On Thur 21 July, the University of Health Sciences, Ministry of Health in collaboration with LOMWRU held the first Vientiane Science Café event in Laos. More than 50 students and staff of the Faculties of Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Nursing Sciences, Medical Technology, Basic Sciences, and Public Health attended the two hour-long event.
Posted 17/03/2017. An investigation conducted by the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières revealed that over a thousand people in a remote area of the Democratic Republic of Congo suffered toxic effects after ingesting fake diazepam pills. The research was published in The Lancet Global Health with contribution from Prof Paul Newton from IDDO and LOMWRU.
Posted 01/09/2020. This paper provides an overview of FIEBRE’s activities. The study aims to identify infections that are treatable and/or preventable, to assess antimicrobial susceptibility of bacterial pathogens and to collect qualitative data on care-seeking and treatment behaviours. Paul Newton and colleagues detail clinical and laboratory assessments, data analysis plan, and outline the study’s strengths and limitations.
Posted 01/10/2019. In the light of the alarming global increase in diabetes, Kartika Saraswati and colleagues at the LOMWRU-IDDO Medicine Quality team found few investigations on the quality of antidiabetics and supplies for self-monitoring of blood glucose. However, poor quality medical products were identified on four continents. This important public health issue should thus be further investigated.
Posted 27/10/2020. Madeleine Clarkson, Paul Newton and colleagues reviewed when individual species of human pathogens were described in Laos, and estimated the in-country diversity and how many more pathogens there may be. Combining modelling with historical assessment improved understanding of the factors affecting pathogen description. During the last decade there has been a 33-fold increase in the description rate, coinciding with the strengthening of medical research in Laos.
Posted 05/01/2021. Diagnosing rickettsial infections is difficult in low-resource settings; this leads to delays in receiving appropriate treatment. Before this study the distribution of rickettsioses in Myanmar was not known. This report of a serosurvey by Philip Elders, Elizabeth Ashley and colleagues shows rickettsioses are widespread in Myanmar, with high scrub typhus prevalence in central and northern regions.
Posted 10/03/2020. Incidence data about infectious diseases are needed to inform decisions about vaccine introduction. Using data from health-seeking behaviour survey for fever and data from hospital bloodstream infection, Mayfong Mayxay and colleagues estimated typhoid and paratyphoid fever incidence in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, and found that the incidence is low, with an annual incidence of 4.7 and 0.5 per 100,000 persons, for typhoid and paratyphoid fever, respectively.
Posted 14/08/2020. David Dance and colleagues describe a multi-centre study, co-ordinated by EUCAST, to establish interpretative criteria for Burkholderia pseudomallei disc diffusion tests. Three MORU network sites (Laos, Thailand and Cambodia) participated. The results, based on 361 isolates, will enable laboratories around the world to conduct quality-assured testing of B. pseudomallei susceptibility.
Posted 28/07/2020. Ticks, fleas and lice from dogs in Vientiane (Lao PDR) were shown to carry a variety of zoonotic pathogens including R. felis (cat-flea typhus). Matthew Robinson and colleagues highlight the risk of these pathogens transmitted between dogs and humans within the city, as well as the role of pets in human diseases, and important public health considerations
Posted 16/04/2019. Lorenz Von Seidlein and colleagues in Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos explored what happens to malaria transmission when all people residing in a village are treated with antimalarials at the same time, whether they are sick or not. They demonstrated that providing the necessary information is important, but building trust between residents and the team providing the antimalarials is most critical for success.
Posted 31/05/2019. Drug-resistant infections caused by Enterobacteriaceae, a family of Gram-negative bacteria, account for a high and increasing disease burden amongst hospitalised neonates in Southeast Asia; carbapenem-resistant strains are particularly important because of limited antibiotic treatment options. Tamalee Roberts and colleagues found that nearly two thirds of infants in a neonatal unit in Thailand became asymptomatic carriers with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae during their hospital stays. This work indicates a critical need for interventions to reduce this usually hidden reservoir of drug-resistant bacteria.
Posted 05/11/19. High quality laboratory data is the cornerstone of antimicrobial resistance surveillance. In this recent article in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Paul Turner, Elizabeth Ashley and colleagues from COMRU and LOMWRU highlight the problems associated with poor quality data and call for standardised data reporting via the MICRO framework
Posted 19/02/2019. Germana Bancone and colleagues characterized glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency in over 10 thousand samples collected in 138 villages in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, showing a country-level prevalence in males ranging from 7.3% to 18.8%. Given this high prevalence, G6PD testing should be carried out in the Greater Mekong Subregion before P. vivax radical cure with 8-aminoquinolines.
Posted 23/10/18. A plethora of innovative portable devices to screen for poor quality medicines has become available. In a review of the scientific evidence regarding their performances, Dr Celine Caillet and colleagues show that there is a vitally important lack of independent evaluation of the majority of the 41 devices (most being spectrophotometers) found in our search, particularly in field settings. Intensive research is needed in order to inform national medicines regulatory authorities of the optimal choice of device to combat poor quality medicines.
The Indonesian government policy to exclude the elderly in the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program could hinder the vaccine’s impact in lowering mortality rates. COVID-19 mortality rates in Indonesia, the highest in Southeast Asia, are dominated by those in the 60 years and above age bracket. In this article published in The Conversation, Kartika Saraswati and fellow DPhil students elaborate how, by prioritising vaccination for elderly, Indonesia may optimally reduce the hospital burden and COVID-19 deaths amidst a limited vaccine supply during the first vaccination phase.
KWTRP initial community and public engagement strategy was developed in 2005 with three goals: build understanding and trust between researchers and communities, enhance ethical conduct of research, and disseminate research findings to promote uptake into policy. Our programme has since developed and now includes engagement with media, radio programme, media engagement workshops, various meetings and forums, and a fully-fledged school engagement programme that was awarded the 2019 Oxford VC Public Engagement with Research Award.
A study to explore the variations of how microscopy methods are reported in published malaria studies has recommended standardised procedures should be implemented for methodological consistency and comparability of clinical trial outcomes.
Blog by Rima Shretta. Preliminary efficacy results from three vaccine candidates currently in Phase 3 trials have shown an efficacy of more than 90% against the development of symptomatic COVID-19. While these results are promising, all vaccines are in relatively early stages of testing. A comprehensive and transparent roadmap is urgently needed, to determine how limited doses of the first vaccines to be licensed will be distributed, together with which groups will initially be prioritized.
A new study quantifying the high risk of Plasmodium vivax parasitaemia after treatment of Plasmodium falciparum malaria aims to identify populations in which a policy of universal radical cure, combining artemisinin-based combination therapy with a hypnozoitocidal antimalarial drug, would be most beneficial.
Dr Clare Ling has been made an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath). Currently running Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) Microbiology department and supporting the unit’s molecular activities, Clare is a clinical scientist who has worked at SMRU on the Thai-Myanmar border since 2012.