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Oxford becomes the first British university ever to occupy top position in the global table, which judges the performance of 980 universities across 79 countries.
Health and economic burden estimates of snakebite management upon health facilities in three regions of southern Burkina Faso.
BackgroundSnakebite has become better recognized as a significant cause of death and disability in Sub-Saharan Africa, but the health economic consequences to victims and health infrastructures serving them remain poorly understood. This information gap is important as it provides an evidence-base guiding national and international health policy decision making on the most cost-effective interventions to better manage snakebite. Here, we assessed hospital-based data to estimate the health economic burden of snakebite in three regions of Burkina Faso (Centre-Ouest, Hauts Bassins and Sud-Ouest).MethodologyPrimary data of snakebite victims admitted to regional and district health facilities (eg, number of admissions, mortality, hospital bed days occupied) was collected in three regions over 17 months in 2013/14. The health burden of snakebite was assessed using Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) calculations based upon hospitalisation, mortality and disability data from admitted patients amongst other inputs from secondary sources (eg, populations, life-expectancy and age-weighting constants). An activity-based costing approach to determine the direct cost of snake envenoming included unit costs of clinical staff wages, antivenom, supportive care and equipment extracted from context-relevant literature.FindingsThe 10,165 snakebite victims admitted to hospital occupied 28,164 hospital bed days over 17 months. The annual rate of hospitalisation and mortality of admitted snakebite victims was 173 and 1.39/100,000 population, respectively. The estimated annual (i) DALYs lost was 2,153 (0.52/1,000) and (ii) cost to hospitals was USD 506,413 (USD 49/hospitalisation) in these three regions of Burkina Faso. These costs appeared to be influenced by the number of patients receiving antivenom (10.90% in total) in each area (highest in Sud-Ouest) and the type of health facility.ConclusionThe economic burden of snake envenoming is primarily shouldered by the rural health centres closest to snakebite victims-facilities that are typically least well equipped or resourced to manage this burden. Our study highlights the need for more research in other regions/countries to demonstrate the burden of snakebite and the socioeconomic benefits of its management. This evidence can guide the most cost-effective intervention from government and development partners to meet the snakebite-management needs of rural communities and their health centres.
Assessing the incidence of catastrophic health expenditure and impoverishment from out-of-pocket payments and their determinants in Bangladesh: evidence from the nationwide Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2016.
BackgroundOut-of-pocket (OOP) payments for healthcare have been increasing steadily in Bangladesh, which deteriorates the financial risk protection of many households.MethodsWe aimed to investigate the incidence of catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) and impoverishment from OOP payments and their determinants. We employed nationally representative Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2016 data with a sample of 46 076 households. A household that made OOP payments of >10% of its total or 40% of its non-food expenditure was considered to be facing CHE. We estimated the impoverishment using both national and international poverty lines. Multiple logistic models were employed to identify the determinants of CHE and impoverishment.ResultsThe incidence of CHE was estimated as 24.6% and 10.9% using 10% of the total and 40% of non-food expenditure as thresholds, respectively, and these were concentrated among the poor. About 4.5% of the population (8.61 million) fell into poverty during 2016. Utilization of private facilities, the presence of older people, chronic illness and geographical location were the main determinants of both CHE and impoverishment.ConclusionThe financial hardship due to OOP payments was high and it should be reduced by regulating the private health sector and covering the care of older people and chronic illness by prepayment-financing mechanisms.
BackgroundDiarrhea is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among under-five children in Bangladesh. Hospitalization for diarrhea can pose a significant burden on households and health systems. The aim of this study was to estimate the cost of illness due to diarrhea from the healthcare facility, caregiver, and societal perspectives in Bangladesh.MethodA cross-sectional study with an ingredient-based costing approach was conducted in 48 healthcare facilities in Bangladesh. In total, 899 caregivers of under-five children with diarrhea were interviewed face-to-face between August 2017 and May 2018, followed up over phone after 7-14 days of discharge, to capture all expenses and time costs related to the entire episode of diarrhea.ResultsThe average cost per episode for caregivers was US$62, with $29 direct and $34 indirect costs. From the societal perspective, average cost per episode of diarrhea was $71. In 2018, an estimated $79 million of economic costs were incurred for treating diarrhea in Bangladesh. Using 10% of income as threshold, over 46% of interviewed households faced catastrophic expenditure from diarrheal disease.ConclusionThe economic costs incurred by caregivers for treating per-episode of diarrhea was around 4% of the annual national gross domestic product per-capita. Investment in vaccination can help to reduce the prevalence of diarrheal diseases and avert this public health burden.
Cost-effectiveness of a market-based home fortification of food with micronutrient powder programme in Bangladesh.
ObjectiveWe estimated the cost-effectiveness of home fortification with micronutrient powder delivered in a sales-based programme in reducing the prevalence of Fe deficiency anaemia among children 6-59 months in Bangladesh.DesignCross-sectional interviews with local and central-level programme staff and document reviews were conducted. Using an activity-based costing approach, we estimated start-up and implementation costs of the programme. The incremental cost per anaemia case averted and disability-adjusted life years (DALY) averted were estimated by comparing the home fortification programme and no intervention scenarios.SettingThe home fortification programme was implemented in 164 upazilas (sub-districts) in Bangladesh.ParticipantsCaregivers of child 6-59 months and BRAC staff members including community health workers were the participants for this study.ResultsThe home fortification programme had an estimated total start-up cost of 35·46 million BDT (456 thousand USD) and implementation cost of 1111·63 million BDT (14·12 million USD). The incremental cost per Fe deficiency anaemia case averted and per DALY averted was estimated to be 1749 BDT (22·2 USD) and 12 558 BDT (159·3 USD), respectively. Considering per capita gross domestic product (1516·5 USD) as the cost-effectiveness threshold, the home fortification programme was highly cost-effective. The programme coverage and costs for nutritional counselling of the beneficiary were influential parameters for cost per DALY averted in the one-way sensitivity analysis.ConclusionsThe market-based home fortification programme was a highly cost-effective mechanism for delivering micronutrients to a large number of children in Bangladesh. The policymakers should consider funding and sustaining large-scale sales-based micronutrient home fortification efforts assuming the clear population-level need and potential to benefit persists.
Assessing the Hospital Surge Capacity of the Kenyan Health System in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic
ABSTRACT Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic will test the capacity of health systems worldwide. Health systems will need surge capacity to absorb acute increases in caseload due to the pandemic. We assessed the capacity of the Kenyan health system to absorb surges in the number of people that will need hospitalization and critical care because of the COVID-19. Methods We assumed that 2% of the Kenyan population get symptomatic infection by SARS-Cov-2 based on modelled estimates for Kenya and determined the health system surge capacity for COVID-19 under three transmission curve scenarios, 6, 12, and 18 months. We estimated four measures of hospital surge capacity namely: 1) hospital bed surge capacity 2) ICU bed surge capacity 3) Hospital bed tipping point, and 5) ICU bed tipping point. We computed this nationally and for all the 47 county governments. Results The capacity of Kenyan hospitals to absorb increases in caseload due to COVID-19 is constrained by the availability of oxygen, with only 58% of hospital beds in hospitals with oxygen supply. There is substantial variation in hospital bed surge capacity across counties. For example, under the 6 months transmission scenario, the percentage of available general hospital beds that would be taken up by COVID-19 cases varied from 12% Tharaka Nithi county, to 145% in Trans Nzoia county. Kenya faces substantial gaps in ICU beds and ventilator capacity. Only 22 out of the 47 counties have at least 1 ICU unit. Kenya will need an additional 1,511 ICU beds and 1,609 ventilators (6 months transmission curve) to 374 ICU beds and 472 ventilators (18 months transmission curve) to absorb caseloads due to COVID-19. Conclusion Significant gaps exist in Kenya’s capacity for hospitals to accommodate a potential surge in caseload due to COVID-19. Alongside efforts to slow and supress the transmission of the infection, the Kenyan government will need to implement adaptive measures and additional investments to expand the hospital surge capacity for COVID-19. Additional investments will however need to be strategically prioritized to focus on strengthening essential services first, such as oxygen availability before higher cost investments such as ICU beds and ventilators.
The government of Kenya has launched a phased rollout of COVID-19 vaccination. A major barrier is vaccine hesitancy; the refusal or delay of accepting vaccination. This study evaluated the level and determinants of vaccine hesitancy in Kenya. We conducted a cross-sectional study administered through a phone-based survey in February 2021 in four counties of Kenya. Multilevel logistic regression was used to identify individual perceived risks and influences, context-specific factors and vaccine-specific issues associated with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Kenya was high: 36.5%. Factors associated with vaccine hesitancy included: Rural regions, perceived difficulty in adhering to government regulations on COVID-19 prevention, no perceived COVID-19 infection risk, concerns regarding vaccine safety and effectiveness, and religious and cultural reasons. There is a need for the prioritization of interventions to address vaccine hesitancy and improve vaccine confidence as part of the vaccine roll-out plan. These messaging and/or interventions should be holistic to include the value of other public health measures, be focused and targeted to specific groups, raise awareness on the risks of COVID-19 and effectively communicate the benefits and risks of vaccines.
A multi centre randomized open label trial of chloroquine for the treatment of adults with SARS-CoV-2 infection in Vietnam.
Background: COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and causes substantial morbidity and mortality. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 or therapeutic agent to treat COVID-19. This clinical trial is designed to evaluate chloroquine as a potential therapeutic for the treatment of hospitalised people with COVID-19. We hypothesise that chloroquine slows viral replication in patients with COVID-19, attenuating the infection, and resulting in more rapid decline of viral load in throat/nose swabs. This viral attenuation should be associated with improved patient outcomes. Method: The study will start with a 10-patient prospective observational pilot study following the same entry and exclusion criteria as for the randomized trial and undergoing the same procedures. The main study is an open label, randomised, controlled trial with two parallel arms of standard of care (control arm) versus standard of care with 10 days of chloroquine (intervention arm) with a loading dose over the first 24 hours, followed by 300mg base orally once daily for nine days. The study will recruit patients in three sites in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, the Cu Chi Field Hospital, and the Can Gio COVID hospital. The primary endpoint is the time to viral clearance from throat/nose swab, defined as the time following randomization until the midpoint between the last positive and the first of the negative throat/nose swabs. Viral presence will be determined using RT-PCR to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Discussion: The results of the study will add to the evidence-based guidelines for management of COVID-19. Given the enormous experience of its use in malaria chemoprophylaxis, excellent safety and tolerability profile, and its very low cost, if proved effective then chloroquine would be a readily deployable and affordable treatment for patients with COVID-19. Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT04328493 31/03/2020.
Redondoviridae: High Prevalence and Possibly Chronic Shedding in Human Respiratory Tract, But No Zoonotic Transmission.
Redondoviridae is a recently discovered DNA virus family consisting of two species, vientovirus and brisavirus. Here we used PCR amplification and sequencing to characterize redondoviruses in nasal/throat swabs collected longitudinally from a cohort of 58 individuals working with animals in Vietnam. We additionally analyzed samples from animals to which redondovirus DNA-positive participants were exposed. Redondoviruses were detected in approximately 60% of study participants, including 33% (30/91) of samples collected during episodes of acute respiratory disease and in 50% (29/58) of baseline samples (with no respiratory symptoms). Vientovirus (73%; 24/33) was detected more frequently in samples than brisaviruses (27%; 9/33). In the 23 participants with at least 2 redondovirus-positive samples among their longitudinal samples, 10 (43.5%) had identical redondovirus replication-gene sequences detected (sampling duration: 35-132 days). We found no identical redondovirus replication genes in samples from different participants, and no redondoviruses were detected in 53 pooled nasal/throat swabs collected from domestic animals. Phylogenetic analysis described no large-scale geographical clustering between viruses from Vietnam, the US, Spain, and China, indicating that redondoviruses are highly genetically diverse and have a wide geographical distribution. Collectively, our study provides novel insights into the Redondoviridae family in humans, describing a high prevalence, potentially associated with chronic shedding in the respiratory tract with lack of evidence of zoonotic transmission from close animal contacts. The tropism and potential pathogenicity of this viral family remain to be determined.
The Africa Ethics Working Group (AEWG): a model of collaboration for psychiatric genomic research in Africa
The Africa Ethics Working Group (AEWG) is a South-South-North collaboration of bioethics and mental health researchers from sub-Saharan Africa, working to tackle emerging ethical challenges in global mental health research. Initially formed to provide ethical guidance for a neuro-psychiatric genomics research project, AEWG has evolved to address cross cutting ethical issues in mental health research aimed at addressing equity in North-South collaborations. Global South refers to economically developing countries (sub-Saharan Africa in this context) and Global North to economically developed countries (primarily Europe, UK and North America). In this letter we discuss lessons that as a group we have learnt over the last three years; lessons that similar collaborations could draw on. With increasing expertise from Global South as an outcome of several capacity strengthening initiatives, it is expected that the nature of scientific collaborations will shift to a truly equitable partnership. The AEWG provides a model to rethink contributions that each partner could make in these collaborations.
Understanding the benefits and burdens associated with a malaria human infection study in Kenya: experiences of study volunteers and other stakeholders
Abstract Background Human infection studies (HIS) that involve deliberately infecting healthy volunteers with a pathogen raise important ethical issues, including the need to ensure that benefits and burdens are understood and appropriately accounted for. Building on earlier work, we embedded social science research within an ongoing malaria human infection study in coastal Kenya to understand the study benefits and burdens experienced by study stakeholders in this low-resource setting and assess the wider implications for future research planning and policy. Methods Data were collected using qualitative research methods, including in-depth interviews (44), focus group discussions (10) and non-participation observation. Study participants were purposively selected (key informant or maximal diversity sampling), including volunteers in the human infection study, study staff, community representatives and local administrative authorities. Data were collected during and up to 18 months following study residency, from sites in Coastal and Western Kenya. Voice recordings of interviews and discussions were transcribed, translated, and analysed using framework analysis, combining data- and theory-driven perspectives. Findings Physical, psychological, economic and social forms of benefits and burdens were experienced across study stages. Important benefits for volunteers included the study compensation, access to health checks, good residential living conditions, new learning opportunities, developing friendships and satisfaction at contributing towards a new malaria vaccine. Burdens primarily affected study volunteers, including experiences of discomfort and ill health; fear and anxiety around aspects of the trial process, particularly deliberate infection and the implications of prolonged residency; anxieties about early residency exit; and interpersonal conflict. These issues had important implications for volunteers’ families, study staff and the research institution’s reputation more widely. Conclusion Developing ethically and scientifically strong HIS relies on grounded accounts of volunteers, study staff and the wider community, understood in the socioeconomic, political and cultural context where studies are implemented. Recognition of the diverse, and sometimes perverse, nature of potential benefits and burdens in a given context, and who this might implicate, is critical to this process. Prior and ongoing stakeholder engagement is core to developing these insights.
COVID-19 symptoms at hospital admission vary with age and sex: results from the ISARIC prospective multinational observational study
Abstract Background The ISARIC prospective multinational observational study is the largest cohort of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. We present relationships of age, sex, and nationality to presenting symptoms. Methods International, prospective observational study of 60 109 hospitalized symptomatic patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 recruited from 43 countries between 30 January and 3 August 2020. Logistic regression was performed to evaluate relationships of age and sex to published COVID-19 case definitions and the most commonly reported symptoms. Results ‘Typical’ symptoms of fever (69%), cough (68%) and shortness of breath (66%) were the most commonly reported. 92% of patients experienced at least one of these. Prevalence of typical symptoms was greatest in 30- to 60-year-olds (respectively 80, 79, 69%; at least one 95%). They were reported less frequently in children (≤ 18 years: 69, 48, 23; 85%), older adults (≥ 70 years: 61, 62, 65; 90%), and women (66, 66, 64; 90%; vs. men 71, 70, 67; 93%, each P < 0.001). The most common atypical presentations under 60 years of age were nausea and vomiting and abdominal pain, and over 60 years was confusion. Regression models showed significant differences in symptoms with sex, age and country. Interpretation This international collaboration has allowed us to report reliable symptom data from the largest cohort of patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19. Adults over 60 and children admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are less likely to present with typical symptoms. Nausea and vomiting are common atypical presentations under 30 years. Confusion is a frequent atypical presentation of COVID-19 in adults over 60 years. Women are less likely to experience typical symptoms than men.
Always leave the audience wanting more: An entertaining approach to stimulate engagement with health research among publics in coastal Kenya through 'Magnet Theatre'.
Background: Magnet Theatre (MT), a form of participatory community theatre, is one of several public engagement approaches used to facilitate engagement between KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) researchers and public audiences in Coastal Kenya. We describe how we used MT as an entertaining forum where audiences learn about research, and where researchers learn about how the public views research. Methods: Drama scripts depicting community interaction with different aspects of research were developed iteratively with research staff, a theatre company and community members. Six fortnightly theatre outreaches per site over two months, attracting a total of 1454 audience members were held in Mida, a rural village 30 km north of Kilifi; and in Mtwapa, a peri-urban town 45 km to the south. Audiences were presented with dramatized health research-related dilemmas and subsequently invited to enact their responses. Evaluation comprised, notes and observations from meetings, rehearsals and outreaches, transcripts from a review workshop with repeat audience members (n=21), a reflection meeting with KWTRP engagement staff (n=12), and a group discussion with the theatre company (n=9). Discussions were recorded, transcribed, translated to English and analysed using thematic approach. Results: Despite being costly in terms of time and expense, we argue that MT in public spaces can assist audience members to navigate 'border-crossings' between everyday contexts and scientific/research concepts. This can enable audiences to share their views and concerns and enact their responses to research-related dilemmas. Conclusions: While reporting on MT's successes, drawing from literature on rumours, we acknowledge the limitations of individual engagement activities in providing long-term solutions to address alternative interpretations and rumours about research, in the context of local and global inequities. MT, however, presents an opportunity for researchers to express respect to public audiences through making research more accessible and providing opportunities to listen to public views and concerns.
COVID-19 vaccines are being developed and implemented with unprecedented speed. Accordingly, trials considered ethical at their inception may quickly become concerning. We provide recommendations for Data and Safety Monitoring Boards (DSMBs) on monitoring the ethical acceptability of COVID-19 vaccine trials, focusing on placebo-controlled trials in low- and middle-income countries.