• Assessing the quality of data aggregated by antiretroviral treatment clinics in Malawi.

      Makombe, S D; Hochgesang, M; Jahn, A; Tweya, H; Hedt, B; Chuka, S; Yu, J K L; Aberle-Grasse, J; Pasulani, O; Bailey, C; Kamoto, K; Schouten, E J; Harries, A D; Clinical HIV Unit, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi. (2008-04)
      PROBLEM: As national antiretroviral treatment (ART) programmes scale-up, it is essential that information is complete, timely and accurate for site monitoring and national planning. The accuracy and completeness of reports independently compiled by ART facilities, however, is often not known. APPROACH: This study assessed the quality of quarterly aggregate summary data for April to June 2006 compiled and reported by ART facilities ("site report") as compared to the "gold standard" facility summary data compiled independently by the Ministry of Health supervision team ("supervision report"). Completeness and accuracy of key case registration and outcome variables were compared. Data were considered inaccurate if variables from the site reports were missing or differed by more than 5% from the supervision reports. Additionally, we compared the national summaries obtained from the two data sources. LOCAL SETTING: Monitoring and evaluation of Malawi's national ART programme is based on WHO's recommended tools for ART monitoring. It includes one master card for each ART patient and one patient register at each ART facility. Each quarter, sites complete cumulative cohort analyses and teams from the Ministry of Health conduct supervisory visits to all public sector ART sites to ensure the quality of reported data. RELEVANT CHANGES: Most sites had complete case registration and outcome data; however many sites did not report accurate data for several critical data fields, including reason for starting, outcome and regimen. The national summary using the site reports resulted in a 12% undercount in the national total number of persons on first-line treatment. Several facility-level characteristics were associated with data quality. LESSONS LEARNED: While many sites are able to generate complete data summaries, the accuracy of facility reports is not yet adequate for national monitoring. The Ministry of Health and its partners should continue to identify and support interventions such as supportive supervision to build sites' capacity to maintain and compile quality data to ensure that accurate information is available for site monitoring and national planning.
    • Burden, characteristics, management and outcomes of HIV-infected patients with Kaposi's sarcoma in Zomba, Malawi

      Mwinjiwa, E.; Isaakidis, P.; Van den Bergh, R.; Harries, A. D.; Bezanson, K. D.; Beyene, T.; Thompson, C.; Joshua, M.; Akello, H.; van Lettow, M. (Public Health Action, 2013-06-21)
    • CD4 Testing at Clinics to Assess Eligibility for Antiretroviral Therapy

      Lumala, R; van den Akker, T; Metcalf, CA; Diggle, E; Zamadenga, B; Mbewa, K; Akkeson, A (College of Medicine, University of Malawi, 2012-06-01)
      In 2011, the Ministry of Health raised the CD4 threshold for antiretroviral therapy (ART) eligibility from <250 cells/µl and <350 cells/µl, but at the same time only 8.8% of facilities in Malawi with HIV services provided CD4 testing. We conducted a record review at 10 rural clinics in Thyolo District to assess the impact of introducing CD4 testing on identifying patients eligible for ART.
    • Community support is associated with better antiretroviral treatment outcomes in a resource-limited rural district in Malawi.

      Zachariah, R; Teck, R; Buhendwa, L; Fitzgerald, M; Labana, S; Chinji, C; Humblet, P; Harries, A D; Médecins Sans Frontières, Medical Department (Operational Research), Brussels Operational Center, 68 Rue de Gasperich, L-1617, Luxembourg, Belgium. zachariah@internet.lu (Elsevier, 2007-01)
      A study was carried in a rural district in Malawi among HIV-positive individuals placed on antiretroviral treatment (ART) in order to verify if community support influences ART outcomes. Standardized ART outcomes in areas of the district with and without community support were compared. Between April 2003 (when ART was started) and December 2004 a total of 1634 individuals had been placed on ART. Eight hundred and ninety-five (55%) individuals were offered community support, while 739 received no such support. For all patients placed on ART with and without community support, those who were alive and continuing ART were 96 and 76%, respectively (P<0.001); death was 3.5 and 15.5% (P<0.001); loss to follow-up was 0.1 and 5.2% (P<0.001); and stopped ART was 0.8 and 3.3% (P<0.001). The relative risks (with 95% CI) for alive and on ART [1.26 (1.21-1.32)], death [0.22 (0.15-0.33)], loss to follow-up [0.02 (0-0.12)] and stopped ART [0.23 (0.08-0.54)] were all significantly better in those offered community support (P<0.001). Community support is associated with a considerably lower death rate and better overall ART outcomes. The community might be an unrecognized and largely 'unexploited resource' that could play an important contributory role in countries desperately trying to scale up ART with limited resources.
    • High acceptability of voluntary counselling and HIV-testing but unacceptable loss to follow up in a prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission programme in rural Malawi: scaling-up requires a different way of acting.

      Manzi, M; Zachariah, R; Teck, R; Buhendwa, L; Kazima, J; Bakali, E; Firmenich, P; Humblet, P; Médecins sans Frontières-Luxembourg, Thyolo district, Luxembourg, Malawi. m.manzi@belgacom.net (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005-12)
      SETTING: Thyolo District Hospital, rural Malawi. OBJECTIVES: In a prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) programme, to determine: the acceptability of offering 'opt-out' voluntary counselling and HIV-testing (VCT); the progressive loss to follow up of HIV-positive mothers during the antenatal period, at delivery and to the 6-month postnatal visit; and the proportion of missed deliveries in the district. DESIGN: Cohort study. METHODS: Review of routine antenatal, VCT and PMTCT registers. RESULTS: Of 3136 new antenatal mothers, 2996 [96%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 95-97] were pre-test counselled, 2965 (95%, CI: 94-96) underwent HIV-testing, all of whom were post-test counselled. Thirty-one (1%) mothers refused HIV-testing. A total of 646 (22%) individuals were HIV-positive, and were included in the PMTCT programme. Two hundred and eighty-eight (45%) mothers and 222 (34%) babies received nevirapine. The cumulative loss to follow up (n=646) was 358 (55%, CI: 51-59) by the 36-week antenatal visit, 440 (68%, CI: 64-71) by delivery, 450 (70%, CI: 66-73) by the first postnatal visit and 524 (81%, CI: 78-84) by the 6-month postnatal visit. This left just 122 (19%, CI: 16-22) of the initial cohort still in the programme. The great majority (87%) of deliveries occurred at peripheral sites where PMTCT was not available. CONCLUSIONS: In a rural district hospital setting, at least 9 out of every 10 mothers attending antenatal services accepted VCT, of whom approximately one-quarter were HIV-positive and included in the PMTCT programme. The progressive loss to follow up of more than three-quarters of this cohort by the 6-month postnatal visit demands a 'different way of acting' if PMTCT is to be scaled up in our setting.
    • HIV Prevalence and Demographic Risk Factors in Blood Donors.

      Zachariah, R; Harries, A D; Nkhoma, W; Arendt, V; Spielmann M P; Buhendwa, L; Chingi, C; Mossong, J; Medecins Sans Frontieres, Luxembourg, Blantyre, Malawi. (2002-02)
      OBJECTIVES: To estimate HIV prevalence in various blood donor populations, to identity sociodemographic risk factors associated with prevalent HIV and to assess the feasibility of offering routine voluntary counselling services to blood donors. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Thyolo district, Malawi. METHODS: Data analysis involving blood donors who underwent voluntary counselling and HIV testing between January 1998 and July 2000. RESULTS: Crude HIV prevalence was 22%, while the age standardised prevalence (>15 years) was 17%. Prevalence was lowest among rural donors, students and in males of the age group 15-19 years. There was a highly significant positive association of HIV prevalence with increasing urbanisation. Significant risk factors associated with prevalence for both male and female donors included having a business-related occupation, living in a semi-urban or urban area and being in the age group 25-29 years for females and 30-34 years for males. All blood donors were pre-test counselled and 90% were post test counselled in 2000. CONCLUSIONS: HIV prevalence in blood donors was alarmingly high, raising important concerns on the potential dangers of HIV transmission through blood transfusions. Limiting blood transfusions, use of a highly sensitive screening test, and pre-donation selection of donors is important. The experience also shows that it is feasible to offer pre and post test counselling services for blood donors as an entry point for early diagnosis of asymptomatic HIV infection and, broader preventive strategies including the potential of early access to drugs, for the prevention of opportunistic infections.
    • How can the community contribute in the fight against HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis? An example from a rural district in Malawi.

      Zachariah, R; Teck, R; Buhendwa, L; Labana, S; Chinji, C; Humblet, P; Harries, A D; Médecins sans Frontières, Medical Department (Operational Research), Brussels Operational Center, Belgium. zachariah@internet.lu (Elsevier, 2006-02)
      This paper describes (a) the experience of initiating community involvement in HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) activities in a rural district in Malawi and (b) some of the different ways in which the community is contributing in the fight against these two diseases and the outcomes of their involvement. During a 2-year period, a total of 21,358 (41%) of 52,510 HIV tests performed at voluntary counselling and HIV testing (VCT) sites in the district were conducted by lay community counsellors. A team of 465 community volunteers, 1,362 trained family caregivers and 9 community nurses provided care and support to 5,106 HIV-positive individuals, of whom 2,006 (39%) were in WHO stage III or IV. All those in WHO stage III or IV were on co-trimoxazole prophylaxis and 895 (45%) of these were also on antiretroviral treatment. A total of 2,714 TB patients, of whom 1627 (60%) were HIV-positive, also received care and support. A total of 1,694 orphans were trained in vocational skills. Twelve vegetable gardens and three maize farms were set up, and pre-school activities were organised for 900 orphans. Communities can play an important contributory role in reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS and TB and in mitigating its impact. Despite this, community resources in most settings are often under-exploited and their role remains undefined.
    • Human resources for control of tuberculosis and HIV-associated tuberculosis.

      Harries, A D; Zachariah, R; Bergström, K; Blanc, L; Salaniponi, F; Elzinga, G; National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Lilongwe, Malawi. adharries@malawi.net (2005-02)
      The global targets for tuberculosis (TB) control were postponed from 2000 to 2005, but on current evidence a further postponement may be necessary. Of the constraints preventing these targets being met, the primary one appears to be the lack of adequately trained and qualified staff. This paper outlines: 1) the human resources and skills for global TB and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) TB control, including the human resources for implementing the DOTS strategy, the additional human resources for implementing joint HIV-TB control strategies and what is known about human resource gaps at global level; 2) the attempts to quantify human resource gaps by focusing on a small country in sub-Saharan Africa, Malawi; and 3) the main constraints to human resources and their possible solutions, under six main headings: human resource planning; production of human resources; distribution of the work-force; motivation and staff retention; quality of existing staff; and the effect of HIV/AIDS. We recommend an urgent shift in thinking about the human resource paradigm, and exhort international policy makers and the donor community to make a concerted effort to bridge the current gaps by investing for real change.
    • Malawi's contribution to "3 by 5": achievements and challenges

      Libamba, Edwin; Makombe, Simon D; Harries, Anthony D; Schouten, Erik J; Yu, Joseph Kwong-Leung; Pasulani, Olesi; Mhango, Eustice; Aberle-Grasse, John; Hochgesang, Mindy; Limbambala, Eddie; Lungu, Douglas; Clinical HIV Unit, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi; HIV Coordinator, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi; Taiwan Medical Mission, Mzuzu Central Hospital, Mzuzu, Malawi; Médecins sans Frontières Belgium, Thyolo District Hospital, Malawi; Lighthouse Clinic, Lilongwe, Malawi; Centres for Disease Control, Lilongwe office, Malawi; WHO country office, Lilongwe, Malawi; Department of Clinical Services, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi (2007-02-01)
      PROBLEM: Many resource-poor countries have started scaling up antiretroviral therapy (ART). While reports from individual clinics point to successful implementation, there is limited information about progress in government institutions at a national level. APPROACH: Malawi started national ART scale-up in 2004 using a structured approach. There is a focus on one generic, fixed-dose combination treatment with stavudine, lamivudine and nevirapine. Treatment is delivered free of charge to eligible patients with HIV and there is a standardized system for recruiting patients, monthly follow-up, registration, monitoring and reporting of cases and outcomes. All treatment sites receive quarterly supervision and evaluation. LOCAL SETTING: In January 2004, there were nine public sector facilities delivering ART to an estimated 4 000 patients. By December 2005, there were 60 public sector facilities providing free ART to 37,840 patients using national standardized systems. Analysis of quarterly cohort treatment outcomes at 12 months showed 80% of patients were alive, 10% dead, 9% lost to follow-up and 1% had stopped treatment. LESSONS LEARNED: Achievements were the result of clear national ART guidelines, implementing partners working together, an intensive training schedule focused on clinical officers and nurses, a structured system of accrediting facilities for ART delivery, quarterly supervision and monitoring, and no stock-outs of antiretroviral drugs. The main challenges are to increase the numbers of children, pregnant women and patients with tuberculosis being started on ART, and to avert high early mortality and losses to follow-up. The capacity of the health sector to cope with escalating case loads and to scale up prevention alongside treatment will determine the future success of ART delivery in Malawi.
    • Monitoring the response to antiretroviral therapy in resource-poor settings: the Malawi model.

      Harries, A D; Gomani, P; Teck, R; de Teck, O; Bakali, E; Zachariah, R; Libamba, E; Mwansambo, A; Salaniponi, F; Mpazanje, R; National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Ministry of Health and Population, P.O. Box 30377, Lilongwe, Malawi. adharries@malawi.net (2004-12)
      With assistance from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), Malawi is scaling-up the delivery of antiretroviral (ARV) therapy to HIV-positive eligible patients. The country has developed National ARV Treatment Guidelines, which emphasize a structured and standardized approach for all aspects of ARV delivery, including monitoring and evaluation. Using the successful DOTS model adapted by National TB Control Programmes throughout the world, Malawi has developed a system of quarterly ARV cohort and cumulative ARV quarterly analyses. Thyolo district, in the southern region of Malawi, has been using this system since April 2003. This paper describes the standardized ARV treatment regimens and the treatment outcomes used in Thyolo to assess the impact of treatment, the registration and monitoring systems and how the cohort analyses are carried out. Data are presented for case registration and treatment outcome for the first quarterly cohort (April to June) and the combined cohorts (April to June and July to September). Such quarterly analyses may be useful for districts and Ministries of Health in assessing ARV delivery, although the burden of work involved in calculating the numbers may become large once ARV delivery systems have been established for several years.
    • Motives, sexual behaviour, and risk factors associated with HIV in individuals seeking voluntary counselling and testing in a rural district of Malawi.

      Zachariah, R; Spielmann M P; Harries, A D; Buhendwa, L; Chingi, C; Medecins sans Frontieres, Thyolo, Malawi. zachariah@internet.lu (2003-04)
      A study was conducted among individuals seeking voluntary HIV counselling and testing (VCT) in order to (a) describe their motives and source(s) of information, (b) describe their sexual behaviour; and (c) identify risk factors associated with HIV infection. Of 723 individuals who sought VCT, the most common reason (50%) was recent knowledge of HIV/AIDS and a desire to know their HIV status. The majority (77%) underwent VCT after being encouraged by others who knew their status. Ninety five per cent reported sexual encounters, with 337 (49%) engaging in unprotected sex. HIV prevalence was 31% and an HIV-positive status was associated with being female, being over 25 years of age and/or being a farmer. There is a demand for VCT, and the service provides an opportunity for intensive education about HIV/AIDS prevention on a one-to-one basis. It could also be an entry point to prevention and care for those who are infected.
    • A national survey of the impact of rapid scale-up of antiretroviral therapy on health-care workers in Malawi: effects on human resources and survival.

      Makombe, S D; Jahn, A; Tweya, H; Chuka, S; Yu, J K L; Hochgesang, M; Aberle-Grasse, J; Pasulani, O; Schouten, E J; Kamoto, K; Harries, A D; HIV Unit, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi. (WHO, 2007-11)
      OBJECTIVE: To assess the human resources impact of Malawis rapidly growing antiretroviral therapy (ART) programme and balance this against the survival benefit of health-care workers who have accessed ART themselves. METHODS: We conducted a national cross-sectional survey of the human resource allocation in all public-sector health facilities providing ART in mid-2006. We also undertook a survival analysis of health-care workers who had accessed ART in public and private facilities by 30 June 2006, using data from the national ART monitoring and evaluation system. FINDINGS: By 30 June 2006, 59 581 patients had accessed ART from 95 public and 28 private facilities. The public sites provided ART services on 2.4 days per week on average, requiring 7% of the clinician workforce, 3% of the nursing workforce and 24% of the ward clerk workforce available at the facilities. We identified 1024 health-care workers in the national ART-patient cohort (2% of all ART patients). The probabilities for survival on ART at 6 months, 12 months and 18 months were 85%, 81% and 78%, respectively. An estimated 250 health-care workers lives were saved 12 months after ART initiation. Their combined work-time of more than 1000 staff-days per week was equivalent to the human resources required to provide ART at the national level. CONCLUSION: A large number of ART patients in Malawi are managed by a small proportion of the health-care workforce. Many health-care workers have accessed ART with good treatment outcomes. Currently, staffing required for ART balances against health-care workers lives saved through treatment, although this may change in the future.
    • Outcomes and safety of concomitant nevirapine and rifampicin treatment under programme conditions in Malawi.

      Moses, M; Zachariah, R; Tayler-Smith, K; Misinde, D; Foncha, C; Manzi, M; Bauerfeind, A; Mwagomba, B; Kwanjana, J; Harries, A D; Médecins sans Frontières, Thyolo District, Thyolo, Malawi. (2010-02)
      SETTING: Thyolo District Hospital, rural Malawi. OBJECTIVES: To report on 1) clinical, immunological and virological outcomes and 2) safety among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected patients with tuberculosis (TB) who received concurrent nevirapine (NVP) and rifampicin (RMP) based treatment. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. METHODS: Analysis of programme data, June-December 2007. RESULTS: Of a total of 156 HIV-infected TB patients who started NVP-based antiretroviral treatment, 136 (87%) completed TB treatment successfully, 16 (10%) died and 5 (4%) were transferred out. Mean body weight and CD4 gain (adults) were respectively 4.4 kg (95%CI 3.3-5.4) and 140 cells/mm(3) (95%CI 117-162). Seventy-four per cent of patients who completed TB treatment and had a viral load performed (n = 74) had undetectable levels (<50 copies/ml), while 17 (22%) had a viral load of 50-1000 copies/ml. Hepatotoxicity was present in 2 (1.3%) patients at baseline. Two patients developed Grade 2 and one developed Grade 3 alanine transaminase enzyme elevations during TB treatment (incidence rate per 10 years of follow-up 4.2, 95%CI 1.4-13.1). There were no reported deaths linked to hepatotoxicity. CONCLUSIONS: In a rural district in Malawi, concomitant NVP and RMP treatment is associated with good TB treatment outcomes and appears safe. Further follow-up of patients would be useful to ascertain the longer-term effects of this concurrent treatment.
    • Paediatric HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa: clinical presentation and 2-year outcomes stratified by age group

      Ben-Farhat, Jihane; Gale, Marianne; Szumilin, Elisabeth; Balkan, Suna; Poulet, Elisabeth; Pujades-Rodríguez, Mar (John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2013-09)
      To examine age differences in mortality and programme attrition amongst paediatric patients treated in four African HIV programmes.
    • Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and the health-related Millennium Development Goals: time for a public health approach.

      Schouten, Erik J; Jahn, Andreas; Midiani, Dalitso; Makombe, Simon D; Mnthambala, Austin; Chirwa, Zengani; Harries, Anthony D; van Oosterhout, Joep J; Meguid, Tarek; Ben-Smith, Anne; Zachariah, Rony; Lynen, Lutgarde; Zolfo, Maria; Van Damme, Wim; Gilks, Charles F; Atun, Rifat; Shawa, Mary; Chimbwandira, Frank; Department of HIV and AIDS, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi. eschouten@msh.org (2011-07-16)
    • Public health. Getting HIV treatment to the most people.

      Lynch, Sharonann; Ford, Nathan; van Cutsem, Gilles; Bygrave, Helen; Janssens, Bart; Decroo, Tom; Andrieux-Meyer, Isabelle; Roberts, Teri; Balkan, Suna; Casas, Esther; Ferreyra, Cecilia; Bemelmans, Marielle; Cohn, Jen; Kahn, Patricia; Goemaere, Eric; Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign, New York, NY 10001, USA. (2012-07-20)
    • Risk Factors for High Early Mortality in Patients on Antiretroviral Treatment in a Rural District of Malawi.

      Zachariah, R; Fitzgerald, M; Massaquoi, M; Pasulani, O; Arnould, L; Makombe, S D; Harries, A D; Medecins sans Frontieres, Operational Research, Brussels Operational Center, Belgium. zachariah@internet.lu (2006-11-28)
      OBJECTIVES: Among adults started on antiretroviral treatment (ART) in a rural district hospital (a) to determine the cumulative proportion of deaths that occur within 3 and 6 months of starting ART, and (b) to identify risk factors that may be associated with such mortality. DESIGN AND SETTING: A cross-sectional analytical study set in Thyolo district, Malawi. METHODS: Over a 2-year period (April 2003 to April 2005) mortality within the first 3 and 6 months of starting ART was determined and risk factors were examined. RESULTS: A total of 1507 individuals (517 men and 990 women), whose median age was 35 years were included in the study. There were a total of 190 (12.6%) deaths on ART of which 116 (61%) occurred within the first 3 months (very early mortality) and 150 (79%) during the first 6 months of initiating ART. Significant risk factors associated with such mortality included WHO stage IV disease, a baseline CD4 cell count under 50 cells/mul and increasing grades of malnutrition. A linear trend in mortality was observed with increasing grades of malnutrition (chi for trend = 96.1, P
    • Sexually transmitted infections among prison inmates in a rural district of Malawi.

      Zachariah, R; Harries, A D; Chantulo, A; Yadidi, A E; Nkhoma, W; Maganga, O; Mission (Malawi), Medecins sans Frontieres-Luxembourg, 70 rue de Gasperich, L-1617, Luxembourg. zachariah@internet.lu (Elsevier, 2008-02-14)
      As part of a comprehensive human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention strategy targeting high-risk groups, sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics are offered to all prisoners in Thyolo district, southern Malawi. Prison inmates are not, however, allowed access to condoms as it is felt that such an intervention might encourage homosexuality which is illegal in Malawi. A study was conducted between January 2000 and December 2001 in order to determine the prevalence, incidence, and patterns of STIs among male inmates of 2 prisons in this rural district. A total of 4229 inmates were entered into the study during a 2-year period. Of these, 178 (4.2%) were diagnosed with an STI. This included 83 (46%) inmates with urethral discharge, 60 (34%) with genital ulcer disease (GUD), and 35 (20%) inmates with epididymo-orchitis. Fifty (28%) STIs were considered incident cases acquired within the prisons (incidence risk 12 cases/1000 inmates/year). GUD was the most common STI in this group comprising 52% of all STI. This study shows that a considerable proportion of STIs among inmates are acquired within prison. In a setting of same-sex inmates, this suggests inter-prisoner same-sex sexual activity. The findings have implications for HIV transmission and might help in developing more rational policies on STI control and condom access within Malawi prisons.
    • Supervision, monitoring and evaluation of nationwide scale-up of antiretroviral therapy in Malawi

      Libamba, Edwin; Makombe, Simon; Mhango, Eustice; de Ascurra Teck, Olga; Limbambala, Eddie; Schouten, Erik J; Harries, Anthony D; Clinical HIV Unit, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi; The Lighthouse Clinic, Lilongwe, Malawi; Médecins Sans Frontières–Belgium, Malawi Office, Blantyre, Malawi; World Health Organization Country Office, Lilongwe, Malawi; HIV Coordinator, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi (2006-04-13)
      OBJECTIVE: To describe the supervision, monitoring and evaluation strategies used to assess the delivery of antiretroviral therapy during nationwide scale-up of treatment in Malawi. METHODS: In the first quarter of 2005, the HIV Unit of the Ministry of Health and its partners (the Lighthouse Clinic; Médecins Sans Frontières-Belgium, Thyolo district; and WHO's Country Office) undertook structured supervision and monitoring of all public sector health facilities in Malawi delivering antiretroviral therapy. FINDINGS: Data monitoring showed that by the end of 2004, there were 13,183 patients (5274 (40%) male, 12 527 (95%) adults) who had ever started antiretroviral therapy. Of patients who had ever started, 82% (10 761/13,183) were alive and taking antiretrovirals; 8% (1026/13,183) were dead; 8% (1039/13,183) had been lost to follow up; <1% (106/13,183) had stopped treatment; and 2% (251/13,183) had transferred to another facility. Of those alive and on antiretrovirals, 98% (7098/7258) were ambulatory; 85% (6174/7258) were fit to work; 10% (456/4687) had significant side effects; and, based on pill counts, 96% (6824/7114) had taken their treatment correctly. Mistakes in the registration and monitoring of patients were identified and corrected. Drug stocks were checked, and one potential drug stock-out was averted. As a result of the supervisory visits, by the end of March 2005 recruitment of patients to facilities scheduled to start delivering antiretroviral therapy had increased. CONCLUSION: This report demonstrates the importance of early supervision for sites that are starting to deliver antiretroviral therapy, and it shows the value of combining data collection with supervision. Making regular supervisory and monitoring visits to delivery sites are essential for tracking the national scale-up of delivery of antiretrovirals.
    • Targeting CD4 testing to a clinical subgroup of patients could limit unnecessary CD4 measurements, premature antiretroviral treatment and costs in Thyolo District, Malawi.

      Zachariah, R; Teck, R; Ascurra, O; Humblet, P; Harries, A D; Médecins sans Frontières, Medical Department (Operational Research HIV-TB), Brussels Operational Center, 94 Rue Dupre, Brussels, Belgium. zachariah@internet.lu (Elsevier, 2006-01)
      Malawi offers antiretroviral treatment (ART) to all HIV-positive adults who are clinically classified as being in WHO clinical stage III or IV without 'universal' CD4 testing. This study was conducted among such adults attending a rural district hospital HIV/AIDS clinic (a) to determine the proportion who have CD4 counts >or=350 cells/microl, (b) to identify risk factors associated with such CD4 counts and (c) to assess the validity and predictive values of possible clinical markers for CD4 counts >or=350 cells/microl. A CD4 count >or=350 cells/microl was found in 36 (9%) of 401 individuals who are thus at risk of being placed prematurely on ART. A body mass index (BMI) >22 kg/m(2), the absence of an active WHO indicator disease at the time of presentation for ART, and a total lymphocyte count >1,200 cells/microl were significantly associated with such a CD4 count. The first two of these variables could serve as clinical markers for selecting subgroups of patients who should undergo CD4 testing. In a resource-limited district setting, assessing the BMI and checking for active opportunistic infections are routine clinical procedures that could be used to target CD4 measurements, thereby minimising unnecessary CD4 measurements, unnecessary (too early) treatment and costs.