Delivering integrated child development care in Pakistan: protocol for a clustered randomised trial

Delivering integrated child development care in Pakistan: protocol for a clustered randomised trial

This study, funded by Grand Challenge Canada, was done in partnership with; Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development (UK) and Provincial Programs and Institutions in Punjab.

Background: Early childhood developmental delay is associated with significant disadvantage in adult life. In Pakistan, high prevalence of developmental delay is associated with poverty, under- nutrition, and maternal depression.

Aim: To assess the effectiveness of an early child development counselling intervention delivered at private GP clinics, in poor urban communities.

Design & setting: A clustered randomised trial in Pakistan.

Method: The intervention was developed following a period of formative research, and in consultation with local experts. A total of 2112 mother–child pairs will be recruited at 32 clinics, from within the locality (cluster); 16 clinics per arm. A primary care counselling intervention (promoting child development, nutrition, and maternal mental health) will be delivered at 6 weeks, 3, 6, and 9 months of the child’s age. Monitoring, assessment, and treatment will also be performed at quarterly visits in intervention clinics. Primary outcome is the developmental delay at 12 months (ASQ-3 scores). Secondary outcomes are stunting rate, and maternal depression (PHQ-9 score). In addition, a process evaluation and costing study will be conducted.

Discussion: This trial will be the first to assess an early child development intervention, delivered in private GP clinics for poor urban communities in Pakistan. If found to be effective, this public– private model may offer a more sustainable, and feasible option for populations in poor urban settings, where private GP clinics are the most accessible provider of primary health care. There is scope for scale-up at provincial level, should the intervention be effective.

 URL: https://bjgpopen.org/content/1/1/BJGP-2017-0677