May 8, 2013

PLOS Collection Assesses Measurement Of Health Interventions For Women And Children In LMICs

New PLOS Collection assesses the measurement of whether much needed health interventions are reaching women and children across the developing world

Measuring coverage of maternal, newborn and child health in low- and middle-income countries is critical to ensuring that health interventions are reaching the women and children who need them most, says a new Collection of articles published by PLOS this week. Accurate measurement of the effectiveness of those interventions for combating diseases such as pneumonia and malaria, and preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child, is also essential.

Measuring Coverage in Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, a sponsored PLOS Collection published today in PLOS Medicine and PLOS ONE with support from the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG), presents innovative assessments of the validity of measuring population coverage for interventions in this field. CHERG was established in 2001 and serves as an independent source of technical expertise to WHO and UNICEF on maternal and child morbidity and mortality estimates at global and country levels.

The Collection of original research articles and reviews shows that while some coverage indicators can be measured accurately, others may not provide valid results and therefore need further investigation and development. Coverage indicators are widely used to assess whether interventions are reaching women and children in low- and middle-income countries, particularly through population-based household surveys such as USAID's Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and UNICEF's Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS).

The Collection explores issues around measurement using household surveys assessment of health inequalities, consideration of survey error, and the generation of indicators for global monitoring. It presents recommendations for transforming the findings of these and previous studies into better measurement, reporting, and interpretation of coverage estimates.

Original research includes evaluating the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in four African countries with estimates of community coverage for this indicator; establishing whether mothers and caregivers can accurately recall diagnosis and treatment of childhood pneumonia in Pakistan and Bangladesh; and measuring the coverage of treatment for malaria in Zambia. Other research looks at interventions delivered in pregnancy and during the time of delivery in Africa, Latin America, and China, including recall of emergency Cesarean section, an important metric in maternity care. Review articles summarize the challenges of measuring coverage for a wide variety of indicators with validity and reliability, including those relating to immediate newborn care, childhood vaccinations, severity and treatment of diarrhea, and community case management.


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