• Exploring global and country-level barriers to an effective supply of leishmaniasis medicines and diagnostics in eastern Africa: a qualitative study.

      Sunyoto, T; Potet, J; den Boer, M; Ritmeijer, K; Postigo, JAR; Ravinetto, R; Alves, F; Picado, A; Boelaert, M (BMJ Publishing Group, 2019-05-30)
      OBJECTIVES: To understand stakeholders' perceptions of the access barriers to quality-assured diagnostics and medicines for leishmaniasis in the high-burden region of eastern Africa, and to identify key bottlenecks to improve the supply of commodities for neglected tropical diseases. DESIGN: Desk reviews and qualitative in-depth interview study with purposive sampling. METHODS: A landscape analysis through literature and desk review was performed. Next, 29 representatives from international organisations, non-governmental agencies, national control programmes from six countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda) and manufacturers were interviewed between May and July 2018. Participants were selected purposively and expanded through a snowballing technique.Data analysis was aided by NVivo, applying the framework method as a part of the thematic content analysis approach. RESULTS: The barriers along the visceral leishmaniasis (VL) supply chain were identified as emerging themes, grouped across supply chain activities and health systems component(s). Stakeholders expressed the perception of progress, but bottlenecks persist. VL medicines, in general, lack multisource production capacity and with small market volume, expansion of suppliers is difficult. Procurement is plagued by forecasting difficulties, complex regulatory policies and procedures, and distribution challenges. Weak communication and coordination across different levels resulted in shortages and loss of trust among different actors. Cross-cutting issues spanned from limited political and resource commitment due to low awareness and limited in-country capacity. However, study respondents were optimistic to pursue several remedies, most importantly to build bridges between supply and demand sides through continued dialogue and collaborations. Diagnostics supply has mostly been overlooked; thus, improved investment in this area is needed. CONCLUSIONS: Addressing supply barriers in eastern Africa requires consistent, specific efforts at the global and national levels, progressing from current partnerships and agreements. Priority actions include pooled procurement, improved forecast, and increased commitment and resources. Sustainability remains an elusive goal, yet to be integrated into discussions moving forward.
    • Lived experiences of palliative care among people living with HIV/AIDS: a qualitative study from Bihar, India.

      Nair, M; Kumar, P; Mahajan, R; Harshana, A; Richardson, K; Moreto-Planas, L; Burza, S (BMJ Publishing Group, 2020-10-05)
      Objectives: This study aimed to assess the lived experiences of palliative care among critically unwell people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA), caregivers and relatives of deceased patients. It also aimed to understand the broader palliative care context in Bihar. Design: This was an exploratory, qualitative study which used thematic analysis of semistructured, in-depth interviews as well as a focus group discussion. Setting: All interviews took place in a secondary care hospital in Patna, Bihar which provides holistic care to critically unwell PLHA. Participants: We purposively selected 29 participants: 10 critically unwell PLHA, 5 caregivers of hospitalised patients, 7 relatives of deceased patients who were treated in the secondary care hospital and 7 key informants from community-based organisations. Results: Critically ill PLHA emphasised the need for psychosocial counselling and opportunities for social interaction in the ward, as well as a preference for components of home-based palliative care, even though they were unfamiliar with actual terms such as 'palliative care' and 'end-of-life care'. Critically unwell PLHA generally expressed preference for separate, private inpatient areas for end-of-life care. Relatives of deceased patients stated that witnessing patients' deaths caused trauma for other PLHA. Caregivers and relatives of deceased patients felt there was inadequate time and space for grieving in the hospital. While both critically ill PLHA and relatives wished that poor prognosis be transparently disclosed to family members, many felt it should not be disclosed to the dying patients themselves. Conclusions: Despite expected high inpatient fatality rates, PLHA in Bihar lack access to palliative care services. PLHA receiving end-of-life care in hospitals should have a separate dedicated area, with adequate psychosocial counselling and activities to prevent social isolation. Healthcare providers should make concerted efforts to inquire, understand and adapt their messaging on prognosis and end-of-life care based on patients' preferences.
    • Qualitative study of antibiotic prescription patterns and associated drivers in Sudan, Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo.

      Eibs, T; Koscalova, A; Nair, M; Grohma, P; Kohler, G; Bakhit, RG; Thurashvili, M; Lasry, E; Bauer, SW; Jimenez, C (BMJ Publishing Group, 2020-09-24)
      Objectives: The objective of this study was to address the knowledge gap regarding antibiotic use in Medecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) projects located in Africa by exploring antibiotic prescription and consumption habits and their drivers at different healthcare levels. Design: This study used an exploratory study design through thematic analysis of semistructured, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions (FGDs) and field observations in order to understand the main drivers influencing current antibiotics prescription habits and consumption habits of patients in different geographical settings. Setting: The study took place in MSF centres and towns across four countries: Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan. Participants: 384 respondents participated in the study, which includes project staff, prescribers, community members, patients, among other groups. Results: Treatment protocols were physically present in all countries except DRC, but compliance to protocols varied across contexts. A failing health system and barriers to accessing healthcare were perceived as major drivers of overuse and inconsistent prescription practices. Patient demands influenced prescription decisions, and self-medication was commonly reported in the context of failing health systems. Additionally, there was a strong demand for quick cures and communities preferred injections over pills. Patients tended to stop antibiotic treatment once symptoms abated and had major gaps in understanding antibiotic intake instructions and functions. Conclusions: While there were specific findings in each context, the larger trend from these four MSF projects in Africa indicates widespread use of antibiotics based on unclear assumptions, which are often influenced by patient demands. There needs to be a broader focus on the balance between access and excess, especially in such fragile contexts where access to healthcare is a real challenge.
    • Refused and referred-persistent stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in Bihar: a qualitative study from India

      Nair, M; Kumar, P; Harshana, A; Kazmi, S; Pandey, S; Burza, S; Moreto-Planas, L (British Medical Journal BMJ, 2019-11-25)
      OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to explore barriers to accessing care, if any, among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) in two districts of Bihar. We also aimed to assess attitudes towards PLHA among healthcare providers and community members. DESIGN: This qualitative study used an exploratory study design through thematic analysis of semistructured, in-depth interviews. SETTING: Two districts were purposively selected for the study, namely the capital Patna and a peripheral district located approximately 100 km from Patna, in order to glean insights from a diverse sample of respondents. PARTICIPANTS: Our team purposively selected 71 participants, including 35 PLHA, 10 community members and 26 healthcare providers. RESULTS: The overarching theme that evolved from these data through thematic coding identified that enacted stigma and discrimination interfere with each step in the HIV care continuum for PLHA in Bihar, India, especially outside urban areas. The five themes that contributed to these results include: perception of HIV as a dirty illness at the community level; non-consensual disclosure of HIV status; reliance on identifying PLHA to guide procedures and resistance to universal precautions; refusal to treat identified PLHA and referrals to other health centres for treatment; and inadequate knowledge and fear among health providers with respect to HIV transmission. CONCLUSIONS: The continued presence of discriminatory and stigmatising attitudes towards PLHA negatively impacts both disclosure of HIV status as well as access to care and treatment. We recognise a pressing need to improve the knowledge of HIV transmission, and implement universal precautions across all health facilities in the state, not just to reduce stigma and discrimination but also to ensure proper infection control. In order to improve treatment adherence and encourage optimal utilisation of services, it is imperative that the health system invest more in stigma reduction in Bihar and move beyond more ineffective, punitive approaches.
    • 'She is like my mother': Community-based care of drug-resistant tuberculosis in rural Eswatini.

      Burtscher, D; Juul Bjertrup, P; Vambe, D; Dlamini, V; Mmema, N; Ngwenya, S; Rusch, B; Kerschberger, B (Routledge, 2020-08-20)
      Patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) have received community-based care in Eswatini since 2009. Trained and compensated community treatment supporters (CTSs) provide directly observed therapy (DOT), injectables and psychological support. We examined the acceptability of this model of care among DR-TB patients, including the perspective of family members of DR-TB patients and their CTSs in relation to the patient's experience of care and quality of life. This qualitative research was conducted in rural Eswatini in February 2018. DR-TB patients, CTSs and family members participated in in-depth interviews, paired interviews, focus group discussions and PhotoVoice. Data were thematically analysed and coded, and themes were extracted. Methodological triangulation enhanced the interpretation. All patients and CTSs and most family members considered community-based DR-TB care to be supportive. Positive aspects were emotional support, trust and dedicated individual care, including enabling practical, financial and social factors. Concerns were related to social and economic problems within the family and fears about infection risks for the family and the CTSs. Community-based DR-TB care was acceptable to patients, family members and CTSs. To reduce family members' fears of TB infection, information and sensitisation within the family and constant follow-up appear crucial.