Medical devices, such as stethoscopes, and other objects found in hospital, such as computer keyboards and telephone handsets, may be reservoirs of bacteria for healthcare-associated infections. In this cross-over study involving an Italian teaching hospital we evaluated microbial contamination (total bacterial count (TBC) at 36°C/22°C, Staphylococcus spp., moulds, Enterococcus spp., Pseudomonas spp., E. coli, total coliform bacteria, Acinetobacter spp., and Clostridium difficile) of these devices before and after cleaning and differences in contamination between hospital units and between stethoscopes and keyboards plus handsets. We analysed 37 telephone handsets, 27 computer keyboards, and 35 stethoscopes, comparing their contamination in four hospital units. Wilcoxon signed-rank and Mann-Whitney tests were used. Before cleaning, many samples were positive for Staphylococcus spp. and coliforms. After cleaning, CFUs decreased to zero in most comparisons. The first aid unit had the highest and intensive care the lowest contamination (P < 0.01). Keyboards and handsets had higher TBC at 22°C (P = 0.046) and mould contamination (P = 0.002) than stethoscopes. Healthcare professionals should disinfect stethoscopes and other possible sources of bacterial healthcare-associated infections. The cleaning technique used was effective in reducing bacterial contamination. Units with high patient turnover, such as first aid, should practise stricter hygiene.
To better understand how stock-outs of the first line antimalarial, Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) and other non-compliant health worker behaviour, influence household expenditures during care-seeking for fever in the Ulanga District in Tanzania.
We combined weekly ACT stock data for the period 2009-2011 from six health facilities in the Ulanga District in Tanzania, together with household data from 333 respondents on the cost of fever care-seeking in Ulanga during the same time period to establish how health seeking behaviour and expenditure might vary depending on ACT availability in their nearest health facility.
Irrespective of ACT stock-outs, more than half (58%) of respondents sought initial care in the public sector, the remainder seeking care in the private sector where expenditure was higher by 19%. Over half (54%) of respondents who went to the public sector reported incidences of non-compliant behaviour by the attending health worker (e.g. charging those who were eligible for free service or referring patients to the private sector despite ACT stock), which increased household expenditure per fever episode from USD0.14 to USD1.76. ACT stock-outs were considered to be the result of non-compliant behaviour of others in the health system and increased household expenditure by 21%; however we lacked sufficient statistical power to confirm this finding.
System design and governance challenges in the Tanzanian health system have resulted in numerous ACT stock-outs and frequent non-compliant public sector health worker behaviour, both of which increase out-of-pocket health expenditure. Interventions are urgently needed to ensure a stable supply of ACT in the public sector and increase health worker accountability.
Health worker behaviour; Informal charges; Stock-outs; Antimalarial; Tanzania
To examine change in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in association with clinical outcomes of neuropsychiatric (NP) events in SLE.
An international study evaluated newly diagnosed SLE patients for NP events attributed to SLE and non-SLE causes. Outcome of events was determined by physician-completed 7-point scale and compared to patient-completed SF-36 questionnaires. Statistical analysis used linear mixed-effects regression models with patient specific random effects.
274 patients (92% female; 68% Caucasian), from a cohort of 1400, had ≥ 1 NP event where the interval between assessments was 12.3 ± 2 months. The overall difference in change between visits in mental component summary (MCS) scores of the SF-36 was significant (p<0.0001) following adjustments for gender, ethnicity, center and previous score. A consistent improvement in NP status (N=295) was associated with an increase in the mean(SD) adjusted MCS score of 3.66(0.89) in SF-36 scores. Between paired visits where NP status consistently deteriorated (N=30), the adjusted MCS score decreased by 4.00(1.96). For the physical component summary (PCS) scores the corresponding changes were +1.73(0.71) and −0.62(1.58) (p<0.05) respectively. Changes in SF-36 subscales were in the same direction (p<0.05; with the exception of role physical). Sensitivity analyses confirmed these findings. Adjustment for age, education, medications, SLE disease activity, organ damage, disease duration, attribution and characteristics of NP events did not substantially alter the results.
Changes in SF-36 summary and subscale scores, in particular those related to mental health, are strongly associated with the clinical outcome of NP events in SLE patients.
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Neuropsychiatric; Inception cohort; Health related quality of life; SF-36
In Burundi, the annual incidence of obstetric fistula is estimated to be 0.2-0.5% of all deliveries, with 1000–2000 new cases per year. Despite this relatively high incidence, national capacity for identifying and managing obstetric fistula is very limited. Thus, in July 2010, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) set up a specialised Obstetric Fistula Centre in Gitega (Gitega Fistula Centre, GFC), the only permanent referral centre for obstetric fistula in Burundi. A comprehensive model of care is offered including psychosocial support, conservative and surgical management, post-operative care and follow-up. We describe this model of care, patient outcomes and the operational challenges.
Descriptive study using routine programme data.
Between July 2010 and December 2011, 470 women with obstetric fistula presented for the first time at GFC, of whom 458 (98%) received treatment. Early urinary catheterization (conservative management) was successful in four out of 35 (11%) women. Of 454 (99%) women requiring surgical management, 394 (87%) were discharged with a closed fistula, of whom 301 (76%) were continent of urine and/or faeces, while 93 (24%) remained incontinent of urine and/or faeces. In 59 (13%) cases, the fistula was complex and could not be closed. Outcome status was unknown for one woman. Median duration of stay at GFC was 39 days (Interquartile range IQR, 31–51 days).
The main operational challenges included: i) early case finding and recruitment for conservative management, ii) national capacity building in obstetric fistula surgical repair, and iii) assessing the psychosocial impact of this model.
In a rural African setting, it is feasible to implement a comprehensive package of fistula care using a dedicated fistula facility, and satisfactory surgical repair outcomes can be achieved. Several operational challenges are discussed.
Obstetric fistula; Comprehensive management; Operational research; Burundi
No new drugs have been approved for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) by the FDA for the last 30 years and one barrier has been the lack of validated of biomarkers and surrogate endpoints. Validation of SLE biomarkers in the past have been methodologically flawed. We put forth a conceptual framework and the five critical criterion for validating putative biomarkers and bio-surrogates in this heterogeneous multi-system disease with protean manifestations. Using the example of a putative biomarker for end-stage renal disease from lupus nephritis, we also performed computer simulations for planning a biomarker bio-repository to support the validation process. “Random time window” sampling where a biomarker is obtained in an interval randomly selected from the total follow-up time for that subject yields serious ‘survival bias’. This can be avoided by the “fixed calendar window” design, in which biomarkers are measured within the same, pre-specified period for all cohort members who remain at risk during that period. In lupus nephritis where the incidence rate of end-stage renal disease is relatively low, to accumulate 300 instances of end-stage renal disease, at risk patients would have to be followed for about 5,000 person-years, implying 500 subjects followed, on average, for about 10 years. Increasing the number of biomarker determinations per subject from one to five reduces the required number of subjects by 10-15%, while further increases of the number of observations per subject yielded much smaller gains. The large numbers of subjects required for a bio-repository, makes it essential to maximize the efficiency of study designs and analyses and provides the strongest rationale for collaboration and the use of standardized measures to ensure comparability.
The Systemic Lupus Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) revised and validated the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) SLE classification criteria in order to improve clinical relevance, meet stringent methodology requirements and incorporate new knowledge in SLE immunology.
The classification criteria were derived from a set of 702 expert-rated patient scenarios. Recursive partitioning was used to derive an initial rule that was simplified and refined based on SLICC physician consensus. SLICC validated the classification criteria in a new validation sample of 690 SLE patients and controls.
Seventeen criteria were identified. The SLICC criteria for SLE classification requires: 1) Fulfillment of at least four criteria, with at least one clinical criterion AND one immunologic criterion OR 2) Lupus nephritis as the sole clinical criterion in the presence of ANA or anti-dsDNA antibodies. In the derivation set, the SLICC classification criteria resulted in fewer misclassifications than the current ACR classification criteria (49 versus 70, p=0.0082), had greater sensitivity (94% versus 86%, p<0.0001) and equal specificity (92% versus 93%, p=0.39). In the validation set, the SLICC Classification criteria resulted in fewer misclassifications (62 versus 74, p=0.24), had greater sensitivity (97% versus 83%, p<0.0001) but less specificity (84% versus 96%, p<0.0001).
The new SLICC classification criteria performed well on a large set of patient scenarios rated by experts. They require that at least one clinical criterion and one immunologic criterion be present for a classification of SLE. Biopsy confirmed nephritis compatible with lupus (in the presence of SLE autoantibodies) is sufficient for classification.
The search for lupus biomarkers to diagnose, monitor, stratify, and predict individual response to therapy is currently more intense than ever before. This effort is essential for several reasons. First, epidemic overdiagnosis and underdiagnosis of lupus, even by certified rheumatologists, leads to errors in therapy with concomitant side effects which may be more serious than the disease itself. Second, identification of lupus flares remains as much an art as it is a science. Third, the capacity to stratify patients so as to predict those who will develop specific patterns of organ involvement is not currently possible but would potentially lead to preventive therapeutic strategies. Fourth, only one new drug for the treatment of lupus has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in over 50 years. A major obstacle in this pipeline is the dearth of biomarkers available to prove a patient has responded to an experimental therapeutic intervention. This review will summarize the challenges faced in the discovery and validation of lupus biomarkers, the most promising lupus biomarkers identified to date, and the promise of future directions.
biomarker; lupus; systemic lupus erythematosus; SLE
Tanzania has been a pioneer in establishing community-level services, yet challenges remain in sustaining these systems and ensuring adequate human resource strategies. In particular, the added value of a cadre of professional community health workers is under debate. While Tanzania has the highest density of primary health care facilities in Africa, equitable access and quality of care remain a challenge. Utilization for many services proven to reduce child and maternal mortality is unacceptably low. Tanzanian policy initiatives have sought to address these problems by proposing expansion of community-based providers, but the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW ) lacks evidence that this merits national implementation. The Tanzania Connect Project is a randomized cluster trial located in three rural districts with a population of roughly 360,000 ( Kilombero, Rufiji, and Ulanga).
Description of intervention
Connect aims to test whether introducing a community health worker into a general program of health systems strengthening and referral improvement will reduce child mortality, improve access to services, expand utilization, and alter reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health seeking behavior; thereby accelerating progress towards Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. Connect has introduced a new cadre — Community Health Agents (CHA) — who were recruited from and work in their communities. To support the CHA, Connect developed supervisory systems, launched information and monitoring operations, and implemented logistics support for integration with existing district and village operations. In addition, Connect’s district-wide emergency referral strengthening intervention includes clinical and operational improvements.
Designed as a community-based cluster-randomized trial, CHA were randomly assigned to 50 of the 101 villages within the Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) in the three study districts. To garner detailed information on household characteristics, behaviors, and service exposure, a random sub-sample survey of 3,300 women of reproductive age will be conducted at the baseline and endline. The referral system intervention will use baseline, midline, and endline facility-based data to assess systemic changes. Implementation and impact research of Connect will assess whether and how the presence of the CHA at village level provides added life-saving value to the health system.
Global commitment to launching community-based primary health care has accelerated in recent years, with much of the implementation focused on Africa. Despite extensive investment, no program has been guided by a truly experimental study. Connect will not only address Tanzania’s need for policy and operational research, it will bridge a critical international knowledge gap concerning the added value of salaried professional community health workers in the context of a high density of fixed facilities.
Trial registration: ISRCTN96819844
Integrated into the work in health systems strengthening (HSS) is a growing focus on the importance of ensuring quality of the services delivered and systems which support them. Understanding how to define and measure quality in the different key World Health Organization building blocks is critical to providing the information needed to address gaps and identify models for replication.
Description of approaches
We describe the approaches to defining and improving quality across the five country programs funded through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation African Health Initiative. While each program has independently developed and implemented country-specific approaches to strengthening health systems, they all included quality of services and systems as a core principle. We describe the differences and similarities across the programs in defining and improving quality as an embedded process essential for HSS to achieve the goal of improved population health. The programs measured quality across most or all of the six WHO building blocks, with specific areas of overlap in improving quality falling into four main categories: 1) defining and measuring quality; 2) ensuring data quality, and building capacity for data use for decision making and response to quality measurements; 3) strengthened supportive supervision and/or mentoring; and 4) operational research to understand the factors associated with observed variation in quality.
Learning the value and challenges of these approaches to measuring and improving quality across the key components of HSS as the projects continue their work will help inform similar efforts both now and in the future to ensure quality across the critical components of a health system and the impact on population health.
ω-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), mainly present in fish oil, are part of the human diet. Among PUFAs, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has received particular attention for its anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, proapoptotic, antiangiogenetic, anti-invasion, and antimetastatic properties. These data suggest that DHA can exert antitumor activity potentially representing an effective adjuvant in cancer chemotherapy. This review is focused on current knowledge supporting the potential use of DHA for the enhancement of the efficacy of anticancer treatments in relation to its ability to enhance the uptake of anticancer drugs, regulate the oxidative status of tumor cells, and inhibit tumor cell invasion and metastasis.
The objective of this study was to determine the feasibility of studying acupuncture in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and to pilot test the safety and explore benefits of a standardized acupuncture protocol designed to reduce pain and fatigue. Twenty-four patients with SLE were randomly assigned to receive 10 sessions of either acupuncture, minimal needling or usual care. Pain, fatigue and SLE disease activity were assessed at baseline and following the last sessions. Safety was assessed at each session. Fifty-two patients were screened to enroll 24 eligible and interested persons. Although transient side effects, such as brief needling pain and lightheadedness, were reported, no serious adverse events were associated with either the acupuncture or minimal needling procedures. Twenty-two participants completed the study, and the majority (85%) of acupuncture and minimal needling participants were able to complete their sessions within the specified time period of 5–6 weeks. 40% of patients who received acupuncture or minimal needling had ≥30% improvement on standard measures of pain, but no usual care patients showed improvement in pain. A ten-session course of acupuncture appears feasible and safe for patients with SLE. Benefits were similar for acupuncture and minimal needling.
acupuncture; pain; randomized controlled trial; systemic lupus erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease with increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and depression. Although depression may contribute to CVD risk in population-based studies, its influence on cardiovascular morbidity in SLE has not been evaluated. We evaluated the association between depression and vascular disease in SLE.
A cross-sectional study was conducted from 2002–2005 in 161 women with SLE and without CVD. The primary outcome measure was a composite vascular disease marker consisting of the presence of coronary artery calcium and/or carotid artery plaque.
In total, 101 women met criteria for vascular disease. In unadjusted analyses, several traditional cardiovascular risk factors, inflammatory markers, adiposity, SLE disease-related factors, and depression were associated with vascular disease. In the final multivariable model, the psychological variable depression was associated with nearly 4-fold higher odds for vascular disease (OR 3.85, 95% CI 1.37, 10.87) when adjusted for other risk factors of age, lower education level, hypertensive status, waist-hip ratio, and C-reactive protein.
In SLE, depression is independently associated with vascular disease, along with physical factors.
SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS; CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE; DEPRESSION CALCIFICATION; CAROTID PLAQUE; PSYCHOSOCIAL FACTORS
Drug-drug interactions (DDIs) can lead to serious and potentially lethal adverse events. In recent years, several drugs have been withdrawn from the market due to interaction-related adverse events (AEs). Current methods for detecting DDIs rely on the accumulation of sufficient clinical evidence in the post-market stage – a lengthy process that often takes years, during which time numerous patients may suffer from the adverse effects of the DDI. Detection methods are further hindered by the extremely large combinatoric space of possible drug-drug-AE combinations. There is therefore a practical need for predictive tools that can identify potential DDIs years in advance, enabling drug safety professionals to better prioritize their limited investigative resources and take appropriate regulatory action. To meet this need, we describe Predictive Pharmacointeraction Networks (PPINs) – a novel approach that predicts unknown DDIs by exploiting the network structure of all known DDIs, together with other intrinsic and taxonomic properties of drugs and AEs. We constructed an 856-drug DDI network from a 2009 snapshot of a widely-used drug safety database, and used it to develop PPIN models for predicting future DDIs. We compared the DDIs predicted based solely on these 2009 data, with newly reported DDIs that appeared in a 2012 snapshot of the same database. Using a standard multivariate approach to combine predictors, the PPIN model achieved an AUROC (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve) of 0.81 with a sensitivity of 48% given a specificity of 90%. An analysis of DDIs by severity level revealed that the model was most effective for predicting “contraindicated” DDIs (AUROC = 0.92) and less effective for “minor” DDIs (AUROC = 0.63). These results indicate that network based methods can be useful for predicting unknown drug-drug interactions.
Advances in sequencing technology are making genomic data more accessible within the healthcare environment. Published pharmacogenetic guidelines attempt to provide a clinical context for specific genomic variants; however, the actual implementation to convert genomic data into a clinical report integrated within an electronic medical record system is a major challenge for any hospital. We created a two-part solution that integrates with the medical record system and converts genetic variant results into an interpreted clinical report based on published guidelines. We successfully developed a scalable infrastructure to support TPMT genetic testing and are currently testing approximately two individuals per week in our production version. We plan to release an online variant to clinical interpretation reporting system in order to facilitate translation of pharmacogenetic information into clinical practice.
Metabolites reflect the integration of gene expression, protein interaction and other different regulatory processes and are therefore closer to the phenotype than mRNA transcripts or proteins alone. Amongst all –omics technologies, metabolomics is the most transversal and can be applied to different organisms with little or no modifications. It has been successfully applied to the study of molecular phenotypes of plants in response to abiotic stress in order to find particular patterns associated to stress tolerance. These studies have highlighted the essential involvement of primary metabolites: sugars, amino acids and Krebs cycle intermediates as direct markers of photosynthetic dysfunction as well as effectors of osmotic readjustment. On the contrary, secondary metabolites are more specific of genera and species and respond to particular stress conditions as antioxidants, Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) scavengers, coenzymes, UV and excess radiation screen and also as regulatory molecules. In addition, the induction of secondary metabolites by several abiotic stress conditions could also be an effective mechanism of cross-protection against biotic threats, providing a link between abiotic and biotic stress responses. Moreover, the presence/absence and relative accumulation of certain metabolites along with gene expression data provides accurate markers (mQTL or MWAS) for tolerant crop selection in breeding programs.
cold; heat; metabolite profiling; mQTL; omics; osmoprotectants; oxidative stress; salt stress; soil flooding; water stress
The study explored the childbirth-related hygiene and newborn care practices in home-deliveries in Southern Tanzania and barriers to and facilitators of behaviour change. Eleven home-birth narratives and six focus group discussions were conducted with recently-delivering women; two focus group discussions were conducted with birth attendants. The use of clean cloth for delivery was reported as common in the birth narratives; however, respondents did not link its use to newborn's health. Handwashing and wearing of gloves by birth attendants varied and were not discussed in terms of being important for newborn's health, with few women giving reasons for this behaviour. The lack of handwashing and wearing of gloves was most commonly linked to the lack of water, gloves, and awareness. A common practice was the insertion of any family member's hands into the vagina of delivering woman to check labour progress before calling the birth attendant. The use of a new razor blade to cut the cord was near-universal; however, the cord was usually tied with a used thread due to the lack of knowledge and the low availability of clean thread. Applying something to the cord was near-universal and was considered essential for newborn's health. Three hygiene practices were identified as needing improvement: family members inserting a hand into the vagina of delivering woman before calling the birth attendant, the use of unclean thread, and putting substances on the cord. Little is known about families conducting internal checks of women in labour, and more research is needed before this behaviour is targeted in interventions. The use of clean thread as cord-tie appears acceptable and can be addressed, using the same channels and methods that were used for successfully encouraging the use of new razor blade.
Clean delivery; Handwashing; Formative research; Newborn; Tanzania
Background. The persistent presence of antiphospholipid antibodies (APA) may lead to the development of primary or secondary antiphospholipid syndrome. Although the genetic basis of APA has been suggested, the identity of the underlying genes is largely unknown. In this study, we have performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in an effort to identify susceptibility loci/genes for three main APA: anticardiolipin antibodies (ACL), lupus anticoagulant (LAC), and anti-β2 glycoprotein I antibodies (anti-β2GPI). Methods. DNA samples were genotyped using the Affymetrix 6.0 array containing 906,600 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Association of SNPs with the antibody status (positive/negative) was tested using logistic regression under the additive model. Results. We have identified a number of suggestive novel loci with P < E − 05. Although they do not meet the conservative threshold of genome-wide significance, many of the suggestive loci are potential candidates for the production of APA. We have replicated the previously reported associations of HLA genes and APOH with APA but these were not the top loci. Conclusions. We have identified a number of suggestive novel loci for APA that will stimulate follow-up studies in independent and larger samples to replicate our findings.
The poor maintenance of equipment and inadequate supplies of drugs and other items contribute to the low quality of maternity services often found in rural settings in low- and middle-income countries, and raise the risk of adverse patient outcomes through delaying care provision. We aim to describe staff experiences of providing maternal and neonatal care in rural health facilities in Southern Tanzania, focusing on issues related to equipment, drugs and supplies.
Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were conducted with different staff cadres from all facility levels in order to explore experiences and views of providing maternity care in the context of poorly maintained equipment, and insufficient drugs and other supplies. A facility survey quantified the availability of relevant items.
The facility survey, which found many missing or broken items and frequent stock outs, corroborated staff reports of providing care in the context of missing or broken care items. Staff reported increased workloads, reduced morale, difficulties in providing optimal maternity care, and carrying out procedures with potential health risks to themselves as a result.
Inadequately stocked and equipped facilities compromise the health system’s ability to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity by affecting staff personally and professionally, which hinders the provision of timely and appropriate interventions. Improving stock control and maintaining equipment could benefit mothers and babies, not only through removing restrictions to the availability of care, but also through improving staff working conditions.
Maternal health services; Neonate; Qualitative research; Equipment and supplies; Healthcare systems; Health manpower; Africa south of the Sahara
Setting. A nationwide study in Fiji. Objective. To describe the incidence of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) and its relationship to the incidence of notified cases of rubella in Fiji from 1995 to 2010. Design. Descriptive, retrospective review of all recorded congenital abnormalities associated with live births in Fiji over 16 years. Results. There were 294 infants who met the criteria for CRS. Of these, 95% were classified as “suspected” cases, 5% were “clinically confirmed,” and none were “laboratory confirmed cases”. There was a significant linear increase over the study period in the incidence of CRS (odds ratio 1.045 per year, 95% CI 1.019 to 1.071, P ≤ 0.001). There was no significant association between the incidence of CRS and the reported incidence of rubella (P = 0.3). Conclusion. There is a rising trend in reports of suspected CRS cases in Fiji. This highlights the need to strengthen surveillance for CRS through improvements in clinical and laboratory diagnosis to confirm or exclude suspected cases. It is also important to ensure high coverage of rubella vaccination in Fiji.
Diagnosis of peri-prosthetic infection remains challenging, often requiring a combination of different tests.
In this prospective, case–control study, the diagnostic accuracy of telethermography was evaluated in a group of seventy patients who had had a total knee replacement and were undergoing a reoperation because of infection or another implant-related problem, after a minimum of one year from implant.
An average differential temperature of the affected versus not affected knee of 1.9°C was observed in infected prosthesis, compared to 0.3°C in aseptic failures. Considering a normal reference value equal or less than 1.0°C, telethermography showed an accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive value of, respectively: 0.90, 0.89, 0.91, 0.91, 0.88.
Digital telethermography is a reliable option for diagnosing peri-prosthetic knee infection.
Knee; Total knee replacement; TKR; Infection; Thermography; Diagnosis
Each follow-up during the course of tuberculosis treatment currently requires two sputum examinations. However, the incremental yield of the second sputum sample during follow-up of different types of tuberculosis patients has never been determined precisely.
To assess the incremental yield of the second sputum sample in the follow-up of tuberculosis patients under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) in Chhattisgarh, India.
A record review of tuberculosis (TB) patients registered in 2009 using a structured proforma from two sources, Tuberculosis and Laboratory Register, was undertaken in the six districts of Chhattisgarh, India.
In smear positive cases, of 10,048 follow-up examinations, 45 (0.5%) were found to be smear positive only on the second sputum when the result of the first sample was negative. In smear negative pulmonary and extra pulmonary TB patients, of 6,206 follow-up smear examinations, 11(0.2%) were found to be smear positive.
The incremental yield of a second smear examination was very low, indicating that examination of one sputum sample is enough during follow-up among TB patients. There is insufficient yield to support sputum smear microscopy for monitoring smear negative pulmonary TB and extra pulmonary TB patients. These results indicate that the follow-up smear microscopy can be substantially simplified with favourable resource implications.
Despite the successful scale-up of ART services over the past years, long term retention in ART care remains a major challenge, especially in high HIV prevalence and resource-limited settings. This study analysed the short (<12 months) and long (>12 months) term retention on ART in two ART programmes in Malawi (Thyolo district) and Zimbabwe (Buhera district).
Retention rates at six-month intervals are reported separately among (1) patients since ART initiation and (2) patients who had been on ART for at least 12 months, according to the site of ART initiation and follow-up, using the Kaplan Meier method. ‘Retention’ was defined as being alive on ART or transferred out, while ‘attrition’ was defined as dead, lost to follow-up or stopped ART.
In Thyolo and Buhera, a total of 12,004 and 9,721 patients respectively were included in the analysis. The overall retention among the patients since ART initiation was 84%, 80% and 77% in Thyolo and 88%, 84% and 82% in Buhera at 6, 12 and 18 months, respectively. In both programmes the largest drop in ART retention was found during the initial 12 months on ART, mainly related to a high mortality rate in the health centres in Thyolo and a high loss to follow-up rate in the hospital in Buhera. Among the patients who had been on ART for at least 12 months, the retention rates leveled out, with 97%, 95% and 94% in both Thyolo and Buhera, at 18, 24 and 30 months respectively. Loss to follow-up was identified as the main contributor to attrition after 12 months on treatment in both programmes.
To better understand the reasons of attrition and adapt the ART delivery care models accordingly, it is advisable to analyse short and long term retention separately, in order to adapt intervention strategies accordingly. During the initial months on ART more medical follow-up, especially for symptomatic patients, is required to reduce mortality. Once stable on ART, however, the ART care delivery should focus on regular drug refill and adherence support to reduce loss to follow up. Hence, innovative life-long retention strategies, including use of new communication technologies, community based interventions and drug refill outside the health facilities are required.
Retention; ART; HIV; SSA; Resource-limited settings; Short and long term