Poverty and health

Does disability increase households’ health financial risk: evidence from the Uganda demographic and health survey
Guets W and Behera D K: Global Health Research and Policy 7(2), 1-8, 2022

The authors examined the influence of disability and socio-demographic factors on households’ health financial risks in Uganda, using nationally representative cross-sectional data for 19305 households from the 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey. Financial risk was measured by money paid for health care services. Almost 32% of households paid money for health care services access, among which 32% paid through out-of-pocket. Almost 41% of household heads were affected by disability. The majority of families went to the public sector for health care services. The mean age was 45 years. The findings indicated that disability is significantly associated with the household financial risk, as is a choice to use private sector health care services. The authors recommend identifying families with disability and those experiencing difficult living conditions for health authorities to enhance health coverage progress.

The potential of school-based WASH programming to support children as agents of change in rural Zambian households
Winter J C; Darmstadt G L; Lee S J; Davis J: BMC Public Health 21:1812, 1-13, 2021

Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions frequently assume that students who learn positive WASH behaviours will disseminate this information to their families. School-based programs rely on students to act as “agents of change” to translate impact from school to home. The authors conducted a quasi-experimental, prospective cohort study in 12 schools in rural, southern Zambia to assess this with students in grades 1–4, using in-person interviews with students, their teachers and caregivers. Student knowledge increased significantly, but primarily among students in grade 1. Students reporting sharing messages from the intervention with caregivers rose from 7% to 23%, particularly in students in grade 4. The authors propose that future work should prioritize developing curricula that reflect the variability in needs, capabilities and support in the home and community among primary school students rather than applying a single approach for a wide range of ages and contexts.

Access to water, sanitation and hygiene services in health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa 2013–2018: Results of health facility surveys and implications for COVID-19 transmission
Kanyangarara M; Allen S; Jiwani S S; et al: BMC Health Services Research 21(601), 1-11, 2021

The authors assessed the availability of water, sanitation and hygiene and standard precautions for infection prevention in 16456 health facilities across 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as inequalities by location and managing authority, using data from health facility surveys conducted between 2013 and 2018 in 18 sub-Saharan African countries. Across countries, an estimated 88% had an improved water source, 94% had an improved toilet, 74% had soap and running water or alcohol-based hand rub, and 17% had standard precautions for infection prevention available. There was wide variability in access to water, sanitation and hygiene services between rural and urban health facilities and between public and private facilities, with consistently lower access in both rural and public facilities. In both rural and urban areas, access to water, sanitation and hygiene services was better at health facilities than households. Availability of water, sanitation and hygiene services in health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa has improved but remains below the global target of 80 % in many countries, with improvement essential to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Burnt by the scorching sun: climate-induced livelihood transformations, reproductive health, and fertility trajectories in drought-affected communities of Zambia
Rosen J G; Mulenga D; Phiri L; et al: BMC Public Health 21(1501), 1-14, 2021

The authors explored the impact of severe and prolonged droughts on gendered livelihood transitions, women’s social and financial wellbeing, and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes in two Zambian provinces through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with 165 adult women and men in five drought-affected districts, and key informant interviews with civic leaders and healthcare providers. Across districts, participants emphasized the toll drought had taken on their livelihoods and communities, leaving farming households with reduced income and food, with many turning to alternative income sources. Female-headed households were perceived as particularly vulnerable to drought, as women’s breadwinning and caregiving responsibilities increased, especially in households where women’s partners out-migrated in search of employment. As household incomes declined, women and girls’ vulnerabilities increased: young children increasingly entered the workforce, and young girls were married when families could not afford school fees and struggled to support them financially. With less income due to drought, many participants could not afford travel to health facilities or resorted to purchasing health commodities, including for family planning, from private retail pharmacies when unavailable from government facilities. Women expressed desires for smaller families, fearing drought would constrain their capacity to support larger families. While participants cited some ongoing activities in their communities to support climate change adaptation, most acknowledged current interventions were insufficient.

I can no longer do my work like how I used to’: a mixed methods longitudinal cohort study exploring how informal working mothers balance the requirements of livelihood and safe childcare in South Africa
Horwood C; Hinton R; Haskins L; et al: BMC Women's Health 21(288), 1-15, 2021

A mixed-methods longitudinal cohort study conducted among informal women workers in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa between July 2018 and August 2019 and a photovoice activity with groups of participants to explore the childcare environment explored informal-sector working women's experience of child care. Women returned to work soon after the baby was born, often earlier than planned, because of financial responsibilities to provide for the household and new baby. They had limited childcare choices and most preferred to leave their babies with family members at home, as the most convenient, low-cost option, or mothers paid carers or formal childcare. Formal childcare was reported to be poor quality, unaffordable and not suited to the needs of informal workers. Mothers expressed concern about carers’ reliability and the safety of the childcare environment. Flexibility of informal work allowed some mothers to adapt their work to care for their child themselves, but others were unable to arrange consistent childcare, sometimes leaving the child with unsuitable carers to avoid losing paid work. Mothers were frequently anxious about leaving the child but felt they had no choice as they needed to work. Maternity protection for informal workers would support these mothers to stay home longer to care for themselves, their family and their baby, and good quality, affordable childcare would provide stability for mothers and give children the opportunity to thrive.

Global progress report on water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities: fundamentals first
World Health Organization: WHO, Geneva, 2020

This report provides a comprehensive summary of global progress on improving water, sanitation, hygiene, waste management and environmental cleaning (WASH) in health care facilities and is intended to stimulate solution driven country and partner actions to further address major gaps. It provides practical steps to improving WASH in health care facilities, selected country case studies illustrating bottlenecks, gaps, and successful strategies, and recommendations for addressing gaps and sustaining services.

Public Water and Covid-19: Dark Clouds and Silver Linings
McDonald D; Spronk S; Chavez D: Municipal Services Project, Transnational Institute and Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO): MSP, 2020

Covid-19 has again demonstrated the significance of safe, accessible and affordable water for all and the enormous disparities in service provision while at the same time dealing a blow to public water and sanitation operators around the world due to massive drops in revenues, rapidly rising costs and concerns about health and safety in the workplace. This book provides the first global overview of the response of public water operators to this crisis, shining a light on the complex challenges they face and how they have responded in different contexts. It looks specifically at ‘public’ water and asks how public ownership and public management have enabled (or not) equitable and democratic emergency services, and how these COVID-19 experiences could contribute to expanded and sustainable forms of public water services in the future

Evaluating the African food supply against the nutrient intake goals set for preventing diet-related non-communicable diseases: 1990 to 2017 trend analysis
Gebremedhin S; Bekele T: Plos One 16(1), 2021

The authors evaluated African food balances against the recommendations for macronutrients, free sugars, types of fatty acids, cholesterol and fruits and vegetables over 1990 to 2017, with regional, sub-regional and country-level estimates. In Africa the energy supply increased by 16.6% from 2,685 in 1990 to 3,132 kcal/person/day in 2017. However, the energy contribution of carbohydrate, fat and protein remained constant and almost within acceptable range around 73, 10 and 9%, respectively. In 2017, calories from fats surpassed the 20% limit in upper-middle- or high-income and Southern Africa countries. Energy from free sugars remained constant around 7% but the figure exceeded the limit of 10% in upper-middle- or high-income countries (14.7%) and in Southern (14.8%) and Northern (10.5%) sub-regions. Between 1990 and 2017 the availability of dietary cholesterol per person surged by 14% but was below the upper limit of 300 mg/day. The supply of fruits and vegetables increased by 27.5% from 279 to 356 g/capita/day, but remained below the target of 400 g/capita/day in all sub-regions. While most population intake goals were found to be within acceptable range, the supply of fruits and vegetables are suboptimal and the increasing energy contributions of free sugars and fats are emerging concerns in specific sub-regions.

It is painful and unpleasant: experiences of sexual violence among married adolescent girls in Shinyanga, Tanzania
Mwanukuzi C; Nyamhanga T: Reproductive Health 18(1), 1-7, 2021

This article reports on a qualitative study of 20 married girls aged 12-17 years' experiences of sexual violence in the Shinyanga Region, Tanzania where there is high prevalence (59%) of child marriage. The study identified four analytical themes regarding the experience of sexual violence, namely: forced sex; rape; struggling against unpleasant and painful sex; and inculcation of the culture of tolerance of sexual violence. The study found that married adolescent girls suffer sexual coercion in silence, increasing their risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections and or unwanted pregnancies. The authors make recommendations for sexual violence prevention strategies .

Possible causalities between malnutrition and academic performances among primary schoolchildren: a cross-sectional study in rural Madagascar
Aiga H; Abe K; Randriamampionona E; Razafinombana A: BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health 0, 1-12, doi:10.1136/ bmjnph-2020-000192, 2021

A cross-sectional household survey in Antananarivo-Avaradrano district, Madagascar in November to December 2017 in 404 first and second grade pupils 5–14 years of age enrolled in 10 public primary schools explored the link between their nutritional status and academic performances. Not being stunted and attendance rate were identified to be possible causes of higher mathematical proficiency because they satisfied all conditions for a causality. A hypothetical causal path indicates that ‘not being stunted’ is likely to have caused higher ‘attendance rate’ and thereby higher ‘mathematical proficiency’ in a two-step manner.