Epidemiology and Biostatistics
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- ItemThe activities of hospital nursing unit managers and quality of patient care in South African hospitals: a paradox?(2015) Armstrong, S J; Rispel, L C; Penn-Kekana, LBackground: Improving the quality of health care is central to the proposed health care reforms in South Africa. Nursing unit managers play a key role in coordinating patient care activities and in ensuring quality care in hospitals. Objective: This paper examines whether the activities of nursing unit managers facilitate the provision of quality patient care in South African hospitals. Methods: During 2011, a cross-sectional, descriptive study was conducted in nine randomly selected hospitals (six public, three private) in two South African provinces. In each hospital, one of each of the medical, surgical, paediatric, and maternity units was selected (n 36). Following informed consent, each unit manager was observed for a period of 2 hours on the survey day and the activities recorded on a minute-by-minute basis. The activities were entered into Microsoft Excel, coded into categories, and analysed according to the time spent on activities in each category. The observation data were complemented by semi-structured interviews with the unit managers who were asked to recall their activities on the day preceding the interview. The interviews were analysed using thematic content analysis. Results: The study found that nursing unit managers spent 25.8% of their time on direct patient care, 16% on hospital administration, 14% on patient administration, 3.6% on education, 13.4% on support and communication, 3.9% on managing stock and equipment, 11.5% on staff management, and 11.8% on miscellaneous activities. There were also numerous interruptions and distractions. The semi-structured interviews revealed concordance between unit managers’ recall of the time spent on patient care, but a marked inflation of their perceived time spent on hospital administration. Conclusion: The creation of an enabling practice environment, supportive executive management, and continuing professional development are needed to enable nursing managers to lead the provision of consistent and high-quality patient care.
- ItemAssessing the impact of mHealth interventions in low- and middle-income countries – what has been shown to work?(2014) Hall C S; Fottrell E; Wilkilson S; et alBackground: Low-cost mobile devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and personal digital assistants, which can access voice and data services, have revolutionised access to information and communication technology worldwide. These devices have a major impact on many aspects of people’s lives, from business and education to health. This paper reviews the current evidence on the specific impacts of mobile technologies on tangible health outcomes (mHealth) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), from the perspectives of various stakeholders. Design: Comprehensive literature searches were undertaken using key medical subject heading search terms on PubMed, Google Scholar, and grey literature sources. Analysis of 676 publications retrieved from the search was undertaken based on key inclusion criteria, resulting in a set of 76 papers for detailed review. The impacts of mHealth interventions reported in these papers were categorised into common mHealth applications. Results: There is a growing evidence base for the efficacy of mHealth interventions in LMICs, particularly in improving treatment adherence, appointment compliance, data gathering, and developing support networks for health workers. However, the quantity and quality of the evidence is still limited in many respects. Conclusions: Over all application areas, there remains a need to take small pilot studies to full scale, enabling more rigorous experimental and quasi-experimental studies to be undertaken in order to strengthen the evidence base.
- ItemBarriers to accessing health care in Nigeria: implications for child survival(2014) Adedini, S A; Odimegwu, C; Bamiwuye, S A; et alBackground: Existing studies indicate that about one in every six children dies before age five in Nigeria. While evidence suggests that improved access to adequate health care holds great potential for improved child survival, previous studies indicate that there are substantial barriers to accessing health care in Nigeria. There has not been a systematic attempt to examine the effects of barriers to health care on under-five mortality in Nigeria. This study is designed to address this knowledge gap. Data and method: Data came from a nationally representative sample of 18,028 women (aged 15 49) who had a total of 28,647 live births within the 5 years preceding the 2008 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey. The risk of death in children below age five was estimated using Cox proportional hazard models and results are presented as hazards ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Results: Results indicate higher under-five mortality risks for children whose mothers had cultural barriers and children whose mothers had resource-related barriers to health care (HR: 1.44, CI: 1.32 1.57, pB0.001), and those whose mothers had physical barriers (HR: 1.13, CI: 1.04 1.24, pB0.001), relative to children whose mothers reported no barriers. Barriers to health care remained an important predictor of child survival even after adjusting for the effects of possible confounders. Conclusion: Findings of this study stressed the need for improved access to adequate health care in Nigeria through the elimination of barriers to access. This would enable the country to achieve a significant reduction in childhood mortality.
- ItemCause-specific mortality at INDEPTH Health and Demographic Surveillance System Sites in Africa and Asia: concluding synthesis.(2014) Sankoh, O; Byass, PThis synthesis brings together findings on cause-specific mortality documented by means of verbal autopsies applied to over 110,000 deaths across Africa and Asia, within INDEPTH Network sites. Methods: Developments in computerised methods to assign causes of death on the basis of data from verbal autopsy (VA) interviews have made possible these standardised analyses of over 110,000 deaths from 22 African and Asian Health and Demographic Surveillance System sites in the INDEPTH Network. In addition to previous validations of the InterVA-4 probabilistic model, these wide-ranging analyses provide further evidence of the applicability of this approach to assigning the cause of death. Plausible comparisons with existing knowledge of disease patterns, as well as substantial correlations with out-of-model parameters such as time period, country, and other independent data sources were observed. Findings: Substantial variations in mortality between sites, and in some cases within countries, were observed. A number of the mortality burdens revealed clearly constitute grounds for public health actions. At an overall level, these included high maternal and neonatal mortality rates. More specific examples were childhood drowning in Bangladesh and homicide among adult males in eastern and southern Africa. Mortality from non-communicable diseases, particularly in younger adulthood, is an emerging cause for concern. INDEPTH’s approach of documenting all deaths in particular populations, and successfully assigning causes to the majority, is important for formulating health policies. Future directions: The pooled dataset underlying these analyses is available at the INDEPTH Data Repository for further analysis. INDEPTH will continue to fill cause-specific mortality knowledge gaps across Africa and Asia, which will also serve as a baseline for post-2015 development goals. The more widespread use of similar VA methods within routine civil registration systems is likely to become an important medium-term strategy in many countries.
- ItemClosing the mental health treatment gap in South Africa: a review of costs and cost-effectiveness(2014) Jack, H; Wagner, R G.; Petersen I; et al.Background: Nearly one in three South Africans will suffer from a mental disorder in his or her lifetime, a higher prevalence than many low- and middle-income countries. Understanding the economic costs and consequences of prevention and packages of care is essential, particularly as South Africa considers scalingup mental health services and works towards universal health coverage. Economic evaluations can inform how priorities are set in system or spending changes. Objective: To identify and review research from South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa on the direct and indirect costs of mental, neurological, and substance use (MNS) disorders and the cost-effectiveness of treatment interventions. Design: Narrative overview methodology. Results and conclusions: Reviewed studies indicate that integrating mental health care into existing health systems may be the most effective and cost-efficient approach to increase access to mental health services in South Africa. Integration would also direct treatment, prevention, and screening to people with HIV and other chronic health conditions who are at high risk for mental disorders. We identify four major knowledge gaps: 1) accurate and thorough assessment of the health burdens of MNS disorders, 2) design and assessment of interventions that integrate mental health screening and treatment into existing health systems, 3) information on the use and costs of traditional medicines, and 4) cost-effectiveness evaluation of a range of specific interventions or packages of interventions that are tailored to the national context.
- ItemComparison of the health related quality of life, CD4 count and viral load of AIDS patients with HIV who have been on treatment for 12 months in rural South Africa(2013-03) Ingumbor J; Steward A; Holzemer W; et alThis study compared the level of CD4 count, viral load and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) between treatment-naive AIDS patients and a cohort of people living with HIV who have been on treatment for 12 months. This study is based on a secondary data analysis of the records of 642 people with HIV consisting of 311 treatment-naive AIDS patients and 331 people with HIV who have been on treatment for 12 months. The study findings are mostly presented in tables and analysed using the f-test to compare HRQOL scores, CD4 count and viral load in the two groups. The study generally noted poor financial capacity and low activity tolerance among the participants. Significant changes were noted in all the domains of HRQOL compared between the treatment-naive patients and the 12 months treatment cohort. In the same manner, the median CD4 cell count and viral load differed significantly between both groups. The treatment-naive and the 12 months treatment cohorts consistently reported much lower quality of life scores in the level of dependence domain which includes the measures of mobility, activity of daily living, dependence on medication and work capacity. There were little or no associations between the biomedical markers (CD4 count and viral load) and HRQOL indicators. However, the quality of life tended to increase with increase in the CD4 cell count. The poor to no association between the biomedical markers and HRQOL indicators show that these cannot be direct proxies of each other and that the CD4 cell count and viral load alone may be inadequate eligibility criteria for social support.
- ItemCompleteness of obstetric referral lettersnotes from subdistrict to district level in three rural districts in Greater Acraa region of Ghana an implementation research using mixed methodsM Amoakoh-Coleman; E Ansah; Kerstin Klipstein-Grobusch; D Arhinful
- ItemContestations and complexities of nurses' participation in policy-making in South Africa(2014) Ditlopo, P; Blaauw, D; Penn-Kekana, L; et al.Background: There has been increased emphasis globally on nurses’ involvement in health policy and systems development. However, there has been limited scholarly attention on nurses’ participation in policy-making in South Africa. Objective: This paper analyses the dynamics, strengths, and weaknesses of nurses’ participation in four national health workforce policies: the 2008 Nursing Strategy, revision of the Scope of Practice for nurses, the new Framework for Nursing Qualifications, and the Occupation-Specific Dispensation (OSD) remuneration policy. Design: Using a policy analysis framework, we conducted in-depth interviews with 28 key informants and 73 frontline nurses in four South African provinces. Thematic content analysis was done using the Atlas.ti software. Results: The study found that nurses’ participation in policy-making is both contested and complex. The contestation relates to the extent and nature of nurses’ participation in nursing policies. There was a disjuncture between nursing leadership and frontline nurses in their levels of awareness of the four policies. The latter group was generally unaware of these policies with the exception of the OSD remuneration policy as it affected them directly. There was also limited consensus on which nursing group legitimately represented nursing issues in the policy arena. Shifting power relationships influenced who participated, how the participation happened, and the degree to which nurses’ views and inputs were considered and incorporated. Conclusions: The South African health system presents major opportunities for nurses to influence and direct policies that affect them. This will require a combination of proactive leadership, health policy capacity and skills development among nurses, and strong support from the national nursing association
- ItemCost and impact of scaling up interventions to save lives of mothers and children: taking South Africa closer to MDGs 4 and 5(2015) Chola, M; Pillay, Y; Barron, P; et alBACKGROUND:South Africa has made substantial progress on child and maternal mortality, yet many avoidable deaths of mothers and children still occur. This analysis identifies priority interventions to be scaled up nationally and projects the potential maternal and child lives saved. DESIGN: We modelled the impact of maternal, newborn and child interventions using the Lives Saved Tools Projections to 2015 and used realistic coverage increases based on expert opinion considering recent policy change, financial and resource inputs, and observed coverage change. A scenario analysis was undertaken to test the impact of increasing intervention coverage to 95%. RESULTS:By 2015, with realistic coverage, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) can reduce to 153 deaths per 100,000 and child mortality to 34 deaths per 1,000 live births. Fifteen interventions, including labour and delivery management, early HIV treatment in pregnancy, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and handwashing with soap, will save an additional 9,000 newborns and children and 1,000 mothers annually. An additional US$370 million (US$7 per capita) will be required annually to scale up these interventions. When intervention coverage is increased to 95%, breastfeeding promotion becomes the top intervention, the MMR reduces to 116 and the child mortality ratio to 23.
- ItemA cross-sectional analytical study of geophagia practices and blood metal concentrations in pregnant women in Johannesburg, South Africa(2014-08) Mathee, A; Naicker, N; Kootbodien, T
- ItemDeterminants of the risk of dying of HIV/AIDS in a rural South African community over the period of the decentralised roll-out of antiretroviral therapy: a longitudinal study(2014) Mee, P; Collinson, M.A; Madhavan, SBACKGROUND: Antiretroviral treatment (ART) has significantly reduced HIV mortality in South Africa. The benefits have not been experienced by all groups. Here we investigate the factors associated with these inequities. DESIGN: This study was located in a rural South African setting and used data collected from 2007 to 2010, the period when decentralised ART became available. Approximately one-third of the population were of Mozambican origin. There was a pattern of repeated circular migration between urban areas and this community. Survival analysis models were developed to identify demographic, socioeconomic, and spatial risk factors for HIV mortality. RESULTS: Among the study population of 105,149 individuals, there were 2,890 deaths. The HIV/TB mortality rate decreased by 27% between 2007-2008 and 2009-2010. For other causes of death, the reduction was 10%. Bivariate analysis found that the HIV/TB mortality risk was lower for: those living within 5 km of the Bhubezi Community Health Centre; women; young adults; in-migrants with a longer period of residence; permanent residents; and members of households owning motorised transport, holding higher socioeconomic positions, and with higher levels of education. Multivariate modelling showed, in addition, that those with South Africa as their country of origin had an increased risk of HIV/TB mortality compared to those with Mozambican origins. For males, those of South African origin, and recent in-migrants, the risk of death associated with HIV/TB was significantly greater than that due to other causes.
- ItemDoes moonlighting influence South African nurses' intention to leave their primary jobs?(2014) Rispel, L; Chirwa, T; Blaauw, D; et alBACKGROUND: Staff retention and turnover have risen in prominence in the global discourse on the health workforce. Moonlighting, having a second job in addition to a primary job, has not featured in debates on turnover. OBJECTIVE: This paper examines whether moonlighting is a determinant of South African nurses' intention to leave their primary jobs. DESIGN: During 2010, a one-stage cluster random sample of 80 hospitals was selected in four South African provinces. On the survey day, all nurses working in critical care, theatre, emergency, maternity, and general medical and surgical wards completed a self-administered questionnaire after giving informed consent. In addition to demographic information and information on moonlighting, the questionnaire obtained information on the participants' intention to leave their primary jobs in the 12 months following the survey. A weighted analysis of the survey data was done using STATA(®) 13. RESULTS: Survey participants (n=3,784) were predominantly middle-aged with a mean age of 41.5 (SD±10.4) years. Almost one-third of survey participants (30.9%) indicated that they planned to leave their jobs within 12 months. Intention to leave was higher among the moonlighters (39.5%) compared to non-moonlighters (27.9%; p<0.001). Predictors of intention to leave in a multiple logistic regression were moonlighting in the preceding year, nursing category, sector of primary employment, period working at the primary job, and number of children. The odds of intention to leave was 1.40 (95% CI: 1.16-1.69) times higher for moonlighters than for non-moonlighters. The odds ratio of intention to leave was 0.53 (95% CI: 0.42-0.66) for nursing assistants compared to professional nurses and 2.09 (95% CI: 1.49-2.94) for nurses working for a commercial nursing agency compared to those working in the public sector.
- ItemEffects of antiretroviral therapy in HIVpositive adults on new HIV infections among young women A systematic review protocolT Chibawara; L Mbuagbaw; M Kitenge; Peter Nyasulu
- ItemElimination of mother- to - child transmission of HIV in South Africa : Rapid scale- up using quality improvement(2014-03) Bardwaj, S.; Barron, P.; Treger-Slavin, P.; et alBackground: South Africa (SA) is committed to achieving the goal of eliminating mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV by 2015. To achieve this, universal coverage of quality antenatal, labour, delivery and postnatal services for all women has to be attained. Over the past decade, the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme has been scaled up to reach all healthcare facilities in the country. However, challenges persist in achieving 100% coverage and access to the programme. Objectives: We describe the process undertaken by the National Department of Health (NDoH), in collaboration with partners, to develop, implement and monitor a data-driven intervention to improve facility, district, provincial and national PMTCT-related performance. Methods: Between 2011 and 2013, the NDoH developed and implemented an intervention using data-driven participatory processes to understand facility-level bottlenecks to optimise PMTCT implementation and to scale up priority PMTCT actions nationally. Results: There was remarkable improvement across all key indicators in the PMTCT cascade over the 3 years 2011 - 2013. Simple monitoring tools such as a visual dashboard and data for action reports were successfully used to improve the performance of the PMTCT programme across SA. MTCT has shown a significant downward trend. Conclusions: It is feasible to implement district-level, data-driven quality improvement processes at a national scale to improve the performance of the PMTCT programme at the local level.
- ItemEssential evidence for guiding health system priorities and policies: anticipating epidemiological transition in Africa(2014) Byass, P; De Savigny, D; Lopez, A.D; et alBACKGROUND: Despite indications that infection-related mortality in sub-Saharan Africa may be decreasing and the burden of non-communicable diseases increasing, the overwhelming reality is that health information systems across most of sub-Saharan Africa remain too weak to track epidemiological transition in a meaningful and effective way. PROPOSALS: We propose a minimum dataset as the basis of a functional health information system in countries where health information is lacking. This would involve continuous monitoring of cause-specific mortality through routine civil registration, regular documentation of exposure to leading risk factors, and monitoring effective coverage of key preventive and curative interventions in the health sector. Consideration must be given as to how these minimum data requirements can be effectively integrated within national health information systems, what methods and tools are needed, and ensuring that ethical and political issues are addressed. A more strategic approach to health information systems in sub-Saharan African countries, along these lines, is essential if epidemiological changes are to be tracked effectively for the benefit of local health planners and policy makers. CONCLUSION: African countries have a unique opportunity to capitalize on modern information and communications technology in order to achieve this. Methodological standards need to be established and political momentum fostered so that the African continent's health status can be reliably tracked. This will greatly strengthen the evidence base for health policies and facilitate the effective delivery of services.
- ItemExploring the characteristics of nursing agencies in South Africa(2015) Rispel, L.C; Olojede, O.LBackground: Nursing agencies are temporary employment service providers or labour brokers that supply nurses to health establishments. Objective: This study was conducted to determine the characteristics of nursing agencies and their relationship with clients in the health sector. Methods: During 2011, a cross-sectional national survey of 106 nursing agencies was conducted. After obtaining informed consent, telephone interviews were conducted with a representative of the selected nursing agency using a pretested structured questionnaire. Questions focused on the following: ownership, date of establishment, province of operation, distribution of clients across private and public health facilities; existence of a code of conduct; nature of the contractual relationship between nursing agencies and their clients, and numbers and cadres of nurses contracted. The survey data were analysed using STATA† 12. Results: Fifty-two nursing agencies participated in the survey, representing a 49% response rate. The study found that 32 nursing agencies (62%) served private-sector clients only, which included private hospitals, homes for elderly people, patients in private homes, and private industry/company clinics, and only four (8%) of the agencies served the public sector only. Twenty-seven percent of nursing agencies provided services to homes for elderly individuals. Nursing agencies were more likely to have contracts with private-sector clients (84%) than with public-sector clients (16%) (p 0.04). Although 98% of nursing agencies reported that they had a code of conduct, the proportion was higher for private-sector clients (73%) compared to public-sector clients (27%). In terms of quality checks and monitoring, 81% of agencies agreed with a statement that they checked the nursing council registration of nurses, 82% agreed with a statement that they requested certified copies of a nurse’s qualifications. Only 21% indicated that they conducted reference checks of nurses with their past employers. Conclusions: Nursing agencies should enhance their quality assurance mechanisms when engaging contracted staff. Overall, the study findings suggest the need for improved governance and management of nursing agencies in South Africa.
- ItemExploring the perception of and attitude towards preconception care service provision and utilisation in a South Western Nigerian community – a qualitative study(School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2021-02) Ojifinni, Oludoyinmola O.; Munyewende, Pascalia O.; Ibisomi, LatifatBackground: Hospital-based, quantitative studies in Nigeria show low levels of knowledge and use of preconception care (PCC) services. This study explored the perception of and attitude towards PCC in a southwestern Nigerian community qualitatively. Data Source and Methods: Focus group discussions (FGDs) were held with 57 purposively selected adult women and men and key informant interviews (KIIs) with one female and one male community leader in Ibadan North Local Government Area, Oyo State, Nigeria in 2018. The FGDs and KIIs held within the community were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. Results: Participants placed PCC in the context of marriage, describing its importance for addressing effects of adverse exposures on pregnancy and ensuring positive pregnancy outcomes. Conclusion: Barriers to PCC uptake mentioned included lack of awareness and prohibitive service costs. Expressing their willingness to use and promote PCC use, they stated the need to ensure PCC uptake through improved awareness at the community level.
- ItemFactors associated with mortality in HIV-infected people in rural and urban South Africa(2014) Otwombe, K N; Petzold, M; Modisenyane, T; et alBackground: Factors associated with mortality in HIV-infected people in sub-Saharan Africa are widely reported. However rural urban disparities and their association with all-cause mortality remain unclear. Furthermore, commonly used classical Cox regression ignores unmeasured variables and frailty. Objective: To incorporate frailty in assessing factors associated with mortality in HIV-infected people in rural and urban South Africa. Design: Using data from a prospective cohort following 6,690 HIV-infected participants from Soweto (urban) and Mpumalanga (rural) enrolled from 2003 to 2010; covariates of mortality were assessed by the integrated nested Laplace approximation method. Results: We enrolled 2,221 (33%) rural and 4,469 (67%) urban participants of whom 1,555 (70%) and 3,480 (78%) were females respectively. Median age (IQR) was 36.4 (31.0 44.1) in rural and 32.7 (28.2 38.1) in the urban participants. The mortality rate per 100 person-years was 11 (9.7 12.5) and 4 (3.6 4.5) in the rural and urban participants, respectively. Compared to those not on HAART, rural participants had a reduced risk of mortality if on HAART for 6 12 (HR: 0.20, 95% CI: 0.10 0.39) and 12 months (HR: 0.10, 95% CI: 0.05 0.18). Relative to those not on HAART, urban participants had a lower risk if on HAART 12 months (HR: 0.35, 95% CI: 0.27 0.46). The frailty variance was significant and 1 in rural participants indicating more heterogeneity. Similarly it was significant but B1 in the urban participants indicating less heterogeneity. Conclusion: The frailty model findings suggest an elevated risk of mortality in rural participants relative to the urban participants potentially due to unmeasured variables that could be biological, socio economic, or healthcare related. Use of robust methods that optimise data and account for unmeasured variables could be helpful in assessing the effect of unknown risk factors thus improving patient management and care in South Africa and elsewhere.
- ItemFactors influencing agency nursing and moonlighting among nurses in South Africa(2014) Rispel, L.C; Blaauw, D; Chirwa, T; et alBACKGROUND: In South Africa, nurses are the largest category of the health care providers. Their optimal performance is critical for the successful implementation of impending health sector reforms. OBJECTIVE: This paper examines the occurrence of agency nursing, moonlighting, and overtime among nurses in South Africa, and the factors influencing moonlighting. DESIGN: This cross-sectional survey was a one-stage cluster random sample of 80 hospitals in four South African provinces, selected with stratification from the public and private health sectors. On the survey day, all nurses working in critical care, theatre, emergency, maternity, and general medical and surgical wards completed a self-administered questionnaire after giving informed consent. In addition to demographic information, the questionnaire elicited information on the frequency of agency nursing, moonlighting, and overtime, and the nurses' reasons for doing moonlighting. Survey data were weighted and analysed using STATA version 12. RESULTS: The majority of survey participants (n = 3,784) were South African (98.0%), female (92.7%), and employed in government (52.8%). Their mean age was 41.5 years (SD 10.4). The occurrence of moonlighting among nurses in the 12 months preceding the survey was 28.0% [95% CI: 24.2-32.1], the frequency of agency nursing was 37.8% [95% CI: 32.4-43.6], while 56.0% of nurses did overtime [95% CI: 51.4-60.4]. In the multiple logistic regression analysis, predictors of moonlighting were province, sector of primary employment, unit of work, category of nurse, and having children. The odds of moonlighting was 1.51 [95% CI: 1.03-2.21] times higher for private sector nurses than for public nurses, while the odds ratio for auxiliary nurses was 0.61 [95% CI: 0.47-0.79] compared to professional nurses. The odds of moonlighting was 1.49 [95% CI: 1.18-1.89] for nurses with children, compared to those without. CONCLUSIONS: Agency nursing, moonlighting, and overtime are common among South African nurses, but have received insufficient policy attention. These issues need to be addressed as part of the implementation of comprehensive health workforce strategies.
- ItemFocus on 14 sewage treatment plants in the Mpumalanga Province, South Africa in order to gauge the efficiency of wastewater treatment(2009-07) Samie, A; Obi, C L; Ingumbor, J A; et alIn order to identify the treatment methods used in different sewage treatment plants (STPs) in the Mpumalanga Province and to determine the efficiency of wastewater treatment by these plants, municipal STPs were surveyed, and raw and treated wastewater samples collected. A total of 14 STPs were visited and the collected samples were analysed for physicochemical and microbiological parameters using standard methods. The treatment methods identified included ponds, activated sludge and trickling filters. The reduction of turbidity by the plants varied between 6.2 and 99.6% while conductivity, pH and temperature varied slightly between the influent and the effluent wastewater. Thirteen (92.8%) of the plants used chlorine for disinfection of the final effluent, however only 2 (14.2%) of the plants managed to produce effluent with 0 (zero) faecal conforms per 100 m€. Common pathogenic bacteria isolated from the final effluent included Salmonella, Shigella, Escherichia coli, Vibrio spp. and Enterococcus spp. The final effluent was used for irrigation and recycling purposes in 4 plants, all the other treatment plants discharged the effluent into the river or to the environment. The present study indicated that there is a move toward the renovation of wastewater treatment by the municipalities in the Mpumalanga Province with the adoption of biological treatment. All the STPs reduced the turbidity of wastewater as well as the different microbial indicators counts; however, several pathogenic bacterial organisms could still be detected in the final effluent. Further studies are needed to confirm the role of the treatment procedures on nutrient reduction and elimination of other viral and parasitic pathogens by the sewage treatment plants.
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