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(1/1101) Acquired immunity and postnatal clinical protection in childhood cerebral malaria.

By analysing data on the age distribution of cerebral malaria among sites of different transmission intensities, we conclude that the most plausible explanation for the epidemiological patterns seen is that (i) cerebral malaria is caused by a distinct set of Plasmodium falciparum antigenic types; (ii) these antigenic types or 'CM strains' are very common and induce strong strain-specific immunity; and (iii) the postnatal period of protection against cerebral malaria is much longer than the period of protection against other forms of severe disease. The alternative hypothesis that cerebral malaria may be caused by any 'strain' of P. falciparum is compatible with the data only if a single exposure is sufficient to protect against further episodes. This is not consistent with observations on the history of exposure of patients with cerebral malaria. Finally, it is clear that although the delayed peak in incidence of cerebral malaria (with age) can be generated by assuming that subsequent exposures carry a higher risk of disease, such an explanation is not compatible with the observation that severe disease rates are low among infants and young children in areas of high transmissibility.  (+info)

(2/1101) Overview: health financing reforms in Africa.

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(3/1101) Reproductive health and AIDS prevention in sub-Saharan Africa: the case for increased male participation.

Reproduction is a dual commitment, but so often in much of the world, it is seen as wholly the woman's responsibility. She bears the burden not only of pregnancy and childbirth but also the threats from excessive child bearing, some responsibility for contraception, infertility investigation and often undiagnosed sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including AIDS. Failure to target men in reproductive health interventions has weakened the impact of reproductive health care programmes. The paper proposes that sophisticated and dynamic strategies in Africa and elsewhere which target women's reproductive health and research (such as control of STDs including AIDS, family planning, infertility investigation) require complementary linkage to the study and education of men. Men's perceptions, as well as determinants of sexual behavioural change and the socioeconomic context in which STDs, including AIDS, become rife, should be reviewed. There is a need to study and foster change to reduce or prevent poor reproductive health outcomes; to identify behaviours which could be adversely affecting women's reproductive health. Issues of gender, identity and tolerance as expressed through sexuality and procreation need to be amplified in the context of present risks in reproductive health. Researchers and providers often ignore the social significance of men. This paper reviews the impact of male dominance, as manifested through reproductive health and sexual decisions, against the background of present reproductive health problems. A research agenda should define factors at both macro and micro levels that interact to adversely impinge on reproductive health outcomes. This should be followed up by well-developed causal models of the determinants of positive reproductive health-promoting behaviours. Behaviour specific influences in sexual partnership include the degree of interpersonal support towards prevention, for example, of STDs, unwanted pregnancy or maternal deaths. Perceived efficacy and situational variables influencing male compliance in, say, condom use, form part of the wider study that addresses men. Thus preventive reproductive health initiatives and information should move from the female alone to both sexes. Women need men as partners in reproductive health who understand the risks they might be exposed to and strategies for their prevention.  (+info)

(4/1101) Complications of unsafe abortion in sub-Saharan Africa: a review.

The Commonwealth Regional Health Community Secretariat undertook a study in 1994 to document the magnitude of abortion complications in Commonwealth member countries. The results of the literature review component of that study, and research gaps identified as a result of the review, are presented in this article. The literature review findings indicate a significant public health problem in the region, as measured by a high proportion of incomplete abortion patients among all hospital gynaecology admissions. The most common complications of unsafe abortion seen at health facilities were haemorrhage and sepsis. Studies on the use of manual vacuum aspiration for treating abortion complications found shorter lengths of hospital stay (and thus, lower resource costs) and a reduced need for a repeat evacuation. Very few articles focused exclusively on the cost of treating abortion complications, but authors agreed that it consumes a disproportionate amount of hospital resources. Studies on the role of men in supporting a woman's decision to abort or use contraception were similarly lacking. Articles on contraceptive behaviour and abortion reported that almost all patients suffering from abortion complications had not used an effective, or any, method of contraception prior to becoming pregnant, especially among the adolescent population; studies on post-abortion contraception are virtually nonexistent. Almost all articles on the legal aspect of abortion recommended law reform to reflect a public health, rather than a criminal, orientation. Research needs that were identified include: community-based epidemiological studies; operations research on decentralization of post-abortion care and integration of treatment with post-abortion family planning services; studies on system-wide resource use for treatment of incomplete abortion; qualitative research on the role of males in the decision to terminate pregnancy and use contraception; clinical studies on pain control medications and procedures; and case studies on the provision of safe abortion services where legally allowed.  (+info)

(5/1101) Viewpoint: public versus private health care delivery: beyond the slogans.

In most settings, a 'public' health service refers to a service which belongs to the state. The term 'private' is used when health care is delivered by individuals and/or institutions not administered by the state. In this paper it is argued that such a distinction, which is based on the institutional or administrative identity of the health care provider, is not adequate because it takes for granted that the nature of this identity automatically determines the nature of the service delivered to the population. A different frame of classification between public and private health services is proposed: one which is based on the purpose the health service pursues and on the outputs it yields. A set of five operational criteria to distinguish between health services guided by a public or private purpose is presented. This alternative classification is discussed in relation to a variety of existing situations in sub-Saharan Africa (Mali, Uganda, Zimbabwe). It is hoped that it can be used as a tool in the hands of the health planner in order to bring more rationality in the current altercation between the public and the private health care sector.  (+info)

(6/1101) An approach to the problems of diagnosing and treating adult smear-negative pulmonary tuberculosis in high-HIV-prevalence settings in sub-Saharan Africa.

The overlap between the populations in sub-Saharan Africa infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis has led to an upsurge in tuberculosis cases over the last 10 years. The relative increase in the proportion of notified sputum-smear-negative pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) cases is greater than that of sputum-smear-positive PTB cases. This is a consequence of the following: the association between decreased host immunity and reduced sputum smear positivity; the difficulty in excluding other HIV-related diseases when making the diagnosis of smear-negative PTB; and an increase in false-negative sputum smears because of overstretched resources. This article examines problems in the diagnosis and treatment of smear-negative PTB in high-HIV-prevalence areas in sub-Saharan Africa. The main issues in diagnosis include: the criteria used to diagnose smear-negative PTB; the degree to which clinicians actually follow these criteria in practice; and the problem of how to exclude other respiratory diseases that can resemble, and be misdiagnosed as, smear-negative PTB. The most important aspect of the treatment of smear-negative PTB patients is abandoning 12-month "standard" treatment regimens in favour of short-course chemotherapy. Operational research is necessary to determine the most cost-effective approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of smear-negative PTB. Nevertheless, substantial improvement could be obtained by implementing the effective measures already available, such as improved adherence to diagnostic and treatment guidelines.  (+info)

(7/1101) Rebound mortality and the cost-effectiveness of malaria control: potential impact of increased mortality in late childhood following the introduction of insecticide treated nets.

The efficacy and relative cost-effectiveness of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) for the control of malaria in children under 5 years of age have recently been demonstrated by several large-scale trials. However, it has been suggested that long-term use of ITNs in areas of high transmission could lead to mortality rebound in later childhood, which would reduce the cost-effectiveness of the intervention, and at the extreme could lead to negative overall effects. A model is presented in which the cost and disability adjusted life years (DALYs) per child aged 1-119 months were estimated for a sub-Saharan African population with and without an ITN intervention. The rebound rate, defined as the percentage increase in age-specific all-cause mortality and malaria specific-morbidity, was varied to estimate the threshold at which the intervention was no longer cost-effective. Rebound was considered over two possible age ranges: 5-9 years and 3-6 years. With mortality and morbidity reductions due to ITNs in children aged 1-59 months and rebound in the 5-9 years age class, one could be reasonably certain that the cost per DALY averted is below $150 up to a rebound rate of 39%. Up to an 84% rebound rate it is highly likely that the intervention will be DALY-averting, that is the DALYs averted by the intervetion outweigh DALYs incurred through rebound effects. These thresholds are sensitive to the age range over which reductions and rebound in morbidity and mortality occur. With reductions confined to children aged 1-35 months and rebound in the 3-6 years age class, the cost per DALY is highly likely to fall below $150 only up to a 2.5% rebound rate, and with a rate in excess of 11% one can no longer be reasonably certain that the intervention is DALY-averting. These rates apply to the whole population. If there is no rebound amongst children who did not comply with the intervention, the actual increases in morbidity and mortality required to reach these thresholds amongst compliers would be much higher. The age range over which rebound occurs is a critical determinant of the thresholds at which one can no longer be reasonably certain that ITNs remain cost-effective in the long term. Based on empirical estimates of age-specific malaria mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, it appears unlikely that this threshold rate would be reached if rebound occurs over the 5-9 years age range. By contrast, if rebound occurs over the ages of 3-6 years, the increase in mortality rates required to reach this threshold falls within the observed range of malaria-specific mortality rates for this age group. It is essential that long-term surveillance is included as part of ITN interventions, with particular attention to the age range over which rebound may occur.  (+info)

(8/1101) Assessing the use of nuclear medicine technology in sub-Saharan Africa: the essential equipment list.

OBJECTIVE: The primary aim of the survey was to determine the core equipment required in a nuclear medicine department in public hospitals in Kenya and South Africa, and evaluate the capital investment requirements. METHODS: Physical site audits of equipment and direct interviews of medical and clinical engineering professionals were performed, as well as examination of tender and purchase documents, maintenance payment receipts, and other relevant documents. Originally, 10 public hospitals were selected: 6 referral and 4 teaching hospitals. The 6 referral hospitals were excluded from the survey due to lack of essential documents and records on equipment. The medical and technical staff from these hospitals were, however, interviewed on equipment usage and technical constraints. Data collection was done on-site and counter-checked against documents provided by the hospital administration. RESULTS: A list of essential equipment for a nuclear medicine department in sub-Saharan Africa was identified. Quotations for equipment were provided by all major equipment suppliers, local and international. CONCLUSION: A nuclear medicine department requires eight essential pieces of equipment to operate in sub-Saharan Africa. Two additional items are desirable but not essential.  (+info)