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The use of rapid and inexpensive nonlaboratory-based screening tests for drug quality assessments is recommended as a component of a drug quality assurance program in poor resource settings. We have established routine Minilab test procedures to screen product quality and a proficiency testing program to determine the competency of the inspectors and reliability of results. Samples for the proficiency testing were prepared by pulverizing a standard reference tablet of the appropriate drug and making serial dilutions with starch to obtain concentrations of 0, 40, and 100%. The samples, which were labeled only with the drug name and an identifying letter, were given to inspectors for quality screening using Minilab procedures. In round 1 of the proficiency test, only 3 of 28 substandard samples were correctly identified. Round 2 of the proficiency test, which was administered after a performance qualification test for the analytical method, showed much improvement: 19 of 27 substandard drugs were correctly identified, while 5 out of 9 inspectors made the correct inference on the quality of 45 samples. However, in both rounds, 2 inspectors failed to identify substandard samples, indicating that their technical competencies need to be improved for the reliability of the results. Although the thin-layer chromatography screening methods provide a rapid means for drug quality assessment, they need to be put in the hands of competent users. The inclusion of a proficiency test in the screening program provides a measure of determining competency of the personnel and reliability of the results.

This paper explores HIV patients’ adherence to antiretroviral treatment (ART) in resource-limited contexts in Uganda and Ethiopia, where ART is provided free of charge. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with 79 patients, 17 peer counselors, and 22 providers in ART facilities in urban and rural areas of Ethiopia and Uganda. To grant patients a fair choice to successfully adhere to ART, transport costs to ART facilities need to be reduced. This implies providing patients with drugs for longer periods of time and arranging for better laboratory services, thus not necessitating frequent revisits. Services ought to be brought closer to patients and peripheral, community-based healthworkers used for drug distribution. There is a need for training providers and peer counselors, in communication skills and adherence counseling.

To achieve a high quality global infrastructure for pharmacy, the educational system should be mapped to the required competencies of pharmacists to provide the relevant pharmaceutical services for meeting the health needs in any given country context. While no one national model may be appropriate for all systems, there are significant global health and labor and market drivers which suggest that a competency-based approach is sensible and sustainable for workforce development.

Pharmacists' roles are evolving from that of compounders and dispensers of medicines to that of experts on medicines within multidisciplinary health care teams. In the developing country context, the pharmacy is often the most accessible or even the sole point of access to health care advice and services. Because of their knowledge of medicines and clinical therapeutics, pharmacists are suitably placed for task shifting in health care and could be further trained to undertake functions such as clinical management and laboratory diagnostics. Indeed, pharmacists have been shown to be willing, competent, and cost-effective providers of what the professional literature calls "pharmaceutical care interventions"; however, internationally, there is an underuse of pharmacists for patient care and public health efforts. A coordinated and multifaceted effort to advance workforce planning, training and education is needed in order to prepare an adequate number of well-trained pharmacists for such roles. Acknowledging that health care needs can vary across geography and culture, an international group of key stakeholders in pharmacy education and global health has reached unanimous agreement that pharmacy education must be quality-driven and directed towards societal health care needs, the services required to meet those needs, the competences necessary to provide these services and the education needed to ensure those competences. Using that framework, this commentary describes the Pharmacy Education Taskforce of the World Health Organization, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Pharmaceutical Federation Global Pharmacy and the Education Action Plan 2008–2010, including the foundation, domains, objectives and outcome measures, and includes several examples of current activities within this scope.

With increasing numbers of people worldwide on antiretroviral drugs, the need for improved and sustained global drug safety monitoring or pharmacovigilance is critical. Pharmacovigilance includes monitoring for substandard products, diversion, inappropriate use, and toxicity and is an essential component of safe and effective drug usage. The Forum for Collaborative HIV Research was asked to use its neutral setting for key stakeholders from the UN and government agencies, donors, industry, academia, multilateral organizations, and implementers to discuss the creation of a sustainable global pharmacovigilance system for antiretrovirals (ARVs). Important but contrasting priorities and values among stakeholders—all of whom are dedicated to establishing global pharmacovigilance—were identified as barriers to progress. Recognition, understanding, and respect for these contrasts is a pathway for increased collaboration and cooperation that will then lead to a sustainable system involving all stakeholders including industry and experienced regulatory agencies.

The Government of Cameroon and its partners have made major investments in the last decade in prevention, treatment, and care of HIV-infected patients. However, unmet need for antiretroviral therapy (ART) among HIV-positive pregnant women remains high at 66%. Critical to satisfying this need is ensuring adequate availability of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) commodities for rollout of new Option B+ guidelines. This study examines options for improving the supply and availability of these commodities. Supply chain operational data was collected in July 2014 from central (CENAME) and 4 regional warehouses (CAPRs); 10 district stores; and 30 service delivery points (SDPs), including ART and PMTCT sites. The study also included seven central private-sector logistics firms. In addition, SC cost data was obtained from CENAME and CAPRs financial statements. Data collected served for analysis of three options to improve effectiveness of delivering PMTCT commodities. Asset utilization within the cost recovery system ranged between 73% and 89% while inventory turnover was at 1.5. Therefore, a reliable supply of medicines to SDPs is ensured. However, for PMTCT and ART commodities, distribution to the SDPs was unreliable (in 2013, 40% of prescriptions remained unfilled). Meanwhile, results of the options analysis indicated that the model of CAPRs delivering PMTCT commodities to SDPs was the most desirable. Although the distance traveled was higher, the need for network storage space was minimal. Moreover, its total cost and human resource requirements were more favorable. As a result of disseminating the findings, the Ministry of Health adopted Option 2.

In 2014, the budget for high cost drugs in the Dominican Republic was USD 107 million, accounting for 51% of the Ministry of Health (MoH) budget for medicines. Resources allocated for the 2015 budget were USD 49 million, leaving a shortfall of USD 62 million. The MoH requested technical assistance from the USAID-funded SIAPS project to conduct an evidence based analysis of the 98 products included in the list.

Since 2004 public provision of ARVs in the Dominican Republic has been funded, by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM). Until 2009 there was a gross correspondence between the increase in the number of treated cases and the funding. From 2009 to 2012, however, the number of cases grew at an average rate of 33.4% (2,958 cases) per year, whereas funding experienced an average decrease of 21.7% (965,382 USD) per year. In 2012, the Ministry of Health (MoH) carried out the first national quantification exercise for the 2013 procurement of medicines, under a standard forecasting methodology.

The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of MDR-TB and associated risk factors in West Armachiho and Metema districts of North Gondar. A cross-sectional study was conducted between February 1 and June 25, 2014. A total of 124 consecutive smear-positive pulmonary TB patients were included in the study. Socio-demographic and possible risk factor data were collected using a semi-structured questionnaire. Drug susceptibility testing was first performed for rifampicin using GeneXpert MTB/RIF. For those rifampicin resistant strains, drug susceptibility testing was performed for both isoniazid and rifampicin to identify MDR-TB. Of 124 smear-positive pulmonary TB patients, 117 (94.4 %) were susceptible to rifampicin, while 7 (5.7 %) were confirmed to be resistant to rifampicin and isoniazid. History of previous treatment was significantly associated with MDR-TB. Maximizing early case detection and treatment, strengthening TB infection control activities and proper implementation of DOTS are recommended to reduce the burden of MDR-TB.

Since the 1990s, the Inter-agency field manual on reproductive health in humanitarian settings (IAFM) has provided authoritative guidance on reproductive health service provision during different phases of complex humanitarian emergencies. In 2018, the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises will release a new edition of this global resource. In this article, we describe the collaborative and inter-sectoral revision process and highlight major changes in the 2018 IAFM. We conclude with an outline of plans for releasing the 2018 IAFM and facilitating uptake by those working in refugee, crisis, conflict, and emergency settings.

In 2011 the Help Ethiopia Address the Low TB Performance (HEAL TB) Project used WHO or national TB indicators as standards of care (SOC) for baseline assessment, progress monitoring, gap identification, assessment of health workers’ capacity-building needs, and data quality assurance. In this analysis we present results from 10 zones (of 28) in which 1,165 health facilities were supported from 2011 through 2015. The improvement in the median composite score of 13 selected major indicators (out of 22) over four years was significant. The proportion of health facilities with 100% data accuracy for all forms of TB was 55.1% at baseline and reached 96.5%. In terms of program performance, the TB cure rate improved from 71% to 91.1%, while the treatment success rate increased from 88% to 95.3%. In the laboratory area, where there was previously no external quality assurance (EQA) for sputum microscopy, 1,165 health facilities now have quarterly EQA, and 96.1% of the facilities achieved a ≥ 95% concordance rate in blinded rechecking. The SOC approach for supervision was effective for measuring progress, enhancing quality of services, identifying capacity needs, and serving as a mentorship and an operational research tool.

Between December 2014 and September 2016, we conducted a prospective cohort study in eight health facilities in Ethiopia. Eligibility criteria included age 3 months-14 years; being on ART for not more than a month. Of 309 children, 304 were included, 52% were male. During 287.7 person-years of observation (PYO), 24 attritions were recorded, yielding an attrition rate of 8.3 per 100 PYO. Younger children, those from rural areas, and children with anaemia were at higher risk of attrition, especially during the early months of treatment, and therefore should be prioritized during treatment follow-up.

This was a retrospective study of TB data for Kampala City for the period 2011–2015. We extracted data from the TB registers in the 52 diagnostic and treatment units in Kampala. We report on data for children 0 to 14 years. We accessed 33,221 TB patient records, of which 2,333 (7%) were children. The proportion of children with pulmonary TB was 80%. The TB notification rate among children in Kampala City showed a large decline (from 105 to 74 per 100,000) during the period. There was a slight improvement in the treatment success rate among the children.

Clinical monitoring of pediatric HIV treatment remains a major challenge in settings where drug resistance genotyping is not routinely available. As a result, our understanding of drug resistance, and its impact on subsequent therapeutic regimens available in these settings, remains limited. We investigate the prevalence and correlates of HIV-1 drug resistance among 94 participants of the Ethiopia Pediatric HIV Cohort failing first-line combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) using dried blood spot-based genotyping. Overall, 81% (73/90) of successfully genotyped participants harbored resistance mutations. Strikingly, 42% of resistant participants harbored resistance to all four nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors recommended for second-line use in this setting, meaning that there are effectively no remaining cART options for these children. Longer cART duration and prior regimen changes were significantly associated with detection of drug resistance mutations. Replicate genotyping increased the breadth of drug resistance detected in 34% of cases, and thus is recommended for consideration when typing from blood spots. Implementation of timely drug resistance testing and access to newer antiretrovirals and drug classes are urgently needed to guide clinical decision-making and improve outcomes for HIV-infected children on first-line cART in Ethiopia.

Task-shifting mental health into general medical care requires more than brief provider training. Generalists need long-term support to master new skills and changes to work context are required to sustain change in the face of competing priorities. We examined program and context factors promoting and obstructing sustainability of a mental health task-shifting training for hospital-based HIV providers in Ethiopia.

People in low-income countries purchase a high proportion of antimicrobials from retail drug shops, both with and without a prescription. Tanzania's accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) program includes dispenser training, enforcement of standards, and the legal right to sell selected antimicrobials. We assessed the role of ADDOs in facilitating access to antimicrobials.

Despite the commitment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to expand the family planning method mix and increase access to services, awareness of emergency contraception is low among women, and the method remains underused and poorly integrated in family planning programming. Data from 15 focus group discussions conducted in 2016 among women aged 15–35 were used to examine awareness and perceptions of, and attitudes toward, emergency contraceptives. Emergency contraceptive pills have the potential to address gaps in the family planning method mix in the DRC. Assessing whether women have incomplete or erroneous information about family planning methods can provide better understanding of women's contraceptive choices in low-income countries.

Road traffic injuries (RTIs) are commonly under-reported in low- and-medium-income countries. This study aimed to estimate the number of RTIs and determine the magnitude of under-reporting by traffic police and hospital registries. The police registry captured 14.4% of the estimated number of RTIs and the hospitals captured 60.4%. The estimated number of RTIs was higher than reported by either the police or the hospitals alone. Neither the police nor the hospitals provided accurate data on RTIs, calling for the strengthening of both sources of data.

Building coalitions can amplify stakeholder efforts to carry out effective AMR prevention and control strategies. We have developed and implemented an approach to help local stakeholders kick-start the coalition-building process. The five-step process is to (1) mobilise support, (2) understand the local situation, (3) develop an action plan, (4) implement the plan, and (5) monitor and evaluate. Our experience with the coalition-building approach in Ethiopia, Namibia, Zambia, and with the Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network shows that coalitions can form in a variety of ways with many different stakeholders, including government, academia, and faith-based organisations, to organise actions to preserve the effectiveness of existing antimicrobials and contain AMR.

We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 33,744 mother–infant pairs to estimate the use and outcomes of the Malawian programme for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Most women used the Malawian programme for the prevention of MTCT. The risk of MTCT increased if any of the four main steps in the programme were missed.

The community-based health insurance (CBHI) scheme launched by the Government of Rwanda (GoR) reached 91% of the population in 2010, starting from 7% in 2003. Initially, all CBHI members paid the same fees, regardless of their personal income, and the poorest citizens faced challenges in paying premiums (almost US$1.50 per person). A mechanism was thus urgently needed to guarantee access to health care for the most vulnerable and promote equity among members. The GoR decided to introduce a stratification system based on the socioeconomic status of the population. Together with partners, including the Integrated Health Systems Strengthening Project (IHSSP), the GoR developed a national database that stratifies Rwandan citizens by income. To date, more than 10 million residents’ records, representing 96% of Rwanda’s population, have been entered into the database. This database helped identify the most vulnerable based on socioeconomic status (about 25% of the population). Identification of the poorest among the population has allowed an increase in CBHI funds due to identification of individuals who have a greater capacity to pay. The database thus improved the financial viability and management capacity of the CBHI scheme.

In April 2016, the Population Council, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception, convened a regional meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, geared toward supporting countries in East and Southern Africa in meeting their obligations under the Maputo Protocol. Government and civil society representatives from six countries participated: Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, and Zambia. The meeting was the first activity in a joint project of technical assistance by the conveners, aimed at strengthening access to comprehensive post-rape care for survivors of sexual violence. The regional technical meeting concluded with a discussion of practical steps that participants could take to facilitate legal, policy, and program reform with respect to pregnancy prevention and safe abortion in their respective countries.

MSH has 10 TENs composed of approximately 600 members from 45 countries. Over two-thirds of members are based in field-based projects supported by MSH. Each TEN is focused on a technical area, such as reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis; a health systems function, such as leadership and governance, health care finance, and human resources for health; or cross-cutting topics, such as gender, youth, monitoring and evaluation, and country operations. A review of the literature, development of an operational framework, assessment, and analysis with case examples provide important insights into how the TENs can be used to collaborate with peers around the world and add value to the agency’s mission and vision. MSH now can identify which TENs are ready to be pushed to the next level of functionality to meet MSH’s evolving performance and learning priorities.

The objective of this study was to describe the conceptual and implementation approach of selected digital health technologies that were tailored in various resource-constrained countries. Drawing from our multi-year institutional experience in more than 20 high disease-burden countries that aspire to meet the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3, we screened internal project documentation on various digital health tools that provide clarity in the conceptual and implementation approach. Taking into account geographic diversity, we provide a descriptive review of five selected case studies from Bangladesh (Asia), Mali (Francophone Africa), Uganda (East Africa), Mozambique (Lusophone Africa), and Namibia (Southern Africa). A key lesson learned is to harness and build on existing governance structures. The use of data for decision-making at all levels needs to be cultivated and sustained through multi-stakeholder partnerships. The next phase of information management development is to build systems for triangulation of data from patients, commodities, geomapping, and other parameters of the pharmaceutical system. A well-defined research agenda must be developed to determine the effectiveness of the country- and regional-level dashboards as an early warning system to mitigate stock-outs and wastage of medicines and commodities.

This study compared the yield of TB among contacts of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) index cases with that of drug-sensitive TB (DS-TB) index cases in a program setting. The yield of TB among contacts of MDR-TB and DS-TB using GeneXpert was high as compared to population-level prevalence. The likelihood of diagnosing RR (Rifampicin Resistant)-TB among contacts of MDR-TB index cases is higher in comparison with contacts of DS-TB index cases. The use of GeneXpert in DS TB contact investigation has an added advantage of diagnosing RR cases in contrast to using the nationally recommended AFB microscopy for DS TB contact investigation.

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