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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  • Measuring the unknown: an estimator and simulation study for assessing case reporting during epidemics

    Jarvis, CI; Gimma, A; Finger, F; Morris, TP; Thompson, JA; de Waroux, OlP; Edmunds, WJ; Funk, S; Jombart, T (bioRxiv, 2021-12-17)
    The fraction of cases reported, known as ‘reporting’, is a key performance indicator in an outbreak response, and an essential factor to consider when modelling epidemics and assessing their impact on populations. Unfortunately, its estimation is inherently difficult, as it relates to the part of an epidemic which is, by definition, not observed. We introduce a simple statistical method for estimating reporting, initially developed for the response to Ebola in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 2018-2020. This approach uses transmission chain data typically gathered through case investigation and contact tracing, and uses the proportion of investigated cases with a known, reported infector as a proxy for reporting. Using simulated epidemics, we study how this method performs for different outbreak sizes and reporting levels. Results suggest that our method has low bias, reasonable precision, and despite sub-optimal coverage, usually provides estimates within close range (5-10%) of the true value. Being fast and simple, this method could be useful for estimating reporting in real-time in settings where person-to-person transmission is the main driver of the epidemic, and where case investigation is routinely performed as part of surveillance and contact tracing activities.
  • Decentralised hepatitis C testing and treatment in rural Cambodia: evaluation of a simplified service model integrated in an existing public health system.

    Zhang, M; O'Keefe, D; Craig, J; Samley, K; Bunreth, V; Jolivet, P; Balkan, S; Marquardt, T; Dousset, JP; Le Paih, M (Elsevier, 2021-03-18)
    Background: Direct-acting antiviral treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) has provided the opportunity for simplified models of care delivered in decentralised settings by non-specialist clinical personnel. However, in low-income and middle-income countries, increasing overall access to HCV care remains an ongoing issue, particularly for populations outside of urban centres. We therefore aimed to implement a simplified model of HCV care via decentralised health services within a rural health operational district in Battambang province, Cambodia. Methods: The study cohort included adult residents (≥18 years) of the health operational district of Moung Russei who were voluntarily screened at 13 local health centres. Serology testing was done by a rapid diagnostic test using SD Bioline HCV (SD Bioline HCV, Standard Diagnostics, South Korea) with capillary blood. HCV viral load testing was done by GeneXpert (Cepheid, Sunnyvale, CA, USA). Viraemic patients (HCV viral load ≥10 IU/mL) received pretreatment assessment by a general physician and minimal treatment evaluation tests at the health operational district referral hospital. Viraemic patients who did not have additional complications received all HCV care follow-up at the local health centres, provided by nursing staff, and patients who had decompensated cirrhosis, previously treated with a direct-acting antiviral, HBV co-infection, or other comorbidities requiring observation continued receiving care at the referral hospital with a general physician. Patients deemed eligible for treatment were prescribed oral sofosbuvir (400 mg) and daclatasvir (60 mg) once a day for 12 weeks, or 24 weeks for patients with decompensated cirrhosis or those previously treated with a direct-acting antiviral. HCV cure was defined as sustained virological response at 12 weeks after treatment (HCV viral load <10 IU/mL). Patients were assessed for serious and non-serious adverse events at any time between treatment initiation and 12 weeks post-treatment testing. Findings: Between March 12, 2018, and Jan 18, 2019, 10 425 residents (ie, 7·6% of the estimated 136 571 adults in the health operational district of Moung Russei) were screened. Of those patients screened, the median age was 44 years (IQR 31-55) and 778 (7·5%) were HCV-antibody positive. 761 (97·8%) of 778 antibody-positive patients received HCV viral load testing, and 540 (71·0%) of those tested were HCV viraemic. Among these 540 patients, linkage to treatment and follow-up care was high, with 533 (98·7%) attending a baseline consultation at the HCV clinic, of whom 530 (99·4%) initiated treatment. 485 (91·5%) of 530 patients who initiated treatment received follow-up at a health centre and 45 (8·5%) were followed up at the referral hospital. Of the 530 patients who initiated direct-acting antiviral therapy, 515 (97·2%) completed treatment. Subsequently, 466 (90·5%) of 515 patients completed follow-up, and 459 (98·5%) of 466 achieved a sustained virological response at 12 weeks after treatment. Two (0·4%) adverse events (fatigue [n=1] and stomach upset [n=1]) and five (0·9%) serious adverse events (infection [n=2], cardiovascular disease [n=1], and panic attack [n=1], with data missing for one of the causes of serious adverse events) were reported among patients who initiated treatment. All serious adverse events were deemed to be unrelated to therapy. Interpretation: This pilot project showed that a highly simplified, decentralised model of HCV care can be integrated within a rural public health system in a low-income or middle-income country, while maintaining high patient retention, treatment efficacy, and safety. The project delivered care via accessible, decentralised primary health centres, using non-specialist clinical staff, thereby enhancing the efficient use of limited resources and maximising the potential to test and treat individuals living with HCV infection.
  • Decentralized hepatitis C testing and treatment in rural Cambodia: evaluation of a simplified service model integrated in an existing public health system

    Zhang, M; O'Keefe, D; Craig, J; Samley, K; Bunreth, V; Jolivet, P; Balkan, S; Marquardt, T; Dousset, JP; Le Paih, M (Elsevier, 2021-03-18)
    Background Direct-acting antiviral treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) has provided the opportunity for simplified models of care delivered in decentralised settings by non-specialist clinical personnel. However, in low-income and middle-income countries, increasing overall access to HCV care remains an ongoing issue, particularly for populations outside of urban centres. We therefore aimed to implement a simplified model of HCV care via decentralised health services within a rural health operational district in Battambang province, Cambodia. Methods The study cohort included adult residents (≥18 years) of the health operational district of Moung Russei who were voluntarily screened at 13 local health centres. Serology testing was done by a rapid diagnostic test using SD Bioline HCV (SD Bioline HCV, Standard Diagnostics, South Korea) with capillary blood. HCV viral load testing was done by GeneXpert (Cepheid, Sunnyvale, CA, USA). Viraemic patients (HCV viral load ≥10 IU/mL) received pretreatment assessment by a general physician and minimal treatment evaluation tests at the health operational district referral hospital. Viraemic patients who did not have additional complications received all HCV care follow-up at the local health centres, provided by nursing staff, and patients who had decompensated cirrhosis, previously treated with a direct-acting antiviral, HBV co-infection, or other comorbidities requiring observation continued receiving care at the referral hospital with a general physician. Patients deemed eligible for treatment were prescribed oral sofosbuvir (400 mg) and daclatasvir (60 mg) once a day for 12 weeks, or 24 weeks for patients with decompensated cirrhosis or those previously treated with a direct-acting antiviral. HCV cure was defined as sustained virological response at 12 weeks after treatment (HCV viral load <10 IU/mL). Patients were assessed for serious and non-serious adverse events at any time between treatment initiation and 12 weeks post-treatment testing. Findings Between March 12, 2018, and Jan 18, 2019, 10 425 residents (ie, 7·6% of the estimated 136 571 adults in the health operational district of Moung Russei) were screened. Of those patients screened, the median age was 44 years (IQR 31–55) and 778 (7·5%) were HCV-antibody positive. 761 (97·8%) of 778 antibody-positive patients received HCV viral load testing, and 540 (71·0%) of those tested were HCV viraemic. Among these 540 patients, linkage to treatment and follow-up care was high, with 533 (98·7%) attending a baseline consultation at the HCV clinic, of whom 530 (99·4%) initiated treatment. 485 (91·5%) of 530 patients who initiated treatment received follow-up at a health centre and 45 (8·5%) were followed up at the referral hospital. Of the 530 patients who initiated direct-acting antiviral therapy, 515 (97·2%) completed treatment. Subsequently, 466 (90·5%) of 515 patients completed follow-up, and 459 (98·5%) of 466 achieved a sustained virological response at 12 weeks after treatment. Two (0·4%) adverse events (fatigue [n=1] and stomach upset [n=1]) and five (0·9%) serious adverse events (infection [n=2], cardiovascular disease [n=1], and panic attack [n=1], with data missing for one of the causes of serious adverse events) were reported among patients who initiated treatment. All serious adverse events were deemed to be unrelated to therapy. Interpretation This pilot project showed that a highly simplified, decentralised model of HCV care can be integrated within a rural public health system in a low-income or middle-income country, while maintaining high patient retention, treatment efficacy, and safety. The project delivered care via accessible, decentralised primary health centres, using non-specialist clinical staff, thereby enhancing the efficient use of limited resources and maximising the potential to test and treat individuals living with HCV infection.
  • Coding-Complete Genome Sequence and Phylogenetic Relatedness of a SARS-CoV-2 Strain Detected in March 2020 in Cameroon.

    Njouom, R; Sadueh-Mba, SA; Tchatchueng, J; Diagne, MM; Dia, N; Tagnouokam, PAN; Boum, Y; Hamadou, A; Esso, L; Faye, O; et al. (American Society for Microbiology, 2021-03-11)
    We describe the coding-complete genome sequence of a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) strain obtained in Cameroon from a 58-year-old French patient who arrived from France on 24 February 2020. Phylogenetic analysis showed that this virus, named hCoV-19/Cameroon/1958-CMR-YAO/2020, belongs to lineage B.1.5 and is closely related to an isolate from France.
  • Challenging drug-resistant TB treatment journey for children, adolescents and their care-givers: A qualitative study.

    Das, M; Mathur, T; Ravi, S; Meneguim, AC; Iyer, A; Mansoor, H; Kalon, S; Hossain, FN; Acharya, S; Ferlazzo, G; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2021-03-10)
    Background: Childhood multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) still affects around 25000 children every year across the globe. Though the treatment success rates for drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) in children are better than adults, children and adolescents face unique hurdles during DR-TB (MDR-TB, Pre-XDR TB and XDR-TB) treatment. This study aimed to understand the patients, guardians and healthcare providers' perspectives about DR-TB treatment journey of patients and caregivers. Methods: This is a qualitative study involving in depth-interviews of purposively selected adolescents (n = 6), patients guardians (for children and adolescents, n = 5) and health care providers (n = 8) of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic, Mumbai, India. In-depth face to face interviews were conducted in English or Hindi language using interview guides during September-November 2019. The interviews were audio-recorded after consent. Thematic network analysis was used to summarize textual data. ATLAS.ti (version 7) was used for analysis. Result: The age of adolescent patients ranged from 15-19 years and four were female. Five guardians (of three child and two adolescent patients) and eight healthcare providers (including clinicians- 2, DOT providers-2, counselors-2 and programme managers-2) were interviewed. The overarching theme of the analysis was: Challenging DR-TB treatment journey which consisted of four sub-themes: 1) physical-trauma, 2) emotional-trauma, 3) unavailable social-support and 4) non-adapted healthcare services. Difficulties in compounding of drugs were noted for children while adolescents shared experiences around disruption in social life due to disease and treatment. Most of the patients and caregivers experienced treatment fatigue and burnout during the DR-TB treatment. Participants during interviews gave recommendations to improve care. Discussion: The TB programmes must consider the patient and family as one unit when designing the package of care for paediatric DR-TB. Child and adolescent friendly services (paediatric-formulations, age-specific counselling tools and regular interaction with patients and caregivers) will help minimizing burnout in patients and caregivers.
  • Cardiac point of care ultrasound in resource limited settings to manage children with congenital and acquired heart disease.

    Muhame, RM; Dragulescu, A; Nadimpalli, A; Martinez, D; Bottineau, MC; Venugopal, R; Runeckles, K; Manlhiot, C; Nield, LE (Cambridge University Press, 2021-03-08)
    Background: In resource limited settings, children with cardiac disease present late, have poor outcomes and access to paediatric cardiology programmes is limited. Cardiac point of care ultrasound was introduced at several Médecins Sans Frontières sites to facilitate cardiopulmonary assessment. We describe the spectrum of disease, case management and outcomes of cases reviewed over the Telemedicine platform. Methods: Previously ultrasound naïve, remotely placed clinical teams received ultrasound training on focussed image acquisition. The Médecins Sans Frontières Telemedicine platform was utilised for remote case and imaging review to diagnose congenital and acquired heart disease and guide management supported by a remotely situated paediatric cardiologist. Results: Two-hundred thirty-three cases were reviewed between 2016 and 2018. Of 191 who underwent focussed cardiac ultrasound, diagnoses included atrial and ventricular septal defects 11%, atrioventricular septal defects 7%, Tetralogy of Fallot 9%, cardiomyopathy/myocarditis 8%, rheumatic heart disease 8%, isolated pericardiac effusion 6%, complex congenital heart disease 4% and multiple other diagnoses in 15%. In 17%, there was no identifiable abnormality while 15% had inadequate imaging to make a diagnosis. Cardiologist involvement led to management changes in 75% of cases with a diagnosis. Mortality in the entire group was disproportionately higher among neonates (38%, 11/29) and infants (20%, 16/81). There was good agreement on independent review of selected cases between two independent paediatric cardiologists. Conclusion: Cardiac point of care ultrasound performed by remote clinical teams facilitated diagnosis and influenced management in cases reviewed over a Telemedicine platform. This is a feasible method to support clinical care in resource limited settings.
  • Early onset of neurological features differentiates two outbreaks of Lassa fever in Ebonyi state, Nigeria during 2017-2018.

    Chika-Igwenyi, NM; Harrison, RE; Psarra, C; Gil Cuesta, J; Gulamhusein, M; Onwe, EO; Onoh, RC; Unigwe, US; Ajayi, NA; Nndadozie, UU; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2021-03-08)
    Lassa fever (LF) is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness with various non-specific clinical manifestations. Neurological symptoms are rare at the early stage of the disease, but may be seen in late stages, in severely ill patients.The aim of this study was to describe the epidemiological evolution, socio-demographic profiles, clinical characteristics, and outcomes of patients seen during two Lassa fever outbreaks in Ebonyi State, between December 2017 and December 2018. Routinely collected clinical data from all patients admitted to the Virology Centre of the hospital during the period were analysed retrospectively. Out of a total of 83 cases, 70(84.3%) were RT-PCR confirmed while 13 (15.7%) were probable cases. Sixty-nine (83.1%) patients were seen in outbreak 1 of whom 53.6% were urban residents, while 19%, 15%, and 10% were farmers, students and health workers respectively. There were 14 (16.8%) patients, seen in second outbreak with 92.9% rural residents. There were differences in clinical symptoms, signs and laboratory findings between the two outbreaks. The case fatality rates were 29.9% in outbreak 1 and 85.7% for outbreak 2. Neurological features and abnormal laboratory test results were associated with higher mortality rate, seen in outbreak 2. This study revealed significant differences between the two outbreaks. Of particular concern was the higher case fatality during the outbreak 2 which may be from a more virulent strain of the Lassa virus. This has important public health implications and further molecular studies are needed to better define its characteristics.
  • Roles and responsibilities of cultural mediators

    Venables, E; Whitehouse, K; Spissu, C; Pizzi, L; Al Rousan, A; di Carlo, S (Oxford University Press, 2021-03-01)
  • Measles: the long walk to elimination drawn out by COVID-19.

    Gignoux, E; Esso, L; Boum, Y (Elsevier, 2021-03-01)
  • Tuberculosis preventive therapy for children and adolescents: an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Mohr-Holland, E; Douglas-Jones, B; Apolisi, I; Ngambu, N; Mathee, S; Cariem, R; Mudaly, V; Pfaff, C; Isaakidis, P; Furin, J; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-03-01)
  • Hepatitis C viraemic and seroprevalence and risk factors for positivity in Northwest Cambodia: a household cross-sectional serosurvey.

    Lynch, E; Falq, G; Sun, C; Bunchhoeung, PDT; Huerga, H; Loarec, A; Dousset, JP; Marquardt, T; Le Paih, M; Maman, D (BMC, 2021-02-26)
    Background: Despite a dramatic reduction in HCV drug costs and simplified models of care, many countries lack important information on prevalence and risk factors to structure effective HCV services. Methods: A cross-sectional, multi-stage cluster survey of HCV seroprevalence in adults 18 years and above was conducted, with an oversampling of those 45 years and above. One hundred forty-seven clusters of 25 households were randomly selected in two sets (set 1=24 clusters ≥18; set 2=123 clusters, ≥45). A multi-variable analysis assessed risk factors for sero-positivity among participants ≥45. The study occurred in rural Moung Ruessei Health Operational District, Battambang Province, Western Cambodia. Results: A total of 5098 individuals and 3616 households participated in the survey. The overall seroprevalence was 2.6% (CI95% 2.3-3.0) for those ≥18 years, 5.1% (CI95% 4.6-5.7) for adults ≥ 45 years, and 0.6% (CI95% 0.3-0.9) for adults 18-44. Viraemic prevalence was 1.9% (CI95% 1.6-2.1), 3.6% (CI95% 3.2-4.0), and 0.5% (CI95% 0.2-0.8), respectively. Men had higher prevalence than women: ≥18 years male seroprevalence was 3.0 (CI95% 2.5-3.5) versus 2.3 (CI95% 1.9-2.7) for women. Knowledge of HCV was poor: 64.7% of all respondents and 57.0% of seropositive participants reported never having heard of HCV. Risk factor characteristics for the population ≥45 years included: advancing age (p< 0.001), low education (higher than secondary school OR 0.7 [95% CI 0.6-0.8]), any dental or gum treatment (OR 1.6 [95% CI 1.3-1.8]), historical routine medical care (medical injection after 1990 OR 0.7 [95% CI 0.6-0.9]; surgery after 1990 OR 0.7 [95% CI0.5-0.9]), and historical blood donation or transfusion (blood donation after 1980 OR 0.4 [95% CI 0.2-0.8]); blood transfusion after 1990 OR 0.7 [95% CI 0.4-1.1]). Conclusions: This study provides the first large-scale general adult population prevalence data on HCV infection in Cambodia. The results confirm the link between high prevalence and age ≥45 years, lower socio-economic status and past routine medical interventions (particularly those received before 1990 and 1980). This survey suggests high HCV prevalence in certain populations in Cambodia and can be used to guide national and local HCV policy discussion.
  • Operational considerations for the management of non-communicable diseases in humanitarian emergencies.

    Beran, D; Hering, H; Boulle, P; Chappuis, F; Dromer, C; Saaristo, P; Perone, S Aebischer (BMC, 2021-02-25)
    Non-communicable diseases (NCD) represent an increasing global challenge with the majority of mortality occurring in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Concurrently, many humanitarian crises occur in these countries and the number of displaced persons, either refugees or internally displaced, has reached the highest level in history. Until recently NCDs in humanitarian contexts were a neglected issue, but this is changing. Humanitarian actors are now increasingly integrating NCD care in their activities and recognizing the need to harmonize and enhance NCD management in humanitarian crises. However, there is a lack of a standardized response during operations as well as a lack of evidence-based NCD management guidelines in humanitarian settings. An informal working group on NCDs in humanitarian settings, formed by members of the World Health Organization, Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross and others, and led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, teamed up with the University of Geneva and Geneva University Hospitals to develop operational considerations for NCDs in humanitarian settings. This paper presents these considerations, aiming at ensuring appropriate planning, management and care for NCD-affected persons during the different stages of humanitarian emergencies. Key components include access to treatment, continuity of care including referral pathways, therapeutic patient education/patient self-management, community engagement and health promotion. In order to implement these components, a standardized approach will support a consistent response, and should be based on an ethical foundation to ensure that the "do no harm" principle is upheld. Advocacy supported by evidence is important to generate visibility and resource allocation for NCDs. Only a collaborative approach of all actors involved in NCD management will allow the spectrum of needs and continuum of care for persons affected by NCDs to be properly addressed in humanitarian programmes.
  • Surveillance of Plasmodium falciparum pfcrt haplotypes in southwestern uganda by high-resolution melt analysis.

    Kassaza, K; Long, AC; McDaniels, JM; Andre, M; Fredrickson, W; Nyehangane, D; Orikiriza, P; Operario, DJ; Bazira, J; Mwanga-Amumpaire, JA; et al. (BMC, 2021-02-25)
    The sample source (i.e. Giemsa-stained slides or blood spots) and type of LCGreen-based reagent mixes did not impact the success of PCR-HRM. The detection limit of 10- 5 ng and the ability to identify mixed haplotypes as low as 10 % was similar to other HRM platforms. The CVIET haplotype predominated in the clinical samples (66 %, 162/244); however, there was a large regional variation between the sample groups (94 % CVIET in Group 1 and 44 % CVIET in Group 2).
  • Clinical profile and factors associated with COVID-19 in Cameroon: a prospective cohort study

    Mbarga, NF; Emilienne, E; Mbarga, M; Ouamba, P; Nanda, H; Kengni, A; Joseph, G; Eyong, J; Tossoukpe, S; Sosso, NS; et al. (medRxiv, 2021-02-23)
    Objectives This study explores the clinical profiles and factors associated with COVID-19 in Cameroon. Research design and methods In this prospective cohort study, we followed patients admitted for suspicion of COVID-19 at Djoungolo Hospital between 01st April and 31st July 2020. Patients were categorised by age groups and disease severity: mild (symptomatic without clinical signs of pneumonia pneumonia), moderate (with clinical signs of pneumonia without respiratory distress) and severe cases (clinical signs of pneumonia and respiratory distress not requiring invasive ventilation). Demographic information and clinical features were summarised. Multivariable analysis was performed to predict risk. Results A total of 323 patients were admitted during the study period; 262 were confirmed cases of COVID-19 by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Among the confirmed cases, the male group aged 40 to 49 years (13.9%) was predominant. Disease severity ranged from mild (77%; N=204) to moderate (15%; N=40) to severe (7%; N=18); the case fatality rate was 1% (N=4). Dysgusia (46%; N=111) and hyposmia/anosmia (39%; N=89) were common features of COVID-19. Nearly one-third of patients had comorbidities (29%; N=53), of which hypertension was the most common (20%; N=48). Participation in a mass gathering (OR=5.47; P=0.03) was a risk factor for COVID-19. Age groups 60 to 69 (OR=7.41; P=0.0001), 50 to 59 (OR=4.09; P=0.03), 40 to 49 (OR=4.54; P=0.01), male gender (OR=2.53; P=0.04), diabetes (OR= 4.05; P= 0.01), HIV infection (OR=5.57; P=0.03), lung disease (OR= 6.29; P=0.01), dyspnoea (OR=3.70; P=0.008) and fatigue (OR=3.35; P=0.02) significantly predicted COVID-19 severity. Conclusion Unlike many high-income settings, most COVID-19 cases in this study were benign with low fatality. Such findings may guide public health decision-making.
  • Comparison of Lung Ultrasound versus Chest X-ray for Detection of Pulmonary Infiltrates in COVID-19.

    Mateos Gonzalez, M; Garcia de Casasola Sanchez, G; Munoz, FJT; Proud, K; Lourdo, D; Sander, JV; Oritz Jaimes, GE; Mader, M; Lebrato, JC; Restrepo, MI; et al. (MDPI, 2021-02-22)
    Point-of-care lung ultrasound (LUS) is an attractive alternative to chest X-ray (CXR), but its diagnostic accuracy compared to CXR has not been well studied in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. We conducted a prospective observational study to assess the correlation between LUS and CXR findings in COVID-19 patients. Ninety-six patients with a clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 underwent an LUS exam and CXR upon presentation. Physicians blinded to the CXR findings performed all LUS exams. Detection of pulmonary infiltrates by CXR versus LUS was compared between patients categorized as suspected or confirmed COVID-19 based on reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Sensitivities and correlation by Kappa statistic were calculated between LUS and CXR. LUS detected pulmonary infiltrates more often than CXR in both suspected and confirmed COVID-19 subjects. The most common LUS abnormalities were discrete B-lines, confluent B-lines, and small subpleural consolidations. Most important, LUS detected unilateral or bilateral pulmonary infiltrates in 55% of subjects with a normal CXR. Substantial agreement was demonstrated between LUS and CXR for normal, unilateral or bilateral findings (Κ = 0.48 (95% CI 0.34 to 0.63)). In patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, LUS detected pulmonary infiltrates more often than CXR, including more than half of the patients with a normal CXR.
  • AI-based mobile application to fight antibiotic resistance.

    Pascucci, M; Royer, G; Adamek, J; Al Asmar, M; Aristizabal, D; Blanche, L; Bezzarga, A; Boniface-Chang, G; Brunner, A; Curel, C; et al. (Springer Nature, 2021-02-19)
    Antimicrobial resistance is a major global health threat and its development is promoted by antibiotic misuse. While disk diffusion antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST, also called antibiogram) is broadly used to test for antibiotic resistance in bacterial infections, it faces strong criticism because of inter-operator variability and the complexity of interpretative reading. Automatic reading systems address these issues, but are not always adapted or available to resource-limited settings. We present an artificial intelligence (AI)-based, offline smartphone application for antibiogram analysis. The application captures images with the phone's camera, and the user is guided throughout the analysis on the same device by a user-friendly graphical interface. An embedded expert system validates the coherence of the antibiogram data and provides interpreted results. The fully automatic measurement procedure of our application's reading system achieves an overall agreement of 90% on susceptibility categorization against a hospital-standard automatic system and 98% against manual measurement (gold standard), with reduced inter-operator variability. The application's performance showed that the automatic reading of antibiotic resistance testing is entirely feasible on a smartphone. Moreover our application is suited for resource-limited settings, and therefore has the potential to significantly increase patients' access to AST worldwide.
  • Evaluation of MicroScan Bacterial Identification Panels for Low-Resource Settings.

    Ombelet, S; Natale, A; Ronat, JB; Vandenberg, O; Hardy, L; Jacobs, J (MDPI, 2021-02-19)
    Bacterial identification is challenging in low-resource settings (LRS). We evaluated the MicroScan identification panels (Beckman Coulter, Brea, CA, USA) as part of Médecins Sans Frontières' Mini-lab Project. The MicroScan Dried Overnight Positive ID Type 3 (PID3) panels for Gram-positive organisms and Dried Overnight Negative ID Type 2 (NID2) panels for Gram-negative organisms were assessed with 367 clinical isolates from LRS. Robustness was studied by inoculating Gram-negative species on the Gram-positive panel and vice versa. The ease of use of the panels and readability of the instructions for use (IFU) were evaluated. Of species represented in the MicroScan database, 94.6% (185/195) of Gram-negative and 85.9% (110/128) of Gram-positive isolates were correctly identified up to species level. Of species not represented in the database (e.g., Streptococcus suis and Bacillus spp.), 53.1% out of 49 isolates were incorrectly identified as non-related bacterial species. Testing of Gram-positive isolates on Gram-negative panels and vice versa (n = 144) resulted in incorrect identifications for 38.2% of tested isolates. The readability level of the IFU was considered too high for LRS. Inoculation of the panels was favorably evaluated, whereas the visual reading of the panels was considered error-prone. In conclusion, the accuracy of the MicroScan identification panels was excellent for Gram-negative species and good for Gram-positive species. Improvements in stability, robustness, and ease of use have been identified to assure adaptation to LRS constraints.
  • Treatment outcomes of children and adolescents receiving drug-resistant TB treatment in a routine TB programme, Mumbai, India.

    Dhakulkar, S; Das, M; Sutar, N; Oswal, V; Shah, D; Ravi, S; Vengurlekar, D; Chavan, V; Rebello, L; Meneguim, AC; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2021-02-18)
    Background: Childhood and adolescent drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) is one of the neglected infectious diseases. Limited evidence exists around programmatic outcomes of children and adolescents receiving DR-TB treatment. The study aimed to determine the final treatment outcomes, culture conversion rates and factors associated with unsuccessful treatment outcome in children and adolescents with DR-TB. Methods: This is a descriptive study including children (0-9 years) and adolescents (10-19 years) with DR-TB were who were initiated on ambulatory based treatment between January 2017-June 2018 in Shatabdi hospital, Mumbai, India where National TB elimination programme(NTEP) Mumbai collaborates with chest physicians and Médecins Sans Frontières(MSF) in providing comprehensive care to DR-TB patients. The patients with available end-of-treatment outcomes were included. The data was censored on February 2020. Result: A total of 268 patients were included; 16 (6%) of them were children (0-9 years). The median(min-max) age was 17(4-19) years and 192 (72%) were females. Majority (199, 74%) had pulmonary TB. Most (58%) had MDR-TB while 42% had fluoroquinolone-resistant TB. The median(IQR) duration of treatment (n = 239) was 24(10-25) months. Median(IQR) time for culture-conversion (n = 128) was 3(3-4) months. Of 268 patients, 166(62%) had successful end-of-treatment outcomes (cured-112; completed treatment-54). Children below 10 years had higher proportion of successful treatment outcomes (94% versus 60%) compared to adolescents. Patients with undernutrition [adjusted odds-ratio, aOR (95% Confidence Interval, 95%CI): 2.5 (1.3-4.8) or those with XDR-TB [aOR (95% CI): 4.3 (1.3-13.8)] had higher likelihood of having unsuccessful DR-TB treatment outcome. Conclusion: High proportion of successful treatment outcome was reported, better than global reports. Further, the nutritional support and routine treatment follow up should be strengthened. All oral short and long regimens including systematic use of new TB drugs (Bedaquiline and Delamanid) should be rapidly scaled up in routine TB programme, especially for the paediatric and adolescent population.
  • Some lessons that Peru did not learn before the second wave of COVID-19.

    Herrera-Anazco, P; Uyen-Cateriano, A; Mezones-Holguin, E; Taype-Rondan, A; Mayta-Tristan, P; Malaga, G; Hernandez, AV (Wiley, 2021-02-17)
  • How to ensure a needs-driven and community-centred vaccination strategy for COVID-19 in Africa.

    Boum, Y; Ouattara, A; Torreele, E; Okonta, C (BMJ Publishing Group, 2021-02-15)

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