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1.  A cross-sectional pilot study assessing needs and attitudes to implementation of Information and Communication Technology for rational use of medicines among healthcare staff in rural Tanzania 
In resource-poor countries access to essential medicines, suboptimal prescribing and use of medicines are major problems. Health workers lack updated medical information and treatment support. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) could help tackle this. The impact of ICT on health systems in resource-poor countries is likely to be significant and transform the practice of medicine just as in high-income countries. However, research for finding the best way of doing this is needed. We aimed to assess current approaches to and use of ICT among health workers in two rural districts of Tanzania in relation to the current drug distribution practices, drug stock and continuing medical information (CME), as well as assessing the feasibility of using ICT to improve ordering and use of medicines.
This pilot study was conducted in 2010–2011, mapping the drug distribution chain in Tanzania, including problems and barriers. The study was conducted in Bunda and Serengeti districts, both part of the ICT4RD (ICT for rural development) project. Health workers involved in drug procurement and use at 13 health facilities were interviewed on use and knowledge of ICT, and their attitudes to its use in their daily work. They were also shown and interviewed about their thoughts on an android tablet application prototype for drug stock inventory and drug ordering, based on the Tanzanian Medical Stores Department (MSD) current paper forms.
The main challenge was a stable supply of essential medicines. Drug supplies were often delayed and incomplete, resulting in stock-outs. All 20 interviewed health workers used mobile phones, 8 of them Smartphones with Internet connection. The Health workers were very positive to the tablet application and saw its potential in reducing drug stock-outs. They also expressed a great need and wish for CME by distance.
The tablet application was easily used and appreciated by health workers, and thus has the potential to save time and effort, reduce transportation costs and minimise drug stock-outs. Furthermore, the android tablet could be used to reach out with CME programs to health care workers at remote health facilities, as well as those in towns.
PMCID: PMC4164118  PMID: 25158806
Access to medicines; Africa; Android tablet; Decision support; Health systems; ICT; iPad; Low-income countries; Rational use of medicines
2.  Mesalazine-induced renal calculi 
Patient: Female, 32
Final Diagnosis: Renal colic
Symptoms: Acute colic pain • macrohematuria
Medication: Mesalazine
Clinical Procedure: CT scan of urinary tract • cystoscopy • gynecological consultation • stone analysis
Specialty: Gastroenterology and Hepatology • Clinical Pharmacology
Unexpected drug reaction
Mesalazine, a 5-aminosalicylic acid compound, is one of the cornerstones in modern treatment regimens of ulcerative colitis. It is generally well tolerated, although adverse reactions such as nephrotoxicity, perimyocarditis, and pancreatitis have been reported.
Case Report:
We report the case of a 32-year-old woman with colitis who developed recurrent episodes of renal colic after introduction of mesalazine to her treatment. Biochemical analysis of the stones showed that they were composed of crystalized drug material.
To our knowledge this is the first report of mesalazine precipitation in the urinary tract. We believe that it is vital for physicians to recognize this potentially severe adverse effect in the use of this treatment.
PMCID: PMC3905811  PMID: 24478817
mesalazine; adverse reaction; IBD; renal calculi
3.  Emergency and critical care services in Tanzania: a survey of ten hospitals 
While there is a need for good quality care for patients with serious reversible disease in all countries in the world, Emergency and Critical Care tends to be one of the weakest parts of health systems in low-income countries. We assessed the structure and availability of resources for Emergency and Critical Care in Tanzania in order to identify the priorities for improving care in this neglected specialty.
Ten hospitals in four regions of Tanzania were assessed using a structured data collection tool. Quality was evaluated with standards developed from the literature and expert opinion.
Important deficits were identified in infrastructure, routines and training. Only 30% of the hospitals had an emergency room for adult and paediatric patients. None of the seven district and regional hospitals had a triage area or intensive care unit for adults. Only 40% of the hospitals had formal systems for adult triage and in less than one third were critically ill patients seen by clinicians more than once daily. In 80% of the hospitals there were no staff trained in adult triage or critical care. In contrast, a majority of equipment and drugs necessary for emergency and critical care were available in the hospitals (median 90% and 100% respectively. The referral/private hospitals tended to have a greater overall availability of resources (median 89.7%) than district/regional hospitals (median 70.6).
Many of the structures necessary for Emergency and Critical Care are lacking in hospitals in Tanzania. Particular weaknesses are infrastructure, routines and training, whereas the availability of drugs and equipment is generally good. Policies to improve hospital systems for the care of emergency and critically ill patients should be prioritised.
PMCID: PMC3639070  PMID: 23590288
Emergency medicine; Critical care; Health services; Quality of health care; Developing countries; Africa; Tanzania; Triage
4.  'How to know what you need to do': a cross-country comparison of maternal health guidelines in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania 
Initiatives to raise the quality of care provided to mothers need to be given priority in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA). The promotion of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) is a common strategy, but their implementation is often challenging, limiting their potential impact. Through a cross-country perspective, this study explored CPGs for maternal health in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Tanzania. The objectives were to compare factors related to CPG use including their content compared with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, their format, and their development processes. Perceptions of their availability and use in practice were also explored. The overall purpose was to further the understanding of how to increase CPGs' potential to improve quality of care for mothers in SSA.
The study was a multiple case study design consisting of cross-country comparisons using document review and key informant interviews. A conceptual framework to aid analysis and discussion of results was developed, including selected domains related to guidelines' implementability and use by health workers in practice in terms of usability, applicability, and adaptability.
The study revealed few significant differences in content between the national guidelines for maternal health and WHO recommendations. There were, however, marked variations in the format of CPGs between the three countries. Apart from the Ghanaian and one of the Tanzanian CPGs, the levels of both usability and applicability were assessed as low or medium. In all three countries, the use of CPGs by health workers in practice was perceived to be limited.
Our cross-country study suggests that it is not poor quality of content or lack of evidence base that constitute the major barrier for CPGs to positively impact on quality improvement in maternal care in SSA. It rather emphasises the need to prioritise the format of guidelines to increase their usability and applicability and to consider these attributes together with implementation strategies as integral to their development processes.
PMCID: PMC3372446  PMID: 22500744
CPGs; Health service delivery; Implementation; Information and communication technology (ICT); Maternal health; Quality improvement; Sub Saharan Africa; WHO
5.  Process and effects of a community intervention on malaria in rural Burkina Faso: randomized controlled trial 
Malaria Journal  2008;7:50.
In the rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of young children affected by malaria have no access to formal health services. Home treatment through mothers of febrile children supported by mother groups and local health workers has the potential to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality.
A cluster-randomized controlled effectiveness trial was implemented from 2002–2004 in a malaria endemic area of rural Burkina Faso. Six and seven villages were randomly assigned to the intervention and control arms respectively. Febrile children from intervention villages were treated with chloroquine (CQ) by their mothers, supported by local women group leaders. CQ was regularly supplied through a revolving fund from local health centres. The trial was evaluated through two cross-sectional surveys at baseline and after two years of intervention. The primary endpoint of the study was the proportion of moderate to severe anaemia in children aged 6–59 months. For assessment of the development of drug efficacy over time, an in vivo CQ efficacy study was nested into the trial. The study is registered under (ISRCTN 34104704).
The intervention was shown to be feasible under program conditions and a total of 1.076 children and 999 children were evaluated at baseline and follow-up time points respectively. Self-reported CQ treatment of fever episodes at home as well as referrals to health centres increased over the study period. At follow-up, CQ was detected in the blood of high proportions of intervention and control children. Compared to baseline findings, the prevalence of anaemia (29% vs 16%, p < 0.0001) and malaria parameters such as prevalence of P. falciparum parasitaemia, fever and palpable spleens was lower at follow-up but there were no differences between the intervention and control group. CQ efficacy decreased over the study period but this was not associated with the intervention.
The decreasing prevalence of malaria morbidity including anaemia over the study period can be explained by an overall increase of malaria prevention and treatment activities in the study area. The lack of effectiveness of the intervention was likely caused by contamination, pre-existing differences in the coverage of malaria treatment in both study groups and an unexpectedly rapid increase of resistance against CQ, the first-line treatment drug at the time of the study.
PMCID: PMC2287184  PMID: 18364043

Results 1-5 (5)