Comparison of a parasite lactate dehydrogenase-based immunochromatographic antigen detection assay (OptiMAL) with microscopy for the detection of malaria parasites in human blood samples.
Microscopic examination of blood smears remains the gold standard for malaria diagnosis, but is labor-intensive and requires skilled operators. Rapid dipstick technology provides a potential alternative. A study was conducted in The Gambia to compare the performance of OptiMAL, an immunochromatographic antigen detection assay for the diagnosis of malaria using parasite lactate dehydrogenase, against standard microscopy in patients with suspected malaria. For initial diagnosis of Plasmodium falciparum, irrespective of stage, this assay had a sensitivity of 91.3%, a specificity of 92%, a positive predictive value of 87.2%, and a negative predictive value of 94.7%. The sensitivity of the test decreased markedly at parasitemias < 0.01%. This assay can be used for the diagnosis of malaria in areas where microscopy is not available and for urgent malaria diagnosis at night and at weekends, when routine laboratories are closed and when relatively inexperienced microscopists may be on duty. (+info)
Long-term morbidity and mortality following hypoxaemic lower respiratory tract infection in Gambian children.
Acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) are the main cause of death in young children worldwide. We report here the results of a study to determine the long-term survival of children admitted to hospital with severe pneumonia. The study was conducted on 190 Gambian children admitted to hospital in 1992-94 for ALRI who survived to discharge. Of these, 83 children were hypoxaemic and were treated with oxygen, and 107 were not. On follow-up in 1996-97, 62% were traced. Of the children with hypoxaemia, 8 had died, compared with 4 of those without. The mortality rates were 4.8 and, 2.2 deaths per 100 child-years of follow-up for hypoxaemic and non-hypoxaemic children, respectively (P = 0.2). Mortality was higher for children who had been malnourished (Z-score < -2) when seen in hospital (rate ratio = 3.2; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.03-10.29; P = 0.045). Children with younger siblings experienced less frequent subsequent respiratory infections (rate ratio for further hospitalization with respiratory illness = 0.15; 95% CI = 0.04-0.50; P = 0.002). Children in Gambia who survive hospital admission with hypoxaemic pneumonia have a good prognosis. Survival depends more on nutritional status than on having been hypoxaemic. Investment in oxygen therapy appears justified, and efforts should be made to improve nutrition in malnourished children with pneumonia. (+info)
Molecular epidemiology of respiratory syncytial virus in The Gambia.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection in The Gambia occurs seasonally in association with the rainy season. This study examined the genetic variability of RSV isolates from four consecutive epidemics from 1993-6. Each epidemic was made up of a number of variants which were replaced in subsequent epidemics. Analysis of attachment (G) protein gene sequences showed that isolates were closely related to those observed in the rest of the world. However, many isolates from 1993 and 1994 were unlike other isolates observed in the developed world during this period and were more similar to isolates from 1984 in Europe. In addition, the most commonly observed genotype in the UK in the 1990s was not detected in The Gambia during this period. (+info)
Gender, work and illness: the influence of a research unit on an agricultural community in The Gambia.
Changes in employment opportunities and medical services are exploited by men and women in different ways. This paper examines gender-based variation in the selective use of employment and health opportunities in a Gambian village which has been the subject of medical and nutritional research by the Medical Research Council (MRC) for 43 years. The seasonal workloads of 105 men and women in Keneba were compared during one calendar year. Women carried a heavier burden of agricultural labour, while men had a higher rate of waged employment. The impact of the MRC field station on the local economy was assessed and evidence of associated male dependence on MRC employment found. Illness reporting patterns and the treatment choices of men and women were examined. Women made greater use of the MRC medical service, while men resorted more frequently to local remedies and healers. Female dependence on the MRC medical services is suggested by the data, and may be linked to the greater attention paid to them by researchers and medical practitioners. (+info)
Strengthening health management: experience of district teams in The Gambia.
The lack of basic management skills of district-level health teams is often described as a major constraint to implementation of primary health care in developing countries. To improve district-level management in The Gambia, a 'management strengthening' project was implemented in two out of the three health regions. Against a background of health sector decentralization policy the project had two main objectives: to improve health team management skills and to improve resources management under specially-trained administrators. The project used a problem-solving and participatory strategy for planning and implementing activities. The project resulted in some improvements in the management of district-level health services, particularly in the quality of team planning and coordination, and the management of the limited available resources. However, the project demonstrated that though health teams had better management skills and systems, their effectiveness was often limited by the policy and practice of the national level government and donor agencies. In particular, they were limited by the degree to which decision making was centralized on issues of staffing, budgeting, and planning, and by the extent to which national level managers have lacked skills and motivation for management change. They were also limited by the extent to which donor-supported programmes were still based on standardized models which did not allow for varying and complex environments at district level. These are common problems despite growing advocacy for more devolution of decision making to the local level. (+info)
Implementing a nationwide insecticide-impregnated bednet programme in The Gambia.
Earlier studies in The Gambia suggested that the use of impregnated bednets might prove to be a useful malaria control strategy. Based on the results of these studies, in 1992 the Government of The Gambia was encouraged to initiate a National Impregnated Bednet Programme (NIBP) as part of the National Malaria Control Programme Strategy. This paper describes the implementation process/procedure of the NIBP. Evaluation results showed that, overall, 83% of the bednets surveyed has been impregnated, and 77% of children under the age of five years and 78% of women of childbearing age were reported to be sleeping under impregnated bednets. (+info)
The impact of charging for insecticide on the Gambian National Impregnated Bednet Programme.
During the second year of the Gambian National Impregnated Bednet Programme (NIBP) charges for insecticide ($0.50 per net) were introduced into the half of the primary health care villages in the country where insecticide have been provided free of charge the previous year. Free insecticide was provided in the remaining villages that had acted as controls during the previous year. In villages where insecticide was provided free, 77% of nets were treated with insecticide. In contrast, in villages where charges were made coverage was only 14%. During the first year of the NIBP, mortality in children was significantly lower in villages where insecticide was provided free than in the control villages. Introduction of a charge for insecticide into the first group of villages and the provision of free insecticide in the latter abolished this difference. The cash income of rural Gambians is very limited and payment of even $2-3 for insecticide treatment for all the bednets in a household represents a substantial outlay. Further education on the benefits of treatment of nets and/or the provision of cheaper insecticide will be required before the full benefits of this powerful new malaria control measure can be fully realised in the Gambia. (+info)
Risk factors for severe respiratory syncytial virus infection leading to hospital admission in children in the Western Region of The Gambia.
BACKGROUND: Acute lower respiratory tract infections (ALRI) are the major cause of mortality and morbidity in young children worldwide. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection is the most important viral cause of severe ALRI but only a small proportion of children infected with this virus develop severe disease. To identify possible risk factors for severe RSV infection leading to hospital admission we have carried out a case-control study of Gambian children with RSV infection admitted to hospital. METHODS: In all, 277 children admitted to three hospitals in the Western Region of The Gambia with lower respiratory tract infection due to RSV were compared with 364 control children matched for age and location of residence who had not been admitted to hospital with an ALRI during the RSV season. A detailed questionnaire covering a wide range of potential social, environmental and nutritional risk factors was administered to the child's guardian. RESULTS: Cases came from larger or more crowded compounds than controls; increased risk was particularly associated with greater numbers of children in the age group 3-5 years living in the compound (odds ratio [OR] for > or =2 children in the age group 3-5 years = 9.1, 95% CI: 3.7-28). Cases were more likely to have a sibling who had died (OR = 3.4, 95% CI: 1.7-7). Controls were more likely to have been exposed to smoke from cooking fires (OR for the mother of cases cooking at least once daily = 0.31, 95% CI: 0.14-0.7). Other protective factors were father's nationality and some professions. Vegetables were included in the diet of controls more frequently than in that of cases (OR = 0.16, 95% CI: 0.06-0.46). Mothers of cases complained of asthma more frequently than mothers of controls, but the number of asthmatic mothers was small (4.2 versus 0.5%, P = 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Risk factors for severe RSV infection identified in this study are not amenable to public health interventions. Prevention of severe infection is likely to require the development of an effective vaccine. (+info)