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  • Ten tips for overcoming language barriers in science.

    Amano, T; Rios Rojas, C; Boum, Y; Calvo, M; Misra, BB (Springer Nature Publishing, 2021-07-08)
  • Urgently seeking efficiency and sustainability of clinical trials in global health.

    Park, JJH; Grais, RF; Taljaard, M; Nakimuli-Mpungu, E; Jehan, F; Nachega, JB; Ford, N; Xavier, D; Kengne, AP; Ashorn, P; et al. (The Lancet, 2021-05-01)
    This paper shows the scale of global health research and the context in which we frame the subsequent papers in the Series. In this Series paper, we provide a historical perspective on clinical trial research by revisiting the 1948 streptomycin trial for pulmonary tuberculosis, which was the first documented randomised clinical trial in the English language, and we discuss its close connection with global health. We describe the current state of clinical trial research globally by providing an overview of clinical trials that have been registered in the WHO International Clinical Trial Registry since 2010. We discuss challenges with current trial planning and designs that are often used in clinical trial research undertaken in low-income and middle-income countries, as an overview of the global health trials landscape. Finally, we discuss the importance of collaborative work in global health research towards generating sustainable and culturally appropriate research environments.
  • Populations précaires et Covid-19 : innover et collaborer pour faire face aux besoins sociaux et de santé

    Jackson, Y; Sibourd-Baudry, S; Regard, S; Petrucci, R (Medecine & Hygiene, 2021-02-02)
    La crise liée au Covid-19 a fragilisé les populations en situation préalable de précarité. L’émergence de l’insécurité alimentaire et de logement a poussé les acteurs de la santé, du travail social et les autorités à mettre en place des mesures innovantes et intersectorielles permettant de répondre rapidement et efficacement aux besoins essentiels de ces populations. Cet article présente trois de ces mesures, à savoir une équipe mobile interprofessionnelle de dépistage, un dispositif d’hébergement et d’encadrement sanitaire pour les personnes sans-abri et un programme de distribution alimentaire à large échelle. Ces trois exemples illustrent la nécessité d’une approche transversale et collaborative et le besoin d’agir sur les déterminants sociaux et politiques sous-tendant ces vulnérabilités. The COVID-19 crisis has rapidly increased the vulnerability of groups of population already facing precarious living conditions. The emergence of food and housing insecurity have forced health and social actors along with the local authorities to implement innovative responses in order to respond to these unmet needs. This article presents some of these responses, such as an interdisciplinary mobile COVID-19 screening team, an emergency housing program and a large-scale food assistance program. These examples highlight the need for an intersectoral, coordinated and collaborative response simultaneously targeting different domains of insecurity in parallel to actions on the underpinning social and political determinants of these vulnerabilities.
  • The political and security dimensions of the humanitarian health response to violent conflict.

    Wise, PH; Shiel, A; Southard, N; Bendavid, E; Welsh, J; Stedman, S; Fazal, T; Felbab-Brown, V; Polatty, D; Waldman, RJ; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-01-24)
    The nature of armed conflict throughout the world is intensely dynamic. Consequently, the protection of non-combatants and the provision of humanitarian services must continually adapt to this changing conflict environment. Complex political affiliations, the systematic use of explosive weapons and sexual violence, and the use of new communication technology, including social media, have created new challenges for humanitarian actors in negotiating access to affected populations and security for their own personnel. The nature of combatants has also evolved as armed, non-state actors might have varying motivations, use different forms of violence, and engage in a variety of criminal activities to generate requisite funds. New health threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and new capabilities, such as modern trauma care, have also created new challenges and opportunities for humanitarian health provision. In response, humanitarian policies and practices must develop negotiation and safety capabilities, informed by political and security realities on the ground, and guidance from affected communities. More fundamentally, humanitarian policies will need to confront a changing geopolitical environment, in which traditional humanitarian norms and protections might encounter wavering support in the years to come.
  • The time to act is now: pseudo-systematic review

    Ford, N; Brigden, G; Ellman, T; Mills, EJ (BMJ Publishing Group, 2020-12-10)
    Objective To identify any medical or public health rationale for claims that the time to act is now. Design Pseudo-systematic review. Data sources PubMed. Study selection Studies that included the claim “time is now” in the title, with or without exclamation marks. No language or date restriction was applied. Results 512 articles were included for review. No relationship was identified between time to act and disease burden, severity, or specialty. Claims that the time to act was Christmas were almost entirely without basis. A clustering of claims that it is time to act in the first quarter of the year suggested a possible association with New Year’s resolutions. Conclusions Now is as good a time as any.
  • Role of Faith healers: A barrier or a support system to medical care- a cross sectional study

    Sharma, DB; Gupta, V; Saxena, K; Shah, UM; Singh, US (Medknow Publications, 2020-08-25)
    Background and Aims: Faith healing is a method of treating illnesses through the exercise of faith rather than medical methods. The current study was done with the objective to find out demographic variables of faith healers, various conditions for which the people approach them, various practices and processes used and to look for scope of integrated approach to healthcare with faith healers. Settings and Design: RHTC village was a sub center village of PHC Morad. Hence, for the study, all the villages which comes under PHC Morad were selected. The design of the study was a cross-sectional study. Methods and Material: The study was a cross sectional study where faith healers were interviewed based on a semi structured questionnaire comprising of both close and open-ended questions. Statistical Analysis Used: Absolute numbers. Results: Different reasons for which the persons usually came for ranged from supernatural possession, unemployment, family problems etc., and various different processes were used by these healers to solve the problems included giving charms and amulets, personal sacrifices like “baddha” (Nischay/praan) and many others. Conclusion: The study concludes that faith healers in many conditions and situations became the first point of contact as the faith of the community in these faith healers is deeply rooted.
  • Residents working with Médecins Sans Frontières: training and pilot evaluation.

    Ripoll-Gallardo, A; Ragazzoni, L; Mazzanti, E; Meneghetti, G; Franc, JM; Costa, A; Della Corte, F (BMC, 2020-08-25)
    Background: Well-prepared humanitarian workers are now more necessary than ever. Essential to the preparation process are: clearly defined learning objectives, curricula tailored to the nuances of humanitarian settings, simulation-based training, and evaluation. This manuscript describes a training program designed to prepare medical residents for their first field deployment with Médecins Sans Frontières and presents the results of a pilot assessment of its effectiveness. Methods: The training was jointly developed by the Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine- CRIMEDIM of the Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy, and the humanitarian aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières- Italy (MSF-Italy); the following topics were covered: disaster medicine, public health, safety and security, infectious diseases, psychological support, communication, humanitarian law, leadership, and job-specific skills. It used a blended-learning approach consisting of a 3-month distance learning module; 1-week instructor-led coaching; and a field placement with MSF. We assessed its effectiveness using the first three levels of Kirkpatrick's training evaluation model. Results: Eight residents took part in the evaluation. Four were residents in emergency medicine, 3 in anesthesia, and 1 in pediatrics; 3 of them were female and the median age was 31 years. Two residents were deployed in Pakistan, 1 in Afghanistan, 1 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1 in Iraq, 2 in Haiti and 1 on board of the MSF Mediterranean search & rescue ship. Mean deployment time was 3 months. The average median score for the overall course was 5 (excellent). There was a significant improvement in post-test multiple choice scores (p = 0.001) and in residents' overall performance scores (P = 0.000001). Conclusion: Residents were highly satisfied with the training program and their knowledge and skills improved as a result of participation.
  • The Global Financing Facility at five: time for a change?

    Seidelmann, L; Koutsoumpa, M; Federspiel, F; Philips, M (Taylor & Francis Open Access, 2020-08-10)
  • The value of case reports in democratising evidence from resource-limited settings: results of an exploratory survey.

    Balinska, MA; Watts, RA (BioMed Central, 2020-07-20)
    Background: Following a knowledge management analysis, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) - a medical humanitarian non-governmental organisation (NGO) - identified significant loss of medical knowledge from the field, owing primarily to the absence of a platform on which to share clinical lessons learned in humanitarian and resource-limited settings (HRLS). Wishing to address these missed opportunities to retain important scientific and pragmatic knowledge, the NGO has begun to actively encourage its clinicians to publish case reports/series that bring new and/or practical insights of benefit to patients and population groups. In parallel, we wished to obtain a clearer understanding of how case reports (CRs)/series can best play their role as 'first-line evidence' from HRLS, especially in areas suffering from a significant lack of data. Methods: We developed a survey with closed and open questions on 'The value of CRs from HRLS' to explore primarily (1) the reasons why this form of evidence from HRLS is often lacking, (2) what makes a case report/series worth sharing with the wider global health community, and (3) how we can ensure that published case reports/series reach their target audience. Results: Over a 6-month period, 1115 health professionals responded to the survey. Participants included clinicians and public health specialists from all over the world, with a majority based in Africa. The main reason cited for the dearth of CRs from HRLS was that practitioners are simply not writing and/or submitting reports (as versus having their papers rejected) due mainly to (1) a lack of skills and (2) time constraints. A large majority of respondents felt the CRs are a valuable tool for HRLS given their ability to discuss how cases are managed with rudimentary means as well as to draw attention to emerging or underestimated public health problems and neglected populations. Conclusion: We conclude that the clinical knowledge gained in resource-challenged settings is being underutilised in the interest of patients and global health. Consequently, clinicians in HRLS need greater access to basic training in scientific investigation and writing in addition to awareness as to the potential value of sharing their clinical experience with a view to broadening evidence production from high-income to low-income settings.
  • 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.

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