Welcome to MSF Field Research


MSF is known for its humanitarian medical work, but it has also produced important research based on its field experience. It has published articles in over 100 peer-reviewed journals and they have often changed clinical practice and been used for humanitarian advocacy. These articles are available for free, in full text - no login required. We sincerely thank the publishers for their permission to archive on this site.


Published Research and Commentary
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  • Accuracy of molecular drug susceptibility testing amongst tuberculosis patients in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan.

    Gil, Horacio; Margaryan, Hasmik; Azamat, Ismailov; Ziba, Bekturdieva; Bayram, Halmuratov; Nazirov, Pirimqul; Gomez, Diana; Singh, Jatinder; Zayniddin, Sayfutdinov; Parpieva, Nargiza; et al. (2021-01-06)
    Objectives In this retrospective study, we evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of molecular tests (MT) for the detection of DR‐TB, compared to the gold standard liquid‐based Drug Susceptibility Testing (DST) in Karakalpakstan. Methods A total of 6,670 specimens received in the Republican TB No 1 Hospital Laboratory of Karakalpakstan between January and July 2017 from new and retreatment patients were analyzed. Samples were tested using Xpert MTB/RIF and line probe assays (LPA) for the detection of mutations associated with resistance. The sensitivity and specificity of MTs were calculated relative to results based on DST. Results The accuracy of MT for detection of rifampicin resistance was high, with sensitivity and specificity over 98%. However, we observed reduced sensitivity of LPA for detection of resistance; 86% for isoniazid (95%CI 82‐90%), 86% for fluoroquinolones (95%CI 68‐96%), 70% for capreomycin (95%CI 46‐88%) and 23% for kanamycin (95%CI 13‐35%). Conclusions We show that MTs are a useful tool for rapid and safe diagnosis of DR‐TB, however, clinicians should be aware of their limitations. Although detection of rifampicin resistance was highly accurate, our data suggests that resistance mutations circulating in the Republic of Karakalpakstan for other drugs were not detected by the methods used here. This merits further investigation.
  • Ebola-negative neonates born to Ebola-infected mothers after monoclonal antibody therapy: a case series

    Ottoni, MP; Ricciardone, JD; Nadimpalli, A; Singh, S; Katsomya, AM; Pokoso, LM; Petrucci, R (Elsevier, 2020-12-01)
    Background Few fetuses survive childbirth when the mother is positive for Ebola virus, with almost all being miscarried or stillborn, or dying shortly after birth. Before 2019, only two infants had been reported surviving past 28 days, of whom one tested positive for Ebola virus and subsequently received experimental therapies. Little is understood regarding the care of surviving neonates born to Ebola virus-positive mothers in the postnatal period and how novel anti-Ebola virus therapies might affect neonatal outcomes. Methods In this case series, we report on two neonates liveborn during the 2018–20 North Kivu Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who, along with their Ebola virus-positive mothers, received investigational monoclonal antibody treatment (mAB114 or REGN-EB3) as part of a randomised controlled trial (NCT03719586). Findings Both infants were born Ebola-negative and progressed well while in the Ebola Treatment Centre. Neither neonate developed evidence of Ebola virus disease during the course of the admission, and both were Ebola-negative at 21 days and remained healthy at discharge. Interpretation To our knowledge these neonates are the first documented as Ebola virus-negative at birth after being born to Ebola virus-positive mothers, and only the third and fourth neonates ever documented to have survived into infancy. Although no conclusions can be drawn from this small case series, and further research is required to investigate the neonatal effects of antibody therapies, these cases warrant review regarding whether post-delivery antibody therapy should be considered for all liveborn neonates of Ebola virus-positive mothers. In the context of a low resource setting, where survival of low-birthweight infants is poor, these cases also highlight the importance of adequate neonatal care.
  • Access to paediatric formulations for the treatment of childhood tuberculosis

    Nash, M; Perrin, C; Seddon, JA; Furin, J; Hauser, J; Marais, B; Kitai, I; Starke, J; McKenna, L (Elsevier, 2020-12-01)
  • Considerations for planning COVID-19 treatment services in humanitarian responses

    Garry, S; Abdelmagid, N; Baxter, L; Roberts, N; de Waroux, OL; Ismail, S; Ratnayake, R; Favas, C; Lewis, E; Checchi, F (BMC, 2020-12-01)
    The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to cause high morbidity and mortality in crisis-affected populations. Delivering COVID-19 treatment services in crisis settings will likely entail complex trade-offs between offering services of clinical benefit and minimising risks of nosocomial infection, while allocating resources appropriately and safeguarding other essential services. This paper outlines considerations for humanitarian actors planning COVID-19 treatment services where vaccination is not yet widely available. We suggest key decision-making considerations: allocation of resources to COVID-19 treatment services and the design of clinical services should be based on community preferences, likely opportunity costs, and a clearly articulated package of care across different health system levels. Moreover, appropriate service planning requires information on the expected COVID-19 burden and the resilience of the health system. We explore COVID-19 treatment service options at the patient level (diagnosis, management, location and level of treatment) and measures to reduce nosocomial transmission (cohorting patients, protecting healthcare workers). Lastly, we propose key indicators for monitoring COVID-19 health services.
  • Outcomes with a shorter multidrug-resistant tuberculosis regimen from Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan

    du Cros, Philipp; Atadjan, Khamraev; Zinaida, Tigay; Abdrasuliev, Tleubergen; Greig, Jane; Cooke, Graham; Herboczek, Krzysztof; Pylypenko, Tanya; Berry, Catherine; Ronnachit, Amrita; et al. (European Respiratory Society (ERS), 2020-11-26)
    Background In 2016, WHO guidelines conditionally recommended standardised shorter 9–12 month regimens for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) treatment. We conducted a prospective study of a shorter standardised MDR-TB regimen in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan. Methods Consecutive adults and children with confirmed rifampicin-resistant pulmonary TB were enrolled between 1st September 2013 and 31st March 2015; exclusions included prior treatment with second-line anti-TB drugs, and documented resistance to ofloxacin or to two second-line injectable agents. The primary outcome was recurrence-free cure at 1 year following treatment completion. Results Of 146 enrolled, 128 patients were included: 67 female (52.3%), median age 30.1 (IQR 23.8–44.4) years. At the end of treatment, 71.9% (92/128) patients achieved treatment success, with 68% (87/128) achieving recurrence-free cure at 1 year following completion. Unsuccessful outcomes during treatment included 22 (17.2%) treatment failure with fluoroquinolone resistance amplification in 8 patients (8/22, 36.4%); 12 (9.4%) loss to follow-up; 2 (1.5%) deaths. Recurrence occurred in one patient. 14 patients (10.9%) experienced serious adverse events. Baseline resistance to both pyrazinamide and ethambutol (aOR 6.13, 95% CI 2.01;18.63) and adherence<95% (aOR 5.33, 95% CI 1.73;16.36) were associated with unsuccessful outcome in multivariable logistic regression. Conclusions Overall success with a standardised shorter MDR-TB regimen was moderate with considerable treatment failure and amplification of fluoroquinolone resistance. When introducing standardised shorter regimens, baseline drug susceptibility testing and minimising missed doses are critical. High rates globally of pyrazinamide, ethambutol and ethionamide resistance raise questions of continued inclusion of these drugs in shorter regimens in the absence of DST-confirmed susceptibility.

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