Decreasing Household Costs of Dengue Prevention at Low-Altitudes in Colombia …

… Redirecting Resources into the Hands of People Who Slap Mosquitoes Everyday.

Class members from the course “Social and Behavioral Foundations of Primary Health Care” at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health write a policy advocacy blog as part of their assignments. Here we are sharing the blog posted by . read more on this and other SBFPHC blog posts by clicking here

Squito(Photo by James Gathany)

Colombia bears high burdens associated with dengue.  During the 2010 epidemic, disability-adjusted-life-years lost were 1178.93 (per 1 million inhabitants) versus just 88.38 averaged for 2011-2012.  Rodriguez et. al (2016) estimated economic burdens higher than $129.9 million USD each year, with most of the burden at the individual household level (46%, 62%, and 64%) for preventing/controlling mosquitos.

The Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection uses the 1,800m elevation mark when allocating money to low-altitude departments for dengue-related expenditures.  This suggests that only half of Colombia’s 47 million residents are at risk for dengue.  However, many people vacation at low altitudes where they risk becoming infected and bringing dengue back home.  If low-altitude residents were better equipped to control mosquitos, then both residents and visitors would be better protected.  Unfortunately, low-altitude residents shoulder a greater financial burden for mosquito prevention than the government.  Rodriquez et al. (2016) reported that almost $85 million USD was the highest household burden (for prevention alone) between 2010 and 2012, while the highest government burden was only $35 million USD (for prevention, awareness campaigns, and control combined).

If the Ministry of Health and Social Protection’s vision of equity-based protection and healthcare resources for all is to come to fruition, more money must flow into prevention and control.  Residents should not have to buy expensive sprays when they already live in poverty.  If Ministry-controlled finances were earmarked for inexpensive yet effective household supplies, such as curtains and water container covers, then less money would be required for treatment.  I advocate for reshuffling some of the dengue-related funds to reflect the prevention priority; increase amounts for household prevention and decrease treatment allocations.

Let’s not make low-altitude residents choose between buying expensive sprays or food to eat.  It’s hard enough already just to slap together supper.

Mosquito-Borne and Tick-Borne Illness in Florida: Importance of Surveillance

Class members from the course “Social and Behavioral Foundations of Primary Health Care” at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health write a policy advocacy blog as part of their assignments. Here we are sharing the blog posted by “jleblan5jhmiedu“. read more on this and other SBFPHC blog posts by clicking here. This posting is particularly relevant today on World Mosquito Day.

Vector-borne diseases make up some of the more common infections throughout the globe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges mosquito-borne denque mosqdiseases, such as West Nile Virus, and tick-borne infections, such as Lyme disease, have a great impact on the United States. These vectors have found favor in climate change as they continuing to breed and pose a public health risk; carrying infectious agents that may be transmitted to humans through a bloodmeal.

In 2014, the State of Florida Department of Health published their mosquito borne diseases surveillance guidebook. Within these guidelines, specific mosquito-borne infections were addressed in regards to both detecting and preventing such diseases. Unfortunately, since this publication, the Zika virus outbreak developed and was found to have recently reached Miami-Dade county in Florida, where locally transmitted cases were confirmed. Given these locally acquired infections in Florida, the surveillance guidelines should be updated accordingly.

FL Zika

Number of Florida Acquired Zika Virus (gray line: per million)

While the Northeastern regions of the US are known to have their “tick season” in the Spring and Summer, Florida’s climate allows for a year-long risk of contracting a tick-borne diease. The standard lab diauos in newsgnostic criteria for Lyme disease, the ELISA, detects antibodies against the bacterium, Borelia burgdorferi sensu stricto. However, it has continued to demonstrate poor sensitivity and overall reliability. Research from the University of North Florida has identified different strains of Borrelia that cause disease in humans. Thus, should one be infected with one of the different strains of Borrelia, one’s test is likely to be negative despite having actual disease. In recent years, Florida was found to have a 140% increase in Lyme disease cases since 1993 while reports of other tick-borne diseases have also increased. Hence, Florida researchers and public health professionals must partner together to revise and implement more up-to-date/accurate screening and awareness for vector-borne diseases.

Emergency Funding for Zika Virus Response

Class members from the course “Social and Behavioral Foundations of Primary Health Care” at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health write a policy advocacy blog as part of their assignments. Here we are sharing the blog posted by Hanna B. More of the SBFPHC postings can be read at this link.
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Source: wh.gov/Zika

On February 22nd, the Presidential office requested $1.9billion in emergency funding to support activities related to Zika virus, but these efforts have dangerously stalled in Congress. To date, nearly $600 million has been redirected by the Obama administration to fund Zika related research, front line response efforts, and vaccine development. More than half of this money was redirected from within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

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Source: Healthcareit

On August 3rd, Sylvia Burwell, DHHS Secretary, informed Congress that due to the delay in approving the emergency funding, the DHHS had been forced to further reallocate up to $81 million from other programs, including the National Institutes of Health. This was extremely important because it could impact the progression of the vaccine studies currently underway, as Secretary Burwell suggested in her letter to Congress. Her letter also outlined the response by the CDC and predicted that they too would be out of Zika funding by the end of the fiscal year (Sept 2016).

Funding approval for Zika virus related activities from the U.S. is more urgent than ever. As of August 17th, the U.S. has confirmed 14 cases of locally acquired Zika virus disease – all from Florida. This was after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced on August 2nd that an additional $16 million was awarded to 40 states and territories to support Zika related public health activities.

So what can you do? It is time we let our political leaders know that their constituency will not wait any longer. Follow Secretary Burwell’s lead – petition your local congressional representatives (House, Senate) and let them know this is an issue you care about. Or submit pre-formatted online petitions at Project Hope and AmeriCares. And spread the word and call to action amongst your peers.

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Source: Project Hope

 

Preventing Malaria Drug Resistance in the African Setting …

and Dealing with it Should Resistance Occur

Professor Joseph Ana, Africa Centre for Clinical Governance Research & Patient Safety in Calabar, Nigeria shares his experiences and concerns in this blog.

Drug resistance is one of the biggest challenges facing health care systems in the world today. Around 25,000 people die each year from resistant viral and bacterial infections in Europe, but no new classes of antibiotics have come on the market for more than 25 years. The figures are difficult to obtain for Africa and other developing countries.

Medicine shops may sell inappropriate malaria medicines, thus contributing to resistance

Medicine shops may sell inappropriate malaria medicines, thus contributing to resistance

Drug resistance is considered important in the failure of control and treatment of diseases its consequences, and it is considered to be one of the causes of emergence of new strains of infective organisms and re-emergence of once-controlled diseases. The occurrence and impact of the phenomenon is worse in Africa and parts of Asia for malaria according to WHO and the US CDC. Viral and bacterial diseases are also affected in this region.

Therefore, there is urgent need for global sustained action to prevent drug resistance from happening, and to control it, if it happens. The causes of Drug resistance are varied including lack of or poor implementation of the control of access to drugs, population migration and movement, misdiagnosis, under-treatment and irrational drug prescription and use.

Global Report malaria drug resistanceTo prevent drug resistance, countries need to legislate and implement adequate control of access to drugs, sustain public education on the dangers of drug resistance, educate health workers on and enforce rational drug prescribing and use. Effective monitoring of treatment outcomes is also important to know when drug resistance is occurring. With the global and country by country best efforts drug resistance may still occur because of mutation and adaptation of infective organisms.

For diseases like Malaria for which resistance to the most effective drug today, artemisinin-combination drugs, is being reported from Southeast Asia, the development of new drugs alongside vector control is essential by all countries, particularly in Africa.


Professor Joseph Ana – BM.BCh (UNN), FRCSEd, FRSPH, JtCertRCGP-UK, DFFP (RCOG)-UK, DipUrology-UK, Cert.ClinGov.UK; Lead Consultant Trainer / CEO; joseph ana <jneana@yahoo.co.uk>; Contact: Africa Centre for Clinical Governance Research & Patient Safety; @Health Resources International (HRI WA); Consultants in Clinical Governance & Patient Safety (MDCN Accredited CPD Provider); 8 Amaku Street State Housing  (& 20 Eta Agbor Road UNICAL Road),  Calabar, Nigeria.

Visit Website: www.hriwestafrica.com; email: hriwestafrica@gmail.com    Tel: +2348063600642

Disrupting Malaria: How Fyodor Biotechnologies is changing the diagnostics game

Efosa Ojomo, Senior Researcher, Harvard Business School, Forum for Growth and Innovation looks at the new innovation award recipient, the designers of the Urine Malaria Test, and explains how the technology disrupts the system that has made it difficult to reach the average malaria sufferer with appropriate diagnostics and treatment.

In 2015, 214 million people were infected with malaria, 190 million of whom were in African countries. Of those infected, 438,000 died, 91% of who were in Africa. In addition, malaria has significant financial implications on families, companies and countries. Experts estimate that in countries burdened with malaria, the disease is responsible for as much as 40% of public health expenditures, 30 to 50% of in-patient hospital visits, and 50% of out-patient visits.

From a financial standpoint, direct costs of managing the disease is up to $12 billion annually, while the cost in lost economic growth is many times more. Considering the scale of malaria’s impact on Africa, there have been many innovations that have helped curb the spread of the disease, but perhaps one of the most significant is Fyodor Biotechnology’s disruptive Urine Malaria Test (UMT).

UMT-DiagThe UMT, a Significant Malaria Milestone

Fyodor’s UMT is a simple urine test where patients simply pee on a stick in order to find out whether they have malaria. The World Health Organization states that “Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease and prevents deaths. Access to diagnostic testing and treatment should be seen… as a fundamental right of all populations at risk.” In other words, if we diagnose early, we will save many more lives and limit transmission.

fyodortableUMT is an inexpensive (introductory price: ~$2 per test to end user) malaria diagnostic test that does not require the expertise of a trained professional. The UMT kit also does not require a lab or special disposal due to its simplicity. It is a three step process that lets patients know, in 20 minutes, if they have malaria.

Why the UMT is Disruptive

The most important hallmark of a disruptive innovation is that it makes complicated and expensive products simple and affordable, enabling many more people in society to benefit from the innovation. The UMT fits this model as the differences between the UMT and existing blood-testing kit below clearly illustrate.

One of the most exciting things about the UMT is Dr. Agbo’s goal to manufacture the product in Africa. “With an investment of $5 million, we can build a fully equipped manufacturing plant in Nigeria. That amount will only get us a building in the United States,” he explained.

Innovation Prize of Africa winners IPA2016winners-1200x590 at Forbes2It is solutions like these that African investors and policy makers need to support in order to get Africa on a path to sustainable economic development. As reported by Forbes, the UMT is an innovative product by Africans for Africans. This is why the UMT is an innovation winner.

(A longer version of this posting appeared on the World Bank Africa Can blog.)

Malaria Plus Brexit – let’s hope no Malexit

brexit and africaNo one knows for certain the full implications of Britain’s narrow vote to leave the European Union (EU). Since Britain has been a major player in malaria research and development aid, questions naturally arise of whether the British exit (Brexit) from the EU will affect development aid and global research generally and malaria aid and research specifically.

Earlier this week the Brookings Institution examined the ways that a Brexit could affect Africa. Here are some of the possibilities adapted to malaria –

  • Volatility in the global economic market will affect not only the British economy but also those of malaria endemic countries, possibly reducing the reducing available funds for national contributions to malaria control at home, a major goal for sustaining malaria control and elimination
  • Britain specifically may not be able to sustain its financial contributions to malaria aid through the Global Fund, bilateral malaria programs and of course it would no longer contribute to the European Development Fund which currently stands at nearly 15% of its total.
  • The British economy which like all modern nations depends on trade would be affected by the need to renegotiate hundreds of trade agreements around the world. Less trade likely means less income and less development aid.

In both 2014 and 2015 the United Kingdom contributed 8% of the total contributions received by the Global Fund to fight HIV, TB and Malaria. In addition “UK’s official development assistance (ODA) is expected to rise to £11.3bn when it hits the 0.7% target. With a population of about 63 million, the figure works out at roughly £137 per Brit.” In 2012 the malaria component was estimated at 2%.

Patrick Vallance and Tim Wells examine the importance of global collaboration on malaria research. This requires the free flow of researchers and their needed supplies across national borders, especially malaria research that has had to date a pan-European character. They describe the collaboration needed “between commercial and non-profit organizations, and between academic science and medicine. Without such partnerships, advances in fighting this deadly disease would not have been possible.”

Vallance and Wells give the example of “GSK’s research site in Tres Cantos, Spain. The lab operates with the support and advice of a broad range of actors, including GSK, the Wellcome Trust, the European Union, and MMV (Medicines for Malaria Venture), as well as various other product-development partnerships and academic centers.” Such efforts may be jeopardized when permits for malaria scientists to work in other countries are more difficult to obtain.

There may be other aid mechanisms too, the Commonwealth Secretariat being one. During World Malaria Day in 2012 the Commonwealth Secretariat pledged to assist in sustaining the gains made in tackling malaria.  We hope that Brexit will not become an exit for malaria commitments and saving lives.

Tanzania – Malaria Indicators Low, Still Need Work

Success in the war against malaria is not guaranteed. Two articles to that effect have appeared The Citizen of Dar es Salaam following presentation of findings from the most recent (2015-16) Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (DHS)/Malaria Indicator Survey (MIS).

Slide2On Tuesday (21 June 2016) the news story noted the increase in malaria prevalence among children below the age of 5 years, which was attributed to “the decline in the use of mosquito nets and low distribution of nets to households.” Then in a Wednesday (22 June 2016) Editorial, the paper noted that this “backtracking” is a “worrisome situation, for malaria is a problem that puts such a heavy burden on the government and the country’s economy.”

Slide1A look at the preliminary DHS does confirm the concerns about insecticide treated nets (ITNs).  After nearly 10 years of progress, reported ITN availability in households declined. This was reflected in a drop in reported use by children below 5 years of age as well as pregnant women. It should be noted that targets set in 2000 in the Roll Back Malaria Abuja Declaration had been 80% by the year 2010, and those had almost been achieved in 2012, but the fall to around 50% in 2015-16 is discouraging.

Another preventive measure has also faced difficulty. Pregnant women should receive doses of Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) as part intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) during antenatal care (ANC).  Until 2012 the recommendation was two contacts, but the World Health Organization has raised this to three or more depending on the number of times a woman attends ANC. So far IPT has not reached 40% or half of the Abuja target.

Slide3This low IPT coverage is ironic since most women attend ANC at least once in Tanzania. At present only 68% of women who had been pregnant received the first dose of IPT even though 98% registered for ANC. Granted that some may have registered in their first trimester when they would not yet be eligible for IPT, but the gap is quite large and signals missed opportunities, which are often caused by stock-outs. Even though the proportion of women attending up to ANC visits could be better, these attendances should produce better delivery of the 3rd IPT dose.

Slide4Malaria can also be controlled through prompt and appropriate treatment. While testing and treatment of children with appropriate artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) has increased, this are is still problematic. In particular, while WHO recommends that all cases of fever should be tested, less than a third received a test (rapid diagnostic test – RDT or microscopy). Testing helps distinguish malaria from other fevers, and ACTs should not be given unless malaria is confirmed. We can see that more ACTs are provided than the number who were tested, so treatment based solely on signs and symptoms is still the norm. Again there is need to explore the availability of both RDTs and ACTs as factors that have made these targets difficult to achieve.

Tanzania continues to receive support from the Global Fund and the US President’s Malaria Initiative, among other partners. It is incumbent on all partners, global and national, to use these results as a wake up call to to plan for better delivery of malaria services and thus a reduction of both the economic and health burden of malaria in Tanzania.

 

Kenya – the long road to controlling malaria in pregnancy

Augustine Ngindu, the Technical Advisor for Malaria in Kenya’s Maternal and Child Survival Program (USAID, Jhpiego) shares with us the steps and processes in building a national response to controlling malaria in pregnancy (MIP) in Kenya.

Recently Stephanie Dellicour and colleagues wrote about the challenges in the delivery of interventions to prevent malaria in pregnancy in Kenya in Malaria Journal. They examined MIP services in Nyanza Province of western Kenya between February and May 2010. At that time they found that, “… delivery of  IPTp (intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy) and ITNs (insecticide treated nets) through ANC (antenatal care) was ineffective and more so for higher-level facilities. This illustrates missed opportunities and provider level bottlenecks to the scale up and use of interventions to control malaria in pregnancy delivered through ANC.”

Kenya National malaria StretegySince that time the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) has made efforts to address these problems by building on the national malaria strategy (NMS) 2009-2017 that recommend provision of IPTp only in high malaria transmission areas based on strong epidemiological evidence.  In 2010 NMCP revised the national guidelines on diagnosis, treatment and prevention of malaria in line with the NMS 2009-2017. Then in 2011 NMCP in collaboration with Jhpiego developed simplified MIP guidelines on provision of IPTp in line with the national guidelines (each pregnant woman to receive at least 2 IPTp doses starting from 16 weeks of pregnancy at 4 weeks interval). Also in 2011 Maternal and Child  health care workers in all 14 high malaria transmission areas were trained on provision of MIP using the simplified guidelines.

Trends in IPTp in Malaria Endemic Areas fromIn 2012 health facility in-charges in the same high transmission areas were trained on MIP quality performance improvement. Then in 2013 promotion of early start of  IPTp in the second trimester through sensitization of pregnant women was started in two out of the 14 malaria endemic counties. This resulted in increased IPTp2 coverage from 25% as reported in the kenya Malaria Indicator Survey) (KMIS 2010) to 63% (US-CDC survey 2013).

From 2014 to date the practice of sensitizing pregnant women using community health workers/volunteers has been replicated in other counties. IPTp2 coverage has increased from known 25% (KMIS 2010) to 56% (KMIS 2015) in the malaria endemic counties. Likewise use of ITNs by pregnant women increased from 50% in 2010 to 79% in 2015.

Although IPTp coverage is still below national target, the lost opportunities are being addressed. Kenya is still confronting multiple challenges including SP stock-out and devolution of health services to county governments but is set on making progress and saving mothers’ lives.

The biggest risk of Ebola re-introduction is animals – the human variety

ebola virus ecologyIn the early days of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa much emphasis was placed on avoiding ‘bushmeat’. Health communications materials prominently featured monkeys, bats and deer (oh my!). In mid-2014 a Red Cross team went door to door in Kailahun province, the border region where Ebola first arrived in Sierra Leone on a sensitization mission, explaining to people exactly how the virus spreads and how to avoid it with three simple rules. “Rule three: Don’t eat bushmeat, the meat of wild animals.”

After thousands of deaths, it turns would that most likely only the December 2013 index case in the forests of Guinea was the only one that was associated with wild animals. The rest spread from human to human.

Liberia Ebola Free 20160609We are happy today that WHO has declared Liberia Ebola-free for the fourth time. With previous declarations from Guinea and Sierra Leone, the region does not have current transmission.

This is not a cause for letting down our guard. As Tolbert Nyenswah, head of Liberia’s Ebola response team, told Reuters, “the country had strengthened its surveillance and response capacity and its laboratory system since the start of the outbreak. We’ve proven we can contain the outbreak, we can intervene very swiftly,” said Nyenswah.

Science Daily reports from the University of Georgia, “Sexual transmission of Ebola is likely to impact course of outbreaks.” Data have shown that “viable Ebola virus remained in the semen of disease survivors for months after it was no longer detectable in their blood — and by a study reporting at least one instance of sexual transmission of Ebola.” Sexual transmission was hypothesized as “the source of Ebola transmission that killed a 17- year-old boy in Liberia” back in the summer of 2015 when another mini-outbreak occurred. As Annalisa Merelli reported, with the worst of the epidemic over, Ebola is essentially an STD.

Ebola is not the only tropical virus that has become an STD. While WHO notes that “Vector control is critical in substantially reducing the risk of Zika transmission … avoidance of unprotected sexual activity with a partner possibly exposed to Zika virus,” is also necessary. As of June 1st, 11 out of 618 cases of Zika reported to CDC in the U.S. were sexually transmitted.

The lines dividing zoonotic, infectious and sexually transmitted diseases are blurring. The common thread is the need for strong surveillance systems and proper communication of research findings so that the public can protect itself.

Husbands, Wives and Malaria: what do we know about male involvement?

A recent article in PLoS One highlights the positive role husbands’ involvement can have in saving the lives of their pregnant wives. A 9-item scale of husband involvement was developed, and although it did not include malaria related content because the Tigre Region of Ethiopia is not malaria endemic, the items relating to support for antenatal care attendance are certainly relevant to malaria elsewhere. Overall, maternal survival was strongly associated with higher levels of husbands’ involvement.

DSCN7129a pregnant women get ITNs when register for ANC RwandaThe importance of male or husband involvement in malaria in pregnancy services is usually assumed. For example, in Rwanda husbands are encouraged to attend at least the first ANC visit with their wives where HIV testing is done and ITNs provided.

Unfortunately the assumption about male involvement is backed by little published literature. In Mali, for example, “health facilities operating under the cost-recovery model strive to provide free IPTp, their own financial constraints often make this impossible.” When costs are connected to this malaria preventive service, “Costs … complicate household budgeting for health care, particularly as women often rely on their husbands for money.”  In Uganda husbands’ encouragement was a significant factors influencing adherence to IPTp with SP.

Use of insecticide treated bednets in prevention of malaria by women in India was indirectly influenced by their husbands. Use was positively associated by women’s decision making power as well as by husband’s educational level, with an implication that husbands are important in understanding women’s decision making.

DSCN7276There is more information about male involvement in antenatal care generally. These studies show positive outcomes in terms of ANC services uptake, and from that one may make the assumption that greater access to and use of these services can help prevent maternal deaths.

In Indonesia, “full family, particularly husband’s, support” is associated with adherence to maternal iron-folic acid (IFA) supplementation during pregnancy. The researchers concluded that husband’s support is especially important for less educated women. A study in Pakistan reported that “restriction from husband or mother-in-law” was a barrier to ANC attendance. Likewise in Uganda lack of support from husband/partner was a barrier to attending ANC and skilled delivery.

A qualitative study in Ghana aptly titled, “What men don’t know can hurt women’s health” showed a reluctance to be involved. Findings suggested that, “Although many men recognize the importance of skilled care during pregnancy and childbirth, and the benefits of their involvement, most did not actively involve themselves in issues of maternal healthcare unless complications set in during pregnancy or labor. Less than a quarter of male participants had ever accompanied their wives for antenatal care or postnatal care in a health facility.” Four barriers to male involvement included –

  1. perceptions that pregnancy care is a female role
  2. belief that men who accompany their wives are being dominated by their wives
  3. unfavorable service factors – hours, staff attitudes
  4. high costs associated with accompanying women to seek maternity care (direct and indirect)

Finally, going back to Rwanda, making male involvement a requirement, might in some cases backfire. The recommendation was seen as “a clear link in the chain of delays and led to severe consequences, especially for women without engaged partners.” Clearly not every pregnancy is the result of a loving mother-father dyad.

Since malaria is a major cause of maternal morbidity and mortality, more work is needed in malaria endemic areas to understand the life-saving role of male/husband involvement. This role will vary by culture, the local economy and the structure of health services, but a better understanding of the male role and practical interventions based on the findings will be valuable investments.