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Assessing knowledge of lady health workers regarding sexually transmitted infections in rural Pakistan

Rehana Khalil, Mohammad Ali Chang, Zahid Naeem.

Background: In a conservative culture with limited social mobility like Pakistan, a lady health worker (LHW) provides a valuable opportunity for women with STIs to be diagnosed early, referred for appropriate treatment, and can counsel regarding further prevention. The study was intended to assess LHWs knowledge regarding early assessment and referral of women with STIs in a rural area of Pakistan.
Methods: This descriptive cross sectional study was conducted at health centers in a district of interior Sindh, Pakistan called Badin. A sample of 105 lady health workers were recruited using systemic random sampling technique, during six months from September 2015 to March 2016. Data were collected through a semi-structured questionnaire and analyzed using IBM SPSS version 22 and Microsoft excel.
Results: Majority (29%) of LHWs were aged between 25 and 29 years. Half sample (51%) of LHWs were educated up to middle school and 6% were intermediate. Eighty-five percent respondents were married. More than half (59%) of LHWs were trained regarding STIs and 21.9% got the special training for it. Among them, 59% of respondents defined STIs correctly. Two thirds (67.6%) of participants knew the meaning of safe sex. One third (37%) of sample was aware of complications due to STIs during pregnancy. Two fifth of LHWs (40%) stated to refer the women with suspected STIs to the hospital for confirmation and further intervention. Near half of LHWs (48%) recommended the use of condom for prevention.
Conclusions: The current study concludes that there are gaps in knowledge of LHWs regarding STIs which makes it unsatisfactory. Therefore in service periodical sensitization and advocacy workshops and trainings of these LHWs are recommended to fill information gaps, remove misinformation and provide quality information in a way that is linked to the women’s reproductive health in Pakistan.

Key words: Knowledge of LHWs, STIs, Rural women

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