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1.  HIV infection in severely malnourished children in Kumasi, Ghana: a cross-sectional prospective study 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:181.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic has adversely affected the nutritional status and mortality of children in Africa. This study assessed the disease burden, predictive clinical features and outcomes for children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and concomitant HIV infection.
This was a cross-sectional prospective study of children with SAM aged between 3 months and 13 years admitted to the nutritional rehabilitation unit (NRU) of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. Socio-demographic, anthropometric and clinical data were documented and HIV serostatus established with 2 rapid HIV antibody tests and Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, if indicated. HIV viral polymerase chain reaction testing was not available at the time of the study. Logistic regression analyses were used to identify significant clinical predictors of HIV seropositivity.
Sixty-seven (27.2%, 95% CI = 21.8-33.3%) of the 246 study children had positive HIV antibody results. Uptake of provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling was 100%. Amongst children aged 18 months and over, the HIV seroprevalence was 28.3% (30/106). HIV seropositivity was strongly associated with prolonged fever, cough and diarrhoea; oral thrush, generalised lymphadenopathy and pulmonary tuberculosis (p value < 0.001 for all parameters). The presence of ≥ 3 of the first 5 aforementioned parameters was highly specific (98.3-100%) for HIV seropositivity in study children. HIV seropositivity was also significantly associated with cough, vomiting, lethargy/altered consciousness, skin rash and hepatomegaly (p value < 0.05 for all parameters). Overall mortality rate was 17.5%, with HIV seropositive children having a significantly higher mortality rate (37.8% versus 10.1%; p value < 0.001) and a lower rate of weight gain (2.4 g/kg/day versus 7.0 g/kg/day; p value < 0.001).
HIV testing was well accepted by parents/carers and should be offered in all NRUs. There was a high HIV seroprevalence among children with SAM and a significantly poorer outcome in mortality and weight gain. Some clinical features were identified to be predictive of HIV seropositivity and could be useful as indicators to prompt further investigation and/or referral in resource limited settings where HIV test kits are unavailable. This would aid in the early detection and comprehensive management of the HIV seropositive child with SAM.
PMCID: PMC3828476  PMID: 24206638
Malnutrition; HIV; AIDS; SAM; PITC
2.  Access to Artemisinin-Combination Therapy (ACT) and other Anti-Malarials: National Policy and Markets in Sierra Leone 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47733.
Malaria remains the leading burden of disease in post-conflict Sierra Leone. To overcome the challenge of anti-malarial drug resistance and improve effective treatment, Sierra Leone adopted artemisinin-combination therapy artesunate-amodiaquine (AS+AQ) as first-line treatment for uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. Other national policy anti-malarials include artemether-lumefantrine (AL) as an alternative to AS+AQ, quinine and artemether for treatment of complicated malaria; and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) for intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp). This study was conducted to evaluate access to national policy recommended anti-malarials. A cross-sectional survey of 127 medicine outlets (public, private and NGO) was conducted in urban and rural areas. The availability on the day of the survey, median prices, and affordability policy and available non-policy anti-malarials were calculated. Anti-malarials were stocked in 79% of all outlets surveyed. AS+AQ was widely available in public medicine outlets; AL was only available in the private and NGO sectors. Quinine was available in nearly two-thirds of public and NGO outlets and over one-third of private outlets. SP was widely available in all outlets. Non-policy anti-malarials were predominantly available in the private outlets. AS+AQ in the public sector was widely offered for free. Among the anti-malarials sold at a cost, the same median price of a course of AS+AQ (US$1.56), quinine tablets (US$0.63), were found in both the public and private sectors. Quinine injection had a median cost of US$0.31 in the public sector and US$0.47 in the private sector, while SP had a median cost of US$0.31 in the public sector compared to US$ 0.63 in the private sector. Non-policy anti-malarials were more affordable than first-line AS+AQ in all sectors. A course of AS+AQ was affordable at nearly two days’ worth of wages in both the public and private sectors.
PMCID: PMC3485052  PMID: 23133522
4.  Aetiological agents of cerebrospinal meningitis: a retrospective study from a teaching hospital in Ghana 
Meningitis is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in low-resource settings. In sub-Saharan Africa, the meningitis belt has been characterized by particularly high and seasonal incidences of bacterial meningitis extending throughout life. Despite the progress being made in treating the condition, the mortality rates continue to be high, ranging between 2% and 30% globally. In Ghana, the mortality rate of meningitis has been estimated to range from 36% to 50%. However little information is available on the pathogens contributing to meningitis and their antimicrobial susceptibilities. Updated information is essential to adjust the recommendations for empirical treatment or prevention of meningitis which could have immense implications for local and global health.
We retrospectively reviewed laboratory records of all patients suspected of bacterial meningitis who underwent a lumbar puncture from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2010. Data were retrieved from laboratory record books and double entered into a Microsoft® excel spreadsheet.
Records of 4,955 cerebrospinal fluid samples were analysed. Of these, 163 (3.3%, 95%CI: 2.8% to 3.8%) were confirmed meningitis and 106 (2.1%, 95%CI: 1.7% to 2.6%) were probable meningitis cases. Confirmed meningitis cases were made up of 117 (71.8%) culture positive bacteria, 19 (11.7%) culture positive Cryptococcus neoformans and 27(16.6%) Gram positive bacteria with negative culture. The most prevalent bacteria was Streptococcus pneumoniae 91 (77.7%), followed by E.coli 4 (3.4%), Salmonella species 4 (3.4%), Neisseria meningitidis 3 (2.5%), Pseudomonas species 3(2.5%) and others. Pneumococcal isolates susceptibility to penicillin, chloramphenicol and ceftriaxone were 98.9% (95%CI: 94.0% to 100.0%), 83.0% (95%CI: 73.4% to 90.1%) and 100.0% (95%CI: 95.8% to 100.0%) respectively.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is an important cause of meningitis among all age groups and its susceptibility to penicillin and ceftriaxone still remains very high. Ghanaians of all ages and possibly other developing countries in the meningitis belt could benefit from the use of the pneumococcal vaccine. Other bacterial and fungal pathogens should also be considered in the management of patients presenting with meningitis.
PMCID: PMC3473245  PMID: 23035960
Meningitis; Streptococcus pneumoniae; Cryptococcus neoformans; Ghana
5.  Predicting the Clinical Outcome of Severe Falciparum Malaria in African Children: Findings From a Large Randomized Trial 
Four predictors were independently associated with an increased risk of death: acidosis, cerebral manifestations of malaria, elevated blood urea nitrogen, or signs of chronic illness. The standard base deficit was found to be the single most relevant predictor of death.
Background. Data from the largest randomized, controlled trial for the treatment of children hospitalized with severe malaria were used to identify such predictors of a poor outcome from severe malaria.
Methods. African children (<15 years) with severe malaria participated in a randomized comparison of parenteral artesunate and parenteral quinine in 9 African countries. Detailed clinical assessment was performed on admission. Parasite densities were assessed in a reference laboratory. Predictors of death were examined using a multivariate logistic regression model.
Results. Twenty indicators of disease severity were assessed, out of which 5 (base deficit, impaired consciousness, convulsions, elevated blood urea, and underlying chronic illness) were associated independently with death. Tachypnea, respiratory distress, deep breathing, shock, prostration, low pH, hyperparasitemia, severe anemia, and jaundice were statistically significant indicators of death in the univariate analysis but not in the multivariate model. Age, glucose levels, axillary temperature, parasite density, heart rate, blood pressure, and blackwater fever were not related to death in univariate models.
Conclusions. Acidosis, cerebral involvement, renal impairment, and chronic illness are key independent predictors for a poor outcome in African children with severe malaria. Mortality is markedly increased in cerebral malaria combined with acidosis.
Clinical Trial Registration. ISRCTN50258054.
PMCID: PMC3309889  PMID: 22412067
6.  Giardia lamblia: a major parasitic cause of childhood diarrhoea in patients attending a district hospital in Ghana 
Parasites & Vectors  2011;4:163.
Acute childhood diarrhoea remains one of the leading causes of childhood morbidity and mortality in developing countries. The WHO has accordingly underlined the need for epidemiological surveys of infantile diarrhoea in all geographical areas. This study was conducted to determine the incidence of intestinal parasites among stool samples from children examined at a secondary health care facility in a rural area of Ghana.
A retrospective study was conducted to investigate the incidence of intestinal parasites among children who had their stools examined at the Agogo Hospital laboratory. Stool microscopy results from January 2006 through May 2009 were obtained from archived records of the laboratory. Results for children less than 18 years were transcribed unto a standardized datasheet, entered into an electronic database designed using Microsoft® access 2007 and analyzed using Stata/SE11.1 statistical software. The incidences of the parasites were determined and presented with their Poisson exact 95% confidence intervals for the various ages.
The median age of the 1080 children included in the study was 5 years (IQR: 2-12 years) with 51.9% being females. The overall incidence of all parasites was 114 per 1000 with Giardia lamblia being the most common (89.5%). Children aged less than a year had the lowest parasite incidence of 13 per 1000 with all being Giardia lamblia, while those aged 15-17 years had the highest of 169 per 1000. The incidence for Giardia lamblia only was lowest at 13 per 1000 for those under a year old, highest at 152 per 1000 for the 15-17 year group and 97 per 1000 for all ages combined. There was a significant rise in incidence of Giardia lamblia with age (Trend x2 = 18.6, p < 0.001). Five (4.3%) of the 118 positive stool samples had mixed parasites infection. Enterobius vermicularis, Taenia spp and Trichuris trichiura were not seen in any of the stool samples.
Giardia lamblia is the most prevalent intestinal parasite in examined stool samples of children within the Ashanti Akim North Municipality and its prevalence significantly increases with age. Measures must be put in place to educate the community on proper personal hygiene to reduce giardiasis.
PMCID: PMC3170632  PMID: 21859463
Giardia lamblia; Intestinal parasites; Rural area; Childhood diarrhoea
7.  Comparative evaluation of two rapid field tests for malaria diagnosis: Partec Rapid Malaria Test® and Binax Now® Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:143.
About 90% of all malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa occur in children under five years. Fast and reliable diagnosis of malaria requires confirmation of the presence of malaria parasites in the blood of patients with fever or history suggestive of malaria; hence a prompt and accurate diagnosis of malaria is the key to effective disease management. Confirmation of malaria infection requires the availability of a rapid, sensitive, and specific testing at an affordable cost. We compared two recent methods (the novel Partec Rapid Malaria Test® (PT) and the Binax Now® Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test (BN RDT) with the conventional Giemsa stain microscopy (GM) for the diagnosis of malaria among children in a clinical laboratory of a hospital in a rural endemic area of Ghana.
Blood samples were collected from 263 children admitted with fever or a history of fever to the pediatric clinic of the Agogo Presbyterian Hospital. The three different test methods PT, BN RDT and GM were performed independently by well trained and competent laboratory staff to assess the presence of malaria parasites. Results were analyzed and compared using GM as the reference standard.
In 107 (40.7%) of 263 study participants, Plasmodium sp. was detected by GM. PT and BN RDT showed positive results in 111 (42.2%) and 114 (43.4%), respectively. Compared to GM reference standard, the sensitivities of the PT and BN RDT were 100% (95% CI: 96.6-100) and 97.2% (95% CI: 92.0-99.4), respectively, specificities were 97.4% (95% CI: 93.6-99.3) and 93.6% (95% CI: 88.5-96.9), respectively. There was a strong agreement (kappa) between the applied test methods (GM vs PT: 0.97; p < 0.001 and GM vs BN RDT: 0.90; p < 0.001). The average turnaround time per tests was 17 minutes.
In this study two rapid malaria tests, PT and BN RDT, demonstrated a good quality of their performance compared to conventional GM. Both methods require little training, have short turnaround times, are applicable as well as affordable and can therefore be considered as alternative diagnostic tools in malaria endemic areas. The species of Plasmodium cannot be identified.
PMCID: PMC3118144  PMID: 21605401
8.  Hemoglobin estimation by the HemoCue® portable hemoglobin photometer in a resource poor setting 
In resource poor settings where automated hematology analyzers are not available, the Cyanmethemoglobin method is often used. This method though cheaper, takes more time. In blood donations, the semi-quantitative gravimetric copper sulfate method which is very easy and inexpensive may be used but does not provide an acceptable degree of accuracy. The HemoCue® hemoglobin photometer has been used for these purposes. This study was conducted to generate data to support or refute its use as a point-of-care device for hemoglobin estimation in mobile blood donations and critical care areas in health facilities.
EDTA blood was collected from study participants drawn from five groups: pre-school children, school children, pregnant women, non-pregnant women and men. Blood collected was immediately processed to estimate the hemoglobin concentration using three different methods (HemoCue®, Sysmex KX21N and Cyanmethemoglobin). Agreement between the test methods was assessed by the method of Bland and Altman. The Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was used to determine the within subject variability of measured hemoglobin.
Of 398 subjects, 42% were males with the overall mean age being 19.4 years. The overall mean hemoglobin as estimated by each method was 10.4 g/dl for HemoCue, 10.3 g/dl for Sysmex KX21N and 10.3 g/dl for Cyanmethemoglobin. Pairwise analysis revealed that the hemoglobin determined by the HemoCue method was higher than that measured by the KX21N and Cyanmethemoglobin. Comparing the hemoglobin determined by the HemoCue to Cyanmethemoglobin, the concordance correlation coefficient was 0.995 (95% CI: 0.994-0.996, p < 0.001). The Bland and Altman's limit of agreement was -0.389 - 0.644 g/dl with the mean difference being 0.127 (95% CI: 0.102-0.153) and a non-significant difference in variability between the two measurements (p = 0.843). After adjusting to assess the effect of other possible confounders such as sex, age and category of person, there was no significant difference in the hemoglobin determined by the HemoCue compared to Cyanmethemoglobin (coef = -0.127, 95% CI: -0.379 - 0.634).
Hemoglobin determined by the HemoCue method is comparable to that determined by the other methods. The HemoCue photometer is therefore recommended for use as on-the-spot device for determining hemoglobin in resource poor setting.
PMCID: PMC3095531  PMID: 21510885
9.  Comparison of the Novel Partec Rapid Malaria Test to the Conventional Giemsa Stain and the Gold Standard Real-Time PCR ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(8):2925-2928.
Malaria remains the single most frequent cause of death in Africa, killing one child every 30 s, but treatment decisions are often made only on clinical diagnosis, as laboratory techniques to confirm the clinical suspicion are labor intensive and costly. In this study, we evaluated the recently developed Partec rapid malaria test (PM) for the detection of Plasmodium spp. in human blood from patients in an area where malaria is endemic and compared the results with those of thick blood film Giemsa stain (GS) in terms of its performance and operational characteristics, using real-time (RT) PCR as the gold standard. The sensitivities of the PM and the GS were 62.2% (95% CI, 56.3 to 67.8) and 61.8% (95% CI, 55.9 to 67.4), respectively, while the specificities were 96.0% (95% CI, 92.3 to 98.3) and 98% (95% CI, 95.0 to 99.5), respectively. There was an excellent agreement between the results for the PM and those of the GS (k [level of agreement] = 0.96; P < 0.001). The results for the PM were obtained more quickly and at less cost than those for the GS. The performance characteristics of the PM were almost equal to those of the GS, but the operational characteristics were better, and the PM can therefore be considered as an alternative method for GS.
PMCID: PMC2916594  PMID: 20554822
10.  Artesunate versus quinine in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria in African children (AQUAMAT): an open-label, randomised trial 
Lancet  2010;376(9753):1647-1657.
Severe malaria is a major cause of childhood death and often the main reason for paediatric hospital admission in sub-Saharan Africa. Quinine is still the established treatment of choice, although evidence from Asia suggests that artesunate is associated with a lower mortality. We compared parenteral treatment with either artesunate or quinine in African children with severe malaria.
This open-label, randomised trial was undertaken in 11 centres in nine African countries. Children (<15 years) with severe falciparum malaria were randomly assigned to parenteral artesunate or parenteral quinine. Randomisation was in blocks of 20, with study numbers corresponding to treatment allocations kept inside opaque sealed paper envelopes. The trial was open label at each site, and none of the investigators or trialists, apart from for the trial statistician, had access to the summaries of treatment allocations. The primary outcome measure was in-hospital mortality, analysed by intention to treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN50258054.
5425 children were enrolled; 2712 were assigned to artesunate and 2713 to quinine. All patients were analysed for the primary outcome. 230 (8·5%) patients assigned to artesunate treatment died compared with 297 (10·9%) assigned to quinine treatment (odds ratio [OR] stratified for study site 0·75, 95% CI 0·63–0·90; relative reduction 22·5%, 95% CI 8·1–36·9; p=0·0022). Incidence of neurological sequelae did not differ significantly between groups, but the development of coma (65/1832 [3·5%] with artesunate vs 91/1768 [5·1%] with quinine; OR 0·69 95% CI 0·49–0·95; p=0·0231), convulsions (224/2712 [8·3%] vs 273/2713 [10·1%]; OR 0·80, 0·66–0·97; p=0·0199), and deterioration of the coma score (166/2712 [6·1%] vs 208/2713 [7·7%]; OR 0·78, 0·64–0·97; p=0·0245) were all significantly less frequent in artesunate recipients than in quinine recipients. Post-treatment hypoglycaemia was also less frequent in patients assigned to artesunate than in those assigned to quinine (48/2712 [1·8%] vs 75/2713 [2·8%]; OR 0·63, 0·43–0·91; p=0·0134). Artesunate was well tolerated, with no serious drug-related adverse effects.
Artesunate substantially reduces mortality in African children with severe malaria. These data, together with a meta-analysis of all trials comparing artesunate and quinine, strongly suggest that parenteral artesunate should replace quinine as the treatment of choice for severe falciparum malaria worldwide.
The Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC3033534  PMID: 21062666
11.  Communicating the AMFm message: exploring the effect of communication and training interventions on private for-profit provider awareness and knowledge related to a multi-country anti-malarial subsidy intervention 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:46.
The Affordable Medicines Facility - malaria (AMFm), implemented at national scale in eight African countries or territories, subsidized quality-assured artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) and included communication campaigns to support implementation and promote appropriate anti-malarial use. This paper reports private for-profit provider awareness of key features of the AMFm programme, and changes in provider knowledge of appropriate malaria treatment.
This study had a non-experimental design based on nationally representative surveys of outlets stocking anti-malarials before (2009/10) and after (2011) the AMFm roll-out.
Based on data from over 19,500 outlets, results show that in four of eight settings, where communication campaigns were implemented for 5–9 months, 76%-94% awareness of the AMFm ‘green leaf’ logo, 57%-74% awareness of the ACT subsidy programme, and 52%-80% awareness of the correct recommended retail price (RRP) of subsidized ACT were recorded. However, in the remaining four settings where communication campaigns were implemented for three months or less, levels were substantially lower. In six of eight settings, increases of at least 10 percentage points in private for-profit providers’ knowledge of the correct first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria were seen; and in three of these the levels of knowledge achieved at endline were over 80%.
The results support the interpretation that, in addition to the availability of subsidized ACT, the intensity of communication campaigns may have contributed to the reported levels of AMFm-related awareness and knowledge among private for-profit providers. Future subsidy programmes for anti-malarials or other treatments should similarly include communication activities.
PMCID: PMC3924415  PMID: 24495691
12.  No Association between Antenatal Common Mental Disorders in Low-Obstetric Risk Women and Adverse Birth Outcomes in Their Offspring: Results from the CDS Study in Ghana and Côte D'Ivoire  
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80711.
Evidence linking common mental disorders (CMD) in pregnant women to adverse birth outcomes is inconsistent, and studies often failed to control for pregnancy complications. This study aimed to explore the association between antenatal depression and anxiety symptoms and birth outcomes in a low-obstetric risk sample of mother/child dyads in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
In 2010-2011, a prospective cohort of 1030 women in their third trimester in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire was enrolled. Depression and anxiety were assessed in the third trimester using the Patient Health Questionnaire depression module and the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale. 719 mother/child dyads were included in the analysis. We constructed multivariate regression models to estimate the association between CMD and low birth weight (LBW), and preterm birth (PTB) to control for potential confounders.
The prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms were 28.9% and 14.2% respectively. The mean birth weight was 3172.1g (SD 440.6) and the prevalence of LBW was 1.7%. The mean gestational age was 39.6 weeks and the proportion of PTB was 4%. Multivariate linear regression revealed no significant association between maternal depression (B=52.2, 95% CI -18.2 122.6, p=0.15) or anxiety (B=17.1, 95% CI -74.6 108.7, p=0.72) and birth weight. Yet, low socio-economic status, female sex of the child, and younger maternal age were associated with lower birth weight. Multivariate logistic regression suggested no significant association between maternal depression (OR: 2.1, 95% CI 0.8 5.6, p=0.15) or anxiety (OR: 1.8, 95% CI 0.6 5.5, p=0.29) with PTB.
Our data suggests that depression and/or anxiety in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy are not independent predictors of adverse birth outcomes in low obstetric risk women. The role of pregnancy complications as confounders or effect modifiers in studies of maternal CMD and their impact on birth outcomes should be investigated.
PMCID: PMC3832471  PMID: 24260460
13.  Antepartum Depression and Anxiety Associated with Disability in African Women: Cross-Sectional Results from the CDS Study in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48396.
Common mental disorders, particularly unipolar depressive disorders, rank among the top 5 with respect to the global burden of disease. As a major public health concern, antepartum depression and anxiety not only affects the individual woman, but also her offspring. Data on the prevalence of common mental disorders in pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa are scarce. We provide results from Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire.
We subsequently recruited and screened n = 1030 women in the third trimester of their pregnancy for depressed mood, general anxiety, and perceived disability using the Patient Health Questionnaire depression module (PHQ-9), the 7-item Anxiety Scale (GAD-7), and the World Health Organisation Disability Assessment Schedule II (WHO-DAS 2.0, 12-item version). In addition to estimates of means and prevalence, a hierarchical linear regression model was calculated to determine the influence of antepartum depression and anxiety on disability.
In Ghana, 26.6% of women showed substantially depressed mood. In Côte d'Ivoire, this figure was even higher (32.9%). Clear indications for a generalized anxiety disorder were observed in 11.4% and 17.4% of pregnant women, respectively. Comorbidity of both conditions was common, affecting about 7.7% of Ghanaian and 12.6% of Ivorian participants. Pregnant women in both countries reported a high degree of disability regarding everyday activity limitations and participation restrictions. Controlled for country and age, depression and anxiety accounted for 33% of variance in the disability score.
Antepartum depression and anxiety were highly prevalent in our sample and contributed substantially to perceived disability. These serious threats to health must be further investigated and more data are needed to comprehensively quantify the problem in sub-Saharan Africa.
PMCID: PMC3482210  PMID: 23110236

Results 1-13 (13)