Shams El Arifeen


5 Competence of the Health Workers in Diagnosing and Managing Complicated Pregnancies: A Clinical Vignette Based Assessment in District and Sub-District Hospitals in Bangladesh

Authors: Shams El Arifeen, Farhana Karim, Nabila Zaka, Mohiuddin Ahsanul Kabir Chowdhury, Abdullah Nurus Salam Khan, S. Masum Billah, Alexander Manu


Globally, pre-eclampsia (PE) and ante-partum haemorrhage (APH) are two major causes of maternal mortality. Prompt identification and management of these conditions depend on competency of the birth attendants. Since these conditions are infrequent to be observed, clinical vignette based assessment could identify the extent of health worker’s competence in managing emergency obstetric care (EmOC). During June-August 2016, competence of 39 medical officers (MO) and 95 nurses working in obstetric ward of 15 government health facilities (3 district hospital, 12 sub-district hospital) was measured using clinical vignettes on PE and APH. The vignettes resulted in three outcome measures: total vignette scores, scores for diagnosis component, and scores for management component. T-test was conducted to compare mean vignette scores and linear regression was conducted to measure the strength and association of vignette scores with different cadres of health workers, facility’s readiness for EmOC and average annual utilization of normal deliveries after adjusting for type of health facility, health workers’ work experience, training status on managing maternal complication. For each of the seven component of EmOC items (administration of injectable antibiotics, oxytocic and anticonvulsant; manual removal of retained placenta, retained products of conception; blood transfusion and caesarean delivery), if any was practised in the facility within last 6 months, a point was added and cumulative EmOC readiness score (range: 0-7) was generated for each facility. The yearly utilization of delivery cases were identified by taking the average of all normal deliveries conducted during three years (2013-2015) preceding the survey. About 31% of MO and all nurses were female. Mean ( ± sd) age of the nurses were higher than the MO (40.0 ± 6.9 vs. 32.2 ± 6.1 years) and also longer mean( ± sd) working experience (8.9 ± 7.9 vs. 1.9 ± 3.9 years). About 80% health workers received any training on managing maternal complication, however, only 7% received any refresher’s training within last 12 months. The overall vignette score was 8.8 (range: 0-19), which was significantly higher among MO than nurses (10.7 vs. 8.1, p < 0.001) and the score was not associated with health facility types, training status and years of experience of the providers. Vignette score for management component (range: 0-9) increased with higher annual average number of deliveries in their respective working facility (adjusted β-coefficient 0.16, CI 0.03-0.28, p=0.01) and increased with each unit increase in EmOC readiness score (adjusted β-coefficient 0.44, CI 0.04-0.8, p=0.03). The diagnosis component of vignette score was not associated with any of the factors except it was higher among the MO than the nurses (adjusted β-coefficient 1.2, CI 0.13-2.18, p=0.03). Lack of competence in diagnosing and managing obstetric complication by the nurses than the MO is of concern especially when majority of normal deliveries are conducted by the nurses. Better EmOC preparedness of the facility and higher utilization of normal deliveries resulted in higher vignette score for the management component; implying the impact of experiential learning through higher case management. Focus should be given on improving the facility readiness for EmOC and providing the health workers periodic refresher’s training to make them more competent in managing obstetric cases.

Keywords: Bangladesh, emergency obstetric care, clinical vignette, competence of health workers

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4 Early Initiation of Breastfeeding and Its Determinants among Non-Caesarean Deliveries at Primary and Secondary Health Facilities: A Case Observational Study

Authors: Shams El Arifeen, Farhana Karim, Abdullah N. S. Khan, Mohiuddin A. K. Chowdhury, Nabila Zaka, Alexander Manu, Sk Masum Billah


Breastfeeding, an integral part of newborn care, can reduce 55-87% of all-cause neonatal mortality and morbidity. Early initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth can avert 22% of newborn mortality. Only 45% of world’s newborns and 42% of newborns in South-Asia are put to the breast within one hour of birth. In Bangladesh, only a half of the mothers practice early initiation of breastfeeding which is less likely to be practiced if the baby is born in a health facility. This study aims to generate strong evidence for early initiation of breastfeeding practices in the government health facilities and to explore the associated factors influencing the practice. The study was conducted in selected health facilities in three neighbouring districts of Northern Bangladesh. Total 249 normal vaginal delivery cases were observed for 24 hours since the time of birth. The outcome variable was initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour while the explanatory variables included type of health facility, privacy, presence of support person, stage of labour at admission, need for augmentation of labour, complications during delivery, need for episiotomy, spontaneous cry of the newborn, skin-to-skin contact with mother, post-natal contact with the service provider, receiving a post-natal examination and counselling on breastfeeding during postnatal contact. The simple descriptive statistics were employed to see the distribution of samples according to socio-demographic characteristics. Kruskal-Wallis test was carried out for testing the equality of medians among two or more categories of each variable and P-value is reported. A series of simple logistic regressions were conducted with all the potential explanatory variables to identify the determining factors for breastfeeding within 1 hour in a health facility. Finally, multiple logistic regression was conducted including the variables found significant at bi-variate analyses. Almost 90% participants initiated breastfeeding at the health facility and median time to initiate breastfeeding was 38 minutes. However, delivering in a sub-district hospital significantly delayed the breastfeeding initiation in comparison to delivering in a district hospital. Maintenance of adequate privacy and presence of separate staff for taking care of newborn significantly reduced the time in early breastfeeding initiation. Initiation time was found longer if the mother had an augmented labour, obstetric complications, and the newborn needed resuscitation. However, the initiation time was significantly early if the baby was put skin-to-skin on mother’s abdomen and received a postnatal examination by a provider. After controlling for the potential confounders, the odds of initiating breastfeeding within one hour of birth is higher if mother gives birth in a district hospital (AOR 3.0: 95% CI 1.5, 6.2), privacy is well-maintained (AOR 2.3: 95% CI 1.1, 4.5), babies cry spontaneously (AOR 7.7: 95% CI 3.3, 17.8), babies are put to skin-to-skin contact with mother (AOR 4.6: 95% CI 1.9, 11.2) and if the baby is examined by a provider in the facility (AOR 4.4: 95% CI 1.4, 14.2). The evidence generated by this study will hopefully direct the policymakers to identify and prioritize the scopes for creating and supporting early initiation of breastfeeding in the health facilities.

Keywords: Bangladesh, health facility, early initiation of breastfeeding, skin to skin contact, normal vaginal delivery

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3 Domestic Violence against Women and the Nutritional Status of Their Under-5 Children: A Cross Sectional Survey in Urban Slums of Chittagong, Bangladesh

Authors: Shams El Arifeen, Mohiuddin Ahsanul Kabir Chowdhury, Abdullah Nurus Salam Khan, Ahmed Ehsanur Rahman, Nazia Binte Ali, Afrin Iqbal, Mohammad Mehedi Hasan, Salma Morium, Afsana Bhuiyan


Violence against women has been treated as a global epidemic which is as fatal as any serious disease or accidents. Like many other low-income countries it is also common in Bangladesh. In spite of existence of a few documented evidences in some other countries, in Bangladesh, domestic violence against women (DVAW) is not considered as a factor for malnutrition in children yet. Hence, the aim of the study was to investigate the association between DVAW and the nutritional status of their under-5 children in the context of slum areas of Chittagong, Bangladesh. A Cross-sectional survey was conducted among 87 women of reproductive age having at least one child under-5 years of age and staying with husband for at least last 1 year in selected slums under Chittagong City Corporation area. Data collection tools were structured questionnaire for the study participants and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) to measure the nutritional status of the under-5 children. The data underwent descriptive and regression analysis. Out of 87 respondents, 50 (57.5%) reported to suffer from domestic violence by their husband during last one year. Physical violence was found to be significantly associated with age (p=0.02), age at marriage (p=0.043), wealth score (p=0.000), and with knowledge regarding law (p=0.017). According to the measurement of mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) 21% children were suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and the same percentage of children were suffering from moderate acute malnutrition (MAM). However, unadjusted odds ratio suggested that there was negative association with domestic violence and nutritional status. But, the logistic regression confounding for other variable showed significant association with total family income (p=0.006), wealth score (p=0.031), age at marriage (p=0.029) and number of child (p=0.006). Domestic violence against women and under nutrition of the children, both are highly prevalent in Bangladesh. More extensive research should be performed to identify the factors contributing to the high prevalence of domestic violence and malnutrition in urban slums of Bangladesh. Household-based intervention is needed to limit this burning problem. In a nutshell, effective community participation, education and counseling are essential to create awareness among the community.

Keywords: Nutritional status, Urban slums, Bangladesh, under-5 children, domestic violence against women, cross sectional survey

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2 Quality of Care for the Maternal Complications at Selected Primary and Secondary Health Facilities of Bangladesh: Lessons Learned from a Formative Research

Authors: Rafiqul Islam, Shams El Arifeen, Farhana Karim, Nabila Zaka, Mohiuddin Ahsanul Kabir Chowdhury, Nafisa Lira Huq, Afroza Khanom, Abdullah Nurus Salam Khan, Sk. Masum Billah


After having astounding achievements in reducing maternal mortality and achieving the target for Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5, the Government of Bangladesh has set new target to reduce Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) to 70 per 100,000 live births aligning with targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Aversion of deaths from maternal complication by ensuring quality health care could be an important path to accelerate the rate of reduction of MMR. This formative research was aimed at exploring the provision of quality maternal health services at different level of health facilities. The study was conducted in 1 district hospital (DH) and 4 Upazila health complexes (UHC) of Kurigram district of Bangladesh, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative research methods. We conducted 14 key informant interviews with facility managers and 20 in-depth interviews with health care providers and support staff. Besides, we observed 387 normal deliveries from which we found 17 cases of post partum haemorrhage (PPH) and 2 cases of eclampsia during the data collection period extended from July-September 2016. The quantitative data were analyzed by using descriptive statistics, and the qualitative component underwent thematic analysis with the broad themes of facility readiness for maternal complication management, and management of complications. Inadequacy in human resources has been identified as the most important bottleneck to provide quality care to manage maternal complications. The DH had a particular paucity of human resources in medical officer cadre where about 61% posts were unfilled. On the other hand, in the UHCs the positions mostly empty were obstetricians (75%, paediatricians (75%), staff nurses (65%), and anaesthetists (100%). The workload on the existing staff is increased because of the persistence of vacant posts. Unavailability of anesthetists and consultants does not permit the health care providers (HCP) of lower cadres to perform emergency operative procedures and forces them to refer the patients although referral system is not well organized in rural Bangladesh. Insufficient bed capacity, inadequate training, shortage of emergency medicines etc. are other hindrance factors for facility readiness. Among the 387 observed delivery case, 17 (4.4%) were identified as PPH cases, and only 2 cases were found as eclampsia/pre-eclampsia. The majority of the patients were treated with uterine message (16 out of 17, 94.1%) and injectable Oxytocin (14 out of 17, 82.4%). The providers of DH mentioned that they can manage the PPH because of having provision for diagnostic and blood transfusion services, although not as 24/7 services. Regarding management of eclampsia/pre-eclampsia, HCPs provided Diazepam, MgSO4, and other anti-hypertensives. The UHCs did not have MgSO4 at stock even, and one facility manager admitted that they treat eclampsia with Diazepam only. The nurses of the UHCs were found to be afraid to handle eclampsia cases. The upcoming interventions must ensure refresher training of service providers, continuous availability of essential medicine and equipment needed for complication management, availability of skilled health workforce, availability of functioning blood transfusion unit and pairing of consultants and anaesthetists to reach the newly set targets altogether.

Keywords: Health Facilities, Quality Of Care, Bangladesh, maternal complications

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1 Nutrition Transition in Bangladesh: Multisectoral Responsiveness of Health Systems and Innovative Measures to Mobilize Resources Are Required for Preventing This Epidemic in Making

Authors: Shusmita Khan, Shams El Arifeen, Kanta Jamil


Background: Nutrition transition in Bangladesh has progressed across various relevant socio-demographic contextual issues. For a developing country like Bangladesh, its is believed that, overnutrition is less prevalent than undernutrition. However, recent evidence suggests that a rapid shift is taking place where overweight is subduing underweight. With this rapid increase, for Bangladesh, it will be challenging to achieve the global agenda on halting overweight and obesity. Methods: A secondary analysis was performed from six successive national demographic and health surveys to get the trend on undernutrition and overnutrition for women from reproductive age. In addition, national relevant policy papers were reviewed to determine the countries readiness for whole of the systems approach to tackle this epidemic. Results: Over the last decade, the proportion of women with low body mass index (BMI<18.5), an indicator of undernutrition, has decreased markedly from 34% to 19%. However, the proportion of overweight women (BMI ≥25) increased alarmingly from 9% to 24% over the same period. If the WHO cutoff for public health action (BMI ≥23) is used, the proportion of overweight women has increased from 17% in 2004 to 39% in 2014. The increasing rate of obesity among women is a major challenge to obstetric practice for both women and fetuses. In the long term, overweight women are also at risk of future obesity, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and heart disease. These diseases have serious impact on health care systems. Costs associated with overweight and obesity involves direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services related to obesity. Indirect costs relate to morbidity and mortality costs including productivity. Looking at the Bangladesh Health Facility Survey, it is found that the country is bot prepared for providing nutrition-related health services, regarding prevention, screening, management and treatment. Therefore, if this nutrition transition is not addressed properly, Bangladesh will not be able to achieve the target of the NCD global monitoring framework of the WHO. Conclusion: Addressing this nutrition transition requires contending ‘malnutrition in all its forms’ and addressing it with integrated approaches. Whole of the systems action is required at all levels—starting from improving multi-sectoral coordination to scaling up nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive mainstreamed interventions keeping health system in mind.

Keywords: Obesity, Nutrition Transition, Health System, Overnutrition, Bangladesh, undernutrition

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