Posts or Comments 13 April 2021

Archive for "Essential Medicines"

Agriculture &Case Management &CHW &Essential Medicines Bill Brieger | 17 Feb 2021

Frederick Olori Oshiname (1954-2021): Malaria and Tropical Health Researcher

Fred Oshiname has been my student, colleague and friend for 35 years. I was fortunate to supervise his MPH dissertation and PhD thesis when I was at the University of Ibadan. He has been a major partner in many tropical disease and malaria research projects over the years. His untimely passing deprives us of more fruitful years of malaria research in Nigeria.

Below is a brief summary of some of the malaria research projects/teams for which Fred was a partner. At his memorial service friends and colleagues commented on the valuable role he played in any team in helping the group focus, plan and produce quality work. The articles mentioned below are examples of such work.

One of Fred’s first contributions was designing and implementing training for patent medicine vendors, a major, though informal source of primary care for malaria and other diseases in Nigeria. This training demonstrated that medicine shops could become a reliable part of malaria treatment programs.

Subsequently, he was part of a team that helped develop a community-based essential medicine revolving fund for community health workers. CHWs were found to be another important component of malaria control.

Continuing on the theme of medicines for malaria, Fred was part of a team that examined how perceptions of medicine efficacy and appropriateness were influenced by the color of the drugs. This study aimed at determining perceptions of both consumers and sellers of medicines at the community level to learn about color likes and dislikes that might influence acceptance of new color-coded child prepacks of antimalarial drugs

As part of another team, Fred examined malaria knowledge and agricultural practices that promote mosquito breeding in two rural farming communities in Oyo State, Nigeria. The team learned of the urgent need to engage farmers in meaningful dialogue on malaria reduction initiatives including the modification of agricultural practices which favor mosquito breeding.

He also participated in a multi country team that studied the Feasibility of Malaria Diagnosis and Management at the community level in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Uganda: A Community-Based Observational Study. An important lesson learned by the group was that provision of diagnosis and treatment via trained CHWs increases access to diagnosis and treatment, shortens clinical episode duration, and reduces the number of severe cases.

That team went on to conduct Training Community Health Workers to Manage Uncomplicated and Severe Malaria: Experience From 3 Rural Malaria-Endemic Areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. The training and related supervision resulted in improved diagnosis and treatment of uncomplicated and severe malaria. Furthermore, this training was connected with greater acceptability of community health workers by the communities where they worked.

We trust that these endeavors have made a major contribution to knowledge and the field of malaria control.

Agriculture &Borders &Ebola &Essential Medicines &Integrated Vector Management &ITNs &Larvicide &Mosquitoes &Schistosomiasis &Severe Malaria &Vaccine &Vector Control Bill Brieger | 15 Jul 2019

The Weekly Tropical Health News 2019-07-13

In the past week more attention was drawn to the apparently never-ending year-long Ebola outbreak in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Regarding other diseases, there is new information on the RTS,S malaria vaccine, river prawns have been found to play a biological control role in schistosomiasis, and an update from the World Health Organization on essential medicines and diagnostics. New malaria vector control technologies are discussed.

Second Largest Ebola Outbreak One Year On

Ronald A. Klain and Daniel Lucey in the Washington Post observed raised concern that, “the disease has since crossed one border (into Uganda) and continues to spread. In the absence of a trajectory toward extinguishing the outbreak, the opposite path — severe escalation — remains possible. The risk of the disease moving into nearby Goma, Congo — a city of 1 million residents with an international airport.”

They added their voices to a growing number of experts who are watching this second biggest Ebola outbreak in history and note that, “As the case count approaches 2,500 with no end in sight, it is time for the WHO to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern — a ‘PHEIC’ — to raise the level of global alarm and signal to nations, particularly the United States, that they must ramp up their response.” They call for three actions: 1) improved security for health workers in the region, 2) stepped up community engagement and 3) extended health care beyond Ebola treatment. The inability to adequately respond to malaria, diarrheal diseases and maternal health not only threated life directly, but also threated community trust, putting health workers’ lives at risk.

Olivia Acland, a freelance journalist based in DRC, reporting for the New Humanitarian describes the insecurity and the recent “wave of militia attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeastern Ituri province has left hundreds dead and roughly 300,000 displaced in recent weeks, triggering a new humanitarian crisis in a region.” Specifically, “Ituri, a fertile region rich in gold deposits, has been an epicentre of conflict in Congo for decades. Between 1999 and 2003, around 60,000 people were killed here, as a power struggle between rebel groups escalated into ethnic violence,” related to traditional tensions between Hema cattle herders and Lendu farmers with roots in Belgian colonization.

Updates from the DRC Ministry of Health report on average 11 new Ebola cases per day in the past week. So far over 160,000 people have been vaccinated, and yet the spread continues. The Ministry also describes new protocol contains three vaccinations strategies that can be used depending on the environment in which confirmed cases are found including:

  • Classic Ring: The classic strategy of vaccinating contacts of confirmed cases and contact contacts.
  • Enlarged ring: It is also possible to vaccinate all inhabitants of houses within 5 meters around the outbreak of a confirmed case.
  • Geographical Ring: In an area where team safety can not be guaranteed, they can vaccinate an entire village or neighborhood.

Malaria Vaccines, Essential Drugs and New Vector Control Technologies

Halidou Tinto and colleagues enrolled two age groups of children in a 3-year extension of the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine efficacy trial: 1739 older children (aged 5–7 years) and 1345 younger children (aged 3–5 years). During extension, they reported 66 severe malaria cases. Overall they found that, “severe malaria incidence was low in all groups, with no evidence of rebound in RTS,S/AS01 recipients, despite an increased incidence of clinical malaria in older children who received RTS,S/AS01 compared with the comparator group in Nanoro. No safety signal was identified,” as seen in The Lancet.

WHO has updated the global guidance on medicines and diagnostic tests to address health challenges, prioritize highly effective therapeutics, and improve affordable access. Section 6.5.3 presents antimalarial medicines including curative treatment (14 medicines) for both vivax and falciparum and including tablets and injectables. Prophylaxis includes 6 medicines including those for IPTp and SMC. The latest guidance can be downloaded at WHO.

Paul Krezanoski reports on a new technology to monitor bednet use and tried it out in Ugandan households. As a result. “Remote bednet use monitors can provide novel insights into how bednets are used in practice, helping identify both households at risk of malaria due to poor adherence and also potentially novel targets for improving malaria prevention.

In another novel technological approach to vector control, Humphrey Mazigo and co-researchers tested malaria mosquito control in rice paddy farms using biolarvicide mixed with fertilizer in Tanzanian semi-field experiments. The intervention sections (with biolarvicide) had lowest mean mosquito larvae abundance compared to control block and did not affect the rice production/harvest.

Prawns to the Rescue in Senegal Fighting Schistosomiasis and Poverty

Anne Gulland reported how Christopher M. Hoover et al. discovered how prawns could be the key to fighting poverty and schistosomiasis, a debilitating tropical disease. They found that farming the African river prawn could fight the disease and improve the lives of local people, because the African river prawn is a ‘voracious’ predator of the freshwater snail, which is a carrier of schistosomiasis.

The researchers in Senegal said that, “market analysis in Senegal had shown there was significant interest among restaurant owners and farmers in introducing prawns to the diet.” The prawn could also for the basis of aquaculture in rice paddies and remove the threat of schistosomiasis from the rice workers.

—- Thank you for reading this week’s summary. These weekly abstractings have replaced our occasional mailings on tropical health issues due to fees introduced by those maintaining the listserve website. Also continue to check the Tropical Health Twitter feed, which you can see running on this page.

Diagnosis &Essential Medicines &IPTi &Malaria in Pregnancy &Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention &Treatment &Zero Malaria Bill Brieger | 25 Apr 2019

Zero Malaria Starts with Universal Coverage: Part 2 Preventive and Curative Treatments

April hosts several important global health days or observances. On World Health Day 2019 WHO stressed that, “Universal health coverage (UHC) is WHO’s number one goal. Key to achieving it is ensuring that everyone can obtain the care they need, when they need it, right in the heart of the community.” Nationwide monitoring through the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), the Malaria Indicator Surveys (MIS) and the Multi-Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) can document the status of appropriate malaria treatment and intermittent preventive treatment in pregnant women (IPTp).

Definitions of indicators have evolved for treatment-related malaria interventions. When Intermittent Preventive Treatment for pregnant women (IPTp) began in the early 2000s, the recommended dosing was twice during pregnancy after the first trimester one month apart in high and/or stable transmission areas. Due to lessening efficacy of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), the dosage recommendation has changed to at least three times, still a month apart from the beginning of the second trimester.

This updated policy was broadcast widely between 2012 and 2013, but it took countries some time to build capacity and scale up for the expanded coverage goals. UNICEF Data5 again show that between 2014 and 2017 coverage was far below either 80% of pregnant women, let alone reaching them universally (Figure 2). Most countries achieved 30% or less coverage. Zambia at 50% was the highest. Low coverage leaves both pregnant women and the unborn child at risk for anemia and death in the former and low birth weight, still birth or miscarriage for the latter. The World Malaria Report of 2018 estimates that three doses of IPTp were received by only 22% of pregnant women in the target countries in 2017.

The concept of IPT was investigated for infants and children during by a consortium of researchers in several African Countries. It was found that IPTi with SP could have a positive effect on preventing malaria. To operationalize this concept, the World Health Organization developed what is known as Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention (SMC) that would be delivered in the Sahel region of West Africa where malaria transmission itself is seasonal and where there are some countries with very low transmission with implications for malaria elimination.

The SMC delivery process was not linked to immunization but provided by community health workers and volunteers. SP and Amodiaquine (SP-AQ) were used in combination and provided monthly, three or four times during the rainy/high transmission season. Coverage was targeted at children below school age. It is only recently that SMC has been scaled up to reach all eligible countries or states and regions within designated countries.

WHO states that SMC focuses on, “children aged 3–59 months (and) reduces the incidence of clinical attacks and severe malaria by about 75%.” In some countries the coverage is extended to primary school aged children, making comparisons and calculations of coverage (universal por otherwise) challenging.

The World Malaria Report of 2018 notes that, “In 2017, 15.7 million children in 12 countries in Africa’s Sahel subregion were protected through seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) programs. However, about 13.6 million children who could have benefited from this intervention were not covered, mainly due to a lack of funding.” This implies that 54% of eligible children were reached.  Coverage of SMC can refer to receiving any of the doses or as having received all the monthly doses offered by a nation’s malaria control program. Specifically, the World Malaria Report 2018 drew on surveys in 7 countries that provided 4 monthly doses to determine that 53% of children received all doses.

Determining coverage for malaria treatment for sick people is not as straightforward as finding out the numbers who slept under an ITN or swallowed IPTp doses, and even those are not simple. As defined, correct treatment first consists of parasitological diagnosis, which at the primary care level could be by microscopy or rapid diagnostic test (RDT). The next issue is treating only those with positive tests. Finally, the treatment must consist of age- or weight-specific doses of an approved artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) drug. Very few clinic records or surveys document whether the treatment given is ‘correct’ by these standards.

WHO addresses the need for achieving universal access to malaria diagnostic testing and notes this will not be easy. They provide a successful example of Senegal, where following the introduction of malaria RDTs in 2007, malaria diagnostic testing rates rose rapidly from 4% to 86% (by 2009). Logistics, funding, training and supportive supervision complicate implementation.

UNICEF Data report that performance of malaria diagnostics in febrile children in surveys between 2014-17 was approximately 30% on average for countries with national surveys within that time frame (Figure 3). Only 4 countries achieved 50% or better. Most surveys then go on to report the number of febrile children who received ACTs, but do not necessary indicate how many who were correctly diagnoses were given ACTs vs those who received ACT but did not receive a test or tested negative.

The Nigeria 2015 Malaria Indicator Survey Illustrates this dilemma. Among 2600 children who reported having a fever in the two weeks preceding the survey, 66.1% sought advice (or care). Overall, 12.6% of febrile children received a diagnostic test as defined in the question as to whether the child was stuck on the finger or heel to obtain blood. Among the febrile children 37.6% reportedly were given some type of antimalarial drug. Overall 15.5% of febrile children were given an ACT. Even if ACTs were given only to tested children, not all tests would have been positive.

The overall implication of measuring treatment without a link to testing is that if more children receive any, let alone the correct drugs, is that evidence for actual presence of disease. We have a long way to go to measure malaria treatment coverage correctly, not to mention achieving universal coverage with appropriate treatment. Different malaria treatment-related interventions with different steps and different target groups in different regions of Africa and the World make defining, no less achieving UHC, a huge challenge.

Case Management &Essential Medicines Bill Brieger | 26 Dec 2018

The Essential Health Service Package in Nigeria

When examining the service delivery building block of a health system we much ask what, how and where?  “What” addresses the package of services, “How” describes the mechanisms and personnel who do the delivery, and “Where” considers making services accessible in or very near the community. These are the issues explored in this case study on Nigeria. As USAID notes, “An Essential Package of Health Services (EPHS) can be defined as the package of services that the government is providing or is aspiring to provide to its citizens in an equitable manner. Essential packages are often expected to achieve multiple goals: improved efficiency, equity, political empowerment, accountability, and altogether more effective care.”[i]

Although Nigeria has held Primary Health Care as the official foundation of its national health policy since 1986, it took nearly 30 years to give legal backing to a standard service package with the legislative passage and presidential signing of the National Health Bill in 2014. The law says that “all citizens shall be entitled to a basic minimum package of health services…” defined as “the set of health services as may be prescribed from time to time by the Minister after consultation with the National Council on Health” (National Health Bill, 2014 (SB. 215)).1

Up until that time one could infer the existence of an essential medicines list for primary care through the “Standing Orders” service provision algorithms.[ii] These algorithms guide front line health staff known as community health extension workers (CHEWs) in providing quality and accurate treatment and prevention for common illnesses. The Standing Orders also form the basis for training for CHEWs. For each area, “there is a set of actions including health education, further investigation, treatment, and follow-up necessary for good client’s care.”

As an example of essential medicines, the section of an algorithm for fever management below indicates that Artemisinin-Based Combination Treatment (ACT) malaria medicines and Long-Lasting Insecticide-Treated Nets (LLINS) for malaria prevention should be part of the basic package found at the front line.

USAID describes the official service delivery system in Nigeria as organized in three tiers. Tertiary facilities operated by the Federal Ministry of Health are the highest level of health care and serve as referral centers for patients. State Ministries of Health manage secondary facilities, which provide some specialized health services. Local Government Area (LGA) PHC Departments manage primary facilities, which provide the most basic entry point to the health care system-health centers, clinics, and dispensaries. It is at the LGA level in frontline PHC clinics where the CHEWs mentioned above function and deliver the basic package. Volunteer CHW programs exist and are often run by NGOs and are poorly coordinated, although efforts in recent years have aimed at standardizing their training and activities.

In reality, Nigerians at the community level face a mosaic of health service delivery mechanisms ranging from LGA clinics and dispensaries, patent medicine shops, private clinics often run by nurses and licensed to physicians living in the city, and a range of indigenous practitioners (herbalists, bone setters) and faith healers (based in all major religious groups).[iii]

CHEW providing Essential Services

The USAID report on Nigeria’s essential services shows major challenges in health equity.1

  • Coverage is low for reproductive health, maternal health, and immunization varies widely and is strongly associated with wealth, education level, and rural versus urban place of residence.
  • On some measures, health services coverage among populations with urban residence is more than double the coverage among populations with rural residence.
  • Only about 30% of women in the poorest households receive at least one antenatal care visit, compared to over 90 percent of woman in the wealthiest households, with service coverage steeply increasing along with wealth.
  • Coverage of most key preventive and curative health services is relatively low with large disparities in geopolitical zones, between rural and urban zones, and with regard to socioeconomic status; the poorest fifth of the population are much less likely to receive medical services than their counterparts in the wealthiest 20 percent of the population.

USAID’s Health Financing and Governance Project,1 helped group the Essential Package of Care into three “service delivery modes”:

  • family-oriented, community-based services that can be delivered on a daily basis by trained community health, nutrition or sanitation promoters with periodic supervision from skilled health staff;
  • population- oriented, schedulable services that require health workers with basic skills (e.g. auxiliary nurses/midwives and other paramedical staff) and that can be delivered either by outreach or in health facilities in a scheduled way; and
  • individually oriented clinical services that require health workers with advanced skills (such as registered nurses, midwives or physicians) available on a permanent basis.

These modes come along with recommended actions which could be interventions like safe water for the family or drugs like antibiotics for child pneumonia. Therefore, at present the package focuses more on essential interventions (than essential medicines) for groups such as adolescents, pregnant women, women in childbirth, and infants and children among other populations to be reached with of RMNCH services (reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health). In conclusion, Nigeria has articulated its PHC service delivery in terms of what, how and where, but has some ways to go in articulating a clear essential package across the life span and ensuring equitable access to and provision of these services across the country and among all income groups.

[i] Wright, Jenna (2016), ESSENTIAL PACKAGE OF HEALTH SERVICES COUNTRY SNAPSHOT: NIGERIA. United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Health Finance and Governance Project (Abt Associates).


[iii] Brieger WR. PHC: in search of a system that works. Africa Health 1987; 10: 30 31,26.

Case Management &Drug Quality &Essential Medicines Bill Brieger | 24 Dec 2018

Burkina Faso Ensures Essential Medicines Reach the Front Line

Meike Schleiff of the Department of International Health, The JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health has explored how Burkina Faso manages to get essential medicines, including those for malaria, to the front line health services. She explains that the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined essential medicines to be, “those that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population. They are selected with due regard to public health relevance, evidence on efficacy and safety, and comparative cost-effectiveness.”(WHO, 2018) These medicines should be available as part of health systems functioning to all persons at appropriate amounts, affordable costs, quality standards and sufficient information assured to consumers. Every country develops an essential drug list,

In Burkina Faso, approval of modern medicines (specialty and generic), traditional pharmacopoeial drugs, medical consumables and medical biology reagents is assigned to the Drug Regulatory Directorate (DRP).

Essential Medicines in Burkina Faso are purchased and distributed primarily through the Centrale d’Achats des Médicaments Essentiels (CAMEG), or Central Purchasing of Essential Drugs system.(CAMEG, 2018) This CAMEG system operates with two agencies in Ouagadougou, and then has seven additional agencies in other zones of the country (see map). From the zonal agencies, the CAMEG supplies 67 District Dispatching Depots (DRDs), and also supplies University Hospital Centers, regional hospitals, and additional services provided by the Ministry of Health. For the private sector, the CAMEG manages supplies for NGOs, faith-based organizations, medical laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, and the Global Fund for HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.(CAMEG, 2018)

Before the CAMEG was created, access to essential medicines and supplies was very difficult, particularly for rural and other hard to reach populations. This was due to geographical access as well as high prices for specialty drugs, limited availability of generic drugs, and prohibitive regulations against the introduction of generic medicines. In response to this situation, the CAMEG was created under a presidential decree in 1992 and commenced activities in 1994. In 1997, an evaluation was carried out to determine the impact of the CAMEG and decide whether to continue the activities through a long-term structure; the results of this evaluation proposed establishing a legally and financially autonomous non-profit entity to carry forward the work of the CAMEG.(CAMEG, 2018) Today, the CAMEG manages the selection of drug suppliers for the country, ensures compliance with WHO and national regulations on price and quality, and facilitates distribution and storage of drugs across the country. A full product list of the drugs managed by the CAMEG can be found on their website (

Medicines Reach Front-Line Health Facility

Community Level

The availability of essential generic medicines at health and social welfare centres in Burkina Faso is 74.5%, compared with an average of 40% across the African region and less than 60% globally.(World Health, 2016, Ministry of Health, 2010) For hospitals, rates are slightly lower with 61% of generics available and regional hospital centers and 39% at university hospital centers (Saouadogo and Compaore, 2010), but only 1.2% of branded medicines; this situation results in patients who are referred to hospitals from lower level facilities often being forced to purchase medicines from more expensive private pharmacies in order to receive the necessary care at higher levels of the health system.(Vervoort, 2012)

While immense progress has been made in ensuring affordability and accessibility of essential medicines in Burkina Faso, mark-ups at different points along the supply chain still result in prohibitively high prices at final points of sale; patients still pay for 37% of the cost of essential medicines and remain the single greatest healthcare cost for households in Burkina and a burden for the majority of the population who still live on less than $1.25 per day.(Vervoort, 2012)


CAMEG 2018. Centrale d’Achats des Médicaments Essentiels. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Ministry of Health 2010. Measuring the Price, Availability, Financial Accessibility, and Price Composition of Medicines in Burkina Faso. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: Ministry of Health of Burkina Faso.

Saouadogo, H. and Compaore, M. (2010) ‘Essential Medicines Access Survey in Public Hospitals in Burkina Faso’, 4(6), pp. 373-380.

Vervoort, K. 2012. Ensuring the Availability of Essential Medicines in Burkina Faso: A Shared Responsibility.

WHO 2018. Essential Medicines. Geneva, Switzerland.

World Health, O. (2016) Burkina Faso: Country Cooperation Strategy. Available at: (Accessed: May).