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1.  Approaching Etuaptmumk – introducing a consensus-based mixed method for health services research 
International Journal of Circumpolar Health  2015;74:10.3402/ijch.v74.27438.
With the recognized need for health systems’ improvements in the circumpolar and indigenous context, there has been a call to expand the research agenda across all sectors influencing wellness and to recognize academic and indigenous knowledge through the research process. Despite being recognized as a distinct body of knowledge in international forums and across indigenous groups, examples of methods and theories based on indigenous knowledge are not well documented in academic texts or peer-reviewed literature on health systems. This paper describes the use of a consensus-based, mixed method with indigenous knowledge by an experienced group of researchers and indigenous knowledge holders who collaborated on a study that explored indigenous values underlying health systems stewardship. The method is built on the principles of Etuaptmumk or two-eyed seeing, which aim to respond to and resolve the inherent conflicts between indigenous ways of knowing and the scientific inquiry that informs the evidence base in health care. Mixed methods’ frameworks appear to provide a framing suitable for research questions that require data from indigenous knowledge sources and western knowledge. The nominal consensus method, as a western paradigm, was found to be responsive to embedding of indigenous knowledge and allowed space to express multiple perspectives and reach consensus on the question at hand. Further utilization and critical evaluation of this mixed methodology with indigenous knowledge are required.
PMCID: PMC4442124  PMID: 26004427
health systems stewardship; indigenous values; mixed methods
2.  Follow-Up Visit Patterns in an Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Programme in Zomba, Malawi 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101875.
Identifying follow-up (FU) visit patterns, and exploring which factors influence them are likely to be useful in determining which patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) may become Lost to Follow-Up (LTFU). Using an operation and implementation research approach, we sought 1) to describe the timing of FU visits amongst patients who have been on ART for shorter and longer periods of time; and 2) to determine the median time to late visits, and 3) to identify specific factors that may be associated with these patterns in Zomba, Malawi.
Methods and Findings
Using routinely collected programme monitoring data from Zomba District, we performed descriptive analyses on all ART visits among patients who initiated ART between Jan. 1, 2007–June 30, 2010. Based on an expected FU date, each FU visit was classified as early (≥4 day before an expected FU date), on time (3 days before an expected FU date/up to 6 days after an expected FU date), or late (≥7 days after an expected FU date). In total, 7,815 patients with 76417 FU visits were included. Ninety-two percent of patients had ≥2 FU visits. At the majority of visits, patients were either on time or late. The median time to a first late visit among those with 2 or more visits was 216 days (IQR: 128–359). Various patient- and visit-level factors differed significantly across Early, On Time, and Late visit groups including ART adherence and frequency of, and type of side effects.
The majority of patients do not demonstrate consistent FU visit patterns. Individuals were generally on ART for at least 6 months before experiencing their first late visit. Our findings have implications for the development of effective interventions that meet patient needs when they present early and can reduce patient losses to follow-up when they are late. In particular, time-varying visit characteristics need further research.
PMCID: PMC4102478  PMID: 25033285
3.  A taxonomy for community-based care programs focused on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care in resource-poor settings 
Global Health Action  2013;6:10.3402/gha.v6i0.20548.
Community-based care (CBC) can increase access to key services for people affected by HIV/AIDS through the mobilization of community interests and resources and their integration with formal health structures. Yet, the lack of a systematic framework for analysis of CBC focused on HIV/AIDS impedes our ability to understand and study CBC programs. We sought to develop taxonomy of CBC programs focused on HIV/AIDS in resource-limited settings in an effort to understand their key characteristics, uncover any gaps in programming, and highlight the potential roles they play. Our review aimed to systematically identify key CBC programs focused on HIV/AIDS in resource-limited settings. We used both bibliographic database searches (Medline, CINAHL, and EMBASE) for peer-reviewed literature and internet-based searches for gray literature. Our search terms were ‘HIV’ or ‘AIDS’ and ‘community-based care’ or ‘CBC’. Two co-authors developed a descriptive taxonomy through an iterative, inductive process using the retrieved program information. We identified 21 CBC programs useful for developing taxonomy. Extensive variation was observed within each of the nine categories identified: region, vision, characteristics of target populations, program scope, program operations, funding models, human resources, sustainability, and monitoring and evaluation strategies. While additional research may still be needed to identify the conditions that lead to overall program success, our findings can help to inform our understanding of the various aspects of CBC programs and inform potential logic models for CBC programming in the context of HIV/AIDS in resource-limited settings. Importantly, the findings of the present study can be used to develop sustainable HIV/AIDS-service delivery programs in regions with health resource shortages.
PMCID: PMC3629264  PMID: 23594416
community-based care; HIV; resource-limited settings; review; taxonomy
4.  Corruption in the health care sector: A barrier to access of orthopaedic care and medical devices in Uganda 
Globally, injuries cause approximately as many deaths per year as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, and 90% of injury deaths occur in low- and middle- income countries. Given not all injuries kill, the disability burden, particularly from orthopaedic injuries, is much higher but is poorly measured at present. The orthopaedic services and orthopaedic medical devices needed to manage the injury burden are frequently unavailable in these countries. Corruption is known to be a major barrier to access of health care, but its effects on access to orthopaedic services is still unknown.
A qualitative case study of 45 open-ended interviews was conducted to investigate the access to orthopaedic health services and orthopaedic medical devices in Uganda. Participants included orthopaedic surgeons, related healthcare professionals, industry and government representatives, and patients. Participants’ experiences in accessing orthopaedic medical devices were explored. Thematic analysis was used to analyze and code the transcripts.
Analysis of the interview data identified poor leadership in government and corruption as major barriers to access of orthopaedic care and orthopaedic medical devices. Corruption was perceived to occur at the worker, hospital and government levels in the forms of misappropriation of funds, theft of equipment, resale of drugs and medical devices, fraud and absenteeism. Other barriers elicited included insufficient health infrastructure and human resources, and high costs of orthopaedic equipment and poverty.
This study identified perceived corruption as a significant barrier to access of orthopaedic care and orthopaedic medical devices in Uganda. As the burden of injury continues to grow, the need to combat corruption and ensure access to orthopaedic services is imperative. Anti-corruption strategies such as transparency and accountability measures, codes of conduct, whistleblower protection, and higher wages and benefits for workers could be important and initial steps in improving access orthopaedic care and OMDs, and managing the global injury burden.
PMCID: PMC3492067  PMID: 22554349
5.  Canada's Access to Medicines Regime: Promise or Failure of Humanitarian Effort? 
Healthcare Policy  2010;5(3):40-48.
There is often a gap between promises made politically and the will to implement these promises meaningfully. One example is Canada's Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR). CAMR was enacted following a WTO decision that changed global intellectual property rules, allowing countries to issue compulsory licences for the production and export of domestically patented medicines to countries without pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. Ideally, CAMR would be a vital part of Canada's international assistance. However, in the three years since CAMR was implemented, this attempt to improve medicines access by the world's neediest appears instead to be largely a failure of Canadian humanitarian efforts.
PMCID: PMC2831732  PMID: 21286267
6.  Health and historical levels of freedom 
The link between political freedom and health is unclear. We aimed to determine the association by exploring the relationship of historical and cumulative freedom levels with important health outcomes.
We obtained countrywide health indicators for life expectancy, infant mortality, maternal mortality ratio, % low birth weight babies, Gini coefficient (a measure of wealth inequality) and various markers of freedom based on political rights and civil liberties. We applied multivariable logistic regression to examine the association between health indicators and within-country years of freedom as determined by Freedom House rankings.
The total proportion of free years from 1972-2005, the duration of current freedom level, and the Gini coefficient show independent positive associations with health indicators, which remain after the adjustment for national wealth, total government expenditure, and spending on health. Countries identified as having high total proportion of free years demonstrated significantly better health outcomes than countries with low levels of freedom (life expectancy, Odds Ratio [OR] 7.2, 95% Confidence Interval [CI], 2.3-22.6, infant mortality OR 19.6, 95% CI, 5.6-67.7, maternal mortality ratio, OR 24.3, 95% CI, 6.2-94.9, and % low birth weight babies OR 3.8, 95% CI, 1.4-10.8). This was also the case for infant mortality (OR 3.4, 95% CI, 1.0-8.4), maternal mortality ratio (OR 4.0, 95% CI, 1.2-12.8), and % low birth weight babies (OR 2.6, 95% CI, 1.0-6.6) among countries considered as having medium levels of freedom.
We found strong associations between country-level freedom and important health outcomes. The cumulative level of freedom over time shows stronger associations with all health indicators than the duration of current freedom level.
PMCID: PMC2890539  PMID: 20509954
7.  Are Patents Impeding Medical Care and Innovation? 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(1):e1000208.
This month's debate examines whether the current patent system is crucial for stimulating health research or whether it is stifling biomedical research and impeding medical care.
Background to the debate: Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers argue that the current patent system is crucial for stimulating research and development (R&D), leading to new products that improve medical care. The financial return on their investments that is afforded by patent protection, they claim, is an incentive toward innovation and reinvestment into further R&D. But this view has been challenged in recent years. Many commentators argue that patents are stifling biomedical research, for example by preventing researchers from accessing patented materials or methods they need for their studies. Patents have also been blamed for impeding medical care by raising prices of essential medicines, such as antiretroviral drugs, in poor countries. This debate examines whether and how patents are impeding health care and innovation.
PMCID: PMC2795161  PMID: 20052274
8.  Users' guides to the medical literature: how to use an article about mortality in a humanitarian emergency 
The accurate interpretation of mortality surveys in humanitarian crises is useful for both public health responses and security responses. Recent examples suggest that few medical personnel and researchers can accurately interpret the validity of a mortality survey in these settings. Using an example of a mortality survey from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we demonstrate important methodological considerations that readers should keep in mind when reading a mortality survey to determine the validity of the study and the applicability of the findings to their settings.
PMCID: PMC2569008  PMID: 18826636
10.  Designing research in vulnerable populations: lessons from HIV prevention trials that stopped early 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2005;331(7529):1403-1406.
Activist groups have been successful in promoting research and better treatment for people with HIV infection, but they can also stop trials if their views are not considered
PMCID: PMC1309660  PMID: 16339256
11.  Prevalence of mental disorders and torture among Tibetan refugees: A systematic review 
Many Tibetan refugees flee Tibet in order to escape physical and mental hardships, and to access the freedoms to practice their culture and religion. We aimed to determine the prevalence of mental illnesses within the refugee population and determine the prevalence of previous torture reported within this population.
We performed a systematic literature search of 10 electronic databases from inception to May 2005. In addition, we searched the internet, contacted all authors of located studies, and contacted the Tibetan Government-in-exile, to locate unpublished studies. We included any study reporting on prevalence of mental illness within the Tibetan refugee populations. We determined study quality according to validation, translation, and interview administration. We calculated proportions with exact confidence intervals.
Five studies that met our inclusion criteria (total n = 410). All studies were conducted in North India and 4 were specifically in adult populations. Four studies provided details on the prevalence of torture and previous imprisonment within the populations. The prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder ranged from 11–23%, anxiety ranged from 25–77%, and major depression ranged from 11.5–57%.
Our review indicates that the prevalence of serious mental health disorders within this population is elevated. The reported incidence of torture and imprisonment is a possible contributor to the illnesses. Non-government organizations and international communities should be aware of the human rights abuses being levied upon this vulnerable population and the mental health outcomes that may be associated with it.
PMCID: PMC1308816  PMID: 16280079
12.  Action on Canada's generic drug law 
PMCID: PMC395796
14.  The G8 fails global health 
PMCID: PMC121965  PMID: 12240814

Results 1-14 (14)