BMC Public Health (Nov 2021)

Risk factors for childhood illness and death in rural Uttar Pradesh, India: perspectives from the community, community health workers and facility staff

  • Kanchan Srivastava,
  • Ranjana Yadav,
  • Lorine Pelly,
  • Elisabeth Hamilton,
  • Gaurav Kapoor,
  • Aman Mohan Mishra,
  • Parwez Anis,
  • Maryanne Crockett

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 21, no. 1
pp. 1 – 11


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Abstract Background Uttar Pradesh (UP), India continues to have a high burden of mortality among young children despite recent improvement. Therefore, it is vital to understand the risk factors associated with under-five (U5) deaths and episodes of severe illness in order to deliver programs targeted at decreasing mortality among U5 children in UP. However, in rural UP, almost every child has one or more commonly described risk factors, such as low socioeconomic status or undernutrition. Determining how risk factors for childhood illness and death are understood by community members, community health workers and facility staff in rural UP is important so that programs can identify the most vulnerable children. Methods This qualitative study was completed in three districts of UP that were part of a larger child health program. Twelve semi-structured interviews and 21 focus group discussions with 182 participants were conducted with community members (mothers and heads of households with U5 children), community health workers (CHWs; Accredited Social Health Activists and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives) and facility staff (medical officers and staff nurses). All interactions were recorded, transcribed and translated into English, coded and clustered by theme for analysis. The data presented are thematic areas that emerged around perceived risk factors for childhood illness and death. Results There were key differences among the three groups regarding the explanatory perspectives for identified risk factors. Some perspectives were completely divergent, such as why the location of the housing was a risk factor, whereas others were convergent, including the impact of seasonality and certain occupational factors. The classic explanatory risk factors for childhood illness and death identified in household surveys were often perceived as key risk factors by facility staff but not community members. However, overlapping views were frequently expressed by two of the groups with the CHWs bridging the perspectives of the community members and facility staff. Conclusion The bridging views of the CHWs can be leveraged to identify and focus their activities on the most vulnerable children in the communities they serve, link them to facilities when they become ill and drive innovations in program delivery throughout the community-facility continuum.