To see all articles in this section, click on "browse by Title".

Recent Submissions

  • Time to embrace access programmes for medicines: Lessons from the South African flucytosine access programme

    Shroufi, A; Govender, NP; Meintjes, G; Black, J; Nel, J; Moosa, MY; Menezes, C; Dawood, H; Wilson, D; Trivino Duran, L; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-02-29)
    BACKGROUND: Cryptococcal Meningitis (CM) is estimated to cause 181,000 deaths annually; with the majority occurring in Sub Saharan Africa. Flucytosine is recommended by the World Health Organization as part of the treatment for CM. Widespread use of flucytosine could reduce mortality in hospital by as much as 40% compared to the standard of care, yet due to market failure quality assured flucytosine remains unregistered and largely inaccessible throughout Africa. METHODS: The recently established South African flucytosine clinical access programme is an attempt to address market failure which led to a lack of public-sector access to flucytosine for cryptococcal meningitis, by making the medicine freely available to tertiary hospitals in South Africa. RESULTS: Between November 2018 and September 2019, 327 CM patients received flucytosine through this programme, with efforts to support sustainable national scale up presently ongoing. We describe why this programme was needed, its catalytic potential, what is still required to ensure widespread access to flucytosine, and observation from this experience that may have wider relevance. CONCLUSIONS: The South African Flucytosine Access Programme illustrates how access programmes may be one part of the solution to addressing the vicious cycle of perceived low demand, limiting manufacturer interest in specific product markets.
  • Electronic clinical decision support algorithms incorporating point-of-care diagnostic tests in low-resource settings: a target product profile

    Pellé, KG; Rambaud-Althaus, C; D'Acremont, V; Moran, G; Sampath, R; Katz, Z; Moussy, FG; Mehl, GL; Dittrich, S (The British Medical Journal, 2020-02-28)
    Health workers in low-resource settings often lack the support and tools to follow evidence-based clinical recommendations for diagnosing, treating and managing sick patients. Digital technologies, by combining patient health information and point-of-care diagnostics with evidence-based clinical protocols, can help improve the quality of care and the rational use of resources, and save patient lives. A growing number of electronic clinical decision support algorithms (CDSAs) on mobile devices are being developed and piloted without evidence of safety or impact. Here, we present a target product profile (TPP) for CDSAs aimed at guiding preventive or curative consultations in low-resource settings. This document will help align developer and implementer processes and product specifications with the needs of end users, in terms of quality, safety, performance and operational functionality. To identify the characteristics of CDSAs, a multidisciplinary group of experts (academia, industry and policy makers) with expertise in diagnostic and CDSA development and implementation in low-income and middle-income countries were convened to discuss a draft TPP. The TPP was finalised through a Delphi process to facilitate consensus building. An agreement greater than 75% was reached for all 40 TPP characteristics. In general, experts were in overwhelming agreement that, given that CDSAs provide patient management recommendations, the underlying clinical algorithms should be human-interpretable and evidence-based. Whenever possible, the algorithm’s patient management output should take into account pretest disease probabilities and likelihood ratios of clinical and diagnostic predictors. In addition, validation processes should at a minimum show that CDSAs are implementing faithfully the evidence they are based on, and ideally the impact on patient health outcomes. In terms of operational needs, CDSAs should be designed to fit within clinic workflows and function in connectivity-challenged and high-volume settings. Data collected through the tool should conform to local patient privacy regulations and international data standards.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Supplementary protection certificates and their impact on access to medicines in Europe: case studies of sofosbuvir, trastuzumab and imatinib

    Hu, Y; Eynikel, D; Boulet, P; Krikorian, G (BioMed Central, 2020-01-14)
    In recent years, there has been increasing pressure on public health systems in high-income countries due to high medicines prices, one of the underlying causes of which are the market monopolies granted to pharmaceutical undertakings. These monopolies have been facilitated by expanded forms of intellectual property protections, including the extension of the exclusivity period after the expiration of the patent term concerning medicinal products. In the European Union such an approach lies in the Supplementary Protection Certificate, a mechanism formally introduced under Regulation 1768/92/EEC (now: Regulation 469/2009/EC, amended). After more than 20 years of implementation since it was first introduced, the common justifications for SPCs are being challenged by recent findings as to their functioning and impact. Similarly, legitimate questions have been voiced as to the negative impact of SPCs on timely access to affordable medicines. On the basis of an analysis of three medicines for hepatitis C and cancer treatments, the present article critically engages with the policy justifications underlying SPCs. It then analyses access challenges to a hepatitis C medicine and an HIV treatment in Europe, highlighting the social cost of the introduction of SPCs. Both the normative and empirical analyses have demonstrated that the common justifications supporting the SPC regime are deeply questionable. The addition of SPC exclusivity has also heavily delayed competition and maintained high medicines prices in European countries. Ultimately, the granting of such extended exclusive private rights on medicines may result in unnecessary suffering and be a factor in the erosion of access to medicines for all.
  • The field is ever further: In search of the elusive space of fieldwork

    Stellmach, D (SAGE Publications, 2020-01-07)
    This short reflection considers how humanitarian workers conceptualize and practice “the field” as a site of action. Through the use of narrative ethnography, and drawing on comparisons with the practice of academic anthropology, it attempts to draw out disciplinary assumptions that govern how and where humanitarian action is undertaken. It demonstrates how the field is a central imaginary that underpins the principles and performance of both anthropology and humanitarian action. It highlights how the conceptualization of “the field” is itself a methodological tool in the practice of humanitarian intervention.
  • Who is telling the story? A systematic review of authorship for infectious disease research conducted in Africa, 1980-2016

    2019-10-18
    Introduction Africa contributes little to the biomedical literature despite its high burden of infectious diseases. Global health research partnerships aimed at addressing Africa-endemic disease may be polarised. Therefore, we assessed the contribution of researchers in Africa to research on six infectious diseases. METHODS: We reviewed publications on HIV and malaria (2013-2016), tuberculosis (2014-2016), salmonellosis, Ebola haemorrhagic fever and Buruli ulcer disease (1980-2016) conducted in Africa and indexed in the PubMed database using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses protocol. Papers reporting original research done in Africa with at least one laboratory test performed on biological samples were included. We studied African author proportion and placement per study type, disease, funding, study country and lingua franca. RESULTS: We included 1182 of 2871 retrieved articles that met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 1109 (93.2%) had at least one Africa-based author, 552 (49.8%) had an African first author and 41.3% (n=458) an African last author. Papers on salmonellosis and tuberculosis had a higher proportion of African last authors (p<0.001) compared with the other diseases. Most of African first and last authors had an affiliation from an Anglophone country. HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and Ebola had the most extramurally funded studies (≥70%), but less than 10% of the acknowledged funding was from an African funder. CONCLUSION: African researchers are under-represented in first and last authorship positions in papers published from research done in Africa. This calls for greater investment in capacity building and equitable research partnerships at every level of the global health community.
  • Stuck in the middle: a systematic review of authorship in collaborative health research in Africa, 2014–2016

    Jeufack, H; Neufeld, N; Alem, A; Sauer, S; Odhiambo, J; Boum, Y; Shuchman, M; Volmink, J (BMJ, 2019-10-18)
    BACKGROUND: Collaborations are often a cornerstone of global health research. Power dynamics can shape if and how local researchers are included in manuscripts. This article investigates how international collaborations affect the representation of local authors, overall and in first and last author positions, in African health research. METHODS: We extracted papers on 'health' in sub-Saharan Africa indexed in PubMed and published between 2014 and 2016. The author's affiliation was used to classify the individual as from the country of the paper's focus, from another African country, from Europe, from the USA/Canada or from another locale. Authors classified as from the USA/Canada were further subclassified if the author was from a top US university. In primary analyses, individuals with multiple affiliations were presumed to be from a high-income country if they contained any affiliation from a high-income country. In sensitivity analyses, these individuals were presumed to be from an African country if they contained any affiliation an African country. Differences in paper characteristics and representation of local coauthors are compared by collaborative type using χ² tests. RESULTS: Of the 7100 articles identified, 68.3% included collaborators from the USA, Canada, Europe and/or another African country. 54.0% of all 43 429 authors and 52.9% of 7100 first authors were from the country of the paper's focus. Representation dropped if any collaborators were from USA, Canada or Europe with the lowest representation for collaborators from top US universities-for these papers, 41.3% of all authors and 23.0% of first authors were from country of paper's focus. Local representation was highest with collaborators from another African country. 13.5% of all papers had no local coauthors. DISCUSSION: Individuals, institutions and funders from high-income countries should challenge persistent power differentials in global health research. South-South collaborations can help African researchers expand technical expertise while maintaining presence on the resulting research.
  • Who is telling the story? A systematic review of authorship for infectious disease research conducted in Africa, 1980–2016

    Mbaye, R; Gebeyehu, R; Hossmann, S; Mbarga, N; Bih-Neh, E; Eteki, L; Thelma, OA; Oyerinde, A; Kiti, G; Mburu, Y; et al. (BMJ Publishing Group, 2019-10-01)
    Introduction Africa contributes little to the biomedical literature despite its high burden of infectious diseases. Global health research partnerships aimed at addressing Africa-endemic disease may be polarised. Therefore, we assessed the contribution of researchers in Africa to research on six infectious diseases. Methods We reviewed publications on HIV and malaria (2013–2016), tuberculosis (2014–2016), salmonellosis, Ebola haemorrhagic fever and Buruli ulcer disease (1980–2016) conducted in Africa and indexed in the PubMed database using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses protocol. Papers reporting original research done in Africa with at least one laboratory test performed on biological samples were included. We studied African author proportion and placement per study type, disease, funding, study country and lingua franca. Results We included 1182 of 2871 retrieved articles that met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 1109 (93.2%) had at least one Africa-based author, 552 (49.8%) had an African first author and 41.3% (n=458) an African last author. Papers on salmonellosis and tuberculosis had a higher proportion of African last authors (p<0.001) compared with the other diseases. Most of African first and last authors had an affiliation from an Anglophone country. HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and Ebola had the most extramurally funded studies (≥70%), but less than 10% of the acknowledged funding was from an African funder. Conclusion African researchers are under-represented in first and last authorship positions in papers published from research done in Africa. This calls for greater investment in capacity building and equitable research partnerships at every level of the global health community.
  • Stuck in the middle: a systematic review of authorship in collaborative health research in Africa, 2014–2016

    Hedt-Gauthier, BL; Jeufack, HM; Neufeld, NH; Alem, A; Sauer, S; Odhiambo, J; Boum, Y; Shuchman, M; Volmink, J (BMJ Publishing Group, 2019-10-01)
    Background Collaborations are often a cornerstone of global health research. Power dynamics can shape if and how local researchers are included in manuscripts. This article investigates how international collaborations affect the representation of local authors, overall and in first and last author positions, in African health research. Methods We extracted papers on ‘health’ in sub-Saharan Africa indexed in PubMed and published between 2014 and 2016. The author’s affiliation was used to classify the individual as from the country of the paper’s focus, from another African country, from Europe, from the USA/Canada or from another locale. Authors classified as from the USA/Canada were further subclassified if the author was from a top US university. In primary analyses, individuals with multiple affiliations were presumed to be from a high-income country if they contained any affiliation from a high-income country. In sensitivity analyses, these individuals were presumed to be from an African country if they contained any affiliation an African country. Differences in paper characteristics and representation of local coauthors are compared by collaborative type using χ² tests. Results Of the 7100 articles identified, 68.3% included collaborators from the USA, Canada, Europe and/or another African country. 54.0% of all 43 429 authors and 52.9% of 7100 first authors were from the country of the paper’s focus. Representation dropped if any collaborators were from USA, Canada or Europe with the lowest representation for collaborators from top US universities—for these papers, 41.3% of all authors and 23.0% of first authors were from country of paper’s focus. Local representation was highest with collaborators from another African country. 13.5% of all papers had no local coauthors. Discussion Individuals, institutions and funders from high-income countries should challenge persistent power differentials in global health research. South-South collaborations can help African researchers expand technical expertise while maintaining presence on the resulting research.
  • Reaching across the linguistic divide in management and leadership education.

    Linnander, E; Nolna, SK; Mwinsongo, A; Bechtold, K; Boum, Y (Elsevier, 2019-09-01)
  • Duty of care and health worker protections in the age of Ebola: lessons from Médecins Sans Frontières

    McDiarmid, M; Crestani, R (BMJ Publishing Group, 2019-08-31)
    Health workers were differentially infected during the 2014 to 2016 Ebola outbreak with an incidence rate of 30 to 44/1000 depending on their job duties, compared to the wider population’s rate of 1.4/1000, according to the WHO. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health workers had a much lower incidence rate of 4.3/1000, explained as the result of MSF’s ‘duty of care’ toward staff safety. Duty of care is defined as an obligation to conform to certain standards of conduct for the protection of others against an unreasonable risk of harm. The duty of care was operationalised through four actions: performing risk assessments prior to deployment, organising work and work practices to minimise exposure, providing extensive risk communication and training of staff and providing medical follow-up for staff exposures. Adopting and consistently enforcing these broader, duty of care safety policies in deployed teams augments and fortifies standard infection prevention practices, creating a more protective, comprehensive safety programme. Prioritising staff safety by taking such actions will help avoid the catastrophic loss of the health work force and assist in building resilient health systems.
  • Knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to antibiotic use in Paschim Bardhaman District: A survey of healthcare providers in West Bengal, India.

    Nair, M; Tripathi, S; Mazumdar, S; Mahajan, R; Harshana, A; Pereira, A; Jimenez, C; Halder, D; Burza, S (Public Library of Science, 2019-05-31)
    INTRODUCTION: Antibiotic misuse is widespread and contributes to antibiotic resistance, especially in less regulated health systems such as India. Although informal providers are involved with substantial segments of primary healthcare, their level of knowledge, attitudes, and practices is not well documented in the literature. OBJECTIVES: This quantitative study systematically examines the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of informal and formal providers with respect to antibiotic use. METHODS: We surveyed a convenience sample of 384 participants (96 allopathic doctors, 96 nurses, 96 informal providers, and 96 pharmacy shopkeepers) over a period of 8 weeks from December to February using a validated questionnaire developed in Italy. Our team created an equivalent, composite KAP score for each respondent in the survey, which was subsequently compared between providers. We then performed a multivariate logistic regression analysis to estimate the odds of having a low composite score (<80) based on occupation by comparing allopathic doctors (referent category) with all other study participants. The model was adjusted for age (included as a continuous variable) and gender. RESULTS: Doctors scored highest in questions assessing knowledge (77.3%) and attitudes (87.3%), but performed poorly in practices (67.6%). Many doctors knew that antibiotics were not indicated for viral infections, but over 87% (n = 82) reported prescribing them in this situation. Nurses, pharmacy shopkeepers, and informal providers were more likely to perform poorly on the survey compared to allopathic doctors (OR: 10.4, 95% CI 5.4, 20.0, p<0.01). 30.8% (n = 118) of all providers relied on pharmaceutical company representatives as a major source of information about antibiotics. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate poor knowledge and awareness of antibiotic use and functions among informal health providers, and dissonance between knowledge and practices among allopathic doctors. The nexus between allopathic doctors, pharmaceutical company representatives, and informal health providers present promising avenues for future research and intervention.
  • How patent law reform can improve affordability and accessibility of medicines in South Africa: Four medicine case studies

    Tomlinson, C; Waterhouse, C; Hu, YQ; Meyer, S; Moyo, H (Publisher Health & Medical Publishing Group, 2019-05-31)
    South Africa (SA) is in the process of amending its patent laws. Since its 2011 inception, Fix the Patent Laws, a coalition of 40 patient groups, has advocated for reform of SA’s patent laws to improve affordability of medicines in the country. Building on two draft policies (2013, 2017) and a consultative framework (2016) for reform of SA’s patent laws, Cabinet approved phase 1 of the Intellectual Property Policy of the Republic of South Africa on 23 May 2018. Fix the Patent Laws welcomed the policy, but highlighted concerns regarding the absence of important technical details, as well as the urgent need for government to develop bills, regulations and guidelines to provide technical detail and to codify and implement patent law reform in the country. In this article, we explore how reforms proposed in SA’s new intellectual property policy could improve access to medicine through four medicine case studies.
  • 'Working to stay healthy', health-seeking behaviour in Bangladesh's urban slums: a qualitative study.

    van der Heijden, J; Gray, N; Stringer, B; Rahman, A; Akhter, S; Kalon, S; Dada, M; Biswas, A (BioMed Central, 2019-05-17)
    BACKGROUND: Kamrangirchar and Hazaribagh are the largest slum areas in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In 2013, Médecins Sans Frontières initiated an urban healthcare programme in these areas providing services for factory workers and responding to the sexual and reproductive health needs of young women. Little in-depth information is available on perceptions of health and health seeking behaviour in this population. We aimed to provide a better understanding of community perceptions toward health and health care in order to inform programme strategies. METHODS: In-depth interviews were conducted with women (n = 13); factory workers (n = 14); and key informants (n = 13). Participants were selected using purposive maximum variation sampling and voluntarily consented to take part. Topic guides steered participant-led interviews, which were audio-recorded, translated and transcribed from Bangla into English. By comparing cases, we identified emerging themes, patterns and relationships in the data. NVivo11© was used to sort and code the data. RESULTS: Emerging themes indicated that in Kamrangirchar and Hazaribagh, health is seen as an asset necessary for work and, thus, for survival. Residents navigate a highly fragmented health system looking for 'quick fixes' to avoid time off work, with the local pharmacy deemed 'good enough' for 'common' health issues. Health care seeking for 'serious' conditions is characterised by uncertainty, confusion, and unsatisfactory results. Decisions are made communally and shaped by collective perceptions of quality care. People with limited socio-economic capital have few options for care. 'Quality care' is perceived as comprehensive care 'under one roof,' including predictive biomedical diagnostics and effective medication, delivered through a trusting relationship with the care provider. CONCLUSIONS: Health seeking behaviour of slum dwellers of Kamrangirchar and Hazaribagh is based on competing priorities, where quick and effective care is key, focussed on the ability to work and generate income. This takes place in a fragmented healthcare system characterised by mistrust of providers, and where navigation is informed by word-of-mouth experiences of peers. Improving health in this context demands a comprehensive and integrated approach to health care delivery, with an emphasis on rapid diagnosis, effective treatment and referral, and improved trust in care providers. Health education must be developed in collaboration with the community to identify knowledge gaps, support decision-making, and be channelled through existing networks. Further research should consider the effectiveness of interventions aiming to improve the practice of pharmacists.
  • Nagaland health assessment: High mortality rates and difficulty accessing essential health services in Lahe Township, Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

    Johnson, DC; Incerti, A; Thu Swe, K; Gignoux, E; Shwe Sin Ei, WL; Lwin Tun, T; Htun, C (Public Library of Science, 2019-05-14)
    INTRODUCTION: Lahe Township belongs to Myanmar`s Naga Self-administered Zone, which is one of the most remote and mountainous areas in Myanmar. However, the limited health data available for the region suggests that there could be neglected health needs that require attention. The purpose of this study was to assess the health status of the population of Lahe Township. METHODS: A cross-sectional study design incorporating a two-stage cluster sampling methodology recommended by the WHO was used to conduct a household level survey. In the first stage, 30 village clusters were selected from all villages situated in the Lahe Township through systematic sampling with probability of selection proportional to the population size of each village based on the 2014 Myanmar census. In the second stage, a GPS-based sampling method was used to select 30 households within a village cluster. The head of the household completed the survey for all members of the household. Questionnaires inquired about maternal health, mortality, morbidities, childhood nutritional status, access to health care, and water & sanitation. The resulting data was stratified by urban/rural status. RESULTS: Data was collected on 5,929 individuals living in 879 households, of which 993 individuals (16.7%) were children 5 years old or younger. The median age was 18.0 (IQR 8.0-35.0). Children 15 years old or younger represented 44.7% of the population. 19.8% of households reported at least 1 household member sick during the previous 30 days. The crude mortality rate per 10,000 people per day was 0.58 (95% CI: 0.48-0.69). The under 5 mortality per 10,000 people per day was 0.74 (95% CI: 0.50-1.06). Only 46.7% of households could access a hospital if there was a need. CONCLUSION: Our results demonstrate a high rate of mortality and the inability to access healthcare in Lahe Township, which should be addressed to prevent further deterioration of health.
  • Ensuring access to life-saving medicines as countries shift from Global Fund support

    Tatay, M; Torreele, E (World Health Organization, 2019-05-01)

View more