Namibia

Despite Namibia's robust medicine use systems and policies, antibiotic use indicators remain suboptimal. Recent medicine use surveys rank cotrimoxazole, amoxicillin and azithromycin (CAA) among the most used medicines. However, there is rising resistance to CAA (55.9%-96.7%). A quantitative text analysis found that policy and guidelines for antibiotic use in Namibia are not comprehensive and are skewed towards PHCs. Existing policies promote the wide use of CAA antibiotics, which may inadvertently result in their inappropriate use, enhancing resistance rates. This calls for the development of more comprehensive antibiotic guidelines and essential medicine lists in tandem with local antimicrobial resistance patterns. 

Abstract Introduction: Active surveillance pharmacovigilance is a systematic approach to medicine safety assessment and health systems strengthening, but has not been widely implemented in low- and middle-income countries.

Abstract Purpose: Active surveillance pharmacovigilance systems better estimate the burden of adverse events (AEs) and can generate useful information on risk factors of AEs for more effective medicine use, especially in conjunction with introduction of new medicines and/or changes in treatment guidelines.

The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence, profile and outcome of adverse events (AEs) associated with treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) and explore possible influences of HIV disease on the occurrence of adverse events. Data were collected from treatment records of all patients treated for DR-TB at the study facility between January 2008 and February 2010. A total of 141 adverse events of varying severity were experienced in 90% (53/59) of patients.The TB/HIV co-infection rate was 53%. The prevalence of gastrointestinal tract adverse events was 64%, tinnitus 45%, joint pain 28% and decreased hearing 25%. Abdominal pains, rash, nausea, decreased hearing and joint pain were more common in HIV infected than in HIV uninfected patients.

In response to concerns about the emergence of HIV drug resistance (HIVDR), the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a comprehensive set of early warning indicators (EWIs) to monitor HIV drug resistance and good programme practice at antiretroviral therapy (ART) sites. In 2012, Namibia utilized the updated WHO EWI guidance and abstracted data from adult and pediatric patients from 50 ART sites for the following EWIs: 1. On-time Pill Pick-up, 2. Retention in Care, 3. Pharmacy Stock-outs, 4. Dispensing Practices, and 5. Virological Suppression. The successful 2012 EWI exercise provides Namibia a solid evidence base, which can be used to make national statements about programmatic functioning and possible HIVDR. This evidence base will serve to contextualize results from Namibia's surveys of HIVDR, which involves genotype testing. EWI abstraction has prompted the national program and its counterparts to engage sites in dialogue regarding the need to strengthen adherence and retention of patients on ART. The EWI collection process and EWI results will serve to optimize patient care and support Namibia in making evidence-based recommendations and take action to minimize the emergence of preventable HIVDR.

Bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency associated with high mortality rates. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) culture is the “gold standard” for diagnosis of meningitis and it is important to establish the susceptibility of the causative microorganism to rationalize treatment. The Namibia Standard Treatment Guidelines (STGs) recommends initiation of empirical antibiotic treatment in patients with signs and symptoms of meningitis after taking a CSF sample for culture and sensitivity. The objective of this study was to assess the antimicrobial sensitivity patterns of microorganisms isolated from CSF to antibiotics commonly used in the empirical treatment of suspected bacterial meningitis in Namibia. The common organisms isolated from CSF were Streptococcus Pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis,Haemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus, and E. coli. All common organisms isolated from CSF showed high sensitivity to cephalosporins used in the empirical treatment of meningitis. The resistance of the common isolates to penicillin is high. Most ESBL K. pneumoniae were isolated from CSF samples drawn from neonates and were found to be resistant to the antibiotics recommended in the Namibia STGs. Based on these findings, it is recommended to use a combination of aminoglycoside and third-generation cephalosporin to treat non–ESBL Klebsiella isolates. Carbapenems (e.g., meropenem) and piperacillin/tazobactam should be considered for treating severely ill patients with suspected ESBL Klebsiella infection. Namibia should have a national antimicrobial resistance surveillance system for early detection of antibiotics that may no longer be effective in treating meningitis and other life-threatening infections due to resistance.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services in Namibia conducted a confirmatory assessment of the risk of anemia associated with zidovudine (AZT)-based highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) using records contained in three electronic databases. A total of 12,358 records were examined. We measured the sensitivity of the starting HAART regimen (the proportion of AZT users in the clinical record correctly identified in the electronic record), and specificity of severe anemia (the proportion of non-cases of severe anemia in the clinical records correctly identified in the electronic record). Probabilistic record linkage methods were effective for records linkage in this sub-Saharan African setting.

Namibia had the fourth highest incidence of TB in the world and is among the countries most affected by HIV & AIDS. The country also faces a huge challenge in its pursuit of malaria eradication. In the face of these challenges, Namibia has an acute shortage of health care personnel, including in pharmaceutical care.

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