Quality of emergency obstetric and newborn care services in Wolaita Zone, Southern Ethiopia

Globally, nearly 295,000 women die every year during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC) can avert 75% of maternal mortality if all mothers get quality healthcare. Improving maternal health needs identification and addressing of barriers that limit access to quality maternal health services. Hence, this study aimed to assess the quality of EmONC service and its predictors in Wolaita Zone, southern Ethiopia.

A facility-based cross-sectional study was conducted in 14 health facilities. A facility audit was conducted on 14 health facilities, and 423 women were randomly selected to participate in observation of care and exit interview. The Open Data Kit (ODK) platform and Stata version 17 were used for data entry and analysis, respectively. Frequencies and summary statistics were used to describe the study population. Simple and multiple linear regressions were done to identify candidate and predictor variables of service quality. Coefficients with 95% confidence intervals were used to declare the significance and strength of association. Input, process, and output quality indices were created by calculating the means of standard items available or actions performed by each category and were used to describe the quality of EmONC.

The mean input, process, and output EmONC services qualities were 74.2, 69.4, and 79.6%, respectively. Of the study participants, 59.2% received below 75% of the standard clinical actions (observed quality) of EmONC services. Women’s educational status (B = 5.35, 95% C.I: 0.56, 10.14), and (B = 8.38, 95% C.I: 2.92, 13.85), age (B = 3.86, 95% C.I: 0.39, 7.33), duration of stay at the facility (B = 3.58, 95% C.I: 2.66, 4.9), number of patients in the delivery room (B = − 4.14, 95% C.I: − 6.14, − 2.13), and care provider’s experience (B = 1.26, 95% C.I: 0.83, 1.69) were independent predictors of observed service quality.

The EmONC services quality was suboptimal in Wolaita Zone. Every three-in-five women received less than three-fourths of the standard clinical actions. The health system, care providers, and other stakeholders should emphasize improving the quality of care by availing medical infrastructure, adhering to standard procedures, enhancing human resources for health, and providing standard care regardless of women’s characteristics.

Context and Priorities for Health Systems Strengthening for Pain and Disability in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Secondary Qualitative Study and Content Analysis of Health Policies

Musculoskeletal (MSK) health impairments contribute substantially to the pain and disability burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), yet health systems strengthening (HSS) responses are nascent. We aimed to explore the contemporary context, framed as challenges and opportunities, for improving population-level prevention and management of MSK health in LMICs using secondary qualitative data from a previous study exploring HSS priorities for MSK health globally; and (2) to contextualize these findings through an analysis of health policies for integrated management of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in select LMICs. Part 1: 12 transcripts of interviews with LMIC-based key informants (KIs) were inductively analysed. Part 2: systematic content analysis of health policies for integrated care of NCDs where KIs were resident (Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Philippines, South Africa). A thematic framework of LMIC-relevant challenges and opportunities was empirically-derived, organized around 5 meta-themes: (1) MSK health is a low priority; (2) social determinants adversely affect MSK health; (3) healthcare system issues de-prioritize MSK health; (4) economic constraints restrict system capacity to direct and mobilize resources to MSK health; (5) build research capacity. Twelve policy documents were included, describing explicit foci on cardiovascular disease (100%), diabetes (100%), respiratory conditions (100%) and cancer (89%); none explicitly focussed on MSK health. Policy strategies were coded into three categories: (1) general principles for people-centred NCD care; (2) service delivery; (3) system strengthening. Four policies described strategies to address MSK health in some way, mostly related to injury care. Priorities and opportunities for HSS for MSK health identified by KIs aligned with broader strategies targeting NCDs identified in the policies. MSK health is not currently prioritized in NCD health policies among selected LMICs. However, opportunities to address the MSK-attributed disability burden exist through integrating MSK-specific HSS initiatives with initiatives targeting NCDs generally and injury and trauma care.

On prioritising global health’s triple crisis of sepsis, COVID-19 and antimicrobial resistance: a mixed-methods study from Malawi

Sepsis causes 20% of global deaths, particularly among children and vulnerable populations living in developing countries. This study investigated how sepsis is prioritised in Malawi’s health system to inform health policy. In this mixed-methods study, twenty multisectoral stakeholders were qualitatively interviewed and asked to quantitatively rate the likelihood of sepsis-related medium-term policy outcomes being realised. Respondents indicated that sepsis is not prioritised in Malawi due to a lack of local sepsis-related evidence and policies. However, they highlighted strong linkages between sepsis and maternal health, antimicrobial resistance and COVID-19, which are already existing national priorities, and offers opportunities for sepsis researchers as policy entrepreneurs. To address the burden of sepsis, we recommend that funding should be channelled to the generation of local evidence, evidence uptake, procurement of resources and treatment of sepsis cases, development of appropriate indicators for sepsis, adherence to infection prevention and control measures, and antimicrobial stewardship.

COVID-19 and resilience of healthcare systems in ten countries

Declines in health service use during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic could have important effects on population health. In this study, we used an interrupted time series design to assess the immediate effect of the pandemic on 31 health services in two low-income (Ethiopia and Haiti), six middle-income (Ghana, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mexico, Nepal, South Africa and Thailand) and high-income (Chile and South Korea) countries. Despite efforts to maintain health services, disruptions of varying magnitude and duration were found in every country, with no clear patterns by country income group or pandemic intensity. Disruptions in health services often preceded COVID-19 waves. Cancer screenings, TB screening and detection and HIV testing were most affected (26–96% declines). Total outpatient visits declined by 9–40% at national levels and remained lower than predicted by the end of 2020. Maternal health services were disrupted in approximately half of the countries, with declines ranging from 5% to 33%. Child vaccinations were disrupted for shorter periods, but we estimate that catch-up campaigns might not have reached all children missed. By contrast, provision of antiretrovirals for HIV was not affected. By the end of 2020, substantial disruptions remained in half of the countries. Preliminary data for 2021 indicate that disruptions likely persisted. Although a portion of the declines observed might result from decreased needs during lockdowns (from fewer infectious illnesses or injuries), a larger share likely reflects a shortfall of health system resilience. Countries must plan to compensate for missed healthcare during the current pandemic and invest in strategies for better health system resilience for future emergencies.

The role of digital health for post-surgery care of older patients with hip fracture: A scoping review

Digital health interventions can potentially improve the integration of the health care systems. Hip fracture is a serious injury for older people and integrated post-surgery care is vital for good recovery.

We aimed to characterise digital health interventions used for hip fracture post-surgery care, and further to examine the extent to which of these interventions address the World Health Organisation (WHO) integrated care for older people (ICOPE) framework.

A scoping review was conducted, by searching the literature from English and Chinese databases and trial registries. Keywords included hip fracture, post-surgery care and digital health interventions. Interventional, observational, qualitative studies and case reports were included. We used a combined framework, WHO ICOPE and WHO digital health intervention classifications, to support data synthesis.

A total of 4,542 articles were identified, of which 39 studies were included in the analysis. We identified only six randomised controlled trials. Digital health interventions were mainly used to help doctors provide clinical care and facilitate service delivery between the patients and healthcare providers. No studies focused on health workforce, financial policy or the development of infrastructure. The primary users were healthcare providers and patients, without healthcare managers or the use of data services. Most digital health interventions focused on physical therapy, bone protection and falls prevention. Limited interventions were implemented in low-and middle-income countries.

A stronger evidence base is needed to expand the use of digital health for post-surgery care of hip fracture patients, including high-quality larger-scale studies, more focus in resource-constrained settings, expanding to more users and capabilities of interventions, and exploring the role of digital health for the integrated care model to mitigate health system challenges.

Drivers of Disparities in Stage at Diagnosis Among Women With Breast Cancer: South African Breast Cancers and HIV Outcomes Cohort


In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), advanced stage diagnosis of breast cancer (BC) is common, and this contributes to poor survival. By understanding the determinants of the stage at diagnosis will aid in designing interventions to downstage disease and improve survival from BC in LMICs.


Within the South African Breast Cancers and HIV Outcomes (SABCHO) cohort, we examined factors affecting the stage at diagnosis of histologically confirmed invasive breast cancer at five tertiary hospitals in South Africa. The stage was assessed clinically. To examine the associations of the health system, socio-economic/household and individual factors, hierarchical multivariate logistic regression with odds of late-stage at diagnosis (stage III-IV), was used.


The majority (59%) of the included 3497 women were diagnosed with late-stage BC disease (59%). The effect of health system-level factors on late-stage BC diagnosis was consistent and significant even when adjusted for both socio-economic- and individual-level factors. Women diagnosed in a tertiary hospital that predominantly serves a rural population were almost 3 times (OR=2.89 (95% CI: 1.40-5.97) likely to be associated with late-stage BC diagnosis when compared to those diagnosed at a hospital that predominantly serves an urban population. Taking more than 3 months from identifying the BC problem to first health system entry (OR=1.66 (95% CI: 1.38–2.00)), and receptor subtypes [luminal B (OR=1.49 (95% CI: 1.19–1.87)), HER2 enriched (OR=1.64 (95% CI: 1.16–2.32))] were associated with a late-stage diagnosis. Whilst having a higher socio-economic level (a wealth index of 5) reduced the probability of late-stage BC, OR=0.64 (95% CI: 0.47 – 0.85).


Advanced stage diagnosis of BC among women in SA who access health services through the public health system was associated with both modifiable health system-level factors and non-modifiable individual-level factors. These may be considered as elements in interventions to reduce the time to diagnosis of breast cancer in women.

Diabetic retinopathy service delivery and integration into the health system in Pakistan—Findings from a multicentre qualitative study

This paper is based on qualitative research carried out in a diabetic retinopathy (DR) programme in three districts of Pakistan. It analyses the organisation and delivery of DR services and the extent to which the interventions resulted in a fully functioning integrated approach to DR care and treatment. Between January and April 2019, we conducted 14 focus group discussions and 37 in-depth interviews with 144 purposively selected participants: patients, lady health workers (LHWs) and health professionals. Findings suggest that integration of services was helpful in the prevention and management of DR. Through the efforts of LHWs and general practitioners, diabetic patients in the community became aware of the eye health issues related to uncontrolled diabetes. However, a number of systemic pressure points in the continuum of care seem to have limited the impact of the integration. Some components of the intervention, such as a patient tracking system and reinforced interdepartmental links, show great promise and need to be sustained. The results of this study point to the need for action to ensure inclusion of DR on the list of local health departments’ priority conditions, greater provision of closer-to-community services, such as mobile clinics. Future interventions will need to consider the complexity of adding diabetic retinopathy to an already heavy workload for the LHWs.

Experiences of women seeking care for abortion complications in health facilities: Secondary analysis of the WHO Multi-Country Survey on Abortion in 11 African countries

Despite evidence of acute and long-term consequences of suboptimal experiences of care, standardized measurements across countries remain limited, particularly for postabortion care. We aimed to determine the proportion of women reporting negative experiences of care for abortion complications, identify risk factors, and assess the potential association with complication severity.

Data were sourced from the WHO Multi-Country Survey on Abortion for women who received facility-based care for abortion complications in 11 African countries. We measured women’s experiences of care with eight questions from an audio computer-assisted self-interview related to respect, communication, and support. Multivariable generalized estimating equations were used for analysis.

There were 2918 women in the study sample and 1821 (62%) reported at least one negative experience of postabortion care. Participants who were aged under 30 years, single, of low socioeconomic status, and economically dependent had higher odds of negative experiences. Living in West or Central Africa, rather than East Africa, was also associated with reportedly worse care. The influence of complication severity on experience of care appeared significant, such that women with moderate and severe complications had 12% and 40% higher odds of reporting negative experiences, respectively.

There were widespread reports of negative experiences of care among women receiving treatment for abortion complications in health facilities. Our findings contribute to the scant understanding of the risk factors for negative experiences of postabortion care and highlight the need to address harmful provider biases and behaviors, alleviate health system constraints, and empower women in demanding better care.

Engagement of non-governmental organisations in moving towards universal health coverage: a scoping review

Developing essential health services through non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is an important strategy for progressing towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC), especially in low- and middle-income countries. It is crucial to understand NGOs’ role in reaching UHC and the best way to engage them.

This study reviewed the role of NGOs and their engagement strategies in progress toward UHC.

We systematically reviewed studies from five databases (PubMed, Web of Science (ISI), ProQuest, EMBASE and Scopus) that investigated NGOs interventions in public health-related activities. The quality of the selected studies was assessed using the mixed methods appraisal tool. PRISMA reporting guidelines were followed.

Seventy-eight studies met the eligibility criteria. NGOs main activities related to service and population coverage and used different strategies to progress towards UHC. To ensure services coverage, NGOs provided adequate and competent human resources, necessary health equipment and facilities, and provided public health and health care services strategies. To achieve population coverage, they provided services to vulnerable groups through community participation. Most studies were conducted in middle-income countries. Overall, the quality of the reported evidence was good. The main funding sources of NGOs were self-financing and grants from the government, international organisations, and donors.

NGOs can play a significant role in the country’s progress towards UHC along with the government and other key health players. The government should use strategies and interventions in supporting NGOs, accelerating their movement toward UHC.

The Chiranjeevi Yojana (CY) : a public-private-partnership to promote institutional births in Gujarat, India : studies of providers and users

Introduction: National, regional and local governments, particularly in lower middleincome countries, are encouraged to pursue partnerships with the pool of private providers available to them, in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal for maternal health. The state of Gujarat in India (population 60 million) has been a pioneer in designing a large-scale Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), the Chiranjeevi Yojana (CY), for emergency obstetric care (EmOC) for vulnerable women through qualified obstetricians. The program was instituted in 2006-07 and 865 obstetricians partnered with the state at the time.

Methodology: The papers in this thesis examine this CY program through three quantitative and one qualitative study. The studies were conducted in three districts of Gujarat state, Sabarkantha, Surendranagar and Dahod. The methods included two crosssectional surveys (i.e., a facility survey and a facility-based survey of women who gave birth) and in-depth interviews.

These four studies elucidate characteristics of CY providers and CY beneficiaries, as well as outcomes in the health system environment and the population. In order to synthesise these results coherently, I adapted the Anderson’s theoretical model to synthesise, explain and discuss the findings in my studies. In the adapted model, I present my findings in three clear and linked domains – (1) Environment – Health system and population environment in which the CY program was implemented (2) Enabler – Characteristics of the health system and population that were enabled, i.e., made eligible, as per program criteria to participate in the CY program and (3) Outcomes – in the health system and population environment, examined through (a) Health system and provider behaviours (b) Users’ behaviours (c) Health status of the mothers and (d) Financial status of households with respect to using obstetric services.

Results: The CY program influenced the health system’s environment towards increasing the availability of free CEmOC by 10 times, from 0.32 to 3.65 per 500,000 population, but actual performance of notionally free CEmOC functions was only 2 per 500,000 population (Study I). Providers’ behaviour was reflected in the en masse participation or non-participation of providers in ten out of seventeen urban centres. The facilities that participated in the CY program had a significantly higher likelihood, independently, of being general facilities (PR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3–2.9), or conducting lower proportion of caesarean births (PR 2.1, 95% CI 1.2–3.5) or having obstetricians new in private practice (PR 1.9, 95% CI 1.2–3.1) or being less expensive (PR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1–3.0) (Study II). The CY program criteria influenced the population environment by enabling mothers to become eligible for CY benefit. These mothers were significantly more likely to be vulnerable – rural, multiparous, scheduled tribe, and less educated. Users’ behaviours showed that eligible mothers had significantly less prevalence of ante-natal visits, as well as shorter hospital stay after birth. The evaluated health status showed low caesarean rates among eligible vulnerable mothers (6%) and high caesarean (40%) and episiotomy (63%) rates among ineligible mothers (Study III). The perceived health status of the population was reflected in the fact that most mothers and families were very happy with the care they had received and none reported any preferential treatment of paying mothers over CY beneficiary mothers. However, a few mothers who experienced instances of poor quality of care or rude behaviour, reflected back on their experience and still reported it as a “good (sari) delivery”. The financial status of the population showed only 15% of eligible mothers were CY beneficiaries, and only 4 % of them received a completely cashless birth. The median degree of subsidy for women in CY who birthed vaginally was 85% and by caesarean section was 71 % compared to out-of-pocket expenditure sustained by non-beneficiaries in the private health sector. Mothers without formal education were significantly less likely (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.3–0.7) to receive CY benefit. Only having CY program knowledge (OR 4.7, 95% CI 2.6–8.4) and showing proof of poverty (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.3–5.4) increased the likelihood of receiving the benefit. (Study III).

Discussion: Although the CY program increased the availability of free emergency obstetric care to 10 times more than the UN standards, their actual performance increased by only twice. This indicated poor management mechanisms within the state authorities. Although the CY program criteria recognised vulnerable mothers adequately accurately, their behaviours, health status and financial status showed mixed outcomes. Vulnerable populations behaviours to ensure improved maternal health and access to the CY program were varied, despite the program being in effect for seven years before our study. The health status of the vulnerable population, in terms of low caesarean rates, were below established norms in the literature, and among the non-vulnerable populations was much higher. The financial status of the eligible population was not much eased by the program since 85% of them did not receive the CY benefit. However, the highest median expenditure in our study (INR 7224) was well below the mean cost in private facilities across the nation (INR 15000) thus indicating a possible partial protection from out-of-pocket cost due to the CY program activity in the region.

Conclusion: The recently established Prime Minister’s People’s Health Program in India depends on PPPs for secondary and tertiary care all over the country. As revealed in this thesis, improved, adequate and effective health systems through PPPs requires better contract designing and managing capacities within in the state system. The health status and users’ behaviours could be assisted by the ongoing digitization of health systems such that (a) maternal health data is collected by both public and private sectors in enough detail to be able to categorise it by Robson’s criteria and thus monitor BEmOC and CEmOC performance, ante-natal visits, length of stay in hospital and other relevant variables (b) user feed-back is collected in a manner that captures actual experiences of women during birth, and that of their families during their interactions with the health system.