• "I Can Also Serve as an Inspiration": A Qualitative Study of the TB&Me Blogging Experience and Its Role in MDR-TB Treatment

      Horter, S; Stringer, B; Venis, S; du Cros, P (Public Library of Science, 2014-09-24)
      In 2011, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) established a blogging project, "TB&Me," to enable patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) to share their experiences. By September 2012, 13 MDR-TB patients had blogged, either directly or with assistance, from the UK, Australia, Philippines, Swaziland, Central African Republic, Uganda, South Africa, India, and Armenia. Due to the lack of research on the potential for social media to support MDR-TB treatment and the innovative nature of the blog, we decided to conduct a qualitative study to examine patient and staff experiences. Our aim was to identify potential risks and benefits associated with blogging to enable us to determine whether social media had a role to play in supporting patients with MDR-TB.
    • 'I could not join because I had to work for pay.': A qualitative evaluation of falciparum malaria pro-active case detection in three rural Cambodian villages

      Taffon, P; Rossi, G; Kindermans, JM; Van den Bergh, R; Nguon, C; Debackere, M; Vernaeve, L; De Smet, M; Venables, E (Public Library of Science, 2018-04-12)
      Pro-active case detection (Pro-ACD), in the form of voluntary screening and treatment (VSAT) following community mobilisation about 'asymptomatic malaria', is currently being evaluated as a tool for Plasmodium falciparum elimination in Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia.
    • 'I cry every day': experiences of patients co-infected with HIV and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

      Isaakidis, P; Rangan, S; Pradhan, A; Ladomirska, J; Reid, T; Kielmann, K; Médecins Sans Frontières, Mumbai, India. (2013-09-15)
      To understand patients' challenges in adhering to treatment for MDR-TB/HIV co-infection within the context of their life circumstances and access to care and support.
    • 'I didn't know so many people cared about me': support for patients who interrupt drug-resistant TB treatment.

      Snyman, L; Venables, E; Trivino Duran, L; Mohr, E; Harmans, X; Isaakidis, P; Azevedo, VD (International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, 2018-09-01)
      SETTING: Early interventions for patients who interrupt their treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) are rarely reported and assessed. A novel, patient-centred intervention for patients at risk of loss to follow-up (LTFU) from DR-TB treatment was implemented in Khayelitsha, South Africa, in September 2013. OBJECTIVE: To explore the experiences and perceptions of patients, key support persons, health care workers (HCWs) and programme managers of a patient-centred model. DESIGN: This was a qualitative study consisting of 18 in-depth interviews with patients, key support persons, HCWs, key informants and one focus group discussion with HCWs, between July and September 2017. Data were coded and thematically analysed. RESULTS: The model was well perceived and viewed positively by patients, care providers and programme managers. 'Normalisation' and tolerance of occasional treatment interruptions, tracing, tailored management plans and peer support were perceived to be beneficial for retaining patients in care. Although the model was resource-demanding, health workers were convinced that it 'needs to be sustained,' and proposed solutions for its standardisation. CONCLUSION: An intervention based on early tracing of patients who interrupt treatment, peer-delivered counselling and individualised management plans by a multidisciplinary team was considered a beneficial and acceptable model to support patients at risk of LTFU from DR-TB treatment.
    • "I feel like I am less than other people": Health-related vulnerabilities of male migrants travelling alone on their journey to Europe

      Arsenijević, J; Burtscher, D; Ponthieu, A; Severy, N; Contenta, A; Moissaing, S; Argenziano, S; Zamatto, F; Zachariah, R; Ali, E; et al. (Elsevier, 2018-05-23)
      During 2015 and 2016, an unprecedented flow of approximately 800,000 migrants coming from Turkey towards Western Europe crossed the Balkans. Male migrants are perceived as being less vulnerable compared to other migrants and they are not given priority in service and support provision. This qualitative study examines the self-perceived vulnerabilities of male migrants travelling alone along the Balkan route to Europe. Twenty-four individual in-depth interviews, two group interviews and participant observation were conducted with male migrants in Belgrade, Serbia in 2017. Data was coded manually, and analysed thematically. Male migrants traveling alone face the cumulative vulnerability of various traumatic events and migration-related contextual circumstances. Three main themes emerged: the ongoing desperate journey, the better treatment of 'traditionally' well recognised vulnerable sub-groups and the impact of the continuous stress on mental health. Deterrence measures imposed for border control purposes in the form of push-backs, expulsions, detention and degrading, inhumane treatment amplify the psychological distress of male migrants. Feelings of hopelessness, desperation, lack of self-value and self-esteem were reported. 'Traditionally vulnerable' populations were said to have had better treatment throughout the journey from smugglers, border state authorities, governmental officials, civil society and international organizations. The devastating experiences of male migrants, as well as the better treatment offered to other groups of migrants like women and children, results in a perceived neglect of the needs of men in humanitarian response, rendering them vulnerable and exposing them to further health and protection risks. In a context where needs are unmet and people's dignity and health are at risk, specific strategies should be developed to include men in the assistance and protection offered, particularly in relation to exposure to violence.
    • I have heard about it for the first time from you! Implementation of tobacco control law by police personnel in India.

      Ahuja, N; Kathiresan, J; Anand, T; Isaakidis, P; Bajaj, D (International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, 2018-12-21)
      Setting and Objetives: Police personnel, alongside other key stakeholders, are responsible for implementing the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) in India. This study aimed to assess knowledge and attitudes about COTPA among police personnel and explore enablers and barriers in implementing it. Design: This convergent parallel mixed-methods study used a self-administered questionnaire (quantitative) and key informant interviews (qualitative). Of 300 police personnel across all eight police stations in Daman, 155 participated. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and the χ2 test. Qualitative data from in-depth interviews of six key informants from all coordinating departments were analysed thematically. Results: Overall, 63.2% of responders were aware of any tobacco control law in India, and only 12.9% were trained in its implementation. One person had conducted inspections for COTPA compliance in the last 12 months. The majority (78.1%) of the police personnel, and significantly more tobacco non-users than users (81.2% vs. 52.9%, P = 0.016), felt that enforcing anti-tobacco regulations is one of their most important functions. Perceived benefits of the act and formal authority to act were the two main enablers of COTPA implementation. Lack of awareness and coordination, competing priorities, concentration of authority with higher-ranking officials and evasion of the law by retailers and the public hampered effective implementation of the law. Conclusion: Knowledge about the COTPA was average and implementation poor. Sensitisation and training of implementers, systematic transparent reporting and creating awareness among public are recommended for effective implementation.
    • "I prefer dying fast than dying slowly", how institutional abuse worsens the mental health of stranded Syrian, Afghan and Congolese migrants on Lesbos island following the implementation of EU-Turkey deal

      Eleftherakos, C; van den Boogaard, W; Barry, D; Severy, N; Kotsioni, I; Roland-Gosselin, L (BioMed Central, 2018-09-05)
      Background In 2015 and early 2016, close to 1 million migrants transited through Greece, on their way to Western Europe. In early 2016, the closure of the “Balkan-route” and the EU/Turkey-deal led to a drastic reduction in the flow of migrants arriving to the Greek islands. The islands became open detention centers, where people would spend months or years under the constant fear of being returned to Turkey. Syrians were generally granted refugee status in Greece and those arrived before the 20th of March 2016 had the option of being relocated to other European countries. Afghans had some chances of being granted asylum in Greece, whilst most migrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo were refused asylum. In a clinic run by Médecins sans Frontières on Lesbos Island, psychologists observed a deterioration of the migrant’s mental health (MH) since March 2016. In order to understand the MH needs for this stranded population it was essential to explore how, and by what factors, their mental health (MH) has been affected on Lesbos Island due to the EU/Turkey-deal. Methods This was a qualitative study in which eight service providers’ interviews and 12 focus group discussions with male and female Syrian, Afghan and Congolese migrants in two refugee camps on Lesbos Island. Thematic-content analysis was manually applied and triangulation of findings was undertaken to enhance the interpretation of data. Results Three main themes were generated: 1) Institutional abuse, 2) Continuous traumatic stress (CTS) and 3) MH service provision. Institutional abuse was expressed by inhumane living conditions, lack of information in order to make future decisions, humiliation and depersonalization. This led to CTS that was expressed through being in a state of permanent emergency under lack of protective measures. Delays in appointments, lack of psychiatric care and differences in MH perceptions amongst migrants highlighted the provision of MH services. Conclusion The EU/Turkey-deal reduced migrant flows at a very high price. Decongestion of the camps and the elimination of institutional abuse is urgently needed to reduce CTS and improve migrants’ MH.
    • 'I saw it as a second chance': A qualitative exploration of experiences of treatment failure and regimen change among people living with HIV on second- and third-line antiretroviral therapy in Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique

      Burns, R; Borges, J; Blasco, P; Vandenbulcke, A; Mukui, I; Magalasi, D; Molfino, L; Manuel, R; Schramm, B; Wringe, A (Taylor & Francis, 2019-01-11)
      Increasing numbers of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing failure of first-line antiretroviral therapy and transitioning onto second-line regimens. However, there is a dearth of research on their treatment experiences. We conducted in-depth interviews with 43 PLHIV on second- or third-line antiretroviral therapy and 15 HIV health workers in Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique to explore patients' and health workers' perspectives on these transitions. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and translated into English. Data were coded inductively and analysed thematically. In all settings, experiences of treatment failure and associated episodes of ill-health disrupted daily social and economic activities, and recalled earlier fears of dying from HIV. Transitioning onto more effective regimens often represented a second (or third) chance to (re-)engage with HIV care, with patients prioritising their health over other aspects of their lives. However, many patients struggled to maintain these transformations, particularly when faced with persistent social challenges to pill-taking, alongside the burden of more complex regimens and an inability to mobilise sufficient resources to accommodate change. Efforts to identify treatment failure and support regimen change must account for these patients' unique illness and treatment histories, and interventions should incorporate tailored counselling and social and economic support. Abbreviations: ART: Antiretroviral therapy; HIV: Human immunodeficiency virus; IDI: In-depth interview; MSF: Médecins Sans Frontières; PLHIV: People living with HIV.
    • "I take my pills every day, but then it goes up, goes down. I don't know what's going on": Perceptions of HIV virological failure in a rural context in Mozambique. A qualitative research study.

      Pulido Tarquino, IA; Venables, E; de Amaral Fidelis, JM; Giuliani, R; Decroo, T (Public Library of Science, 2019-06-17)
      BACKGROUND: HIV prevalence in Mozambique is estimated to be 13.2%. Routine viral load for HIV monitoring was first implemented in the rural area of Tete in 2014. Programmatic data showed an unexpected high proportion of high viral load results, with up to 40% of patients having a viral load above 1000 copies/ml. OBJECTIVES: This qualitative study aimed to explore perceptions about virological failure and viral load monitoring from the perspective of HIV positive patients on first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) and health-care workers. METHODS: The study was conducted in seven rural communities in Changara-Marara district, Tete province, Mozambique. A total of 91 participants took part in in-depth interviews (IDIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs), including health-care workers (n = 18), patients on ART in individual care or Community Adherence Groups (CAGs) who experienced virological failure and virological re-suppression (n = 39) and CAG focal points (n = 34). Purposive sampling was used to select participants. Interviews and FGDs were conducted in Nhuengue and Portuguese. IDIs and FGDs were translated and transcribed before being coded and thematically analysed. RESULTS: Emergent themes showed that patients and health-care workers attributed great importance to viral load monitoring. A supressed viral load was viewed by participants as a predictor of good health and good adherence. However, some patients were confused and appeared distressed when confronted with virological failure. Viral load results were often little understood, especially when virological failure was detected despite good adherence. Inadequate explanations of causes of virological failure, delayed follow-up viral load results, repeated blood tests and lack of access to second-line ART resulted in reduced confidence in the effectiveness of ART, challenged the patient-provider relationship and disempowered patients and providers. CONCLUSION: In this rural context undetectable viral load is recognized as a predictor of good health by people living with HIV and health-care workers. However, a lack of knowledge and health system barriers caused different responses in patients and health-care workers. Adapted counselling strategies, accelerated viral load follow-up and second-line ART initiation in patients with virological failure need to be prioritized.
    • 'I treat it but I don't know what this disease is': a qualitative study on noma (cancrum oris) and traditional healing in northwest Nigeria.

      Farley, E; Bala, HM; Lenglet, A; Mehta, U; Abubakar, N; Samuel, J; de Jong, A; Bil, K; Oluyide, B; Fotso, A; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2019-08-24)
      BACKGROUND: Noma, a neglected disease mostly affecting children, with a 90% mortality rate if untreated, is an orofacial gangrene that disintegrates the tissues of the face in <1 wk. Noma can become inactive with early stage antibiotic treatment. Traditional healers, known as mai maganin gargajiya in Hausa, play an important role in the health system and provide care to noma patients. METHODS: We conducted 12 in-depth interviews with caretakers who were looking after noma patients admitted at the Noma Children's Hospital and 15 traditional healers in their home villages in Sokoto state, northwest Nigeria. We explored perceptions of noma, relationship dynamics, healthcare practices and intervention opportunities. Interviews were audiorecorded, transcribed and translated. Manual coding and thematic analysis were utilised. RESULTS: Traditional healers offered specialised forms of care for specific conditions and referral guidance. They viewed the stages of noma as different conditions with individualised remedies and were willing to refer noma patients. Caretakers trusted traditional healers. CONCLUSIONS: Traditional healers could play a crucial role in the early detection of noma and the health-seeking decision-making process of patients. Intervention programmes should include traditional healers through training and referral partnerships. This collaboration could save lives and reduce the severity of noma complications.
    • "I Wasted 3 Years, Thinking It's Not a Problem": Patient and Health System Delays in Diagnosis of Leprosy in India: A Mixed-Methods Study

      Muthuvel, T; Govindarajulu, S; Isaakidis, P; Shewade, HD; Rokade, V; Singh, R; Kamble, S (Public Library of Science, 2017-01-12)
      Worldwide, leprosy is one of the major causes of preventable disability. India contributes to 60% of global leprosy burden. With increasing numbers of leprosy with grade 2 disability (visible disability) at diagnosis, we aimed to determine risk factors associated with grade 2 disability among new cases and explore patients and providers' perspectives into reasons for late presentation.
    • 'I'm fed up': experiences of prior anti-tuberculosis treatment in patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis and HIV

      Furin, J; Isaakidis, P; Reid, A J; Kielmann, K (International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, 2014-10-03)
      To understand the impact of past experiences of anti-tuberculosis treatment among patients co-infected with the human immunodeficiency virus and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) on perceptions and attitudes towards treatment.
    • [Icterus, anemia and acute abdomen].

      Sträuli, C; Richter, H J; Blanc, C (Springer Link, 2014-09)
    • Identification of Patients Who Could Benefit from Bedaquiline or Delamanid: a Multisite MDR-TB Cohort Study

      Bonnet, M; Bastard, M; du Cros, P; Khamraev, A; Kimenye, K; Khurkhumal, S; Hayrapetyan, A; Themba, D; Telnov, A; Sanchez-Padilla, E; et al. (International Union Against TB and Lung Disease, 2016-02-01)
      The World Health Organization recommends adding bedaquiline or delamanid to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) regimens for which four effective drugs are not available, and delamanid for patients at high risk of poor outcome.
    • Identifying exceptional malaria occurrences in the absence of historical data in South Sudan: a method validation

      Benedetti, G; White, RA; Akello Pasquale, H; Stassjins, J; van den Boogaard, W; Owiti, P; Van den Bergh, R (International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, 2019-09-21)
      Background: Detecting unusual malaria events that may require an operational intervention is challenging, especially in endemic contexts with continuous transmission such as South Sudan. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) utilises the classic average plus standard deviation (AV+SD) method for malaria surveillance. This and other available approaches, however, rely on antecedent data, which are often missing. Objective: To investigate whether a method using linear regression (LR) over only 8 weeks of retrospective data could be an alternative to AV+SD. Design: In the absence of complete historical malaria data from South Sudan, data from weekly influenza reports from 19 Norwegian counties (2006–2015) were used as a testing data set to compare the performance of the LR and the AV+SD methods. The moving epidemic method was used as the gold standard. Subsequently, the LR method was applied in a case study on malaria occurrence in MSF facilities in South Sudan (2010–2016) to identify malaria events that required a MSF response. Results: For the Norwegian influenza data, LR and AV+SD methods did not perform differently (P  0.05). For the South Sudanese malaria data, the LR method identified historical periods when an operational response was mounted. Conclusion: The LR method seems a plausible alternative to the AV+SD method in situations where retrospective data are missing.
    • Identifying Health Centers in Honduras Infested with Rhodnius Prolixus Using the Seroprevalence of Chagas Disease in Children Younger than 13 Years.

      Spurling, G; Lucas, R; Doust, J; University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; Médecins Sans Frontières, Paris, France. g.spurling@uq.edu.au (Published by: American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2005-08)
      The objective of this study is to determine if a Chagas disease protocol starting with a serological survey is as reliable at identifying insect-infested areas as one using the gold standard entomological survey. The study found that health center areas infested with Rhodnius prolixus were identified using a threshold seroprevalence of 0.1%. The serological survey took half the time and was 30% less expensive than the entomological survey. Developing countries with limited resources may find this strategy useful in combating Chagas disease. This strategy also identifies seropositive children, which facilitates their treatment.
    • Identifying human encounters that shape the transmission of Streptococcus pneumoniae and other acute respiratory infections

      le Polain de Waroux, O; Flasche, S; Kucharski, AJ; Langendorf, C; Ndazima, D; Mwanga-Amumpaire, J; Grais, RF; Cohuet, S; Edmunds, WJ (Elsevier, 2018-05-19)
      Although patterns of social contacts are believed to be an important determinant of infectious disease transmission, it remains unclear how the frequency and nature of human interactions shape an individual's risk of infection. We analysed data on daily social encounters individually matched to data on S. pneumoniae carriage and acute respiratory symptoms (ARS), from 566 individuals who took part in a survey in South-West Uganda. We found that the frequency of physical (i.e. skin-to-skin), long (≥1 h) and household contacts - which capture some measure of close (i.e. relatively intimate) contact - was higher among pneumococcal carriers than non-carriers, and among people with ARS compared to those without, irrespective of their age. With each additional physical encounter the age-adjusted risk of carriage and ARS increased by 6% (95%CI 2-9%) and 7% (2-13%) respectively. In contrast, the number of casual contacts (<5 min long) was not associated with either pneumococcal carriage or ARS. A detailed analysis by age of contacts showed that the number of close contacts with young children (<5 years) was particularly higher among older children and adult carriers than non-carriers, while the higher number of contacts among people suffering from ARS was more homogeneous across contacts of all ages. Our findings provide key evidence that the frequency of close interpersonal contact is important for transmission of respiratory infections, but not that of casual contacts. Those results are essential for both improving disease prevention and control efforts as well as informing research on infectious disease dynamics and transmission models, and more studies should be undertaken to further validate our results.
    • Identifying malaria control issues: a district hospital-based evaluation.

      Kimerling, M; Houth, H; Hilderbrand, K; Goubert, L; MSF Holland-Belgium, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (1995-12)
      Chuk district hospital is centrally located in a rural malarious region in southern Cambodia. It was the site of a hospital-based evaluation (KAP assessment and in vivo i.v. quinine/oral tetracycline drug study) done to identify relevant issues for establishing a rational malaria control strategy. The KAP assessment identified the young, male forest worker as the highest risk group. Of 112 study patients, 73% were male and 82% reported various forest activities. The primary reason found for patient delay (8.9 days) in seeking hospital care was self-treatment at home (N = 102, 91%) with drugs purchased through private sellers (104/105). Using the 7-day WHO field test methodology, resistance rates were calculated (N = 22); S1/R1, 73%; R1, 9%; R2, 0%; R3, 18%. A modified version of the 7-day test was used to calculate its utility in this particular rural setting. It showed a negative predictive value of 93% and a positive predictive value of 71%. The case fatality rate for the study period was 2.7%. Information from this study, which correlates a confirmed malaria diagnosis with prior patient behavior and response to anti-malarial therapy, is intended for realizing the goals set forth by the national malaria control program.
    • Idiopathic CD4+ T-lymphocytopenia with cryptococcal meningitis: first case report from Cambodia.

      Augusto, E; Raguenaud, M E; Kim, C; Mony, M; Isaakidis, P; Médecins Sans Frontières Belgium, Phnom Penh, Cambodia MSFB-Phnom-Penh-Med@brussels.msf.org. (2009-07)
      We report on a patient with cryptococcal meningitis with CD4+ T-lymphocytopenia and no evidence of HIV infection.
    • "If we miss this chance, it's futile later on" - late antenatal booking and its determinants in Bhutan: a mixed-methods study.

      Dorji, T; Das, M; Van den Bergh, R; Oo, MM; Gyamtsho, S; Tenzin, K; Tshomo, T; Ugen, S (BioMed Central, 2019-05-07)
      BACKGROUND: To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal related to maternal and neonatal outcomes, the World Health Organization advocates for a first antenatal care (ANC) contact before 12 weeks of gestation. In order to guide interventions to achieve early ANC in the lower middle-income setting of Bhutan, we conducted an assessment of the magnitude and determinants of late ANC in this context. METHODS: This was a mixed-methods study with quantitative (cross-sectional study) and qualitative (in-depth interviews with pregnant women and ANC providers) component in a concurrent triangulation design. The quantitative component retrospectively analysed the socio-demographic and clinical characteristics, and the gestational age at booking of women who were provided care for delivery or miscarriages at the three tertiary hospitals in Bhutan from May-August 2018. The qualitative component involved thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with ten women attending ANC visits and four healthcare workers involved in ANC provision. RESULTS: Among 868 women studied, 67% (n = 584) had a late booking (after 12 weeks), and 1% (n = 13) had no booking. Women with only primary education and those residing in rural areas were more likely to have a late first ANC booking. While many women achieved the recommended eight ANC visits, this did not necessarily reflect early booking. Late booking was common among multigravida women. The interviews illustrated a general understanding and recognition of the importance of early ANC. Support from peers, family and co-workers, and male participation in accessing ANC were seen as enablers. The outreach clinics (ORCs) at the primary healthcare level were an important means of reaching the ANC services to women in rural areas where geographical accessibility was a barrier. Specific barriers to early ANC were gender insensitivity in providing care through male health workers, cost/time in ANC visits, and the inability to produce the documents of the father for booking ANC. CONCLUSION: Late ANC booking was common in Bhutan, and appeared to be associated with educational, geographic, socio-cultural and administrative characteristics. A comprehensive information package on ANC needs to be developed for pregnant mothers, and the quality of ANC coverage needs to be measured in terms of early ANC booking.