Posts or Comments 18 July 2024

Monthly Archive for "July 2012"

Health Systems &HIV Bill Brieger | 24 Jul 2012

Integration: Malaria at the International AIDS Conference

The International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC, this week is attracting major media attention daily. The implications of the presentations go beyond one disease and address important health systems issues. Those presentations that address both HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases like malaria are of particular interest when considering integration as part of health systems strengthening.

Integration in Service Delivery

Gebru and colleagues share experiences from Ethiopia. Community health extension workers integrated services at the household and showed that, “Integrating malaria program with HIV/AIDS at community level has brought health benefits among PLHIV. We have learned this project it is cost effective and advances efficient use of human and material resources. We also learnt that insuring active participation and involvement of HIV infected people is very instrumental for successful integration of Malaria activities with HIV care and support program.”

dscn7279sm.jpgEfforts to re-energize integrated clinical care in Zambia were presented by Mugala et al. With PEPFAR support they expanded enrollment, conducted mobile outreach and ensured that HIV, malaria and other maternal health services were integrated throughout the district.

Researchers in Kenya reported on provision of integrated preventive services to people living with HIV/AIDS and noted that, “The provision of LLIN and a water filter in the context of routine HIV care is associated with a significant delay in C D4 decline and represents a simple, practical and cost-effective method to delay HIV-1 progression in many settings.”

Integration in Diagnostics

A Ugandan experience with integrated community HIV testing campaigns was shared by Chamie et al. A 5-day campaign provided point of care screening for HIV, malaria, TB, hypertension and diabetes. They were able to reach 74% of the adult population, found undiagnosed conditions and proved the feasibility of integrated testing.

Echete and co-workers shared experiences in strengthening rural health center laboratories in Ethiopia. Lab staff were trained on HIV, TB, and malaria diagnosis and received follow up supervision and performance checks. While they found integrated laboratory services could be brought to remote areas, they also cautioned on the need to guarantee sustainability.

From these few examples, we can see that integration helps improve quality of care, ability to reach out to communities and even improves quality of life for community members.  More operational research is needed to identify additional synergies that arise from integrating and malaria services.

Monitoring &Universal Coverage Bill Brieger | 24 Jul 2012

Sustaining the Gains

Efforts to eradicate smallpox and guinea worm have taken generations.  In both cases there was a very clear and focal transmission pattern. Smallpox spread only among people and could be stopped with a very effective vaccine. Guinea worm again only infects humans and transmission can be stopped through safe water.

Unlike these other diseases malaria has no one silver bullet and transmission dynamics vary across many different environment types.  At present case containment that was successful in ending smallpox and is effective in guinea worm, is out of the question for malaria.  Malaria must deal with huge health systems challenges ranging from weak procurement and supply management systems to health workforce shortages.  Peak efforts at malaria control have also unfortunately coincided with a world economic downturn.

uganda-malaria-indicators-from-2006-11.jpgDocumentation of malaria control progress is ongoing, if not perfect. A look at indicators from three national DHS/MIS surveys in Uganda make it possible to show how difficult it is to achieve and sustain coverage of the interventions we do have. To date the Roll Back malaria targets of 80% have not been achieved for any indicator, and in the cases of using insecticide treated nets (ITNs) and intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp), there have been drops.

There are a number of ways to measure indicators.  For example, the figures for people who slept under any kind of net are better than those using only ITNs. On the other hand, if we used the data on taking Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) within 24 hours of fever onset, then the figures would be worse.  Of course these figures do not even include whether treatment occurred after a positive rapid diagnostic test.

What we can see is that even with a little more positive nudge, the data are not encouraging.  The guinea worm eradication effort has shown that stakeholders do tire of maintaining disease control efforts year after year.  Many endemic countries are still much too dependent on external assistance to go it alone in eliminating malaria. What will it take to get malaria control and elimination back on track so we can achieve zero malaria deaths by 2015?

Epidemiology &Surveillance Bill Brieger | 21 Jul 2012

Mapping Malaria – targeting interventions

The World Bank has announced a project in Nigeria to map the location of high risk populations in order to target interventions more effectively. According to the Bank, “In Nigeria, populations at greatest risk for HIV comprise 3.4% of population but account for up to 40% of new infections.” We hope that such efforts will help decrease disease and not increase stigma and discrimination. But clearly, mapping is an important tool to understand a health problem.

map-pf_mean_2010_bfa-sm.pngMapping on the broadest sense has been undertaken for malaria.  An earlier incarnation of African mapping was MARA, which was founded on the idea that mapping could help target resources.  More recently the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP) has tried to refine the mapping process drawing on a wide variety of epidemiological studies in endemic countries. MAP has moved beyond Africa and looks at both P. falciparum  and  P. vivax.

Detailed country maps from MARA and MAP on a country by country basis help us see different transmission and seasonal patterns of disease.  From this we can target regions in a country that may benefit more from indoor residual spraying or intermittent preventive treatment.

The interesting thing about malaria is that transmission can vary even on a micro level.  Urban malaria is a case in point, where there are fewer anopheles mosquito breeding sites in densely populated urban slums, and more in areas where people have gardens.

Even in rural areas transmission can vary by proximity to the watery breeding sources of mosquitoes. Factors ranging from deforestation to rice farming play a localized role in transmission mapping. This should lead to spatial targeting of interventions.

We need to carry mapping and thereby appropriate interventions to the community level to have the greatest effect. At present we are of lucky to get any supplies of malaria commodities into a country and distributed to the next administrative level.  Micro mapping and planning may sound like a dream in this context, but if we are to succeed in eliminating the disease, we may need to carry the fight from one neighborhood, hamlet or block to the next.  Such surveillance is the key to a malaria free future.

Drug Quality &Private Sector &Treatment Bill Brieger | 19 Jul 2012

AMFm – the importance of training malaria medicine providers

When the Affordable Medicines Facility malaria (AMFm) was conceptualized, designers clearly identified several ‘supportive mechanisms’ that would be needed at the country level. In particular guidance called for “RESPONSIBLE INTRODUCTION: IN-COUNTRY SUPPORTING INTERVENTIONS” [1] in five key areas:

  • National policy and regulatory preparedness
  • Wholesaler incentives and pricing/margin-control mechanisms
  • Public education and awareness (IEC)
  • Provider training
  • National monitoring and quality preparedness (resistance monitoring, pharmacovigilance, and quality surveillance)

dscn7970-ghana-shop-amfm.jpgThe planners envisioned the need to, “Train health professionals and private wholesalers/retailers to promote safe and effective use of ACTs, including diagnosis, prescription, and treatment,” since many of these would be in the private and/or informal sector without the benefit of more orthodox health training or recent updated in-service training. Such training could also reinforce other supportive interventions such as consumer education and adherence to recommended pricing levels.

AMFm was designed as a two-year ‘pilot’ to determine subsidized antimalarials could get into the market – both private and public – in such a was as not only to increase overall supply of quality medicines, but also drive out more expensive and inappropriate drugs. As the project comes to a close at the end of this year, many people are looking to see if it would make a difference.

Earlier this year Yamey, Schäferhoff and Montagu [2] raised the question – what would AMFm’s success look like.  Would the subsidized quality drugs really ‘crowd out’ the costlier share of the market?  In the process they too addressed the importance of supportive interventions, noting that, “In addition to the price subsidy, the AMFm involves supportive interventions aimed at boosting ACT use, including in-country branding and associated awareness campaigns for sellers and patients, training for ACT providers and greater access to rapid diagnostic tests for malaria.”

dscn7972-ghana-amfm-meds.jpgNow a preliminary report has come out looking at the outcome issues of Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) availability, affordability, use and market share. [3]  A key finding so far has been that, “It is notable that the major benchmarks for success for the upstream indicators of availability, price and market share of quality-assured ACTs have been met or exceeded in 6 of 8 pilot countries, particularly in light of the short implementation period.”

The Advisory group was concerned that, “the evaluated implementation period in each pilot was less than 12 months for assessing the full combined effect of the three components of the model: (i) manufacturer negotiations; (ii) buyer co-payment; and (iii) supporting interventions,” but were excited that even with such drawbacks, progress was evident.

They focused their definition of the ‘supporting interventions’ on consumer education and awareness (IEC/BCC) and provider training and observed that these were, “integral to assuring success of the program objectives of increasing availability and market share and decreasing price” of quality ACTs. They found that “Pilots with higher achievement had the following characteristics: longer period of co-paid ACTs in-country with simultaneous implementation of key supporting interventions (i.e., IEC/BCC and provider training) …”

The initial model for AMFm envisioned that almost 20% of the grant should be devoted to these supportive interventions, and the pay-off seems to be confirmed. The training component will become even more crucial as malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) become a more common part of provider skill sets, especially those in the private sector.

Not every health management problem can be solved by training and education, but the AMFm experience seems to show that these are crucial components in a comprehensive program to increase access to affordable quality medicines.  Whether the actual structure of AMFm continues past this year or not, we need to take the lessons and apply them in guaranteeing that those in need receive appropriate and affordable malaria medicines at the closest point of care.
[1] Technical Design for the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria. November 2007. Prepared with guidance from the AMFm Task Force of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.

[2] Yamey G, Schäferhoff M & Montagu D. Piloting the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria: what will success look like? Bull World Health Organ 2012;90:452–460.

[3] Expert Advisory Group on the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm) Review of the AMFm Phase 1 Independent Evaluation Preliminary Report Friday 22 June 2012, Geneva