A pilot study to evaluate incorporating eye care for children into reproductive and child health services in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania: a historical comparison study.

Mafwiri, MM; Kisenge, R; Gilbert, CE; (2014) A pilot study to evaluate incorporating eye care for children into reproductive and child health services in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania: a historical comparison study. BMC Nurs, 13. p. 15. ISSN 1472-6955 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6955-13-15

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BACKGROUND Many blinding eye conditions of childhood are preventable or treatable, particularly in developing countries. However, primary eye care (PEC) for children is poorly developed, leading to unnecessary visual loss. Activities for control by health workers entail interventions for systemic conditions (measles, vitamin A deficiency), identification and referral of children with sight threatening conditions and health education for caregivers. This pilot study evaluated integrating a package of activities to promote child eye health into Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) services in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. METHODS <AbstractText Label="DESIGN" NlmCategory="METHODS">historical comparison study. Fifteen Clinical Officers and 15 nurses in 15 randomly selected RCH clinics were trained in PEC for children in July 2010. They were given educational materials (poster and manual) and their supervisors were orientated. Knowledge and practices were assessed before and 3 weeks after training. One year later their knowledge and practices were compared with a different group of 15 Clinical Officers and 15 nurses who had not been trained. RESULTS Before training staff had insufficient knowledge to identify, treat and refer children with eye diseases, even conjunctivitis. Some recommended harmful practices or did not know that cataract requires urgent referral. Eye examination, vitamin A supplementation of mothers after delivery and cleaning the eyes at birth with instillation of antibiotics (Crede's prophylaxis) were not routine, and there were no eye-specific educational materials. Three weeks after training several clinics delivering babies started Crede's prophylaxis, vitamin A supplementation of women after delivery increased from 83.7% to 100%, and all staff included eye conditions in health education sessions. At one year, trained staff were more likely to correctly describe, diagnose and treat conjunctivitis (z=2.34, p=0.04)(30%-vs-60.7%). Mystery mothers observed health education sessions in 7/10 RCH clinics with trained staff, five (71.4%) of which included eye conditions. CONCLUSIONS Primary eye care for children in Dar-es-Salaam is inadequate but training RCH staff can improve knowledge in the short term and change practices. Attendance by mothers and their children is high in RCH clinics, making them ideal for delivery of PEC. Ongoing supportive supervision is required to maintain knowledge and practices, as well as systems to track referrals.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Clinical Research
Research Centre: The International Centre for Evidence in Disability
International Centre for Eye Health
PubMed ID: 24932133
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/1785950


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