Publications by authors named "Evelyne Assenga"

5 Publications

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Immediate "Kangaroo Mother Care" and Survival of Infants with Low Birth Weight.

N Engl J Med 2021 05;384(21):2028-2038

The affiliations of the members of the writing committee are as follows: the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health, and Ageing, World Health Organization, Geneva (S.P.N.R., S.Y., N.M., H.V.J., H.T., R.B.); Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital (S.A., P.M., N.C., J.S., P.A., K.N., I.S., K.C.A., H.C.) and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (M.J.S.), New Delhi, and Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad (N.W.) - all in India; Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (H.N., E.A., A.M.) and Muhimbili National Hospital (M.N., R.M.) - both in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; the University of Malawi, College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi (K.K., L.G., A.T.M., V.S., Q.D.); Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria (C.H.A., O.K., B.P.K., E.A.A.); Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (S.N., R.L.-R., D.A., G.P.-R.) and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (A.B.-Y., N.W.-B., I.N.), Kumasi, and the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Accra (A.A.M.) - all in Ghana; Karolinska University Hospital (A.L.) and Karolinska Institute (N.B., A.L., B.W.), Stockholm; the Institute for Safety Governance and Criminology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa (B.M.); and Stavanger University Hospital, Stavanger, Norway (S.R.).

Background: "Kangaroo mother care," a type of newborn care involving skin-to-skin contact with the mother or other caregiver, reduces mortality in infants with low birth weight (<2.0 kg) when initiated after stabilization, but the majority of deaths occur before stabilization. The safety and efficacy of kangaroo mother care initiated soon after birth among infants with low birth weight are uncertain.

Methods: We conducted a randomized, controlled trial in five hospitals in Ghana, India, Malawi, Nigeria, and Tanzania involving infants with a birth weight between 1.0 and 1.799 kg who were assigned to receive immediate kangaroo mother care (intervention) or conventional care in an incubator or a radiant warmer until their condition stabilized and kangaroo mother care thereafter (control). The primary outcomes were death in the neonatal period (the first 28 days of life) and in the first 72 hours of life.

Results: A total of 3211 infants and their mothers were randomly assigned to the intervention group (1609 infants with their mothers) or the control group (1602 infants with their mothers). The median daily duration of skin-to-skin contact in the neonatal intensive care unit was 16.9 hours (interquartile range, 13.0 to 19.7) in the intervention group and 1.5 hours (interquartile range, 0.3 to 3.3) in the control group. Neonatal death occurred in the first 28 days in 191 infants in the intervention group (12.0%) and in 249 infants in the control group (15.7%) (relative risk of death, 0.75; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.64 to 0.89; P = 0.001); neonatal death in the first 72 hours of life occurred in 74 infants in the intervention group (4.6%) and in 92 infants in the control group (5.8%) (relative risk of death, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.58 to 1.04; P = 0.09). The trial was stopped early on the recommendation of the data and safety monitoring board owing to the finding of reduced mortality among infants receiving immediate kangaroo mother care.

Conclusions: Among infants with a birth weight between 1.0 and 1.799 kg, those who received immediate kangaroo mother care had lower mortality at 28 days than those who received conventional care with kangaroo mother care initiated after stabilization; the between-group difference favoring immediate kangaroo mother care at 72 hours was not significant. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number, ACTRN12618001880235; Clinical Trials Registry-India number, CTRI/2018/08/015369.).
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May 2021

Neonatal resuscitation: EN-BIRTH multi-country validation study.

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2021 Mar 26;21(Suppl 1):235. Epub 2021 Mar 26.

Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH), London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK.

Background: Annually, 14 million newborns require stimulation to initiate breathing at birth and 6 million require bag-mask-ventilation (BMV). Many countries have invested in facility-based neonatal resuscitation equipment and training. However, there is no consistent tracking for neonatal resuscitation coverage.

Methods: The EN-BIRTH study, in five hospitals in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Tanzania (2017-2018), collected time-stamped data for care around birth, including neonatal resuscitation. Researchers surveyed women and extracted data from routine labour ward registers. To assess accuracy, we compared gold standard observed coverage to survey-reported and register-recorded coverage, using absolute difference, validity ratios, and individual-level validation metrics (sensitivity, specificity, percent agreement). We analysed two resuscitation numerators (stimulation, BMV) and three denominators (live births and fresh stillbirths, non-crying, non-breathing). We also examined timeliness of BMV. Qualitative data were collected from health workers and data collectors regarding barriers and enablers to routine recording of resuscitation.

Results: Among 22,752 observed births, 5330 (23.4%) babies did not cry and 3860 (17.0%) did not breathe in the first minute after birth. 16.2% (n = 3688) of babies were stimulated and 4.4% (n = 998) received BMV. Survey-report underestimated coverage of stimulation and BMV. Four of five labour ward registers captured resuscitation numerators. Stimulation had variable accuracy (sensitivity 7.5-40.8%, specificity 66.8-99.5%), BMV accuracy was higher (sensitivity 12.4-48.4%, specificity > 93%), with small absolute differences between observed and recorded BMV. Accuracy did not vary by denominator option. < 1% of BMV was initiated within 1 min of birth. Enablers to register recording included training and data use while barriers included register design, documentation burden, and time pressure.

Conclusions: Population-based surveys are unlikely to be useful for measuring resuscitation coverage given low validity of exit-survey report. Routine labour ward registers have potential to accurately capture BMV as the numerator. Measuring the true denominator for clinical need is complex; newborns may require BMV if breathing ineffectively or experiencing apnoea after initial drying/stimulation or subsequently at any time. Further denominator research is required to evaluate non-crying as a potential alternative in the context of respectful care. Measuring quality gaps, notably timely provision of resuscitation, is crucial for programme improvement and impact, but unlikely to be feasible in routine systems, requiring audits and special studies.
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March 2021

"-BIRTH" protocol: observational study validating indicators for coverage and quality of maternal and newborn health care in Bangladesh, Nepal and Tanzania.

J Glob Health 2019 Jun;9(1):010902

Nepal Health Research Council, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Background: To achieve Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage, programmatic data are essential. The Every Newborn Action Plan, agreed by all United Nations member states and >80 development partners, includes an ambitious Measurement Improvement Roadmap. Quality of care at birth is prioritised by both Every Newborn and Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality strategies, hence metrics need to advance from health service contact alone, to content of care. As facility births increase, monitoring using routine facility data in DHIS2 has potential, yet validation research has mainly focussed on maternal recall surveys. The - Birth Indicators Research Tracking in Hospitals (EN-BIRTH) study aims to validate selected newborn and maternal indicators for routine tracking of coverage and quality of facility-based care for use at district, national and global levels.

Methods: EN-BIRTH is an observational study including >20 000 facility births in three countries (Tanzania, Bangladesh and Nepal) to validate selected indicators. Direct clinical observation will be compared with facility register data and a pre-discharge maternal recall survey for indicators including: uterotonic administration, immediate newborn care, neonatal resuscitation and Kangaroo mother care. Indicators including neonatal infection management and antenatal corticosteroid administration, which cannot be easily observed, will be validated using inpatient records. Trained clinical observers in Labour/Delivery ward, Operation theatre, and Kangaroo mother care ward/areas will collect data using a tablet-based customised data capturing application. Sensitivity will be calculated for numerators of all indicators and specificity for those numerators with adequate information. Other objectives include comparison of denominator options (ie, true target population or surrogates) and quality of care analyses, especially regarding intervention timing. Barriers and enablers to routine recording and data usage will be assessed by data flow assessments, quantitative and qualitative analyses.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first large, multi-country study validating facility-based routine data compared to direct observation for maternal and newborn care, designed to provide evidence to inform selection of a core list of indicators recommended for inclusion in national DHIS2. Availability and use of such data are fundamental to drive progress towards ending the annual 5.5 million preventable stillbirths, maternal and newborn deaths.
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June 2019

A qualitative study on the voluntariness of counselling and testing for HIV amongst antenatal clinic attendees: do women have a choice?

BMC Med Ethics 2018 11 21;19(1):92. Epub 2018 Nov 21.

Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, P.O. Box 65001, Dar es salaam, Tanzania.

Background: Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of the Human Immunodeficiency -Virus (HIV) is a serious public health problem, contributing up to 90% of childhood HIV infections. In Tanzania, the prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) feature of the HIV programme was rolled out in 2000. The components of PMTCT include counselling and HIV testing directed at antenatal clinic attendees. It is through the process of Provider Initiated Counseling and Testing (PITC) that counselling is offered participant confidentiality and voluntariness are upheld and valid consent obtained. The objective of the study was to explore antenatal clinic attendees' experiences of the concept of voluntariness vis- a- vis the implementation of prior counseling and subsequent testing for HIV under the PITC as part of their antenatal care.

Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with17 antenatal clinic attendees and 6 nursing officers working at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) antenatal clinic. The study data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.

Results: Antenatal clinic attendees' accounts suggested that counselling and testing for HIV during pregnancy was voluntary, and that knowledge of their HIV status led them to access appropriate treatment for both mother and her newborn baby. They reported feeling no pressure from nursing officers, and gave verbal consent to undergo the HIV test. However, some antenatal clinic attendees reported pressure from their partners to test for HIV. Healthcare providers were thus faced with a dilemma of disclosure/ nondisclosure when dealing with discordant couples.

Conclusion: Antenatal clinic attendees at MNH undertook the PITC for HIV voluntarily. This was enhanced by their prior knowledge of HIV, the need to prevent mother- to- child transmission of HIV, and the effectiveness of the voluntary policy implemented by nursing officers.
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November 2018

Class II pentalogy of Cantrell.

BMC Res Notes 2015 Jul 29;8:318. Epub 2015 Jul 29.

Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Background: Pentalogy of Cantrell is a rare syndrome, first described by Cantrell and co-workers in 1958. The syndrome is characterized by the presence of five major congenital defects involving the diaphragm, abdominal wall, the diaphragmatic pericardium, lower sternum and various congenital intra-cardiac abnormalities. The syndrome has never been reported in Tanzania, although may have been reported from other African countries. Survival rate of the complete form of pentalogy of Cantrell is as low as 20%, but recent studies have reported normal growth achieved by 6 years of age where corrective surgeries were done; showing that surgical repair early in life is essential for survival.

Case Presentation: The African baby residing in Tanzania was referred from a district hospital on the second day of life. She was noted to have a huge omphalocele and ectopia cordis covered by a thin membrane, with bowels visible through the membrane and the cardiac impulse visible just below the epigastrium. Despite the physical anomaly, she appeared to saturate well in room air and had stable vitals. Her chest X-ray revealed the absence of the lower segments of the sternum and echocardiography showed multiple intra-cardiac defects. Based on these findings, the diagnosis of pentalogy of Cantrell was reached. On her fifth day of life, the neonate was noted to have signs of cardiac failure characterized by easy fatigability and restlessness during feeding. Cardiac failure treatment was initiated and she was discharged on parents' request on the second week of life. Due to inadequate facilities to undertake this complex corrective surgery, arrangements were being made to refer her abroad. In the meantime, her growth and development was satisfactory until the age of 9 months, when she ran out of the medications and succumbed to death. Her parents could no longer afford transport cost to attend the monthly clinic visits, where the infant was getting free medication refill.

Conclusions: The case reported here highlights that in resource limited settings; poor outcome in infants with complex congenital anomalies is a function of multiple factors. However, we believe that surgery would have averted mortality in this 9-month-old female infant. We hope to be able to manage these cases better in future following the recent establishment of cardiac surgery facilities at Muhimbili National Hospital.
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July 2015