• Barriers to access to visceral leishmaniasis diagnosis and care among seasonal mobile workers in Western Tigray, Northern Ethiopia: A qualitative study

      Coulborn, RM; Gebrehiwot, TG; Schneider, M; Gerstl, S; Adera, C; Herrero, M; Porten, K; den Boer, M; Ritmeijer, K; Alvar, J; et al. (PLoS, 2018-11-08)
      Ethiopia bears a high burden of visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Early access to VL diagnosis and care improves clinical prognosis and reduces transmission from infected humans; however, significant obstacles exist. The approximate 250,000 seasonal mobile workers (MW) employed annually in northwestern Ethiopia may be particularly disadvantaged and at risk of VL acquisition and death. Our study aimed to assess barriers, and recommend interventions to increase access, to VL diagnosis and care among MWs.
    • A Comparison of Miltefosine and Sodium Stibogluconate for Treatment of Visceral Leishmaniasis in an Ethiopian Population with High Prevalence of HIV Infection.

      Ritmeijer, K; Dejenie, A; Assefa, Y; Hundie, T B; Mesure, J; Boots, G; den Boer, M; Davidson, R N; Médecins Sans Frontières-Holland, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. koert.ritmeijer@amsterdam.msf.org (Published by: Infectious Diseases Society of America, 2006-08-01)
      BACKGROUND: Antimonials are the mainstay of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) treatment in Africa. The increasing incidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) coinfection requires alternative safe and effective drug regimens. Oral miltefosine has been proven to be safe and effective in the treatment of Indian VL but has not been studied in Africa or in persons with HIV and VL coinfection. METHODS: We compared the efficacy of miltefosine and sodium stibogluconate (SSG) in the treatment of VL in persons in Ethiopia. A total of 580 men with parasitologically and/or serologically confirmed VL were randomized to receive either oral miltefosine (100 mg per day for 28 days) or intramuscular SSG (20 mg/kg per day for 30 days). RESULTS: The initial cure rate was 88% in both treatment groups. Mortality during treatment was 2% in the miltefosine group, compared with 10% in the SSG group. Initial treatment failure was 8% in the miltefosine group, compared with 1% in the SSG group. Among the 375 patients (65%) who agreed to HIV testing, HIV seroprevalence was 29%. Among patients not infected with HIV, initial cure, mortality, and initial treatment failure rates were not significantly different (94% vs. 95%, 1% vs. 3%, and 5% vs. 1% for the miltefosine and SSG groups, respectively). Initial treatment failure with miltefosine occurred in 18% of HIV-coinfected patients, compared with treatment failure in 5% of non-HIV-infected patients. At 6 months after treatment, 174 (60%) of the 290 miltefosine recipients and 189 (65%) of the 290 SSG recipients experienced cure; 30 (10%) of 290 in the miltefosine group and 7 (2%) of 290 in the SSG group experienced relapse, and the mortality rate was 6% in the miltefosine group, compared with 12% in the SSG group. HIV-infected patients had higher rates of relapse (16 [25%] of 63 patients), compared with non-HIV-infected patients (5 [5%] of 131). CONCLUSIONS: Treatment with miltefosine is equally effective as standard SSG treatment in non-HIV-infected men with VL. Among HIV-coinfected patients, miltefosine is safer but less effective than SSG.
    • Effectiveness of miltefosine in cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania tropica in Pakistan after antimonial treatment failure or contraindications to first line therapy-A retrospective analysis.

      Kamink, S; Masih, B; Ali, N; Ullah, A; Khan, SJ; Ashraf, S; Pylypenko, T; Grobusch, MP; Fernhout, J; den Boer, M; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2021-01-28)
      Background: Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a neglected tropical skin disease, caused by Leishmania protozoa. In Pakistan, where CL caused by L. tropica is highly endemic, therapy with pentavalent antimonials is the standard of care, but has significant toxicity when used in systemic therapy, while are no evidence-based safer alternative treatment options for L. tropica. The efficacy of oral miltefosine has not been studied in CL caused by L. tropica. We evaluated effectiveness and tolerability of miltefosine in patients with previous treatment failure or with contraindications to systemic antimonial treatment. Methods: A retrospective review was conducted of a cohort of CL patients who were treated with a 28-day course of miltefosine between December 2017 and August 2019, in urban Quetta, Pakistan, an area endemic for L. tropica. Descriptive analyses were performed, and effectiveness was assessed by initial response after treatment, and final cure at routine follow up visits, six weeks to three months post-treatment. Tolerability was assessed by routinely reported adverse events. Results: Of the 76 CL patients in the cohort, 42 (55%) had contraindications to systemic antimonial treatment, and 34 (45%) had failure or relapse after antimonial treatment. Twelve patients defaulted during treatment and 12 patients were lost to follow up. In the remaining 52 patients, final cure rate was 77% (40/52). In those with contraindications to systemic antimonial treatment the final cure rate was 83% (24/29) and in the failure and relapse group 70% (16/23). Twenty-eight patients (40.0%) reported 39 mild to moderate adverse events with the main complaints being nausea (41.0%), general malaise (25.6%), and stomach pain (12.8%). Conclusion: Results indicate that miltefosine is an effective second line treatment in CL in areas endemic for L. tropica. Prospective studies with systematic follow up are needed to obtain definitive evidence of effectiveness and tolerability, including identification of risk factors for miltefosine treatment failure.
    • Exploring global and country-level barriers to an effective supply of leishmaniasis medicines and diagnostics in eastern Africa: a qualitative study.

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

      Sunyoto, T; Adam, GK; Atia, AM; Hamid, Y; Babiker, RA; Abdelrahman, N; Vander Kelen, C; Ritmeijer, K; Alcoba, G; den Boer, M; et al. (American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2018-04-13)
      Early diagnosis and treatment is the principal strategy to control visceral leishmaniasis (VL), or kala-azar in East Africa. As VL strikes remote rural, sparsely populated areas, kala-azar care might not be accessed optimally or timely. We conducted a qualitative study to explore access barriers in a longstanding kala-azar endemic area in southern Gadarif, Sudan. Former kala-azar patients or caretakers, community leaders, and health-care providers were purposively sampled and thematic data analysis was used. Our study participants revealed the multitude of difficulties faced when seeking care. The disease is well known in the area, yet misconceptions about causes and transmission persist. The care-seeking itineraries were not always straightforward: "shopping around" for treatments are common, partly linked to difficulties in diagnosing kala-azar. Kala-azar is perceived to be "hiding," requiring multiple tests and other diseases must be treated first. Negative perceptions on quality of care in the public hospitals prevail, with the unavailability of drugs or staff as the main concern. Delay to seek care remains predominantly linked to economic constraint: albeit treatment is for free, patients have to pay out of pocket for everything else, pushing families further into poverty. Despite increased efforts to tackle the disease over the years, access to quality kala-azar care in this rural Sudanese context remains problematic. The barriers explored in this study are a compelling reminder of the need to boost efforts to address these barriers.
    • Safety and effectiveness of short-course AmBisome in the treatment of Post-Kala-azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL): a prospective cohort study in Bangladesh

      den Boer, M; Das, Asish K; Akhter, F; Burza, S; Ramesh, V; Ahmed, BN; Zijlstra, EE; Ritmeijer, K (Oxford University Press, 2018-03-15)
      A safe and effective short-course treatment regimen for Post Kala Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL) is considered essential for achieving and sustaining elimination of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in the Indian subcontinent.(1, 2) Here, single dose liposomal amphotericin B (AmBisome) has been adopted as a first line regimen for VL; however the effectiveness and safety of AmBisome for PKDL has not been formally evaluated.