SA-MRC/Wits Agincourt Unit (Research Outputs/Publications)

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    Parenting in place: Young children's living arrangementand migrants' sleep health in South Africa
    (2023-06-26) Sangeetha Madhavan; Seung Wan Kim; Michael White; Xavier Gomez‐Olive
    Migration research tends to treat childrearing as a secondary role for migrants. By prioritizing the economic objectives of migration, most models present migrants as either delaying childbearing or, if they have young children, not living with them. However, migration has become increasingly feminized, the types of mobility more varied, while the returns to migration remain uncertain at best. At the same time, norms around childrearing are shifting, and the capacity of kin to take care of children may be weakening. In such contexts, migrants may not want to or be able to be separated from their children. Confronting such difficult decisions and their consequences may be reflected in poor sleep health for the migrant parent. We draw on data from the Migration and Health Follow‐Up Study (MHFUS) in South Africa to examine the following questions: (i) To what extent is children's core side nceassociated with sleep health for migrant parents? (ii) Do effects vary by sex of migrant? and (iii) Do effects vary by location of migrant? Results from propensity score matching confirm that migrants who core side with all their young children are more likely to experience healthy sleep compared to those who have nonresident or no young children. However, stratified analysis shows that these effects are only significant for women and those not living in Gauteng province. The value of these findings is underscored by the need for research on the well‐being of migrant parents who are negotiating multiple agendas in economically precarious and physically insecure destinations
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    Realising radical potential: building community power in primary health care through Participatory Action Research
    (2023-05-17) Denny Mabetha; Temitope Ojewola; Maria van der Merwe; Reflect Mabika; Gerhard Goosen; Jerry Sigudla; Jennifer Hove; Sophie Witter; Lucia D’Ambruoso
    Background While community participation is an established pro-equity approach in Primary Health Care (PHC), it can take many forms, and the central category of power is under-theorised. The objectives were to (a) conduct theory-informed analysis of community power-building in PHC in a setting of structural deprivation and (b) develop practical guidance to support participation as a sustainable PHC component. Methods Stakeholders representing rural communities, government departments and non-governmental organisations engaged through a participatory action research (PAR) process in a rural sub-district in South Africa. Three reiterative cycles of evidence generation, analysis, action, and reflection were progressed. Local health concerns were raised and framed by community stakeholders, who generated new data and evidence with researchers. Dialogue was then initiated between communities and the authorities, with local action plans coproduced, implemented, and monitored. Throughout, efforts were made to shift and share power, and to adapt the process to improve practical, local relevance. We analysed participant and researcher reflections, project documents, and other project data using power-building and power-limiting frameworks. Results Co-constructing evidence among community stakeholders in safe spaces for dialogue and cooperative action-learning built collective capabilities. The authorities embraced the platform as a space to safely engage with communities and the process was taken up in the district health system. Responding to COVID-19, the process was collectively re-designed to include a training package for community health workers (CHWs) in rapid PAR. New skills and competencies, new community and facility-based alliances and explicit recognition of CHW roles, value, and contribution at higher levels of the system were reported following the adaptations. The process was subsequently scaled across the sub-district. Conclusions Community power-building in rural PHC was multidimensional, non-linear, and deeply relational. Collective mindsets and capabilities for joint action and learning were built through a pragmatic, cooperative, adaptive process, creating spaces where people could produce and use evidence to make decisions. Impacts were seen in demand for implementation outside the study setting. We offer a practice framework to expand community power in PHC: (1) prioritising community capability-building, (2) navigating social and institutional contexts, and (3) developing and sustaining authentic learning spaces.
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    Estimating the Prevalence of over- and Under-Reporting in HIV Testing, Status and Treatment in Rural Northeast South Africa: A Comparison of a Survey and Clinic Records
    (2023-10-27) Hannah H Leslie; Chodziwadziwa W Kabudula; Rebecca L West; Mi-Suk Kang Dufour; Aimée Julien; Nkosinathi G Masilela; Stephen M Tollman; Audrey Pettifor; Kathleen Kahn; Sheri A Lippman
    We assess the accuracy of self-reported testing, HIV status, and treatment responses compared to clinical records in Ehlanzeni District, South Africa. We linked a 2018 population-based survey of adults 18-49 years old with clinical data at local primary healthcare facilities from 2014 to 2018. We calculated self-reported testing, HIV status, and treatment, and triangulated findings with clinic record data. We adjusted testing estimates for known gaps in HIV test documentation. Of 2089 survey participants, 1657 used a study facility and were eligible for analysis. Half of men and 84% of women reported an HIV test in the past year. One third of reported tests could be confirmed in clinic data within 1 year and an additional 13% within 2 years; these fractions increased to 57% and 22% respectively limiting to participants with a verified clinic file. After accounting for gaps in clinic documentation, we found that prevalence of recent HIV testing was closer to 15% among men and 51% in women. Estimated prevalence of known HIV was 16.2% based on self-report vs. 27.6% with clinic documentation. Relative to clinical records among confirmed clinic users, self report of HIV testing and of current treatment were highly sensitive but non-specific (sensitivity 95.5% and 98.8%, specificity 24.2% and 16.1% respectively), while self report of HIV status was highly specific but not sensitive (sensitivity 53.0%, specificity 99.3%). While clinical records are imperfect, survey-based measures should be interpreted with caution in this rural South African setting.
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    Anthropometric criteria for best-identifying children at high risk of mortality: a pooled analysis of twelve cohorts
    (2023-02-03) Tanya Khara; Mark Myatt; Kate Sadler; Paluku Bahwere; James A Berkley; James A Berkley; Robert E Black; Erin Boyd; Michel Garenne; Sheila Isanaka; Natasha Lelijveld; Christine McDonald; Andrew Mertens; Martha Mwangome; Kieran O’Brien; Heather Stobaugh; Sunita Taneja; Keith P West; André Briend
    Objective: To understand which anthropometric diagnostic criteria best discriminate higher from lower risk of death in children and explore programme implications. Design: A multiple cohort individual data meta-analysis of mortality risk (within 6 months of measurement) by anthropometric case definitions. Sensitivity, specificity, informedness and inclusivity in predicting mortality, face validity and compatibility with current standards and practice were assessed and operational consequences were modelled. Setting: Community-based cohort studies in twelve low-income countries between 1977 and 2013 in settings where treatment of wasting was not widespread. Participants: Children aged 6 to 59 months. Results: Of the twelve anthropometric case definitions examined, four (weight-forage Z-score (WAZ) <−2), (mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) <125 mm), (MUAC < 115 mm or WAZ < −3) and (WAZ < −3) had the highest informedness in predicting mortality. A combined case definition (MUAC < 115 mm or WAZ < −3) was better at predicting deaths associated with weight-for-height Z-score <−3 and concurrent wasting and stunting (WaSt) than the single WAZ < −3 case definition. After the assessment of all criteria, the combined case definition performed best. The simulated workload for programmes admitting based on MUAC < 115 mm or WAZ < −3, when adjusted with a proxy for required intensity and/or duration of treatment, was 1·87 times larger than programmes admitting on MUAC < 115 mm alone. Conclusions: A combined case definition detects nearly all deaths associated with severe anthropometric deficits suggesting that therapeutic feeding programmes may achieve higher impact (prevent mortality and improve coverage) by using it. There remain operational questions to examine further before wide-scale adoption can be recommended.
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    The Impact of the Older Person’s Grant Expansion on Hypertension Among Older Men in Rural South Africa: Findings from the HAALSI cohort
    (2023-03-28) Haeyoon Chang, MPH; Janet Jock, MPP; Molly S. Rosenberg, Ph.D. MPH; Chihua Li, PhD; Tsai-Chin Cho, MS; Thomas A. Gaziano, MD; Lynda Lisabeth, PhD; Lindsay C, Kobayashi, PhD, MS
    Two-thirds of people living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) live in low- and middle-income countries, and this figure is expected to rise as these populations are rapidly aging. Since evidence demonstrates links between socioeconomic status and slower rates of cognitive decline, protecting older adults' cognitive function in resource-limited countries that lack the infrastructure to cope with ADRD is crucial to reduce the burden it places on these populations and their health systems. While cash transfers are a promising intervention to promote healthy cognitive aging, factors such as household wealth and level of education often confound the ability to make causal inferences on the impact of cash transfers and cognitive function. This study uses a quasi-experimental design, leveraging an exogenous expansion to the Old Age Pension for men in South Africa, to approximate causal associations with cognitive function. We found evidence that there is a potential benefit of cash transfers at an earlier age for older individuals. As such, transfers such as pensions or other forms of direct basic income transfers may hold promise as potential interventions to promote healthy cognitive aging.
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    Associations between WASH-related violence and depressive symptoms in adolescent girls and young women in South Africa (HPTN 068): a crosssectional analysis
    (2022-06-13) Ruvani T Jayaweera; Dana Goin; Rhian Twine; Torsten B Neilands; Ryan G Wagner; Sheri A Lippman; Kathleen Kahn; Audrey Pettifor; Jennifer Ahern
    Objective There is a lack of research on experiences of WASH-related violence. This study aims to quantify the association between experience or worry of violence when using the toilet or collecting water and depressive symptoms among a cohort of young women in South Africa. Methods Data are from visit 3 of the HPTN 068 cohort of adolescent girls in rural Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. Participants (n=1798) included in this analysis were aged 13–21 at baseline. Lifetime experience of violence or fear of violence when using the toilet and collecting water was collected by self-report; depressive symptoms in the past week were measured using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). We used G-computation to calculate the prevalence difference (PD) and prevalence ratio of depression (CES-D score >15) associated with each domain of violence, controlling for baseline covariates. Findings A total of 15.1% of respondents reported experiencing violence when using the toilet; 17.1% reported experiencing violence when collecting water and 26.7% reported depression. In adjusted models, those who reported experiencing violence when using the toilet had an 18.1% higher prevalence of depression (95% CI: 11.6% to 24.4%) than those who did not experience violence when using the toilet. Adjusted prevalence of depression was also higher among those who reported violence when collecting water (PD 11.9%, 95% CI: 6.7% to 17.2%), and who worried about violence when using the toilet (PD 12.8%, 95% CI: 7.9% to 19.8%), as compared with those who did not report these experiences. Worrying about violence when collecting water was not associated with depression after adjusting for covariates. Conclusion Experience of WASH-related violence is common among young women in rural South Africa, and experience or worry of experiencing violence is associated with higher prevalence of depressive symptoms.
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    Prevalence and risk factors for postnatal mental health problems in mothers of infants admitted to neonatal care: analysis of two population-based surveys in England
    (2023) Jenny Gong; Gracia Fellmeth; Maria A. Quigley; Chris Gale; Alan Stein3; Fiona Alderdice; Siân Harrison
    Background Previous research suggests that mothers whose infants are admitted to neonatal units (NNU) experience higher rates of mental health problems compared to the general perinatal population. This study examined the prevalence and factors associated with postnatal depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress (PTS), and comorbidity of these mental health problems for mothers of infants admitted to NNU, six months after childbirth. Methods This was a secondary analysis of two cross-sectional, population-based National Maternity Surveys in England in 2018 and 2020. Postnatal depression, anxiety, and PTS were assessed using standardised measures. Associations between sociodemographic, pregnancy- and birth-related factors and postnatal depression, anxiety, PTS, and comorbidity of these mental health problems were explored using modifed Poisson regression and multinomial logistic regression. Results Eight thousand fve hundred thirty-nine women were included in the analysis, of whom 935 were mothers of infants admitted to NNU. Prevalence of postnatal mental health problems among mothers of infants admitted to NNU was 23.7% (95%CI: 20.6–27.2) for depression, 16.0% (95%CI: 13.4–19.0) for anxiety, 14.6% (95%CI: 12.2–17.5) for PTS, 8.2% (95%CI: 6.5–10.3) for two comorbid mental health problems, and 7.5% (95%CI: 5.7–10.0) for three comorbid mental health problems six months after giving birth. These rates were consistently higher compared to mothers whose infants were not admitted to NNU (19.3% (95%CI: 18.3–20.4) for depression, 14.0% (95%CI: 13.1–15.0) for anxiety, 10.3% (95%CI: 9.5–11.1) for PTS, 8.5% (95%CI: 7.8–9.3) for two comorbid mental health problems, and 4.2% (95%CI: 3.6–4.8) for three comorbid mental health problems six months after giving birth. Among mothers of infants admitted to NNU (N=935), the strongest risk factors for mental health problems were having a long-term mental health problem and antenatal anxiety, while social support and satisfaction with birth were protective. Conclusions Prevalence of postnatal mental health problems was higher in mothers of infants admitted to NNU, compared to mothers of infants not admitted to NNU six months after giving birth. Experiencing previous mental health problems increased the risk of postnatal depression, anxiety, and PTS whereas social support and satisfaction with birth were protective. The findings highlight the importance of routine and repeated mental health assessments and ongoing support for mothers of infants admitted to NNU.
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    Pregnancy-related mortality up to 1 year postpartum in sub-Saharan Africa: an analysis of verbal autopsy data from six countries
    (2023-07-19) Ursula Gazeley; Georges Reniers; Julio E. Romero-Prieto; Clara Calvert; Momodou Jasseh; Kobus Herbst; Sammy Khagayi; David Obor; Daniel Kwaro; Albert Dube; Merga Dheresa; Chodziwadziwa W. Kabudula; Kathleen Kahn; Mark Urassa; Amek Nyaguara; Marleen Temmerman; Laura A. Magee; Peter von Dadelszen; Veronique Filipp
    Abstract Objective: To compare the causes of death for women who died during pregnancy and within the first 42days postpartum with those of women who died between >42days and within 1 year postpartum. Design: Open population cohort (Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems). Setting: Ten Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems (HDSS) in The Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Ethiopia and South Africa. Population: 2114 deaths which occurred within 1 year of the end of pregnancy where a verbal autopsy interview was conducted from 2000 to 2019. Methods: InterVA5 and InSilicoVA verbal autopsy algorithms were used to attribute the most likely underlying cause of death, which were grouped according to adapted International Classification of Diseases-Maternal Mortality categories. Multinomial regression was used to compare differences in causes of deaths within 42days versus 43–365days postpartum adjusting for HDSS and time period (2000–2009 and 2010–2019). Main outcome measures: Cause of death and the verbal autopsy Circumstances of Mortality Categories (COMCATs). Results: Of 2114 deaths, 1212 deaths occurred within 42days postpartum and 902 between 43 and 365days postpartum. Compared with deaths within 42days, deaths from HIV and TB, other infectious diseases, and non-communicable diseases constituted a significantly larger proportion of late pregnancy-related deaths beyond 42days postpartum, and health system failures were important in the circumstances of those deaths. The contribution of HIV and TB to deaths beyond 42days postpartum was greatest in Southern Africa. The causes of pregnancy-related mortality within and beyond 42days postpartum did not change significantly between 2000–2009 and 2010–2019. Conclusions: Cause of death data from the extended postpartum period are critical to inform prevention. The dominance of HIV and TB, other infectious and non-communicable diseases to (late) pregnancy-related mortality highlights the need for better integration of non-obstetric care with ante-, intra- and postpartum care in high-burden settings.
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    Age-incidence and prevalence of HIV among intact and circumcised men: an analysis of PHIA surveys in Southern Africa
    (2022-10-05) Michel Garenne
    The study investigates the statistical relationship between male circumcision and HIV prevalence in Africa, in the context of the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) campaigns in place since 2008. Data from the Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (PHIA) surveys conducted in African countries in 2017-2018 were utilized. Six countries with high HIV prevalence, low traditional circumcision and large VMMC programs were selected: Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe. The statistical analysis investigated the relative risk (RR) of HIV prevalence by circumcision status (circumcised vs intact) among men age 20-59, and the age-incidence of HIV in the two groups among men age 20-49, defined as the linear-logistic slope of the relationship between prevalence and age. Results show that the standardized RR was not different from 1 at older ages (50-59): RR = 0.923, 95% CI = 0.769-1.108, P = 0.390. Furthermore, the age-incidence was at least as high or higher among the circumcised groups than among the intact groups. The standardized RR was lower than 1 at younger ages, and this could be explained by selection biases. HIV prevalence at age 40-59 (27.3%) was also the same in the four groups of circumcision status (intact, traditional, medical, unknown). Results matched earlier observations made in South Africa that circumcised and intact men had similar levels of HIV infection. The study questions the current strategy of large scale VMMC campaigns to control the HIV epidemic. These campaigns also raise a number of ethical issues.
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    Where Are the Demographic Dividends in Sub-Saharan Africa?
    (2023-09-20) Michel Garenne
    This paper reviews the concept of the demographic dividend and the empirical evidence therefor. The demographic dividend is mainly the result of fertility decline (lower number of births, lower population growth) which translates into a population age structure with a larger work force (age 15–64) and a smaller proportion of children (age 0–14), together with initially few elderly persons (age 65+). In turn, this favors economic growth, but it also has many consequences for households and for state budgets, as well as long-term consequences for population size and the environment. The first part of this paper shows the small correlations at the national macro-economic level between dependency ratios and economic growth. The second part shows the strong correlations at the household level between levels of fertility, child mortality and modern education. The third part discusses the many other correlates of the demographic dividend. The often-cited and controversial focus of the demographic dividend on economic growth hides many other positive effects of fertility control on households, on state budgets, and, in the long-run, on societies and the environment.
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    Boys or girls? Sex preferences expressed by women in African and Asian demographic surveys
    (2023-03) Michel Garenne; Nancy Stiegler; Jean-Pierre Bouchard
    In this interview with Jean-Pierre Bouchard, demographers Michel Garenne and Nancy Stiegler explore sex-preferences for girls or boys expressed by women who responded to DHS surveys in twenty-nine African and ten Asian countries. The IPUMS/DHS database was used for statistical analysis, bringing together 140 surveys and 2.5 million women aged 15–49. Overall, two-thirds of women were in favour of a balanced number of girls and boys or were indifferent to the composition of the family. In 20.8% of cases they preferred to have more boys, and in 12.6% of cases they preferred to have more girls. These proportions vary considerably between countries, and were influenced by local culture, religion, level of education, household wealth, and to a smaller extent by urban residence. Sex preferences were also influenced by family composition. These preferences are likely to change rapidly over time. Among the countries analysed, eight expressed preferences for more girls, all located in sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly in southern Africa. These preferences could have many consequences, demographic, social and psychological.
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    Changing relationships between HIV prevalence and circumcision in Lesotho
    (2022-04-04) Michel Garenne
    The study investigates the complex relationships between circumcision and HIV prevalence in Lesotho, using Demographic and Health surveys (DHS) conducted in 2004, 2009 and 2014. Before the HIV epidemic, about half of the male adult population was circumcised as part of a traditional custom, and this proportion increased markedly after 2008 with the campaigns of Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC), while HIV prevalence stayed at the same level. In 2004, HIV prevalence was higher in circumcised groups than in intact groups (RR=1.49, 95% CI=1.20-1.86). This relationship changed over time, and was inversed in 2014 (RR=0.86; 95% CI=0.70-1.06). The changing relationship seems to be due to an interaction with education, with more educated men being more circumcised and having less HIV over time. A multivariate analysis showed no net effect of circumcision on HIV, after controlling for wealth, education, and indicators of marriage and sexual behaviour. A small net effect of VMMC was found, probably due to condom use. In couple studies, the effect of circumcision and VMMC on HIV was not significant, with similar transmission from female to male and male to female. The study questions the amount of effort and money spent on VMMC in Lesotho.
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    Significant Improvement in Blood Pressure Levels Among Older Adults With Hypertension in Rural South Africa
    (2023-08-08) Enrico G. Ferro; Shafika Abrahams-Gessel; David Kapaon; Brian Houle; Jacques Du Toit; Ryan G. Wagner; F. Xavier Gómez-Olivé; Alisha N. Wade; Chodziwadziwa W. Kabudulah; Stephen Tollman; Thomas A. Gaziano
    Background:Sub-Saharan Africa is undergoing an epidemiologic transition from infectious diseases to cardiovascular diseases. From 2014 to 2019, sociodemographic surveillance was performed in a large cohort in rural South Africa. Methods:Disease prevalence and incidence were calculated using inverse probability weights. Poisson regression was used to identify disease predictors. The percentage of individuals with controlled (<140/90 mm Hg) versus uncontrolled hypertension was compared between 2014 and 2019. Results:Compared with 2014 (n=5059), study participants in 2019 (n=4176) had similar rates of obesity (mean body mass index, 27.5±10.0 versus 27.0±6.5) but higher smoking (9.1% versus 11.5%) and diabetes (11.1% versus 13.9%). There was no significant increase in hypertension prevalence (58.4% versus 59.8%; age adjusted, 64.3% versus 63.3%), and there was a significant reduction in mean systolic blood pressure (138.0 versus 128.5 mm Hg; P<0.001). Among hypertensive individuals who reported medication use in 2014 and 2019 (n=796), the proportion with controlled hypertension on medication increased from 44.5% to 62.3%. Hypertension incidence was 6.2 per 100 person-years, and age was the only independent predictor. Among normotensive individuals in 2014 (n=2257), 15.2% developed hypertension by 2019, with the majority already controlled on medications by 2019. Conclusions:The hypertension prevalence and incidence are plateauing in this aging cohort. There was a statistically and clinically significant decline in mean blood pressure and a substantial increase in individuals with controlled hypertension on medication. The prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors did not decrease over time, suggesting that the blood pressure decrease is likely due to increased medication access and adherence, promoted by local health systems.
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    Forgotten but not gone in rural South Africa: Urinary schistosomiasis and implications for chronic kidney disease screening in endemic countries
    (2023-02-10) Alison Craik; Mwawi Gondwe; Nokthula Mayindi; Shingirai Chipungu; Bongekile Khoza; Xavier Gómez-Olivé; Stephen Tollman; John Frean; Laurie A. Tomlinson; June Fabian
    Background: Urinary schistosomiasis caused by infection with Schistosoma haematobium (S. haematobium) remains endemic in Africa and is associated with haematuria and albuminuria/proteinuria. Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes clinical guidelines recommend evaluating proteinuria/albuminuria and glomerular filtration rate for chronic kidney disease (CKD) diagnosis. The guidelines are informed by population data outside of Africa but have been adopted in many African countries with little validation. Our study aimed to characterise the burden of urinary schistosomiasis in rural South Africa (SA) and evaluate its relationship with markers of kidney dysfunction with implications for CKD screening. Methods: In this population-based cohort study, we recruited 2021 adults aged 20 – 79 years in the Mpumalanga Province, SA. Sociodemographic data were recorded, urinalysis performed, and serum creatinine and urine albumin and creatinine measured. Kidney dysfunction was defined as an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) <60ml/min/1.73m2 and/or urine albumin-creatinine ratio >3.0mg/mmol. S. haematobium infection was determined by urine microscopy. Multivariable analyses were performed to determine relationships between S. haematobium and markers of kidney dysfunction. Results: Data were available for 1226 of 2021 participants. 717 (58.5%) were female and the median age was 35 years (IQR 27 – 47). Prevalence of kidney dysfunction and S. haematobium was 20.2% and 5.1% respectively. S. haematobium was strongly associated with kidney dysfunction (OR 8.66; 95% CI 4.10 – 18.3) and related to albuminuria alone (OR 8.69; 95% CI 4.11 – 18.8), with no evidence of an association with eGFR <90ml/min/1.73m2 (OR 0.43; 95% CI 0.05 – 3.59). Discussion: The strong association between urinary schistosomiasis and albuminuria requires careful consideration when screening for CKD. Screening for, and treatment of, schistosomiasis should be a routine part of initial work-up for CKD in S. haematobium endemic areas. Urinary schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease, remains a public health concern in the Mpumulanga province of SA.
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    Executive function and pre-academic skills in preschoolers from South Africa
    (2023-08-25) Caylee J. Cook; Steven Howard; Gaia Scerif; Rhian Twine; Kathleen Kahn; Shane Norris; Catherine Draper
    Background: While there is now considerable evidence in support of a relationship between executive function (EF) and academic success, these findings almost uniformly derive from Western and high-income countries. Yet, recent findings from low- to middle-income countries have suggested that patterns of EF and academic skills differ in these contexts, but there is little clarity on the extent, direction and nature of their association. Aim: This study aimed to investigate the contribution of EF to pre-academic skills in a sample of preschool children (N = 124; Mage = 50.91 months; 45% female). Setting: Two preschools were recruited from an urban setting in a community with both formal and informal housing, overcrowding, high levels of crime and violence, and poor service delivery. Three preschools were recruited from rural communities with household plots, a slow rate of infrastructure development, reliance on open fires for cooking, limited access to running water and rudimentary sanitation. Methods: Pre-academic skills were assessed using the Herbst Early Childhood Development Criteria test, and EF was assessed using the Early Years Toolbox. Results: Although EF scores appeared high and pre-academic skills were low (in norm comparisons), EF inhibition (ß = 0.23, p = 0.001) and working memory (ß = 0.25, p < 0.001) nevertheless showed strong prediction of pre-academic skills while shifting was not significant. Conclusion: While EF is an important predictor of pre-academic skills even in this low- and middle-income country context, factors in addition to EF may be equally important targets to foster school readiness in these settings. Contribution: The current study represents a first step towards an understanding of the current strengths that can be leveraged, and opportunities for additional development, in the service of preparing all children for the demands of school
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    Participatory action research to address lack of safe water, a community-nominated health priority in rural South Africa
    (2023-07-27) Jennifer Hove; Denny Mabetha; Maria van der Merwe; Rhian Twine; Kathleen Kahn; Sophie Witter; Lucia D’Ambruoso
    Background Despite international evidence supporting community participation in health for improved health outcomes and more responsive and equitable health systems there is little practical evidence on how to do this. This work sought to understand the process involved in collective implementation of a health-related local action plan developed by multiple stakeholders. Methods Communities, government departments and non-government stakeholders convened in three iterative phases of a participatory action research (PAR) learning cycle. Stakeholders were involved in problem identification, development, and implementation of a local action plan, reflection on action, and reiteration of the process. Participants engaged in reflective exercises, exploring how factors such as power and interest impacted success or failure. Conclusion The process offered new ways of thinking and stakeholders were supported to generate local evidence for action and learning. The process also enabled exploration of how different stakeholders with different levels of power and interest coalesce to design, plan, and act on evidence. Creation of safe spaces was achievable, meanwhile changing stakeholders’ level of power and interest was possible but challenging. This study suggests that when researchers, service providers and communities are connected as legitimate participants in a learning platform with access to information and decision-making, a shift in power and interest may be feasible. Results The local action plan was partially successful, with three out of seven action items achieved. High levels of both power and interest were key factors in the achievement of action items. For the achieved items, stakeholders reported that continuous interactions with one another created a shift in both power and interest through ownership of implementation processes. Participants who possessed significant power and influence were able to leverage resources and connections to overcome obstacles and barriers to progress the plan. Lack of financial support, shifting priorities and insufficient buy-in from stakeholders hindered implementation.
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    Household structure, composition and child mortality in the unfolding antiretroviral therapy era in rural South Africa: comparative evidence from population surveillance, 2000–2015
    (2023-03-15) Brian Houle; Chodziwadziwa Kabudula; Dickman Gareta; Kobus Herbst; Samuel J Clark
    Objectives The structure and composition of the household has important influences on child mortality. However, little is known about these factors in HIVendemic areas and how associations may change with the introduction and widespread availability of antiretroviral treatment (ART). We use comparative, longitudinal data from two demographic surveillance sites in rural South Africa (2000–2015) on mortality of children younger than 5 years (n=101 105). Design We use multilevel discrete time event history analysis to estimate children’s probability of dying by their matrilineal residential arrangements. We also test if associations have changed over time with ART availability. Setting Rural South Africa. Participants Children younger than 5 years (n=101 105). Results 3603 children died between 2000 and 2015. Mortality risks differed by co-residence patterns along with different types of kin present in the household. Children in nuclear households with both parents had the lowest risk of dying compared with all other household types. Associations with kin and child mortality were moderated by parental status. Having older siblings lowered the probability of dying only for children in a household with both parents (relative risk ratio (RRR)=0.736, 95%CI (0.633 to 0.855)). Only in the later ART period was there evidence that older adult kin lowered the probability of dying for children in single parent households (RRR=0.753, 95%CI (0.664 to 0.853)). Conclusions Our findings provide comparative evidence of how differential household profiles may place children at higher mortality risk. Formative research is needed to understand the role of other household kin in promoting child well-being, particularly in one-parent households that are increasingly prevalent.
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    The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on postnatal depression: analysis of three population-based national maternity surveys in England (2014–2020)
    (2023-05-15) Siân Harrison; Maria A. Quigley; Gracia Fellmeth; Alan Stein; Fiona Alderdice
    Background Few studies have evaluated postnatal depression before and during the Covid-19 pandemic using comparable data across time. We used data from three national maternity surveys in England to compare prevalence and risk factors for postnatal depression before and during the pandemic. Methods Analysis was conducted using population-based surveys carried out in 2014 (n = 4571), 2018 (n = 4509), and 2020 (n = 4611). Weighted prevalence estimates for postnatal depression (EPDS score ≥13) were compared across surveys. Modified Poisson regression was used to estimate adjusted risk ratios (aRR) for the association between sociodemographic, pregnancy- and birth-related, and biopsychosocial factors, and postnatal depression. Findings Prevalence of postnatal depression increased from 10.3% in 2014 to 16.0% in 2018 (difference = +5.7% (95% CI: 4.0–7.4); RR = 1.55 (95% CI: 1.36–1.77)) and to 23.9% in 2020 (difference = +7.9% (95% CI: 5.9–9.9); RR = 1.49 (95% CI: 1.34–1.66)). Having a long-term mental health problem (aRR range = 1.48–2.02), antenatal anxiety (aRR range = 1.73–2.12) and antenatal depression (aRR range = 1.44–2.24) were associated with increased risk of postnatal depression, whereas satisfaction with birth (aRR range = 0.89–0.92) and social support (aRR range = 0.73–0.78) were associated with decreased risk before and during the pandemic. Interpretation This analysis indicates that Covid-19 had an important negative impact on postnatal women’s mental health and may have accelerated an existing trend of increasing prevalence of postnatal depression. Risk factors for postnatal depression were consistent before and during the pandemic. Timely identification, intervention and followup are key to supporting women at risk, and it is essential that mechanisms to support women are strengthened during times of heightened risk such as the pandemic.
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    Community Health Worker Use of Smart Devices for Health Promotion: Scoping Review
    (2023-02-25) Merlin Greuel1 , BA, MGH, MD; Frithjof Sy1 , BSc, MD; Till Bärnighausen1,2,3 , MSc, MD, SCD; Maya Adam1,4 , BA, MD; Alain Vandormael1 , MSc, PhD; Jennifer Gates5 , BA; Guy Harling2,6,7,8,9 , BSc, MA, MPH, SCD
    Background: Community health workers (CHWs) have become essential to the promotion of healthy behaviors, yet their work is complicated by challenges both within and beyond their control. These challenges include resistance to the change of existing behaviors, disbelief of health messages, limited community health literacy, insufficient CHW communication skills and knowledge, lack of community interest and respect for CHWs, and CHWs’ lack of adequate supplies. The rising penetration of “smart” technology (eg, smartphones and tablets) in low- and middle-income countries facilitates the use of portable electronic devices in the field. Objective: This scoping review examines to what extent mobile health in the form of smart devices may enhance the delivery of public health messages in CHW-client interactions, thereby addressing the aforementioned challenges and inducing client behavior change. Methods: We conducted a structured search of the PubMed and LILACS databases using subject heading terms in 4 categories: technology user, technology device, use of technology, and outcome. Eligibility criteria included publication since January 2007, CHWs delivering a health message aided by a smart device, and face-to-face communication between CHWs and clients. Eligible studies were analyzed qualitatively using a modified version of the Partners in Health conceptual framework. Results: We identified 12 eligible studies, 10 (83%) of which used qualitative or mixed methods approaches. We found that smart devices mitigate challenges encountered by CHWs by improving their knowledge, motivation, and creativity (eg, through self-made videos); their status within the community; and the credibility of their health messages. The technology stimulated interest in both CHWs and clients—and sometimes even in bystanders and neighbors. Media content produced locally or reflecting local customs was strongly embraced. Yet, the effect of smart devices on the quality of CHW-client interactions was inconclusive. Interactions suffered as CHWs were tempted to replace educational conversations with clients by passively watching video content. Furthermore, a series of technical difficulties experienced especially by older and less educated CHWs compromised some of the advantages brought about by mobile devices. Adequate CHW training ameliorated these difficulties. Only 1 study (8%) considered client health behavior change as an end point, thus revealing a major research gap. Conclusions: Smart mobile devices may augment CHWs’field performance and enhance face-to-face interactions with clients, yet they also generate new challenges. The available evidence is scarce, mostly qualitative, and focused on a limited range of health outcomes. Future research should include larger-scale interventions across a wide range of health outcomes and feature client health behavior change as an end point.
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    We Should Not Be Quiet but We Should Talk’: Qualitative Accounts of CommunityBased Communication of HIV PreExposure Prophylaxis
    (2023) Hannah Goymann1; Mxolisi Mavuso; Shannon A. McMahon; Anita Hettema; Allison B. Hughey; Sindy Matse; Phiwa Dlamini; Kathleen Kahn; Till Barnighausen; Albrecht Jahn; Kate Barnighausen
    Community leaders play an important role in the acceptance of public health services, but little is known about their willingness to facilitate HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) roll-out in Eswatini. We conducted in-depth interviews (n = 25) with purposefully selected male and female community leaders in Eswatini. We analysed our data inductively using a thematic analysis approach. Community leaders feel they are important communicators of culturally appropriate PrEP messaging. Our participants described a complex social space within their communities influenced by religion, tradition, values, and HIV stigma. Community leaders use their position to provide leverage for unique, effective, and easily accessible messages and platforms to reach the community in a manner that ensures trust, relatability, familiarity, and shared faith. Community leaders feel that they are trusted and see trust manifesting in the conversations they are able to engage in, and have a reach that extends beyond formal health services. Existing PrEP programming should embed community leader participation in PrEP programming and engage the trust, knowledge, and potential of community leaders to support PrEP uptake and acceptance.