploratory and implementation research to shape and test NCD interventions in fragile and post-conflict settings.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:To describe the prevalence and correlates of depression and anxiety among adult Ebola virus disease (EVD) survivors in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. DESIGN:Cross-sectional. SETTING:One-on-one surveys were conducted in EVD-affected communities in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in early 2018. PARTICIPANTS:1495 adult EVD survivors (726 male, 769 female). PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES:Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) depression scores and Generalised Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) scores. RESULTS:Prevalence and severity of depression and anxiety varied across the three countries. Sierra Leone had the highest prevalence of depression, with 22.0% of participants meeting the criteria for a tentative diagnosis of depression, compared with 20.2% in Liberia and 13.0% in Guinea. Sierra Leone also showed the highest prevalence of anxiety, with 10.7% of participants meeting criteria for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD-7 score ?10), compared with 9.9% in Liberia and 4.2% in Guinea. Between one-third and one-half of respondents reported little interest or pleasure in doing things in the previous 2?weeks (range: 47.0% in Liberia to 37.6% in Sierra Leone), and more than 1 in 10 respondents reported ideation of self-harm or suicide (range: 19.4% in Sierra Leone to 10.4% in Guinea). Higher depression and anxiety scores were statistically significantly associated with each other and with experiences of health facility-based stigma in all three countries. Other associations between mental health scores and respondent characteristics varied across countries. CONCLUSIONS:Our results indicate that both depression and anxiety are common among EVD survivors in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, but that there is country-level heterogeneity in prevalence, severity and correlates of these conditions. All three countries should work to make mental health services available for survivors, and governments and organisations should consider the intersection between EVD-related stigma and mental health when designing programmes and training healthcare providers.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Considerable number of patients, including Ebola survivors, in Sierra Leone, are using traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM). Healthcare providers' (HCPs) views about T&CM is crucial in addressing the increased need for T&CM among patients. However, healthcare providers' views about T&CM in Sierra Leone is unknown. Our study explores healthcare providers' knowledge of and perception towards T&CM and how that influence their personal and professional T&CM use, communication with Ebola survivors about T&CM as well as its integration into the healthcare system in Sierra Leone. METHODS:We employed a qualitative exploratory study design using semi-structured interviews to collect data from 15 conveniently sampled HCPs in all four geographical regions of Sierra Leone. We analysed our data using thematic network analysis framework. RESULTS:Healthcare providers perceived their knowledge about T&CM to be low and considered T&CM to be less effective and less safe than conventional medicine as well as not evidence-based. HCPs perception of T&CM as non-scientific and their lack of knowledge of T&CM were the key barriers to HCPs' self-use and recommendation as well as their lack of detailed discussion about T&CM with Ebola survivors. HCPs are open to T&CM integration into mainstream healthcare in Sierra Leone although at their terms. However, they believe that T&CM integration could be enhanced by effective professional regulation of T&CM practice, and by improving T&CM evidenced-based knowledge through education, training and research. CONCLUSION:Changing HCPs' negative perception of and increasing their knowledge about T&CM is critical to promoting effective communication with Ebola survivors regarding T&CM and its integration into the healthcare system in Sierra Leone. Strategies such as educational interventions for HCPs, conducting rigorous T&CM research, proper education and training of T&CM practitioners and effective professional regulation of T&CM practice could help in that direction.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In August 2014, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa established a modular high-biosafety field Ebola diagnostic laboratory (SA FEDL) near Freetown, Sierra Leone in response to the rapidly increasing number of Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases. METHODS AND FINDINGS:The SA FEDL operated in the Western Area of Sierra Leone, which remained a "hotspot" of the EVD epidemic for months. The FEDL was the only diagnostic capacity available to respond to the overwhelming demand for rapid EVD laboratory diagnosis for several weeks in the initial stages of the EVD crisis in the capital of Sierra Leone. Furthermore, the NICD set out to establish local capacity amongst Sierra Leonean nationals in all aspects of the FEDL functions from the outset. This led to the successful hand-over of the FEDL to the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation in March 2015. Between 25 August 2014 and 22 June 2016, the laboratory tested 11,250 specimens mostly from the Western Urban and Western Rural regions of Sierra Leone, of which 2,379 (21.14%) tested positive for Ebola virus RNA. CONCLUSIONS:The bio-safety standards and the portability of the SA FEDL, offered a cost-effective and practical alternative for the rapid deployment of a field-operated high biocontainment facility. The SA FEDL teams demonstrated that it is highly beneficial to train the national staff in the course of formidable disease outbreak and accomplished their full integration into all operational and diagnostic aspects of the laboratory. This initiative contributed to the international efforts in bringing the EVD outbreak under control in Sierra Leone, as well as capacitating local African scientists and technologists to respond to diagnostic needs that might be required in future outbreaks of highly contagious pathogens.
Project description:Sierra Leone is pursuing multiple initiatives to establish in-country postgraduate medical education (PGME), as part of national efforts to strengthen the health workforce. This paper explored the career preferences of junior doctors in Sierra Leone; and the potential benefits and challenges with regards to the development of PGME locally.Junior doctors (n?=?15) who had graduated from the only medical school in Sierra Leone were purposively sampled based on maximum variation (e.g. men/women, years of graduation). In-depth interviews were conducted in October 2013, and digital diaries and two follow-up interviews were used to explore their evolving career aspirations until November 2016. Additionally, 16 semi-structured interviews with key informants were held to gather perspectives on the development of PGME locally. Results were thematically analysed.All junior doctors interviewed intended to pursue PGME with the majority wanting primarily a clinical career. Half were interested in also gaining a public health qualification. Major factors influencing career preferences included: prior exposure, practical (anticipated job content), personal considerations (individual interests), financial provision, and contextual (aspirations to help address certain health needs). Majority of doctors considered West Africa but East and South Africa were also location options for clinical PGME. Several preferred to leave the African continent to pursue PGME. Factors influencing decision-making on location were: financial (scholarships), practical (availability of preferred specialty), reputation (positive and negative), and social (children). Key informants viewed the potential benefits of expanding PGME in Sierra Leone as: cost-effectiveness (compared to overseas specialist training), maintaining service delivery during training years, decreasing loss of doctors (some decide not to return after gaining their specialist degree abroad), and enhancing quality control and academic culture of the local medical school. Major perceived challenges were capacity constraints, especially the dearth of specialists required to achieve training programme accreditation.This study has provided an insight into the career preferences of junior doctors in Sierra Leone. It is timely as there is increasing political and professional momentum to expand PGME locally. Findings may guide those involved in this PGME expansion in terms of how possibly to influence junior doctors in their career decision-making.
Project description:<h4>Objectives</h4>Prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors (CVDRF) is increasing, especially in low-income countries. In Sierra Leone, there are no previous studies on the knowledge and the awareness of these conditions in the community. This study aimed to explore the knowledge and understanding of CVDRF, as well as the perceptions of the barriers and facilitators to accessing care for these conditions, among patients and community leaders in Sierra Leone.<h4>Design</h4>Qualitative study employing semistructured interviews and focus group discussions.<h4>Setting</h4>Urban and rural Bo District, Sierra Leone.<h4>Participants</h4>Interviews with a purposive sample of 37 patients and two focus groups with six to nine community leaders.<h4>Results</h4>While participants possessed general knowledge of their conditions, the level and complexity of this knowledge varied widely. There were clear gaps in knowledge regarding the coexistence of CVDRF and their consequences, as well as the link between behavioural factors and CVDRF. An overarching theme from the data was the need to create an understanding and awareness of CVDRF in the community in order to prevent and improve management of these conditions. Cost was also seen as a major barrier to accessing care for CVDRFs.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The knowledge gaps identified in this study highlight the need to design strategies and interventions that improve knowledge and recognition of CVDRF in the community. Interventions should specifically consider how to develop and enhance awareness about CVDRF and their consequences. They should also consider how patients seek help and where they access it.
Project description:Sierra Leone is the most severely affected country by an unprecedented outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa. Although successfully contained, the transmission dynamics of EVD and the impact of interventions in the country remain unclear. We established a database of confirmed and suspected EVD cases from May 2014 to September 2015 in Sierra Leone and mapped the spatiotemporal distribution of cases at the chiefdom level. A Poisson transmission model revealed that the transmissibility at the chiefdom level, estimated as the average number of secondary infections caused by a patient per week, was reduced by 43% [95% confidence interval (CI): 30%, 52%] after October 2014, when the strategic plan of the United Nations Mission for Emergency Ebola Response was initiated, and by 65% (95% CI: 57%, 71%) after the end of December 2014, when 100% case isolation and safe burials were essentially achieved, both compared with before October 2014. Population density, proximity to Ebola treatment centers, cropland coverage, and atmospheric temperature were associated with EVD transmission. The household secondary attack rate (SAR) was estimated to be 0.059 (95% CI: 0.050, 0.070) for the overall outbreak. The household SAR was reduced by 82%, from 0.093 to 0.017, after the nationwide campaign to achieve 100% case isolation and safe burials had been conducted. This study provides a complete overview of the transmission dynamics of the 2014-2015 EVD outbreak in Sierra Leone at both chiefdom and household levels. The interventions implemented in Sierra Leone seem effective in containing the epidemic, particularly in interrupting household transmission.
Project description:Measuring epidemic parameters early in an outbreak is essential to inform control efforts. Using the viral genome sequence and collection date from 78 infections in the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in Sierra Leone, we estimate key epidemiological parameters such as infectious period duration (approximately 71 hours) and date of the first case in Sierra Leone (approximately April 25th). We also estimate the effective reproduction number, Re, (approximately 1.26), which is the number of secondary infections effectively caused by an infected individual and accounts for public health control measures. This study illustrates that phylodynamics methods, applied during the initial phase of an outbreak on fewer and more easily attainable data, can yield similar estimates to count-based epidemiological studies.
Project description:Sierra Leone is among the countries that recorded high under-five child mortality rate in the world. To design and implement policies that can address this public health challenge, the present study developed a predictive model of factors that explained under-five mortality in Sierra Leone using the 2008 and 2013 Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey (SDHS) datasets. LASSO regression technique was used to select the predictors to build the under-five predictive single-level logit and multilevel logit models. Statistical analyses were performed in the R freeware version 3.6.1. About 588 (10.4%) and 1320 (11.1%) children under five were reported dead in 2008 and 2013, respectively. The significant predictors of under-five mortality in Sierra Leone were the total number of children ever born, number of children under five in the household, mother's birth in the last five years, mother's number of living children, and number of household members, household wealth, maternal contraceptive use and intention, number of eligible women in the household, type of toilet facility, sex of the child, and weight of the child at birth. The study identified certain predictors that deserve policy attention and interventions to strengthen the efforts of creating child welfare and survival atmosphere in Sierra Leone.