Facilitators, barriers and potential solutions to the integration of depression and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) care in Malawi: a qualitative study with service providers

Background
Integration of depression services into infectious disease care is feasible, acceptable, and effective in sub-Saharan African settings. However, while the region shifts focus to include chronic diseases, additional information is required to integrate depression services into chronic disease settings. We assessed service providers’ views on the concept of integrating depression care into non-communicable diseases’ (NCD) clinics in Malawi. The aim of this analysis was to better understand barriers, facilitators, and solutions to integrating depression into NCD services.

Methods
Between June and August 2018, we conducted nineteen in-depth interviews with providers. Providers were recruited from 10 public hospitals located within the central region of Malawi (i.e., 2 per clinic, with the exception of one clinic where only one provider was interviewed because of scheduling challenges). Using a semi structured interview guide, we asked participants questions related to their understanding of depression and its management at their clinic. We used thematic analysis allowing for both inductive and deductive approach. Themes that emerged related to facilitators, barriers and suggested solutions to integrate depression assessment and care into NCD clinics. We used CFIR constructs to categorize the facilitators and barriers.

Results
Almost all providers knew what depression is and its associated signs and symptoms. Almost all facilities had an NCD-dedicated room and reported that integrating depression into NCD care was feasible. Facilitators of service integration included readiness to integrate services by the NCD providers, availability of antidepressants at the clinic. Barriers to service integration included limited knowledge and lack of training regarding depression care, inadequacy of both human and material resources, high workload experienced by the providers and lack of physical space for some depression services especially counseling. Suggested solutions were training of NCD staff on depression assessment and care, engaging hospital leaders to create an NCD and depression care integration policy, integrating depression information into existing documents, increasing staff, and reorganizing clinic flow.

Conclusion
Findings of this study suggest a need for innovative implementation science solutions such as reorganizing clinic flow to increase the quality and duration of the patient-provider interaction, as well as ongoing trainings and supervisions to increase clinical knowledge.

Understanding context: A qualitative analysis of the roles of family caregivers of people living with cancer in Vietnam and the implications for service development in low-income settings

Objectives
Research on the needs of family caregivers of people living with cancer remains disproportionately focused in high income contexts. This research gap adds to the critical challenge on global equitable delivery of cancer care. This study describes the roles of family caregivers of people living with cancer in Vietnam and possible implications for intervention development.

Methods
Semi-structured interviews and focus groups with family caregivers (n = 20) and health care providers (n = 22) were conducted in two national oncology hospitals. Findings were verified via workshops with carers (n = 11) and health care professionals (n = 28) in five oncology hospitals representing different regions of Vietnam. Data was analyzed collaboratively by an international team of researchers according to thematic analysis.

Results
Family caregivers in Vietnam provide an integral role in the delivery of inpatient cancer care. In the hospital environment families are responsible for multiple roles including feeding, hydration, changing, washing, moving, wound care and security of personal belongings. Central to this role is primary decision making in terms of treatment and end-of-life care; relaying information, providing nutritional, emotional and financial support. Families are forced to manage severe complications and health care needs with minimal health literacy and limited health care professional input.

Conclusions
Understanding context and the unique roles of family caregivers of people living with cancer is critical in the development of supportive services. As psycho-oncology develops in low and middle income contexts, it is essential that family caregiver roles are of significant importance.

Perceptions of Non-Communicable Disease and War Injury Management in the Palestinian Health System: A Qualitative Study of Healthcare Providers Perspectives

Background: Palestine, like other low-income countries, is confronting an increasing epidemic of non-communicable disease (NCD) and trend of war injury. The management of health problems often presents a critical challenge to the Palestinian health system (PHS). Understanding the perceptions of healthcare providers is essential in exploring the gaps in the health system to develop an effective healthcare intervention. Unfortunately, health research on management of NCD and war injury has largely been neglected and received little attention. Therefore, the study aimed to explore the perspectives of healthcare providers regarding NCD and war injury management in the PHS in the Gaza Strip.
Methods: A qualitative study approach was used, based on four focus group discussions (FGDs) involving a purposive sampling strategy of 30 healthcare providers from three main public hospitals in Gaza Strip. A semi-structured topic guide was used, and the focus group interviews data were analyzed using manifest content analysis. The study was approved by the Palestinian Health Research Council (PHRC) for ethics approval.
Results: From the healthcare providers perspective, four main themes and several sub-themes have emerged from the descriptive manifest content analysis: functioning of healthcare system; system-related challenges; patients-related challenges; strategies and actions to navigating the challenges and improving care. Informants frequently discussed that despite some positive aspects in the system, fundamental changes and significant improvements are needed. Some expressed serious concerns that the healthcare system needs complete rebuilding to facilitate the management of NCD and war-related injury. They perceived important barriers to effective management of NCD and war injury such as poor hospital infrastructure and logistics, shortage of micro and sub-specialities and essential resources. Participants also expressed a dilemma and troubles in communication and interactions, especially during emergencies or crises. The informants stressed the unused of updated clinical management guidelines. There was a consensus regarding poor shared-care/task sharing, partnership, and cooperation among healthcare facilities.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that fundamental changes and significant reforms are needed in the health system to make healthcare services more effective, timely, and efficient. The study disclosed the non-use of clinical guidelines as well as suboptimal sectorial task-sharing among different stakeholders and healthcare providers. A clear and comprehensive healthcare policy considering the gaps in the system must be adopted for the improvement and development of care in the PHS.

The increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases in low-middle income countries: the view from Malawi.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death globally, the majority of these being due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, or diabetes. Mortality from many NCDs continues to increase worldwide, with a disproportionately larger impact in low-middle income countries (LMIs), where almost 75% of global deaths occur from these causes. As a low-income African country that consistently ranks amongst the world’s poorest nations, Malawi as a case study demonstrates how transition due to societal change and increasing urbanization is often accompanied by a rise in the rate of NCDs. Other factors apart from changing lifestyle factors can explain at least some of this increase, such as the complex relationship between communicable and NCD and growing environmental, occupational, and cultural pressures. Malawi and other LMIs are struggling to manage the increasing challenge of NCDs, in addition to an already high communicable disease burden. However, health care policy implementation, specific health promotion campaigns, and further epidemiological research may be key to attenuating this impending health crisis, both in Malawi and elsewhere. This review aims to examine the effects of the major NCDs in Malawi to help inform future public health care policy in the region.

Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa: Declining Rates of Chronic and Recurrent Infection and Their Possible Role in the Origins of Non-communicable Diseases.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as atherosclerosis and cancers, are a leading cause of death worldwide. An important, yet poorly explained epidemiological feature of NCDs is their low incidence in under developed areas of low-income countries and rising rates in urban areas.With the goal of better understanding how urbanization increases the incidence of NCDs, we provide an overview of the urbanization process in sub-Saharan Africa, discuss gene expression differences between rural and urban populations, and review the current NCD determinant model. We conclude by identifying research priorities.Declining rates of chronic and recurrent infection are the hallmark of urbanization in sub-Saharan Africa. Gene profiling studies show urbanization results in complex molecular changes, with almost one-third of the peripheral blood leukocyte transcriptome altered. The current NCD determinant model could be improved by including a possible effect from declining rates of infection and expanding the spectrum of diseases that increase with urbanization.Urbanization in sub-Saharan Africa provides a unique opportunity to investigate the mechanism by which the environment influences disease epidemiology. Research priorities include: (1) studies to define the relationship between infection and risk factors for NCDs, (2) explaining the observed differences in the inflammatory response between rural and urban populations, and (3) identification of animal models that simulate the biological changes that occurs with urbanization. A better understanding of the biological changes that occur with urbanization could lead to new prevention and treatment strategies for some of the most common surgical diseases in high-income countries.