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1.  Identifying national health research priorities in Timor-Leste through a scoping review of existing health data 
Health research is crucial to understand a country’s needs and to improve health outcomes. We conducted a scoping review and analysis of existing health data in Timor-Leste to identify the health research priorities of the country. Published and unpublished health research in Timor-Leste from 2001 to 2011 that reported objectives, methods and results were identified. Key findings were triangulated with data from national surveys and the Health Management Information System; 114 eligible articles were included in the analysis, the leading topics of which were communicable (malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases and dengue) and non-communicable (eye and mental health) diseases. There were 28 papers (25%) on safe motherhood, child health and nutrition, of which 20 (71%) were unpublished. The review of national indicators showed high infant, under-five and maternal mortality rates. Burden of disease is greatest in young children, with respiratory infections, febrile illnesses and diarrheal disease predominating. There is poor access to and utilization of health care. Childhood malnutrition is an important unresolved national health issue. There are several obstacles leading to under-utilization of health services. The following topics for future health research are suggested from the review: nutrition, safe motherhood, childhood illness (in particular identifying the causes and cause-specific burden of severe respiratory, febrile and diarrheal diseases) and access to and use of health services.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-11-8
PMCID: PMC3599283  PMID: 23452321
Timor-Leste; East Timor; Health management information system; Health research
2.  Molecular Surveillance of True Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae: An Evaluation of PCR Screening Assays 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34083.
Background
Unambiguous identification of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) is not possible by conventional microbiology. Molecular characterisation of phenotypically defined NTHi isolates suggests that up to 40% are Haemophilus haemolyticus (Hh); however, the genetic similarity of NTHi and Hh limits the power of simple molecular techniques such as PCR for species discrimination.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we assess the ability of previously published and novel PCR-based assays to identify true NTHi. Sixty phenotypic NTHi isolates, classified by a dual 16S rRNA gene PCR algorithm as NTHi (n = 22), Hh (n = 27) or equivocal (n = 11), were further characterised by sequencing of the 16S rRNA and recA genes then interrogated by PCR-based assays targeting the omp P2, omp P6, lgtC, hpd, 16S rRNA, fucK and iga genes. The sequencing data and PCR results were used to define NTHi for this study. Two hpd real time PCR assays (hpd#1 and hpd#3) and the conventional iga PCR assay were equally efficient at differentiating study-defined NTHi from Hh, each with a receiver operator characteristic curve area of 0.90 [0.83; 0.98]. The hpd#1 and hpd#3 assays were completely specific against a panel of common respiratory bacteria, unlike the iga PCR, and the hpd#3 assay was able to detect below 10 copies per reaction.
Conclusions/Significance
Our data suggest an evolutionary continuum between NTHi and Hh and therefore no single gene target could completely differentiate NTHi from Hh. The hpd#3 real time PCR assay proved to be the superior method for discrimination of NTHi from closely related Haemophilus species with the added potential for quantification of H. influenzae directly from specimens. We suggest the hpd#3 assay would be suitable for routine NTHi surveillance and to assess the impact of antibiotics and vaccines, on H. influenzae carriage rates, carriage density, and disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034083
PMCID: PMC3314702  PMID: 22470516
3.  Randomized Trial of Safety and Effectiveness of Chlorproguanil-Dapsone and Lumefantrine-Artemether for Uncomplicated Malaria in Children in The Gambia 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e17371.
Background
Chlorproguanil-dapsone (Lapdap), developed as a low-cost antimalarial, was withdrawn in 2008 after concerns about safety in G6PD deficient patients. This trial was conducted in 2004 to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of CD and comparison with artemether-lumefantrine (AL) under conditions of routine use in G6PD normal and G6PD deficient patients with uncomplicated malaria in The Gambia. We also examined the effects of a common genetic variant that affects chlorproguanil metabolism on risk of treatment failure.
Methods
1238 children aged 6 months to 10 years with uncomplicated malaria were randomized to receive CD or artemether-lumefantrine (AL) and followed for 28 days. The first dose was supervised, subsequent doses given unsupervised at home. G6PD genotype was determined to assess the interaction between treatment and G6PD status in their effects on anaemia. The main endpoints were clinical treatment failure by day 28, incidence of severe anaemia (Hb<5 g/dL), and haemoglobin concentration on day 3.
Findings
One third of patients treated with AL, and 6% of patients treated with CD, did not complete their course of medication. 18% (109/595) of children treated with CD and 6.1% (36/587) with AL required rescue medication within 4 weeks, risk difference 12% (95%CI 8.9%–16%). 23 children developed severe anaemia (17 (2.9%) treated with CD and 6 (1.0%) with AL, risk difference 1.8%, 95%CI 0.3%–3.4%, P = 0.02). Haemoglobin concentration on day 3 was lower among children treated with CD than AL (difference 0.43 g/dL, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.62), and within the CD group was lower among those children who had higher parasite density at enrolment. Only 17 out of 1069 children who were typed were G6PD A- deficient, of these 2/9 treated with CD and 1/8 treated with AL developed severe anaemia. 5/9 treated with CD had a fall of 2 g/dL or more in haemoglobin concentration by day 3.
Interpretation
AL was well tolerated and highly effective and when given under operational conditions despite poor adherence to the six-dose regimen. There were more cases of severe malaria and anaemia after CD treatment although G6PD deficiency was uncommon.
Trial Registration
Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00118794
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017371
PMCID: PMC3110183  PMID: 21666744
4.  Effectiveness of the Standard WHO Recommended Retreatment Regimen (Category II) for Tuberculosis in Kampala, Uganda: A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(3):e1000427.
Prospective evaluation of the effectiveness of the WHO-recommended standardized retreatment regimen for tuberculosis by Edward Jones-López and colleagues reveals an unacceptable proportion of unsuccessful outcomes.
Background
Each year, 10%–20% of patients with tuberculosis (TB) in low- and middle-income countries present with previously treated TB and are empirically started on a World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended standardized retreatment regimen. The effectiveness of this retreatment regimen has not been systematically evaluated.
Methods and Findings
From July 2003 to January 2007, we enrolled smear-positive, pulmonary TB patients into a prospective cohort to study treatment outcomes and mortality during and after treatment with the standardized retreatment regimen. Median time of follow-up was 21 months (interquartile range 12–33 months). A total of 29/148 (20%) HIV-uninfected and 37/140 (26%) HIV-infected patients had an unsuccessful treatment outcome. In a multiple logistic regression analysis to adjust for confounding, factors associated with an unsuccessful treatment outcome were poor adherence (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] associated with missing half or more of scheduled doses 2.39; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.10–5.22), HIV infection (2.16; 1.01–4.61), age (aOR for 10-year increase 1.59; 1.13–2.25), and duration of TB symptoms (aOR for 1-month increase 1.12; 1.04–1.20). All patients with multidrug-resistant TB had an unsuccessful treatment outcome. HIV-infected individuals were more likely to die than HIV-uninfected individuals (p<0.0001). Multidrug-resistant TB at enrolment was the only common risk factor for death during follow-up for both HIV-infected (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 17.9; 6.0–53.4) and HIV-uninfected (14.7; 4.1–52.2) individuals. Other risk factors for death during follow-up among HIV-infected patients were CD4<50 cells/ml and no antiretroviral treatment (aHR 7.4, compared to patients with CD4≥200; 3.0–18.8) and Karnofsky score <70 (2.1; 1.1–4.1); and among HIV-uninfected patients were poor adherence (missing half or more of doses) (3.5; 1.1–10.6) and duration of TB symptoms (aHR for a 1-month increase 1.9; 1.0–3.5).
Conclusions
The recommended regimen for retreatment TB in Uganda yields an unacceptable proportion of unsuccessful outcomes. There is a need to evaluate new treatment strategies in these patients.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
One-third of the world's population is currently infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB), and 5%–10% of HIV-uninfected individuals will go on to develop disease and become infectious. The risk of progression from infection to disease in HIV infected is much higher. If left untreated, each person with active TB may infect 10 to 15 people every year, reinforcing the public health priority of controlling TB through adequate treatment. Patients with a previous history of TB treatment are a major concern for TB programs throughout the world because these patients are at a much higher risk of harboring a form of TB that is resistant to the drugs most frequently used, resulting in poorer treatment outcomes and significantly complicating current management strategies. More then 1 million people in over 90 countries need to be “re-treated” after failing, interrupting, or relapsing from previous TB treatment.
Every year, 10%–20% of people with TB in low- and middle-income countries are started on a standardized five-drug retreatment regimen as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Yet, unlike treatment regimens for newly diagnosed TB patients, the recommended retreatment regimen (also known as the category II regimen) has never been properly evaluated in randomized clinical trials or prospective cohort studies. Rather, this regimen was recommended by experts before the current situation of widespread drug-resistant TB and HIV infection.
Why Was This Study Done?
WHO surveillance data suggest that the retreatment regimen is successful in about 70% of patients, but retrospective studies that have evaluated the regimen's efficacy showed variable treatment responses with success rates ranging from 26% to 92%. However, these studies have generally only assessed outcomes at the completion of the retreatment regimen, and few have examined the risk of TB recurrence, especially in people who are also infected with HIV and so are more likely to experience TB recurrence—an issue of particular concern in sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, in this study based in Kampala, Uganda, the researchers conducted a prospective cohort study to assess treatment and survival outcomes in patients previously treated for TB and to identify factors associated with poor outcomes. Given the overwhelming contribution of HIV infection to death, the researchers categorized their survival analysis by HIV status.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited consecutive smear-positive TB patients who were admitted to Mulago Hospital, Kampala, Uganda, for the retreatment of TB with the standard retreatment regimen between July 2003 and January 2007. Eligible patients received daily directly observed therapy and after hospital discharge, were seen every month during their 8-month TB-retreatment course. Home health visitors assessed treatment adherence through treatment card review, monthly pill counts, and patient self-report. After the completion of the retreatment regimen, patients were evaluated for TB recurrence every 3 months for a median of 21 months. The researchers then used a statistical model to identify treatment outcomes and mortality HIV-uninfected and HIV-infected patients.
The researchers found that 29/148 (20%) of HIV-uninfected and 37/140 (26%) of HIV-infected patients had an unsuccessful treatment outcome. Factors associated with an unsuccessful treatment outcome were poor adherence, HIV infection, increasing age, and duration of TB symptoms. All patients with multidrug resistant TB, a form of TB that is resistant to the two most important drugs used to treat TB, had an unsuccessful treatment outcome. In addition, HIV-infected subjects were more likely to die than HIV-uninfected subjects (p<0.0001), and having multidrug resistant TB at enrollment was the only common risk factor for death during follow-up for both HIV-infected and HIV uninfected patients. Other risk factors for death among HIV-infected patients were CD4<50 cells/ml and no antiretroviral therapy treatment and among HIV-uninfected patients were poor adherence and duration of TB symptoms.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers found that although 70%–80% of patients had a successful treatment outcome on completion of antituberculous therapy (a result that compares well with retrospective studies), the standard retreatment regimen had low treatment response rates and was associated with poor long-term outcomes in certain subgroups of patients, particularly those with multidrug resistant TB and HIV.
These findings indicate that the standard retreatment approach to TB as implemented in low- and middle-income settings is inadequate and stress the importance of a new, more effective, strategies. Improved access to rapid diagnostics for TB drug-resistance, second-line TB treatment, and antiretroviral therapy is urgently needed, along with a strong evidence base to guide clinicians and policy makers on how best to use these tools.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000427.
The World Health Organization has information on TB, TB retreatment, and multidrug-resistant TB
WHO also provides information on TB/HIV coinfection
The Stop TB Partnership provides information on the global plan to stop TB
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000427
PMCID: PMC3058098  PMID: 21423586
5.  Rate and Amplification of Drug Resistance among Previously-Treated Patients with Tuberculosis in Kampala, Uganda 
Background
Drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis has emerged as a global threat. In resource-constrained settings, patients with a history of tuberculosis (TB) treatment may have drug-resistant disease and may experience poor outcomes. There is a need to measure the extent of and risk factors for drug resistance in such patients.
Methods
From July 2003 through November 2006, we enrolled 410 previously treated patients with TB in Kampala, Uganda. We measured the prevalence of resistance to first- and second-line drugs and analyzed risk factors associated with baseline and acquired drug resistance.
Results
The prevalence of multidrug-resistant TB was 12.7% (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 9.6%–16.3%). Resistance to second-line drugs was low. Factors associated with multidrug-resistant TB at enrollment included a history of treatment failure (odds ratio, 23.6; 95% CI, 7.7–72.4), multiple previous TB episodes (odds ratio, 15.6; 95% CI, 5.0–49.1), and cavities present on chest radiograph (odds ratio, 5.9; 95% CI, 1.2–29.5). Among a cohort of 250 patients, 5.2% (95% CI, 2.8%–8.7%) were infected with M. tuberculosis that developed additional drug resistance. Amplification of drug resistance was associated with existing drug resistance at baseline (P<.01) and delayed sputum culture conversion (P<.01).
Conclusions
The burden of drug resistance in previously treated patients with TB in Uganda is sizeable, and the risk of generating additional drug resistance is significant. There is an urgent need to improve the treatment for such patients in low-income countries.
doi:10.1086/592252
PMCID: PMC2883442  PMID: 18808360

Results 1-5 (5)