Category Archives: Social/Cultural

Malaria News Today 2020-09-18/19

Several reports and studies aim to help understand the malaria parasite and the human behavior surrounding its control. Cultural perceptions in Benin influence treatment seeking. Tracking cases in India aid in elimination efforts. The contrasts between in vivo and in vitro studies are examined. The factors associated with anemia among children and women in Ghana are traced to malaria and other factors. Finally both human and mosquito immunity are discussed. Click the links in each section to read details.

Demonstration of indigenous malaria elimination through Track-Test-Treat-Track (T4) strategy in a Malaria Elimination Demonstration Project in Mandla, Madhya Pradesh

Using the current intervention and prevention tools along with optimum utilization of human resources,This project has revealed about 91% reduction of indigenous cases of malaria during the period from June 2017 to May 2020, through case management and vector control strategies. A total 357,143 febrile cases were screened, out of which 0.19% were found positive.

The reduction was similar in the three high prevalence blocks of the district. These results reveal that malaria elimination is achievable in India within a stipulated time frame. The reduction of malaria at the community level was further validated when zero malaria cases were diagnosed during hospital and community-based studies in Mandla. Prompt detection and treatment of imported/migratory cases may have prevented outbreaks in the district. This project has demonstrated that field programmes backed by adequate technical, management, operational, and financial controls with robust monitoring are needed for achieving malaria elimination.needed for achieving malaria elimination.

Risk factors for anaemia among Ghanaian women and children vary by population group and climate zone

Anaemia has serious effects on human health and has multifactorial aetiologies. This study aimed to determine putative risk factors for anaemia in children 6-59 months and 15- to 49-year-old non-pregnant women living in Ghana. Data from a nationally representative cross-sectional survey were analysed for associations between anaemia and various anaemia risk factors. National and stratum-specific multivariable regressions were constructed separately for children and women to calculate the adjusted prevalence ratio (aPR) for anaemia of variables found to be statistically significantly associated with anaemia in bivariate analysis. Nationally, the aPR for anaemia was greater in children with iron deficiency (ID; aPR 2.20; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.88, 2.59), malaria parasitaemia (aPR 1.96; 95% CI: 1.65, 2.32), inflammation (aPR 1.26; 95% CI: 1.08, 1.46), vitamin A deficiency (VAD; aPR 1.38; 95% CI: 1.19, 1.60) and stunting (aPR 1.26; 95% CI: 1.09, 1.46).

In women, ID (aPR 4.33; 95% CI: 3.42, 5.49), VAD (aPR 1.61; 95% CI: 1.24, 2.09) and inflammation (aPR 1.59; 95% CI: 1.20, 2.11) were associated with anaemia, whereas overweight and obese women had lower prevalence of anaemia (aPR 0.74; 95% CI: 0.56, 0.97). ID was associated with child anaemia in the Northern and Middle belts, but not in the Southern Belt; conversely, inflammation was associated with anaemia in both children and women in the Southern and Middle belts, but not in the Northern Belt. Anaemia control programmes should be region specific and aim at the prevention of ID, malaria and other drivers of inflammation as they are the main predictors of anaemia in Ghanaian children and women.

From Circulation to Cultivation: Plasmodium In Vivo versus In Vitro

Research on Plasmodium parasites has driven breakthroughs in reducing malaria morbidity and mortality. Standard in vitro culture environments differ dramatically from in vivo conditions in nutrient levels, hematocrit, and rheology and have lower variability in gas levels and temperature.

Nutritional and physical differences lead to pronounced, and often rapid, changes in phenomenon, important for understanding virulence in Plasmodium. Parasite drug sensitivity may be altered due to culture adaptation selection, supraphysiological metabolite concentrations, and in vitro media formulations. Parasites propagated in vitro, versus in vivo, show altered transcriptomic and genomic patterns related to virulence factors, metabolism, gametocytogenesis, and more.

Direct-from-host methodologies avoid the impacts of in vitro culture adaptation but limit the types of assessments that can be performed as many experiments either require equipment not readily available in endemic settings or necessitate long-term manipulation….

Between traditional remedies and pharmaceutical drugs: prevention and treatment of “Palu” in households in Benin, West Africa

In Benin, malaria clinical cases, including the larger popular entity called “Palu” are evoked when people get fever. “Palu” is often self-diagnosed and self-medicated at home. This study aimed to describe the use of herbal medicine, and/or pharmaceutical medicines for prevention and treatment of malaria at home and the factors associated with this usage.

Methods. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Benin in an urban and in a rural area in 2016. Around 600 households in each place were selected by using a random sampling of houses GPS coordinates of the families. The association between socio demographic characteristics and the use of herbal medicine was tested by using logistic regression models.

Results. In Cotonou (urban), 43.64% of households reported using herbal or pharmaceutical medicine to prevent “Palu”, while they were 53.1% in Lobogo (rural). To treat “Palu” in Cotonou, 5.34% of households reported using herbal medicine exclusively, 33.70% pharmaceutical medicine exclusively and 60.96% reported using both. In Lobogo, 4% reported using herbal medicine exclusively, 6.78% pharmaceutical medicine exclusively and 89.22% reported using both. In Cotonou, the factors “age of respondent”, “participation to a traditional form of savings” and “low socioeconomic level of the household” were associated with the use of herbal medicine.

Conclusions. This study shows the strong use of herbal medicine to prevent “Palu” or even treat it, and in this case it is mostly associated with the use of pharmaceutical medicine. It also highlights the fact that malaria control and care seeking behaviour with herbal medicine remain closely linked to household low-income status but also to cultural behaviour. The interest of this study is mostly educational, with regards to community practices concerning “Palu”, and to the design of adapted behaviour change communication strategies. Finally, there is a need to take into account the traditional habits of populations in malaria control and define a rational and risk-free use of herbal medicine as WHO-recommended.

Malaria parasite fools body with protein to dodge immune system

By SHIGEKO SEGAWA: OSAKA- The parasite responsible for malaria generates a look-alike of a human protein to suppress the workings of the immune system, leaving humans “defenseless” against infection, according to Japanese and British researchers.
A team comprised mainly of researchers from Osaka University and the University of Oxford said they hope the finding will help lead to new therapies for the mosquito-borne tropical disease.

As plasmodium is resistant to the immune system, the body’s self-defense system, humans can become infected repeatedly. Three years ago, the researchers realized that when plasmodium infects human red blood cells, it generates proteins called RIFINs, which send out signals for suppressing immunity. During the latest study, the researchers analyzed the structure of RIFIN in detail and found it closely resembles part of the structure of a specific human protein, which is involved in the mechanism for preventing the immune system from staging an attack on the body by mistake.

That protein combines with a molecule that suppresses the workings of the immune system. The scientists found the RIFIN that closely imitates the human protein in shape also combines with the same molecule and dodges attacks of the immune system. “We hope our findings will help develop vaccines and therapeutic drugs for malaria,” said Hisashi Arase, a professor of immunology with Osaka University, who is part of the research team. The research results were published in Nature, the British scientific journal.

Why Do Insect Vectors Not Get Ill from the Microbes They Transmit?

Some Evidence from Malaria-carrying Mosquitos by Kevin Noonan. The conservation of diverse and molecularly well-defined hemocyte types between distantly related mosquito genera and the apparent absence of megacytes in our Ae. aegypti mosquito dataset raise questions as to how the immune systems of these mosquito species have evolved to limit their capacity to transmit parasites and arboviruses to humans. This knowledge will ultimately underpin immunological strategies aimed at interrupting disease transmission by rendering mosquitoes resistant to such pathogens.

The conservation of diverse and molecularly well-defined hemocyte types between distantly related mosquito genera and the apparent absence of megacytes in our Ae. aegypti mosquito dataset raise questions as to how the immune systems of these mosquito species have evolved to limit their capacity to transmit parasites and arboviruses to humans. This knowledge will ultimately underpin immunological strategies aimed at interrupting disease transmission by rendering mosquitoes resistant to such pathogens.

New Fully Online Global Health Learning Programs at JHU

Continuing professional development has often been a challenge for people in the field. They may not be able to get study leave, but they do need advanced training in order to progress. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as started a new Online Programs for Applied Learning (OPAL) that offers completely online Masters and Certificate degrees.

The Department of International Health is Offering three Master of Applied Learning (MAS) and one Certificate covering global health. The Certificate can be completed in one year minimum and the MAS in two years minimum. More information on these programs can be obtained at the links below.

The Forest through the Trees: Themes in Social Production of Health

Recently Professor Ayodele S Jegede of the Faculty of Social Sciences, delivered the 419th Inaugural Lecture at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, during the 2016/2017 academic session.  Below Prof. Jegede shares an abstract of his lecture.

Prof Ayodele S Jegede

Knowledge of individual actor’s behaviour is a reflection of the society as tree to the forest. As forest produces large quantities of oxygen and takes in carbon dioxide, society produces the needed resources for human beings to survive through culture. This inter-dependence between man and the environment is summarised by the Yoruba adage which says: “irorun igi ni irorun eye” (meaning: a bird’s peace depends on the peace enjoyed by the tree which harbours it).

Nigeria, a country with a population of about 187 million and a life expectancy of 53 years, 54% of the populace are living below the poverty line with limited access to health care services physically and economically. Although universal health coverage is vital to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cultural perception of disease aside from loss of economic and low purchasing power makes people to attribute their illnesses to spiritual cause and therefore seek alternative health care services. This influences resistance to public health interventions in some African communities resulting in suspicion and distrust between health educators and the public.

Strengthening Health Information Systems

For instance, response to childhood immunizable diseases, mental illness, malaria and HIV/AIDS reported in this lecture was driven by how people define the diseases. Their response did result in delay in seeking modern health care until alternative care sources proved ineffective. This confirms W.I. Thomas (1929: 572) postulation that, “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”.

Our stakeholders’ engagement interventions strategies strengthened by knowledge of how people construct their life, socially and culturally, proved to be a potent vaccine for preventing strain relationship between health workers and clients. Since society consists of individuals who constitute the stakeholders conducting health researches as well as management of epidemics and treatment during epidemics and disease episodes require appropriate ethical behaviours.

This suggests that adequate knowledge of the society is inevitable since a tree does not make a forest which confirms Marx Weber’s Action Theory postulation that an act does not become social unless it involves two or more persons. It is, therefore, that government should establish National Disease Observatory System (NDOS) to document diseases by type, location and related local practices for training health care professionals, clinical practice and emergencies preparedness.

Note also that the lecture was featured in the New Nigerian Newspaper with an emphasis on establishing a national disease observatory.  The Nigerian Tribune also featured the lecture stressing the importance of disease emergency preparedness.