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This editorial introduces the Lancet series on maternal health.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the quality of a select group of medicines sold in accredited drug dispensing outlets (ADDOs) and pharmacies in different regions of Tanzania as part of an in-depth cross-sectional assessment of community access to medicines and community use of medicines. We collected 242 samples of amoxicillin trihydrate, artemether-lumefantrine (ALu), co-trimoxazole, ergometrine maleate, paracetamol, and quinine from selected ADDOs and pharmacies in Mbeya, Morogoro, Singida, and Tanga regions. The analysis included physical examination and testing with validated analytical techniques. The physical examination of samples revealed no defects in the solid and oral liquid dosage forms, but unusual discoloration in an injectable solution, ergometrine maleate. Over 90% of the medicines sold in ADDOs and pharmacies met quality standards. Policy makers need to reconsider ergometrine maleate’s place on the list of medicines that ADDOs are allowed to dispense, by either substituting a more temperature-stable therapeutically equivalent product or requiring those sites to have refrigerators, which is not a feasible option for rural Tanzania.

In 2003, the government  of Tanzania introduced the accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) program to improve access to good-quality medicines in rural and peri-urban areas that have frequent drug shortages in public health facilities and few or no registered pharmacies. However, increasing access may also contribute to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) due to the potential overuse and misuse of drugs. We conducted a cross-sectional household survey in four regions in mainland Tanzania to characterize consumer care-seeking habits and medicines use and to determine the extent to which members of the community are knowledgeable about antimicrobials and AMR. We revealed that communities in the four regions have low levels of knowledge of the concepts of antimicrobials and their use and AMR. Level of public understanding rose with wealth status and education. Only one-third of 1,200 respondents (33.6%) had ever heard of a medicine called an antimicrobial, and 5–15% could name at least one antimicrobial spontaneously. Some thought other medicines, such as paracetamol, were antimicrobial (7.5%). People were equally likely to agree that pneumonia should be treated with an antimicrobial (21.4%) as well as common cold (28.4%). Understanding of AMR risks was better, particularly related to HIV and AIDS (32.2%) and malaria (38.6%)—most likely due to information campaigns focused on those two diseases. The level of knowledge decreased the further away respondents lived from an ADDO and where ADDO density was lower, which supports the use of ADDO dispensers as sources of community information and change agents for more appropriate medicine use. Lack of knowledge about antimicrobials and AMR in Tanzanian communities needs to be addressed through multi-pronged strategies that focus on prescribers and the public— especially those who are poorer and less educated.

In Tanzania, a public-private partnership launched in 2003 used an accreditation approach to improve access to quality medicines and pharmaceutical services in underserved areas. The government scaled up the accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) program nationally, with over 9,000 shops now accredited. This study assessed the relationships between community members and their sources of health care and medicines, particularly antimicrobials, with a specific focus on the role ADDOs play in the health care system. We surveyed 1,185 households and audited 96 ADDOs and 84 public/nongovernmental health facilities using a list of 17 tracer drugs. To determine practices in health facilities, we interviewed 1,365 exiting patients. To assess dispensing practices, mystery shoppers visited 306 ADDOs presenting one of three scenarios (102 each) about a child’s respiratory symptoms. Of 614 household members with a recent acute illness, 73% sought outside care-30% at a public facility and 31% at an ADDO. However, people bought medicines more often at ADDOs no matter who recommended the treatment; of the 581 medicines that people had received, 49% came from an ADDO. ADDO dispensers are trained to refer complicated cases to a health facility, and notably, 99% of mystery shoppers presenting a pneumonia scenario received an antimicrobial (54%), a referral (90%), or both (45%), which are recommended practices for managing pediatric pneumonia. However, one-third of the dispensers needlessly sold antibiotics for cold symptoms, and 85% sold an antibiotic on request. In addition, the pneumonia scenario elicited more advice on handling the illness than the cold symptoms scenario (61% vs. 15%; p<0.0001), but overall, only 44% of the dispensers asked any of the shoppers about danger signs potentially associated with pneumonia in a child. Poor prescribing in health facilities, poor dispensing at ADDOs, and inappropriate patient demand continue to contribute to inappropriate medicines use. Therefore, while accreditation has attempted to address the quality of pharmaceutical services in private sector drug outlets, efforts to improve access to and use of medicines in Tanzania need to target ADDOs, public/nongovernmental health facilities, and the public to be effective.

In Malawi, health-system constraints meant that only a fraction of people infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and in immediate need of antiretroviral treatment (ART) received treatment. In 2004, the Malawian Ministry of Health launched plans to scale-up ART nationwide, adhering to the principle of equity to ensure fair geographical access to therapy. A public health approach was used with standardized training and treatment and regular supervision and monitoring of the programme. Before the scale-up, an estimated 930 000 people in Malawi were HIV-infected, with 170 000 in immediate need of ART. About 3000 patients were on ART in nine clinics. By December 2015, cumulatively 872 567 patients had been started on ART from 716 clinics, following national treatment protocols and using the standard monitoring system. Strong national leadership allowed the ministry of health to implement a uniform system for scaling-up ART and provided benchmarks for implementation on the ground. New systems of training staff and accrediting health facilities enabled task-sharing and decentralization to peripheral health centres and a standardized approach to starting and monitoring ART. A system of quarterly supervision and monitoring, into which operational research was embedded, ensured stocks of drug supplies at facilities and adherence to national treatment guidelines.

Priority digital health products will be profiled and developed to support the scale-up of WHO's End TB Strategy.

To determine the yield and determinants of retrospective TB contact investigation in selected zones in Ethiopia, we conducted a community-based cross-sectional study during June-October 2014.Trained lay providers performed symptom screening for close contacts of index cases with all types of TB registered for anti-TB treatment within the last three years. Of 272,441 close contacts of 47, 021 index cases screened, 13,886 and 2, 091 had presumptive and active TB respectively. The yield of active TB was thus 768/100, 000, contributing 25.4% of the 7,954 TB cases reported from the study zones over the study period. The yield of retrospective contact investigation was about six times the case notification in the study zones, contributing a fourth of all TB cases notified over the same period. The yield was highest among workplace contacts and in those with recent past history of contact. Retrospective contact screening can serve as additional strategy to identify high risk groups not addressed through currently recommended screening approaches.

Abstract HIV testing services (HTS) are an essential component of a national response to the HIV epidemic, and in lower and middle income countries, at least 150 million persons are tested annually. HIV testing is necessary to identify persons in need of antiretroviral treatment, which has been documented to be highly effective not only for treatment but also for prevention of HIV transmission to both adults and children. An assessment of the recent literature on sustainability of health and HIV services suggests that organizational performance, flexibility, and integration with other health interventions contribute to sustainability of HIV services and programs. This article describes the experiences of two HIV testing service providers in Uganda and Zambia as well as the track record of services to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission to illustrate the factors of performance, flexibility, adaptability, and integration which are key to the sustainability of HIV testing services.

LQAS is intended for use by local health teams to collect data at the district and sub-district levels. Our question is whether local health staff produce biased results as they are responsible for implementing the programs they also assess. This test-retest study replicates on a larger scale an earlier LQAS reliability assessment in Uganda. We conducted in two districts an LQAS survey using 15 local health staff as data collectors. A week later, the data collectors swapped districts, where they acted as disinterested non-local data collectors, repeating the LQAS survey with the same respondents. We analysed the resulting two data sets for agreement using Cohen’s Kappa. The findings of this study are remarkably similar to those produced in the first reliability study. There is no evidence that using local healthcare staff to collect LQAS data biases data collection in an LQAS study. The bias observed in the knowledge indicators was most likely due to a ‘practice effect’, whereby respondents increased their knowledge as a result of completing the first survey; no corresponding effect was seen in the practice indicators.

Opioid agonist therapies (OAT) to treat opioid addiction in people who inject drugs (PWID) began in Ukraine in 2004. Scale-up of OAT, however, has been hampered by both low enrollment and high attrition. To better understand the factors influencing OAT retention among PWID in Ukraine, qualitative data from 199 PWIDs were collected during 25 focus groups conducted in five Ukrainian cities from February to April 2013. The experiences of PWID who were currently or previously on OAT or currently trying to access OAT were analyzed to identify entry and retention barriers encountered. Transcribed data were analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Individual beliefs about OAT, particularly misaligned treatment goals between clients and providers, influenced PWID's treatment seeking behaviors. Multiple programmatic and structural issues, including inconvenient hours and treatment site locations, complicated dosing regimens, inflexible medication dispensing guidelines, and mistreatment by clinic and medical staff also strongly influenced OAT retention. Findings suggest the need for both programmatic and policy-level structural changes such as revising legal regulations covering OAT dispensing, formalizing prescription dosing policies and making OAT more available through other sites, including primary care settings as a way to improve treatment retention. Quality improvement interventions that target treatment settings could also be deployed to overcome healthcare delivery barriers. Additional patient education and medical professional development around establishing realistic treatment goals as well as community awareness campaigns that address the myths and fears associated with OAT can be leveraged to overcome individual, family and community-level barriers.

Abstract Visual loss is a rare but potentially devastating postoperative complication of prone spinal surgery with a reported incidence of 0.017 to 0.1 percent. We present a case of post-operative bilateral visual loss in a patient who had a laminectomy in prone position under general anesthesia. A 17-year-old male patient with large syringomyelia extending from C2 - T2 level had a surgical procedure done under general anesthesia in prone position that lasted four hours. After the surgical procedure, the patient presented to the Ophthalmology Clinic of Princess Marina Hospital, with a complaint of visual loss of the right eye followed by left, of one week duration. The patient never had a visual impairment in the past. Physical examination, fundal examination and CT scan revealed no primary cause for the visual loss. In this patient the absence of any finding in the optic disc and the retina and the normal CT scan, suggests that the most likely diagnosis is posterior ischemic optic neuropathy. The patient was treated with prednisolone tablet daily and showed mild improvement in vision.

To understand the potential contribution that social support interventions (SSI) can have in mitigating the personal, social and economic costs of tuberculosis (TB) treatment on patients, and improving treatment outcomes, we conducted a literature search to identify psycho-emotional (PE) and socio-economic (SE) interventions provided to TB patients and to assess the effects of these interventions on treatment adherence and treatment outcomes. We searched PubMed and Embase from 1 January 1990-15 March 2015 and abstracts of the Union World Conference on Lung Health from 2010-2014 for studies reporting TB treatment adherence and treatment outcomes following SSI. Twenty-five studies were included in the qualitative analysis; of which eighteen were included in the meta-analysis. Our review and meta-analysis concluded that PE and SE interventions are associated with beneficial effects on TB treatment outcomes. However, the quality of evidence is very low and future well-designed evaluation studies are needed.

The coverage of prevention and treatment strategies for ischemic heart disease and stroke is very low in Ethiopia. In view of Ethiopia’s meager healthcare budget, it is important to identify the most cost-effective interventions for further scale-up. This paper’s objective is to assess cost-effectiveness of prevention and treatment of ischemic heart disease (IHD) and stroke in an Ethiopian setting. Fifteen single interventions and sixteen intervention packages were assessed from a healthcare provider perspective. Combination drug treatment for individuals having >35 % absolute risk of a CVD event in the next 10 years is the most cost-effective intervention. In Ethiopia, the escalating burden of CVD and its risk factors warrants timely action. We have demonstrated that selected CVD intervention packages could be scaled up at a modest budget increase. The level of willingness-to-pay has important implications for interventions’ probability of being cost-effective. The study provides valuable evidence for setting priorities in an essential healthcare package for CVD in Ethiopia.

The tuberculosis(TB) control program of Rwanda is currently phasing in light emitting diode-fluorescent microscopy (LED-FM) as an alternative to Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN) smear microscopy. This, alongside the newly introduced Xpert (Cepheid, Sunnyvale, CA, USA) is expected to improve diagnosis of TB and detection of rifampicin resistance in patients at health facilities. We assessed the accuracy of smear microscopy and the incremental sensitivity of Xpert at TB laboratories in Rwanda. This was a cross-sectional study involving four laboratories performing ZN and four laboratories performing LED-FM microscopy. A total of 96 presumptive pulmonary tuberculosis participants were culture positive for M. tuberculosis. The overall incremental sensitivity of Xpert over smear microscopy was 32.3 %; p 

A total of 1,221 adolescents living with HIV, in eight health facilities in Ethiopia, were screened for TB. The TB incidence rate was 16.32 per 100 PYO during pre-antiretroviral therapy (pre-ART) follow-up but declined to 2.25 per 100 PYO after initiation of ART. IPT use was associated with a significant reduction in TB incidence in the ART cohort, but not in the pre-ART group.

A change of continuation phase tuberculosis (TB) treatment regimen from ethambutol (E) and isoniazid (H) combination for 6 months (6EH) to rifampicin (R) and isoniazid (H) combination for 4 months (4RH) was recommended. However, the effect of the regimen switch in the Ethiopian setting is not known. A comparative cross-sectional study among 790 randomly selected new cases of TB (395 each treated with 4RH and 6EH during the continuation phase) was conducted in nine health centers and one hospital in three zones in southwestern Ethiopia. The switch of continuation phase TB treatment regimen from 6EH to 4RH has brought better treatment outcomes which imply applicability of the recommendation in high prevalent and resource constrained settings. Therefore, it should be maintained and augmented through further studies on its impact among the older, rural residents and HIV positives.

We are conducting a cluster randomised controlled trial in Mokhotlong district, Lesotho, to evaluate a newly developed community-based intervention program to integrate HIV-testing and treatment services, early childhood care and development, and nutrition education for caregivers with children aged 1-5 years living in rural villages. Caregivers and their children are randomly assigned by village to intervention or control condition. We select, train, and supervise community health workers recruited to implement the intervention, which consists of nine group-based sessions with caregivers and children over 12 weeks (eight weekly sessions, and a ninth top-up session 1 month later), followed by a locally hosted community health outreach day event. This study provides a unique opportunity to assess the potential of an integrated early childhood development intervention to prevent or mitigate developmental delays in children living in a context of extreme poverty and high HIV rates in rural Lesotho. This paper presents the intervention content and research protocol for the study.

Users of e-TB Manager, a web-based eHealth system institutionalized in 10 resource-constrained countries that account for one-third of the world’s tuberculosis (TB) burden, reported that e-TB Manager helped to improve patient care and workplace productivity, and they found it reliable for case management. The users--especially those with more experience in TB programs and those who had used the system for more than two years--were generally satisfied with the system. Responses came from Armenia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Namibia, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ukraine, and Vietnam. The study concluded that younger users and those with less experience in TB programs need more training, and institutional capacity for managing e-TB Manager takes at least five years. The capacity  to manage e-TB Manager has been built in Brazil and Ukraine.

We examined how different training modalities have been employed and adapted in 12 countries to meet country-specific needs by a global pharmaceutical systems strengthening program in collaboration with a country’s Ministry of Health and local stakeholders. Case-based learning, practice and feedback, and repetitive interventions such as post-training action plan, supportive supervision and mentoring approaches are effective, evidence-based training techniques. In Ethiopia and Bangladesh, over 94% of respondents indicated that they have improved or developed skills or competencies as a result of the program’s training activities. Supportive supervision structures and mentorship have been institutionalized with appropriate management structures. National authorities have been sensitized to secure funding from domestic resources or from Global Fund grants for post-training follow-up initiatives. The Pharmaceutical Leadership Development Program is an effective, case-based training modality that motivates staff to develop quality-improvement interventions and solve specific challenges. Peer-to-peer learning mechanisms rather than traditional didactic methods was a preferred intervention among high level government officials both within country and between countries.

Private-sector retail drug outlets are often the first point of contact for common health ailments, including tuberculosis (TB). The objective of this systematic review was to better understand the extent to which the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation on engaging retail drug outlets has been translated into programmatic policy, strategy, and intervention in low- and middle-income countries. The study found that of national strategic plans for TB control from 14 countries with varying TB burdens and a strong private sector, only 2 had explicit statements on the need to engage their national pharmacy professional association. The success rate of referrals from retail drug outlets who visited an approved health facility for TB screening ranged from 48% in Vietnam to 86% in Myanmar. Coverage of retail drug outlets ranged from less than 5 to 9% of the universe of retail drug outlets. For WHO’s End TB Strategy to be successful, scaling up retail drug outlets to increase national coverage, at least in countries with a thriving private sector, will be instrumental in accelerating the early detection and referral of the 3 million missing TB cases. The proposed public-private mix pharmacy model is applicable not only for TB control but also to tackle the antimicrobial resistance crisis in these countries.

Ukraine has successfully implemented e-TB Manager nationwide as its mandatory national tuberculosis registry after first introducing it in 2009. Our objective was to perform an end-of-programme evaluation after formal handover of the registry administration to Ukraine's Centre for Disease Control in 2015. Of the 5.9 million transactions over a 4-year period, nine out of 24 oblasts (regions) and Kiev City accounted for 62.5% of all transactions, and corresponded to 59% of Ukraine's tuberculosis burden. There were 437 unique active users in 486 rayons (districts) of Ukraine, demonstrating extensive reach.

Malaria accounts for the largest portion of healthcare demand in Angola. Cross-sectional health facility surveys were performed in low-transmission Huambo and high-transmission Uíge Provinces in early 2016. In each province, 45 health facilities were randomly selected from among all public health facilities stratified by level of care. The results reveal important diferences between provinces. Despite similar availability of testing and ACT, testing and treatment rates were lower in Huambo compared to Uíge. A majority of true malaria cases seeking care in health facilities in Huambo were not appropriately treated with anti-malarials, highlighting the importance of continued training and supervision of healthcare workers in malaria case management, particularly in areas with decreased malaria transmission.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem in Afghanistan, but experience in implementing effective strategies to prevent and control TB in urban areas and conflict zones is limited. This study shares programmatic experience in implementing DOTS in the large city of Kabul. We analyzed data from the 2009–2015 reports of the National TB Program (NTP) for Kabul City and calculated treatment outcomes and progress in case notification. Between 2009 and 2015, the number of DOTS-providing centers in Kabul increased from 22 to 85. In total, 24,619 TB patients were enrolled in TB treatment during this period. The case notification rate for all forms of TB increased from 59 per 100,000 population to 125 per 100,000. The case notification rate per 100,000 population for sputum-smear-positive TB increased from 25 to 33. The treatment success rate for all forms of TB increased from 31% to 67% and from 47% to 77% for sputum-smear-positive TB cases. In 2013, contact screening was introduced, and the TB yield was 723 per 100,000—more than two times higher than the estimated national prevalence of 340 per 100,000. Contact screening contributed to identifying 2,509 child contacts of people with TB, and 76% of those children received isoniazid preventive therapy. The comprehensive urban DOTS program significantly improved service accessibility, TB case finding, and treatment outcomes in Kabul. Public- and private-sector involvement also improved treatment outcomes; however, the treatment success rate remains higher in private health facilities. While the treatment success rate increased significantly, it remains lower than the national average, and more efforts are needed to improve treatment outcomes in Kabul. We recommend that the urban DOTS approach be replicated in other countries and cities in Afghanistan with settings similar to Kabul.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that increases immunity against tuberculosis (TB), decreases the re-activation of latent TB and reduces the severity of active TB disease. Epidemiological studies on the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its association with TB have shown inconsistent results in different countries. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its association with TB in Northwest Ethiopia. A case–control study was conducted among smear positive pulmonary TB patients and their household contacts without symptoms suggestive of TB. Study participants were recruited at 11 TB diagnostic health facilities in North and South Gondar zones of Amhara region between May 2013 and April 2015. Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent among TB patients and non-TB controls in Ethiopia, where there is year-round abundant sunshine. Study participants with TB, females, older age groups, and urban residents had significantly higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. These findings warrant further studies to investigate the role of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention and treatment of TB in high TB burden countries like Ethiopia.

This article presents Malawi’s experience with designing and implementing Option B+ and provides complementary narratives from Cameroon and Tanzania. Operationalizing Option B+ required several critical considerations, including the complete integration of ART and PMTCT programs, systematic reduction of barriers to facilitate doubling the number of ART sites in less than a year, building consensus with stakeholders, and securing additional resources. During the planning and implementation process, several lessons were learned which are considerations for countries transitioning to “treat-all”: Comprehensive change requires effective government leadership and coordination; national clinical guidelines must accommodate health system limitations; ART services and commodities should be decentralized within facilities; the general public should be well informed about major changes in the national HIV program; and patients should be educated on clinic processes to improve program monitoring.

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