Quality of healthcare for children with severe acute malnutrition in a refugee setting: Cross-sectional study in West Nile Region, Uganda

Marzia Lazzerini, Humphrey Wanzira, Peter Lochoro, Amos Ndunguste, Jerry Ictho, Ambrose Katungi, Ilaria Mariani, Giovanni Putoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives 5.0 million annual deaths in low-income and middle-income countries are due to poor quality of care (QOC). We evaluated the QOC provided to malnourished children in West Nile Region in Uganda. Design Cross-sectional study. Setting West Nile Region, an area hosting over one million refugees. Participants Among 148 facilities providing nutritional services, 30 randomly selected facilities (20%) and the records of 1467 children with severe acute malnutrition (100% of those attending the 30 facilities during last year) were assessed. Outcomes The national Nutrition Service Delivery Assessment (NSDA) tool was used to assess capacity areas related to QOC. Case management, data quality and health outcomes were assessed from official health records. Multivariate analysis was performed to explore factors significantly associated with better cure rates. Results Of 305 NSDA scores allocated to 30 participating centres, 201 (65.9%) were 'good' or 'excellent'. However, 20 (66.7%) facilities had 'poor' 'quality improvement mechanisms' and 13 (43.3%) had 'poor' 'human resources'. Overall data quality in official records was poor, while recorded quality of case management was overall fair. Average cure rate was significantly lower than international Sphere standards (50.4% vs 75% p<0.001) with a higher default rate (23.2% vs 15% p<0.001). Large heterogeneity among facilities was detected for all indicators. Refugee-hosting and non-refugee-hosting facilities had a similar cure rate (47.1% vs 52.1%) though transfer rates were higher for those hosting refugees (21.5% vs 1.9%, p<0.001) despite better 'equipment and supplies'. 'Good/excellent' 'equipment' and 'store management' were significantly associated with better cure rates in outpatient therapeutic centres (+55.9, p<0.001; +65.4, p=0.041, respectively) in multivariate analysis. Conclusions Though most NSDA capacity areas were rated good or excellent, health outcomes of malnourished children in West Nile Region, both in refugee-hosting and non-refugee-hosting facilities, are significantly below international standards. Effective and sustainable approaches to improve malnourished child health outcomes are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number034738
JournalBMJ Open
Volume10
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 11 2020

Keywords

  • nutrition
  • nutrition & dietetics
  • paediatrics
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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