Posts or Comments 01 March 2021

Monthly Archive for "July 2015"

Diagnosis &HIV &Integration Bill Brieger | 25 Jul 2015

AIDS and Malaria: The Challenge of Co-Infection Persists

While the International AIDS Society is holding its 2015 meeting in Vancouver, it is important to remember that individual infectious diseases do not exist in isolation, but in combination make life worse for infected people. The co-infective culprit with HIV/AIDS that usually received the most attention is Tuberculosis, but malaria is not without its dangers. Herein we highlight a few recent studies and publications on the interactions between HIV and malaria.

Just because today malaria is primarily a tropical disease, it does not mean that people living with AIDS (PLHIV) in other parts of the world are not at risk. Schrumpf and colleagues point out that people living with HIV frequently travel to the tropics and thus may be at risk of infection by one of the species of malaria parasite. PLHIV are not unlike other travelers who do not always adhere with travel recommendations for using bednets and taking appropriate prophylaxis, but the consequence of non-adherence may be more severe.

In areas endemic for both malaria and HIV the effects of co-infection continue to be studied.  In westernDSCN6373 Kenya Rutto and co-workers report that, “HIV-1 status was not found to have effect on malaria infection, but the mean malaria parasite density was significantly higher in HIV-1 positive than the HIV-1 negative population.” So do malaria prevention and treatment interventions mitigate any of these problems?

Co-infection is not the only shared problem of these two diseases in areas where both are endemic. Yeatman et al. reported that, “In malaria-endemic contexts, where acute HIV symptoms are commonly mistaken for malaria, early diagnostic HIV testing and counseling should be integrated into health care settings where people commonly seek treatment for malaria.”

Mozambique has updated its guidelines for managing anemia among HIV-infected persons. The updated “guidelines for management of HIV-associated anemia prompts clinicians to consider opportunistic conditions, adverse drug reactions, and untreated immunosuppression in addition to iron deficiency, intestinal helminthes, and malaria.” Brentlinger and colleagues concluded that the guidelines are valuable in helping clinicians address anemia through a variety of interventions.

In areas where anti-retroviral treatment may be delayed, use of long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs) might help. Again in Kenya, Verguet and fellow researchers conducted a cost analysis and concluded that, “Provision of LLIN and water filters could be a cost-saving and practical method to defer time to ART eligibility in the context of highly resource-constrained environments experiencing donor fatigue for HIV/AIDS programs.”

Introduction of universal cotrimoxazole prophylaxis for all HIV positive patients in Uganda is seen to have a positive effect on reducing malaria infections among HIV positive patients. Rubaihayo and research partners found this effect as well as reported on several other studies with similar results.

One key overall lessons from these studies is the need to have integrated services for prevention, detection and management of both malaria and HIV. National health programs as well as global donors should make integrated service delivery a priority.

Community &Monitoring Bill Brieger | 07 Jul 2015

Data for Decision Making Series: The Importance of CHW Data Collection

This posting appeared originally on website of 1 Million Community Health Workers.

This week marks our final installment in the Data for Decision Making series! For our final interview weDSCN1535 talked with Dr. William (Bill) Brieger, Senior Malaria Specialist at Jhpiego and a Professor in the Health Systems Program of the International Health Department at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. For over two decades Dr. Brieger taught at the African Regional Health Education Center at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He also previously served as a public health and health education consultant to various international organizations including the World Bank, the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, US Peace Corps, and various USAID implementing partners. Dr. Brieger is internationally known for his expertise in social and behavioral aspects of disease control and prevention.

What are the most pressing challenges in the development of scaled-up CHW programs today?

 I think part of the challenge is that it is difficult to obtain a clear commitment and approach regarding the implementation of CHW programs. A good contrast is seen in the difference between integrated community case management (iCCM) and community directed intervention (CDI). With iCCM, organizations focus on getting treatments to people, whereas with CDI, organizations are interested in building up capacity within communities to support distribution of key health services. Philosophically, iCCM and CDI programs are two different approaches, with CDI aiming to help communities make a conscious decision about participating in the process and making a comDSCN5479mitment to support any volunteers within the community.

The other challenge is that NGOs provide different programs and interventions, which is difficult for countries – mainly Ministries of Health – to manage. I think Rwanda has been the most successful with harmonization and represents a good example of overcoming NGO program fragmentation. Rwanda has systematized the implementation of NGO programs, by requiring NGOs to go through the Ministry of Health to ensure that their programs adhere to the national standards. Burkina Faso has also tried to tackle this problem, and the Ministry of Health has created a “Community Health Promotion Directorate” to assist in harmonizing service provision amongst NGOs. There are certain structural approaches to management that can help scale-up programs while maintaining community commitment; but CHW scale-up will not work unless the community is strongly involved in the selection of health volunteers and is holding those volunteers accountable to community norms and expectations.

Why is data on frontline health workers, particularly CHWs, important?

Data on CHWs and data from CHWs are equally important. Organizations need to know who is providing services in the community so they can plan for training and continuing education. Having a good record of community volunteers and keeping that record updated is important, especially at the health center level. Data collection starts with the health center keeping data on the villages where they operate – the geographical coverage, counts on the volunteers within that village, demographic information about the volunteers, and where they work. Monthly records should be submitted by CHWs to ensure proper service delivery and patient tracking. If all of this is being done, then the data needed for making programmatic decisions can be sent forward to the district, state, or regional province.

In your opinion, what are the largest gaps in data on frontline health workers, particularly CHWs, right now?

 One of the largest gaps in CHW datDSCN1485aa is data showing whether CHW deployment mirrors community needs. For example, based on experiences in Rwanda and Nigeria, we know it is very important to have older female CHWs provide maternal health services, particularly woman who have been pregnant before. It is critical for an older woman to provide these services because she will be able to gain the trust of her community, which will allow pregnant women in the community to see the volunteer to discuss their pregnancy and receive treatment without any stigma. Situations like this demonstrate how important it is to keep track of the demographics of CHWs, along with the service needs of communities, especially services involving confidentiality like home-based care for HIV. With this information in hand, it can be quickly determined if an organization has CHWs with the appropriate characteristics to serve a community.

How can we begin to close these gaps?

DSCN1595 volunteer brings his village register to clinic for checking Currently, most health centers do not keep a good record of community volunteers. This is where we can start to close the gaps in CHW data. If organizations and governments start streamlining data at the health center level, this data can then be reported to other levels of the health system. It is important to at least have an annual or semiannual assessment to determine changes, such as exits and promotions, within the CHW population. I have always envisioned it as a partnership between the health center and the community, so that the health center really knows the catchment area. For example, in most of the health centers and small clinics in Nigeria, the staff draws a hand-drawn map of their catchment area so that they know where their clients will come from. While imperfect, this allows the health center staff to have a good understanding of the community demographics. However, before this can happen it is critical that we start to actually keep track of community volunteers and health workers.

Diagnosis &Ebola Bill Brieger | 04 Jul 2015

Malaria or Ebola … Ebola or Malaria

The similarity of initial signs signs and symptoms for Malaria and Ebola have been a cause for concern since the beginning of the deadly West African outbreak of Ebola over a year ago. A year later we find that the confusion persists.

DSCN7914 Island ETU MonroviaUS News and World Report in a story on the three new Ebola cases that have ‘mysteriously’ appeared in the suburbs of Monrovia, Liberia addressed the treatment received by the teenager whose infection with Ebola was not determined until after he died. “Authorities have traced about 175 people who had contact with the dead teen, who first became ill June 21 and went to a local health facility where he was treated for malaria and discharged.”

In contrast the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps has reported on the disturbing management of a sick nurse serving in Sierra Leone. “A 27-year old British nurse (was) admitted to the Kerry Town Ebola Treatment Unit, Sierra Leone, with symptoms fitting suspect-Ebola virus disease (EVD)
case criteria. A diagnosis of Plasmodium falciparum malaria and heat illness was ultimately made, both of which could have been prevented through employing simple measures not utilised in this case. The dual pathology of her presentation was atypical for either disease meaning EVD could not be immediately excluded. She remained isolated in the red zone (of an Ebola Treatment Center) until 72 hours from symptom onset.”

DSCN2552aIn both cases uninfected people are put at risk because of misdiagnoses. The health staff and community members in the Liberian example, the patient herself in Sierra Leone. In the Liberia situation it appears that health worker education is not complete if staff are not remaining on guard. Also as the number of specialized Ebola treatment units have closed, the triage process to identify and separate patients may have broken down.

The Sierra Leone example points out the need to maintain and enhance malaria prevention efforts to also prevent such mix-ups. Unfortunately public health efforts in the three affected countries to prevent malaria with insecticide treated nets were delayed, meaning the nurse’s experience may not be unique.

Once started, it appears that Ebola does not disappear completely. Another news report today looks into investigation of new suspected Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Ebola was first recognized in 1976. Misdiagnosis can be deadly.