This section contains articles written by MSF staff and MSF partners published in peer-reviewed journals. It contains research articles, reviews, editorials and letters. In all cases, the full text is available for free. Some articles are listed under more than one topic. The box on the right lists all the topics.

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  • The power of touch

    Dahl, EH (Elsevier, 2020-04-04)
  • Diagnostic performance and usability of the VISITECT CD4 semi-quantitative test for advanced HIV disease screening

    Ndlovu, Z; Massaquoi, L; Bangwen, NE; Batumba, JN; Bora, RU; Mbuaya, J; Nzadi, R; Ntabugi, N; Kisaka, P; Manciya, G; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2020-04-03)
    BACKGROUND: In sub-Saharan Africa, a third of people starting antiretroviral therapy and majority of patients returning to HIV-care after disengagement, present with advanced HIV disease (ADH), and are at high risk of mortality. Simplified and more affordable point-of-care (POC) diagnostics are required to increase access to prompt CD4 cell count screening for ambulatory and asymptomatic patients. The Visitect CD4 Lateral Flow Assay (LFA) is a disposable POC test, providing a visually interpreted result of above or below 200 CD4cells/mm3. This study evaluated the diagnostic performance of this index test. METHODS: Consenting patients above 18years of age and eligible for CD4 testing were enrolled in Nsanje district hospital (Malawi), Gutu mission hospital (Zimbabwe) and Centre hopitalier de Kabinda (DRC). A total of 708 venous blood samples were tested in the index test and in the BD FACSCount assay (reference test method) in the laboratories (Phase 1) to determine diagnostic accuracy. A total of 433 finger-prick (FP) samples were tested on the index test at POC by clinicians (Phase 2) and a self-completed questionnaire was administered to all testers to explore usability of the index test. RESULTS: Among 708 patients, 67.2% were female and median CD4 was 297cells/mm3. The sensitivity of the Visitect CD4 LFA using venous blood in the laboratory was 95.0% [95% CI: 91.3-97.5] and specificity was 81.9% [95% CI: 78.2-85.2%]. Using FP samples, the sensitivity of the Visitect CD4 LFA was 98.3% [95% CI: 95.0-99.6] and specificity was 77.2% [95% CI: 71.6-82.2%]. Usability of the Visitect CD4 LFA was high across the study sites with 97% successfully completed tests. Due to the required specific multiple incubation and procedural steps during the Visitect CD4 LFA testing, few health workers (7/26) were not confident to manage testing whilst multi-tasking in their clinical work. CONCLUSIONS: Visitect CD4 LFA is a promising test for decentralized CD4 screening in resource-limited settings, without access to CD4 testing and and it can trigger prompt management of patients with AHD. Lay health cadres should be considered to conduct Visitect CD4 LFA testing in PHCs as well as coordinating all other POC quality assurance.
  • Learning from a massive epidemic: measles in DRC.

    Ducomble, T; Gignoux, E (Elsevier, 2020-03-31)
  • Suspected paracetamol overdose in Monrovia, Liberia: a matched case–control study

    Haidar, MK; Vogt, F; Takahashi, K; Henaff, F; Umphrey, L; Morton, N; Bawo, L; Kerkula, J; Ferner, R; Porten, K; et al. (BioMed Central, 2020-03-30)
    Background- A cluster of cases of unexplained multi-organ failure was reported in children at Bardnesville Junction Hospital (BJH), Monrovia, Liberia. Prior to admission, children’s caregivers reported antibiotic, antimalarial, paracetamol, and traditional treatment consumption. Since we could not exclude a toxic aetiology, and paracetamol overdose in particular, we implemented prospective syndromic surveillance to better define the clinical characteristics of these children. To investigate risk factors, we performed a case–control study. Methods- The investigation was conducted in BJH between July 2015 and January 2016. In-hospital syndromic surveillance identified children with at least two of the following symptoms: respiratory distress with normal pulse oximetry while breathing ambient air; altered consciousness; hypoglycaemia; jaundice; and hepatomegaly. After refining the case definition to better reflect potential risk factors for hepatic dysfunction, we selected cases identified from syndromic surveillance for a matched case–control study. Cases were matched with in-hospital and community-based controls by age, sex, month of illness/admission, severity (in-hospital), and proximity of residence (community). Results- Between July and December 2015, 77 case-patients were captured by syndromic surveillance; 68 (88%) were under three years old and 35 (46%) died during hospitalisation. Of these 77, 30 children met our case definition and were matched with 53 hospital and 48 community controls. Paracetamol was the most frequently reported medication taken by the cases and both control groups. The odds of caregivers reporting supra-therapeutic paracetamol consumption prior to admission was higher in cases compared to controls (OR 6.6, 95% CI 2.1–21.3). Plasma paracetamol concentration on day of admission was available for 19 cases and exceeded 10 μg/mL in 10/13 samples collected on day one of admission, and 4/9 (44%) collected on day two. Conclusions- In a context with limited diagnostic capacity, this study highlights the possibility of supratherapeutic doses of paracetamol as a factor in multi-organ failure in a cohort of children admitted to BJH. In this setting, a careful history of pre-admission paracetamol consumption may alert clinicians to the possibility of overdose, even when confirmatory laboratory analysis is unavailable. Further studies may help define additional toxicological characteristics in such contexts to improve diagnoses.
  • Implementation of community and facility-based HIV self-testing under routine conditions in southern Eswatini

    Pasipamire, L; Nesbitt, R; Dube, L; Mabena, E; Nzima, M; Dlamini, M; Rugongo, N; Maphalala, N; Obulutsa, TA; Ciglenecki, I; et al. (Wiley, 2020-03-27)
    OBJECTIVES: WHO recommends HIV self-testing (HIVST) as an additional approach to HIV testing services. The study describes the strategies used during phase-in of HIVST under routine conditions in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). METHODS: Between May 2017 and January 2018, assisted and unassisted oral HIVST was offered at HIV testing services (HTS) sites to people aged ≥ 16 years. Additional support tools were available, including a telephone hotline answered 24/7, HIVST demonstration videos and printed educational information about HIV prevention and care services. Demographic characteristics of HIVST users were described and compared with standard blood-based HTS in the community. HIVST results were monitored with follow-up phone calls and the hotline. RESULTS: During the 9-month period, 1895 people accessed HIVST and 2415 HIVST kits were distributed. More people accessed HIVST kits in the community (n = 1365, 72.0%) than at health facilities (n = 530, 28.0%). The proportion of males and median age among those accessing HIVST and standard HTS in the community were similar (49.3%, 29 years HIVST vs. 48.7%, 27 years standard HTS). In total, 34 (3.9%) reactive results were reported from 938 people with known HIVST results; 32.4% were males, and median age was 30 years (interquartile range 25-36). Twenty-one (62%) patients were known to have received confirmatory blood-based HTS; of these, 20 (95%) had concordant reactive results and 19 (95%) were linked to HIV care at a clinic. CONCLUSION: Integration of HIVST into existing HIV facility- and community-based testing strategies in Eswatini was found to be feasible, and HIVST has been adopted by national testing bodies in Eswatini.
  • Europe's migrant containment policies threaten the response to COVID-19

    Hargreaves, S; Kumar, BN; McKee, M; Jones, L; Veizis, A (The BMJ, 2020-03-26)
  • Drug-associated adverse events in the treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis: an individual patient data meta-analysis

    Lan, Z; Ahmad, N; Baghaei, P; Barkane, L; Benedetti, A; Brode, SK; Brust, JCM; Campbell, JR; Chang, VWL; Falzon, D; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-03-17)
    BACKGROUND: Treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis requires long-term therapy with a combination of multiple second-line drugs. These drugs are associated with numerous adverse events that can cause severe morbidity, such as deafness, and in some instances can lead to death. Our aim was to estimate the absolute and relative frequency of adverse events associated with different tuberculosis drugs to provide useful information for clinicians and tuberculosis programmes in selecting optimal treatment regimens. METHODS: We did a meta-analysis using individual-level patient data that were obtained from studies that reported adverse events that resulted in permanent discontinuation of anti-tuberculosis medications. We used a database created for our previous meta-analysis of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment and outcomes, for which we did a systematic review of literature published between Jan 1, 2009, and Aug 31, 2015 (updated April 15, 2016), and requested individual patient-level information from authors. We also considered for this analysis studies contributing patient-level data in response to a public call made by WHO in 2018. Meta-analysis for proportions and arm-based network meta-analysis were done to estimate the incidence of adverse events for each tuberculosis drug. FINDINGS: 58 studies were identified, including 50 studies from the updated individual patient data meta-analysis for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment. 35 of these studies, with 9178 patients, were included in our analysis. Using meta-analysis of proportions, drugs with low risks of adverse event occurrence leading to permanent discontinuation included levofloxacin (1·3% [95% CI 0·3-5·0]), moxifloxacin (2·9% [1·6-5·0]), bedaquiline (1·7% [0·7-4·2]), and clofazimine (1·6% [0·5-5·3]). Relatively high incidence of adverse events leading to permanent discontinuation was seen with three second-line injectable drugs (amikacin: 10·2% [6·3-16·0]; kanamycin: 7·5% [4·6-11·9]; capreomycin: 8·2% [6·3-10·7]), aminosalicylic acid (11·6% [7·1-18·3]), and linezolid (14·1% [9·9-19·6]). Risk of bias in selection of studies was judged to be low because there were no important differences between included and excluded studies. Variability between studies was significant for most outcomes analysed. INTERPRETATION: Fluoroquinolones, clofazimine, and bedaquiline had the lowest incidence of adverse events leading to permanent drug discontinuation, whereas second-line injectable drugs, aminosalicylic acid, and linezolid had the highest incidence. These results suggest that close monitoring of adverse events is important for patients being treated for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Our results also underscore the urgent need for safer and better-tolerated drugs to reduce morbidity from treatment itself for patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
  • Field challenges to measles elimination in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Coulborn, RM; Nackers, F; Bachy, C; Porten, K; Vochten, H; Ndele, E; Van Herp, M; Bibala-Faray, E; Cohuet, S; Panunzi, I (Elsevier, 2020-02-25)
    BACKGROUND: During a measles epidemic, the Ministry of Public Health (MOH) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo conducted supplementary immunization activities (2016-SIA) from August 28-September 3, 2016 throughout Maniema Province. From October 29-November 4, 2016, Médecins Sans Frontières and the MOH conducted a reactive measles vaccination campaign (2016-RVC) targeting children six months to 14 years old in seven health areas with heavy ongoing transmission despite inclusion in the 2016-SIA, and a post-vaccination survey. We report the measles vaccine coverage (VC) and effectiveness (VE) of the 2016-SIA and VC of the 2016-RVC. METHODS: A cross-sectional VC cluster survey stratified by semi-urban/rural health area and age was conducted. A retrospective cohort analysis of measles reported by the parent/guardian allowed calculation of the cumulative measles incidence according to vaccination status after the 2016-SIA for an estimation of crude and adjusted VE. RESULTS: In November 2016, 1145 children (6-59 months old) in the semi-urban and 1158 in the rural areas were surveyed. Post-2016-SIA VC (documentation/declaration) was 81.6% (95%CI: 76.5-85.7) in the semi-urban and 91.0% (95%CI: 84.9-94.7) in the rural areas. The reported measles incidence in October among children less than 5 years old was 5.0% for 2016-SIA-vaccinated and 11.2% for 2016-SIA-non-vaccinated in the semi-urban area, and 0.7% for 2016-SIA-vaccinated and 4.0% for 2016-SIA-non-vaccinated in the rural area. Post-2016-SIA VE (adjusted for age, sex) was 53.9% (95%CI: 2.9-78.8) in the semi-urban and 78.7% (95%CI: 0-97.1) in the rural areas. Post 2016-RVC VC (documentation/declaration) was 99.1% (95%CI: 98.2-99.6) in the semi-urban and 98.8% (95%CI: 96.5-99.6) in the rural areas. CONCLUSIONS: Although our VE estimates could be underestimated due to misclassification of measles status, the VC and VE point estimates of the 2016-SIA in the semi-urban area appear suboptimal, and in combination, could not limit the epidemic. Further research is needed on vaccination strategies adapted to urban contexts.
  • The duration of chemoprophylaxis against malaria after treatment with artesunate-amodiaquine and artemether-lumefantrine and the effects of pfmdr1 86Y and pfcrt 76T: a meta-analysis of individual patient data

    Bretscher, M; Dahal, P; Griffin, J; Bassat, Q; Baudin, E; D'Alessandro, U; Djimde, AA; Dorsey, G; Espié, E; Fofana, B; et al. (BioMed Central, 2020-02-25)
    BACKGROUND: The majority of Plasmodium falciparum malaria cases in Africa are treated with the artemisinin combination therapies artemether-lumefantrine (AL) and artesunate-amodiaquine (AS-AQ), with amodiaquine being also widely used as part of seasonal malaria chemoprevention programs combined with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. While artemisinin derivatives have a short half-life, lumefantrine and amodiaquine may give rise to differing durations of post-treatment prophylaxis, an important additional benefit to patients in higher transmission areas. METHODS: We analyzed individual patient data from 8 clinical trials of AL versus AS-AQ in 12 sites in Africa (n = 4214 individuals). The time to PCR-confirmed reinfection after treatment was used to estimate the duration of post-treatment protection, accounting for variation in transmission intensity between settings using hidden semi-Markov models. Accelerated failure-time models were used to identify potential effects of covariates on the time to reinfection. The estimated duration of chemoprophylaxis was then used in a mathematical model of malaria transmission to determine the potential public health impact of each drug when used for first-line treatment. RESULTS: We estimated a mean duration of post-treatment protection of 13.0 days (95% CI 10.7-15.7) for AL and 15.2 days (95% CI 12.8-18.4) for AS-AQ overall. However, the duration varied significantly between trial sites, from 8.7-18.6 days for AL and 10.2-18.7 days for AS-AQ. Significant predictors of time to reinfection in multivariable models were transmission intensity, age, drug, and parasite genotype. Where wild type pfmdr1 and pfcrt parasite genotypes predominated (<=20% 86Y and 76T mutants, respectively), AS-AQ provided ~ 2-fold longer protection than AL. Conversely, at a higher prevalence of 86Y and 76T mutant parasites (> 80%), AL provided up to 1.5-fold longer protection than AS-AQ. Our simulations found that these differences in the duration of protection could alter population-level clinical incidence of malaria by up to 14% in under-5-year-old children when the drugs were used as first-line treatments in areas with high, seasonal transmission. CONCLUSION: Choosing a first-line treatment which provides optimal post-treatment prophylaxis given the local prevalence of resistance-associated markers could make a significant contribution to reducing malaria morbidity.
  • Behind the Scenes of South Africa’s Asylum Procedure: A Qualitative Study on Long-term Asylum-Seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo

    Schockaert, L; Venables, E; Gil-Bazo, MT; Barnwell, G; Gerstenhaber, R; Whitehouse, K (Oxford University Press, 2020-02-20)
    Despite the difficulties experienced by asylum-seekers in South Africa, little research has explored long-term asylum applicants. This exploratory qualitative study describes how protracted asylum procedures and associated conditions are experienced by Congolese asylum-seekers in Tshwane, South Africa. Eighteen asylum-seekers and eight key informants participated in the study. All asylum-seekers had arrived in South Africa between 2003 and 2013, applied for asylum within a year of arrival in Tshwane, and were still in the asylum procedure at the time of the interview, with an average of 9 years since their application. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. The findings presented focus on the process of leaving the Democratic Republic of Congo, applying for asylum and aspirations of positive outcomes for one’s life. Subsequently, it describes the reality of prolonged periods of unfulfilled expectations and how protracted asylum procedures contribute to poor mental health. Furthermore, coping mechanisms to mitigate these negative effects are described. The findings suggest that protracted asylum procedures in South Africa cause undue psychological distress. Thus, there is both a need for adapted provision of mental health services to support asylum-seekers on arrival and during the asylum process, and systemic remediation of the implementation of asylum procedures.
  • Emerging priorities for HIV service delivery

    Ford, N; Geng, E; Ellman, T; Orrell, C; Ehrenkranz, P; Sikazwe, I; Jahn, A; Rabkin, M; Ayisi Addo, S; Grimsrud, A; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2020-02-14)
    Nathan Ford and co-authors discuss global priorities in the provision of HIV prevention and treatment services.
  • Prevention of child wasting: Results of a Child Health & Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) prioritisation exercise

    Frison, S; Angood, C; Khara, T; Bahwere, P; Black, R; Briend, A; Connell, N; Fenn, B; Isanaka, S; James, P; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2020-02-12)
    BACKGROUND: An estimated 49.5 million children under five years of age are wasted. There is a lack of robust studies on effective interventions to prevent wasting. The aim of this study was to identify and prioritise the main outstanding research questions in relation to wasting prevention to inform future research agendas. METHOD: A research prioritisation exercise was conducted following the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative method. Identified research gaps were compiled from multiple sources, categorised into themes and streamlined into forty research questions by an expert group. A survey was then widely circulated to assess research questions according to four criteria. An overall research priority score was calculated to rank questions. FINDINGS: The prioritised questions have a strong focus on interventions. The importance of the early stages of life in determining later experiences of wasting was highlighted. Other important themes included the identification of at-risk infants and young children early in the progression of wasting and the roles of existing interventions and the health system in prevention. DISCUSSION: These results indicate consensus to support more research on the pathways to wasting encompassing the in-utero environment, on the early period of infancy and on the process of wasting and its early identification. They also reinforce how little is known about impactful interventions for the prevention of wasting. CONCLUSION: This exercise provides a five-year investment case for research that could most effectively improve on-the-ground programmes to prevent child wasting and inform supportive policy change.
  • Prioritising pathogens for the management of severe febrile patients to improve clinical care in low- and middle-income countries

    Osborn, J; Roberts, T; Guillen, E; Bernal, O; Roddy, P; Ongarello, S; Sprecher, A; Page, AL; Ribeiro, I; Piriou, E; et al. (BioMed Central, 2020-02-10)
    BACKGROUND: Severe febrile illness without a known source (SFWS) is a challenge for clinicians when deciding how to manage a patient, particularly given the wide spectrum of potential aetiologies that contribute to fever. These infections are difficult to distinguish clinically, and accurate diagnosis requires a plethora of diagnostics including blood cultures, imaging techniques, molecular or serological tests, and more. When laboratory services are available, a limited test menu hinders clinical decision-making and antimicrobial stewardship, leading to empiric treatment and suboptimal patient outcomes. To specifically address SFWS, this work aimed to identify priority pathogens for a globally applicable panel for fever causing pathogens. METHOD: A pragmatic two-pronged approach combining currently available scientific data in an analytical hierarchy process and systematically gathered expert input, was designed to address the lack of comprehensive global aetiology data. The expert re-ranked list was then further adapted for a specific use case to focus on community acquired infections in whole blood specimens. The resulting list was further analysed to address different geographical regions (Asia, Africa, and Latin America), and Cohen kappa scores of agreement were calculated. RESULTS: The expert ranked prioritized pathogen list generated as part of this two-pronged approach included typhoidal Salmonella, Plasmodium species and Mycobacterium tuberculosis as the top 3 pathogens. This pathogen list was then further adapted for the SFWS use case to develop a final pathogen list to inform product development. Subsequent analysis comparing the relevance of the SFWS pathogen list to multiple populations and geographical regions showed that the SFWS prioritized list had considerable utility across Africa and Asia, but less so for Latin America. In addition, the list showed high levels of agreement across different patient sub-populations, but lower relevance for neonates and symptomatic HIV patients. CONCLUSION: This work highlighted once again the challenges of prioritising in global health, but it also shows that taking a two-pronged approach, combining available prevalence data with expert input, can result in a broadly applicable priority list. This comprehensive utility is particularly important in the context of product development, where a sufficient market size is essential to achieve a sustainable commercialized diagnostic product to address SFWS.
  • Evaluation of the stability of measles vaccine out of the cold chain under extended controlled temperature conditions.

    Juan-Giner, A; Alsalhani, A; Panunzi, I; Lambert, V; Van Herp, M; Gairola, S (Elsevier, 2020-02-08)
    Measles outbreaks occur periodically in remote and difficult to reach areas in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. The possibility to keep measles vaccines at temperatures outside the cold chain for a limited period prior to administration would be an advantage for organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières, which repeatedly respond to measles outbreaks in difficult contexts. Using stability data at 37 °C and 40 °C provided by Serum Institute of India Private Limited we applied the product release model for Extended Controlled Temperature Conditions (ECTC) to evaluate the possibility of an out of the cold chain excursion. Measles vaccine in the lyophilized form remains above the minimum required potency at the end of the shelf-life for up to 6 days at 37 °C or for 2 days at 40 °C. This evaluation supports the use of a monodose presentation of measles vaccine in ECTC. This could be an advantage for outbreak response in isolated and difficult to reach areas. However the operational advantages of this approach need to be established.
  • MDR/XDR-TB management of patients and contacts: challenges facing the new decade. The 2020 clinical update by the Global Tuberculosis Network.

    Battista Migliori, G; Tiberi, S; Zumla, A; Petersen, E; Muhwa Chakaya, J; Wejse, C; Muñoz Torrico, M; Duarte, R; Alffenaar, JW; Schaaf, HS; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-02-04)
    The continuous flow of new research articles on MDR-TB diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation requires frequent update of existing guidelines. This review is aimed at providing clinicians and public health staff with an updated and easy-to-consult document arising from consensus of Global Tuberculosis Network (GTN) experts. The core published documents and guidelines have been reviewed including the recently published MDR-TB WHO rapid advice and ATS/CDC/ERS/IDSA guidelines. After a rapid review of epidemiology and risk factors, the clinical priorities on MDR-TB diagnosis (including whole genome sequencing and drug-susceptibility testing interpretations) and treatment (treatment design and management, TB in children) are discussed. Furthermore, the review comprehensively describes the latest information on contact tracing and LTBI management in MDR-TB contacts, while providing guidance on post-treatment functional evaluation and rehabilitation of TB sequelae, infection control and other public health priorities.
  • Tailored HIV programmes and universal health coverage

    Holmes, CB; Rabkin, M; Ford, N; Preko, P; Rosen, S; Ellman, T; Ehrenkranz, P (World Health Organization, 2020-02-01)
    Improvements in geospatial health data and tailored human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing, prevention and treatment have led to greater microtargeting of the HIV response, based on location, risk, clinical status and disease burden. These approaches show promise for achieving control of the HIV epidemic. At the same time, United Nations Member States have committed to achieving broader health and development goals by 2030, including universal health coverage (UHC). HIV epidemic control will facilitate UHC by averting the need to commit ever-increasing resources to HIV services. Yet an overly targeted HIV response could also distort health systems, impede integration and potentially threaten broader health goals. We discuss current approaches to achieving both UHC and HIV epidemic control, noting potential areas of friction between disease-specific microtargeting and integrated health systems, and highlighting opportunities for convergence that could enhance both initiatives. Examples of these programmatic elements that could be better aligned include: improved information systems with unique identifiers to track and monitor individuals across health services and the life course; strengthened subnational data use; more accountable supply chains that supply a broad range of services; and strengthened community-based services and workforces. We argue that the response both to HIV and to broader health threats should use these areas of convergence to increase health systems efficiency and mitigate the harm of any potential decrease in health funding. Further investments in implementation and monitoring of these programme elements will be needed to make progress towards both UHC and HIV epidemic control.
  • High cholera vaccination coverage following emergency campaign in Haiti: Results from a cluster survey in three rural Communes in the South Department, 2017

    Sharp, A; Blake, A; Backx, J; Panunzi, I; Barrais, R; Nackers, F; Luquero, F; Deslouches, YG; Cohuet, S (Public Library of Science, 2020-01-31)
    Oral cholera vaccine (OCV) has increasingly been used as an outbreak control measure, but vaccine shortages limit its application. A two-dose OCV campaign targeting residents aged over 1 year was launched in three rural Communes of Southern Haiti during an outbreak following Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Door-to-door and fixed-site strategies were employed and mobile teams delivered vaccines to hard-to-reach communities. This was the first campaign to use the recently pre-qualified OCV, Euvichol. The study objective was to estimate post-campaign vaccination coverage in order to evaluate the campaign and guide future outbreak control strategies. We conducted a cluster survey with sampling based on random GPS points. We identified clusters of five households and included all members eligible for vaccination. Local residents collected data through face-to-face interviews. Coverage was estimated, accounting for the clustered sampling, and 95% confidence intervals calculated. 435 clusters, 2,100 households and 9,086 people were included (99% response rate). Across the three communes respectively, coverage by recall was: 80.7% (95% CI:76.8-84.1), 82.6% (78.1-86.4), and 82.3% (79.0-85.2) for two doses and 94.2% (90.8-96.4), 91.8% (87-94.9), and 93.8% (90.8-95.9) for at least one dose. Coverage varied by less than 9% across age groups and was similar among males and females. Participants obtained vaccines from door-to-door vaccinators (53%) and fixed sites (47%). Most participants heard about the campaign through community 'criers' (58%). Despite hard-to-reach communities, high coverage was achieved in all areas through combining different vaccine delivery strategies and extensive community mobilisation. Emergency OCV campaigns are a viable option for outbreak control and where possible multiple strategies should be used in combination. Euvichol will help alleviate the OCV shortage but effectiveness studies in outbreaks should be done.
  • Access to health services for men who have sex with men and transgender women in Beira, Mozambique: A qualitative study

    Gamariel, F; Isaakidis, P; Tarquino, IAP; Beirão, JC; O'Connell, L; Mulieca, N; Gatoma, HP; Cumbe, VFJ; Venables, E (Public Library of Science, 2020-01-30)
    OBJECTIVES: HIV prevalence and incidence are higher among key populations including Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) and transgender women in low and middle income countries, when compared to the general population. Despite World Health Organisation guidelines on the provision of services to key populations recommending an evidence-based, culturally relevant and rights-based approach, uptake of HIV services in many resource-limited and rights-constrained settings remains low. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been offering health services for MSM and transgender women in Beira, Mozambique since 2014 using a peer-educator driven model, but uptake of services has not been as high as expected. This qualitative study aimed to learn more about these key populations in Beira, their experiences of accessing MSM- and transgender-friendly services and their use of face-to-face and virtual networks, including social media, for engagement with health care. METHODS: In-depth interviews were carried out with MSM and transgender women who were 1) enrolled in, 2) disengaged from or 3) never engaged in MSF's programme. Purposive and snowball sampling were used to recruit the different groups of interviewees. Interviews were conducted in Portuguese, transcribed and translated into English before being coded and manually analysed using a thematic network framework. RESULTS: Nine transgender women and 18 cisgender MSM participated in the study. Interviewees ranged in age from 19 to 47 years, with a median age of 29. Three main themes emerged from the data: perceptions of stigma and discrimination, experiences of the peer-educator driven model and the use of face-to-face and virtual platforms for communication and engagement, including social media. Interviewees reported experiencing stigma and discrimination because of their gender or sexual identity. HIV-related stigma and health-care setting discrimination, including gossip and breach of confidentiality, were also reported. Although the presence of the peer-educators and their outreach activities were appreciated, they had limited visibility and an over-focus on health and HIV. The face-to-face networks of MSM and transgender women were small and fragmented. Virtual networks such as Facebook were mainly used for flirting, dating and informal communication. Most interviewees were at ease using social media and would consider it as a means of engaging with health messaging. CONCLUSIONS: MSM and transgender women have challenges in accessing health services due to being stigmatised because of their gender identity and their sexual behaviour, and often experience stigma at home, in health-care facilities and in their communities. Peer-driven models of engagement were appreciated but have limitations. There is an untapped potential for further expansion and engagement with face-to-face and virtual platforms to reach MSM and transgender women in settings with a high HIV burden, and to provide them with essential information about HIV and their health.
  • Cost-effectiveness of diagnostic algorithms including lateral-flow urine lipoarabinomannan for HIV-positive patients with symptoms of tuberculosis

    Yakhelef, N; Audibert, M; Ferlazzo, G; Sitienei, J; Wanjala, S; Varaine, F; Bonnet, M; Huerga, H (Public Library of Science, 2020-01-30)
    BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death among HIV-positive patients. We assessed the cost-effectiveness of including lateral-flow urine lipoarabinomannan (LF-LAM) in TB diagnostic algorithms for severely ill or immunosuppressed HIV-positive patients with symptoms of TB in Kenya. METHODS: From a decision-analysis tree, ten diagnostic algorithms were elaborated and compared. All algorithms included clinical exam. The costs of each algorithm were calculated using a 'micro-costing' method. The efficacy was estimated through a prospective study that included severely ill or immunosuppressed (CD4<200cells/μL) HIV-positive adults with symptoms of TB. The cost-effectiveness analysis was performed using the disability-adjusted life year (DALY) averted as effectiveness outcome. A 4% discount rate was applied. RESULTS: The algorithm that added LF-LAM alone to the clinical exam lead to the least average cost per TB case detected (€47) and was the most cost-effective with a cost/DALY averted of €4.6. The algorithms including LF-LAM, microscopy and X-ray, and LF-LAM and Xpert in sputum, detected a high number of TB cases with a cost/DALY averted of €6.1 for each of them. In the comparisons of the algorithms two by two, using LF-LAM instead of microscopy (clinic&LAM vs clinic&microscopy) and using LF-LAM along with GeneXpert in sputum instead of GeneXpert in urine along with GeneXpert in sputum, (clinic&LAM&Xpert_sputum vs clinic&Xpert_sputum&Xpert_urine) led to the highest increase in the cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs): €-7.2 and €-12.6 respectively. In these two comparisons, using LF-LAM increased the number of TB patients detected while reducing costs. Adding LF-LAM to smear microscopy alone or to smear microscopy and Xray led to the highest increase in the additional number of TB cases detected (31 and 25 respectively) with an incremental efficiency estimated at 134 and 344 DALYs respectively. The ICERs were €22.0 and €8.6 respectively. CONCLUSION: Including LF-LAM in TB diagnostic algorithms is cost-effective for severely ill or immunosuppressed HIV-positive patients.

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