In recent years emerging markets such as India, China, and Brazil have developed appropriate business models and lower-cost technological innovations to address health challenges locally and internationally. But it is not well understood what capabilities African countries, with their high disease burden, have in science-based health innovation.
This gap in knowledge is addressed by this series in BMC International Health and Human Rights. The series presents the results of extensive on-the-ground research in the form of four country case studies of health and biotechnology innovation, six studies of institutions within Africa involved in health product development, and one study of health venture funds in Africa. To the best of our knowledge it is the first extensive collection of empirical work on African science-based health innovation.
The four country cases are Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The six case studies of institutions are A to Z Textiles (Tanzania), Acorn Technologies (South Africa), Bioventures venture capital fund (South Africa), the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA; Madagascar), the Kenyan Medical Research Institute (KEMRI; Kenya), and Niprisan’s development by Nigeria’s National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development and Xechem (Nigeria).
All of the examples highlight pioneering attempts to build technological capacity, create economic opportunities, and retain talent on a continent significantly affected by brain drain. They point to the practical challenges for innovators on the ground, and suggest potentially helpful policies, funding streams, and other support systems.
For African nations, health innovation represents an opportunity to increase domestic capacity to solve health challenges; for international funders, it is an opportunity to move beyond foreign aid and dependency. The shared goal is creating self-sustaining innovation that has both health and development impacts. While this is a long-term strategy, this series shows the potential of African-led innovation, and indicates how it might balance realism against opportunity. There is ample scope to learn lessons more systematically from cases like those we discuss; to link entrepreneurs, scientists, funders, and policy-makers into a network to share opportunities and challenges; and ultimately to better support and stimulate African-led health innovation.
A traditional pathway for developing new health products begins with public research institutes generating new knowledge, and ends with the private sector translating this knowledge into new ventures. But while public research institutes are key drivers of basic research in sub-Saharan Africa, the private sector is inadequately prepared to commercialize ideas that emerge from these institutes, resulting in these institutes taking on the role of product development themselves to alleviate the local disease burden. In this article, the case study method is used to analyze the experience of one such public research institute: the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).
Our analysis indicates that KEMRI’s product development efforts began modestly, and a manufacturing facility was constructed with a strategy for the facility’s product output which was not very successful. The intended products, HIV and Hepatitis B diagnostic kits, had a short product life cycle, and an abrupt change in regulatory requirements left KEMRI with an inactive facility. These problems were the result of poor innovation management capacity, variability in domestic markets, lack of capital to scale up technologies, and an institutional culture that lacked innovation as a priority.
However, KEMRI appears to have adapted by diversifying its product line to mitigate risk and ensure continued use of its manufacturing facility. It adopted an open innovation business model which linked it with investors, research partnerships, licensing opportunities, and revenue from contract manufacturing. Other activities that KEMRI has put in place over several years to enhance product development include the establishment of a marketing division, development of an institutional IP policy, and training of its scientists on innovation management.
KEMRI faced many challenges in its attempt at health product development, including shifting markets, lack of infrastructure, inadequate financing, and weak human capital with respect to innovation. However, it overcame them through diversification, partnerships and changes in culture. The findings could have implications for other research institutes in Sub-Saharan Africa seeking to develop health products. Such institutes must analyze potential demand and uptake, yet be prepared to face the unexpected and develop appropriate risk-mitigating strategies.
Developing novel drugs from traditional medicinal knowledge can serve as a means to improve public health. Yet countries in sub-Saharan Africa face barriers in translating traditional medicinal knowledge into commercially viable health products. Barriers in moving along the road towards making a new drug available include insufficient manufacturing capacity; knowledge sharing between scientists and medical healers; regulatory hurdles; quality control issues; pricing and distribution; and lack of financing. The case study method was used to illustrate efforts to overcome these barriers during the development in Nigeria of Niprisan – a novel drug for the treatment of sickle cell anemia, a chronic blood disorder with few effective therapies.
Building on the knowledge of a traditional medicine practitioner, Nigeria’s National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) developed the traditional herbal medicine Niprisan. The commercialization of Niprisan reached a number of commercial milestones, including regulatory approval in Nigeria; securing US-based commercial partner XeChem; demonstrating clinical efficacy and safety; being awarded orphan drug status by the US Food and Drug Administration; and striking important relationships with domestic and international groups. Despite these successes, however, XeChem did not achieve mainstream success for Niprisan in Nigeria or in the United States. A number of reasons, including inconsistent funding and manufacturing and management challenges, have been put forth to explain Niprisan’s commercial demise. As of this writing, NIPRD is considering options for another commercial partner to take the drug forward.
Evidence from the Niprisan experience suggests that establishing benefit-sharing agreements, fostering partnerships with established research institutions, improving standardization and quality control, ensuring financial and managerial due diligence, and recruiting entrepreneurial leaders capable of holding dual scientific and business responsibilities should be incorporated into future drug development initiatives based on traditional medicines. Country-level supporting policies and conditions are also important. With more experience and support, and an improved environment for innovation, developing new drugs from traditional medicines may be an attractive approach to addressing diseases in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions.
While venture funding has been applied to biotechnology and health in high-income countries, it is still nascent in these fields in developing countries, and particularly in Africa. Yet the need for implementing innovative solutions to health challenges is greatest in Africa, with its enormous burden of communicable disease. Issues such as risk, investment opportunities, return on investment requirements, and quantifying health impact are critical in assessing venture capital’s potential for supporting health innovation. This paper uses lessons learned from five venture capital firms from Kenya, South Africa, China, India, and the US to suggest design principles for African health venture funds.
The case study method was used to explore relevant funds, and lessons for the African context. The health venture funds in this study included publicly-owned organizations, corporations, social enterprises, and subsidiaries of foreign venture firms. The size and type of investments varied widely. The primary investor in four funds was the International Finance Corporation. Three of the funds aimed primarily for financial returns, one aimed primarily for social and health returns, and one had mixed aims. Lessons learned include the importance of measuring and supporting both social and financial returns; the need to engage both upstream capital such as government risk-funding and downstream capital from the private sector; and the existence of many challenges including difficulty of raising capital, low human resource capacity, regulatory barriers, and risky business environments. Based on these lessons, design principles for appropriate venture funding are suggested.
Based on the cases studied and relevant experiences elsewhere, there is a case for venture funding as one support mechanism for science-based African health innovation, with opportunities for risk-tolerant investors to make financial as well as social returns. Such funds should be structured to overcome the challenges identified, be sustainable in the long run, attract for-profit private sector funds, and have measurable and significant health impact. If this is done, the proposed venture approach may have complementary benefits to existing initiatives and encourage local scientific and economic development while tapping new sources of funding.
Science, technology and innovation have long played a role in Ghana’s vision for development, including in improving its health outcomes. However, so far little research has been conducted on Ghana’s capacity for health innovation to address local diseases. This research aims to fill that gap, mapping out the key actors involved, highlighting examples of indigenous innovation, setting out the challenges ahead and outlining recommendations for strengthening Ghana’s health innovation system.
Case study research methodology was used. Data were collected through reviews of academic literature and policy documents and through open-ended, face-to-face interviews with 48 people from across the science-based health innovation system. Data was collected over three visits to Ghana from February 2007 to August 2008, and stakeholders engaged subsequently.
Ghana has strengths which could underpin science-based health innovation in the future, including health and biosciences research institutions with strong foreign linkages and donor support; a relatively strong regulatory system which is building capacity in other West African countries; the beginnings of new funding forms such as venture capital; and the return of professionals from the diaspora, bringing expertise and contacts. Some health products and services are already being developed in Ghana by individual entrepreneurs, which are innovative in the sense of being new to the country and, in some cases, the continent. They include essential medicines, raw pharmaceutical materials, new formulations for pediatric use and plant medicines at various stages of development.
While Ghana has many institutions concerned with health research and its commercialization, their ability to work together to address clear health goals is low. If Ghana is to capitalize on its assets, including political and macroeconomic stability which underpin investment in health enterprises, it needs to improve the health innovation environment through increasing support for its small firms; coordinating policies; and beginning a dialogue with donors on how health research can create locally-owned knowledge and be more demand-driven. Mobilizing stakeholders around health product development areas, such as traditional medicines and diagnostics, would help to create trust between groups and build a stronger health innovation system.
This paper describes and analyses Rwanda’s science-based health product ‘innovation system’, highlighting examples of indigenous innovation and good practice. We use an innovation systems framework, which takes into account the wide variety of stakeholders and knowledge flows contributing to the innovation process. The study takes into account the destruction of the country’s scientific infrastructure and human capital that occurred during the 1994 genocide, and describes government policy, research institutes and universities, the private sector, and NGOs that are involved in health product innovation in Rwanda.
Case study research methodology was used. Data were collected through reviews of academic literature and policy documents and through open-ended, face-to-face interviews with 38 people from across the science-based health innovation system. Data was collected over two visits to Rwanda between November – December 2007 and in May 2008. A workshop was held in Kigali on May 23rd and May 24th 2009 to validate the findings. A business plan was then developed to operationalize the findings.
Results and discussion
The results of the study show that Rwanda has strong government will to support health innovation both through its political leadership and through government policy documents. However, it has a very weak scientific base as most of its scientific infrastructure as well as human capital were destroyed during the 1994 genocide. The regulatory agency is weak and its nascent private sector is ill-equipped to drive health innovation. In addition, there are no linkages between the various actors in the country’s health innovation system i.e between research institutions, universities, the private sector, and government bureaucrats.
Despite the fact that the 1994 genocide destroyed most of the scientific infrastructure and human capital, the country has made remarkable progress towards developing its health innovation system, mainly due to political goodwill. The areas of greatest potential for Rwanda are in traditional plant technologies. However, there is need for investments in domestic skill development as well as infrastructure that will enhance innovation. Of foremost importance is the establishment of a platform to link the various actors in the health innovation system.
Tanzania is East Africa’s largest country. Although it is socially diverse, it has experienced general political stability since independence in 1964. Despite gradual economic development and Tanzania’s status as one of the biggest recipients of aid in Africa, health status remains poor. This paper explores Tanzania’s science-based health innovation system, and highlights areas which can be strengthened.
Qualitative case study research methodology was used. Data were collected through reviews of academic literature and policy documents, and through open-ended, face-to-face interviews with 52 people from across the science-based health innovation system over two visits to Tanzania from July to October 2007.
Results and discussion
Tanzania has a rich but complex S&T governance landscape, with the public sector driving the innovation agenda through a series of different bodies which are not well-coordinated. It has some of the leading health research on the continent at the University of Dar es Salaam, Muhimbili University of Health and Applied Sciences, the National Institute for Medical Research and the Ifakara Medical Institute, with strong donor support. Tanzania has found developing an entrepreneurial culture difficult; nevertheless projects such as the clusters initiative at the University of Dar es Salaam are encouraging low-tech innovation and overcoming knowledge-sharing barriers. In the private sector, one generics company has developed a South-South collaboration to enable technology transfer and hence the local production of anti-retrovirals. Local textile company A to Z Textiles is now manufacturing 30 million insecticide impregnated bednets a year.
To have a coherent vision for innovation, Tanzania may wish to address some key issues: coordination across stakeholders involved with health research, increasing graduates in health-related disciplines, and building capabilities in biological testing, preclinical testing, formulation and standardization, and related areas important to moving from basic research to applications. The private sector can be encouraged to innovate through improved access to financing, and incentives for R&D. The diaspora community represents an untapped source for partnerships and access to other developing world markets and technology. The government may wish to set up mechanisms to encourage south-south collaborations, and to bring the public and private sector together around specific projects to help realize the country’s innovation potential.
Uganda has a long history of health research, but still faces critical health problems. It has made a number of recent moves towards building science and technology capacity which could have an impact on local health, if innovation can be fostered and harnessed.
Qualitative case study research methodology was used. Data were collected through reviews of academic literature and policy documents and through open-ended, face-to-face interviews with 30 people from across the science-based health innovation system, including government officials, researchers in research institutes and universities, entrepreneurs, international donors, and non-governmental organization representatives.
Uganda has a range of institutions influencing science-based health innovation, with varying degrees of success. However, the country still lacks a coherent mechanism for effectively coordinating STI policy among all the stakeholders. Classified as a least developed country, Uganda has opted for exemptions from the TRIPS intellectual property protection regime that include permitting parallel importation and providing for compulsory licenses for pharmaceuticals. Uganda is unique in Africa in taking part in the Millennium Science Initiative (MSI), an ambitious though early-stage $30m project, funded jointly by the World Bank and Government of Uganda, to build science capacity and encourage entrepreneurship through funding industry-research collaboration. Two universities – Makerere and Mbarara – stand out in terms of health research, though as yet technology development and commercialization is weak. Uganda has several incubators which are producing low-tech products, and is beginning to move into higher-tech ones like diagnostics. Its pharmaceutical industry has started to create partnerships which encourage innovation.
Science-based health product innovation is in its early stages in Uganda, as are policies for guiding its development. Nevertheless, there is political will for the development of STI in Uganda, demonstrated through personal initiatives of the President and the government’s willingness to invest heavily for the long term in support of STI through the Millennium Science Initiative. Activities to support technology transfer and private-public collaboration have been put in motion; these need to be monitored, coordinated, and learned from. In the private sector, there are examples of incremental innovation to address neglected diseases driven by entrepreneurial individuals and South-South collaboration. Lessons can be learned from their experience that will help support Ugandan health innovation.
Field trials have demonstrated the efficacy of insecticide-treated nets, and the WHO has recently endorsed a shift toward Long-Lasting Insecticide Treated nets (LLINs) due to factors such as reduced distribution costs. However, the need for LLINs poses several challenges. Is it possible to manufacture LLINs in large quantities in the African continent, where malaria is most endemic? When production is located in low-income countries, what role is played by local funding and employment, scaling up manufacturing, and partnerships? What factors influence availability and pricing?
A case study of A to Z Textiles was undertaken to answer the question of how large-scale production of LLINs can occur in a low income setting. One of the largest sources of bed nets for Africa, A to Z Textiles is Africa-based, and its Tanzanian operations have a production capacity of 30 million LLINs per year, along with full WHO recommendation for its nets. Our analysis is based on semi-structured interviews with key informants familiar with A to Z, site visits in Tanzania, and literature reviews.
This paper discusses the history and current status of A to Z Textiles, identifies the factors that led to its success, and suggests policy considerations that could support similar initiatives in the future. Local funding, scaling up manufacturing, technology transfer, and partnerships all played important roles in A to Z’s ascent, as did perceived benefits of local employment and capacity-building. Regulatory issues and procurement rules acted as barriers. A to Z cost-effectively manufactures high-quality LLINs where malaria is most endemic.
With a production capacity of 30 million LLINs per year, and full WHOPES (WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme) certification, A to Z Textiles demonstrates how key health goods can be successfully produced in the low-income countries that use them. Its example may be instructive and of high interest to readers in the malaria community, especially in developing countries, and to those who wish to support or partner with efforts by developing countries to build their health innovation capacity.
Incubators are organizations that support the growth of new and typically technology-based enterprises, by providing business support services that bring together human and financial capital. Although the traditional role of incubators has been for economic development, they may also be a useful policy lever to tackle global health, by fostering the development and delivery of local health innovation.
Given its high disease burden, life sciences incubators hold particular potential for Africa. As the most industrially advanced African nation, South Africa serves as a litmus test for identifying effective incubator policies. The case study method was used to illustrate how one such publicly funded incubator founded in 2002, Acorn Technologies, helped to catalyze local health product innovation.
Acorn helped to support twelve biomedical device firms. One of them, Real World Diagnostics, was founded by a trainee from Acorn’s innovative internship program (Hellfire). It developed rapid strip diagnostic tests for locally prevalent diseases including schistosomiasis and HIV, and reported $2 million (USD) in revenue in 2009.
Acorn achieved this success by operating as a non-profit virtual incubator with little physical infrastructure. Employing a virtual model in combination with stringent selection criteria of capital efficiency for clients proved to be effective in reducing its own fixed costs. Acorn focused on entrepreneurship training and networking, both critical at an early stage in an environment dominated by multinational biomedical device companies.
Acorn and its clients learned that employing a cross-subsidy business model allowed one to generate royalty revenue through imports to subsidize R&D for local diseases. However, funding constraints and government expectations for rapid self-sustainability forced Acorn to merge with its sister biotechnology incubator in 2009.
A key to Acorn’s achievements was identifying entrepreneurs with technologies with health and economic impact, and providing them with flexible support from an early stage. A virtual organizational model helped Acorn to focus on supporting entrepreneurs. Governments and funders may wish to consider incubation strategies that draw from these good practices. With the right policies and business models, incubators have the potential to generate both health and economic benefits for Africa.
Since 2000, R&D financing for global health has increased significantly, with innovative proposals for further increases. However, although venture capital (VC) funding has fostered life sciences businesses across the developed world, its application in the developing world and particularly in Africa is relatively new. Is VC feasible in the African context, to foster the development and application of local health innovation?
As the most industrially advanced African nation, South Africa serves as a test case for life sciences venture funding. This paper analyzes Bioventures, the first VC company focused on life sciences investment in sub-Saharan Africa. The case study method was used to analyze the formation, operation, and investment support of Bioventures, and to suggest lessons for future health venture funds in Africa that aim to develop health-oriented innovations.
The modest financial success of Bioventures in challenging circumstances has demonstrated a proof of concept that life sciences VC can work in the region. Beyond providing funds, support given to investees included board participation, contacts, and strategic services. Bioventures had to be proactive in finding and supporting good health R&D.
Due to the fund’s small size, overhead and management expenses were tightly constrained. Bioventures was at times unable to make follow-on investments, being forced instead to give up equity to raise additional capital, and to sell health investments earlier than might have been optimal. With the benefit of hindsight, the CFO of Bioventures felt that partnering with a larger fund might benefit similar future funds. Being better linked to market intelligence and other entrepreneurial investors was also seen as an unmet need.
BioVentures has learned lessons about how the traditional VC model might evolve to tackle health challenges facing Africa, including how to raise funds and educate investors; how to select, value, and support investments; and how to understand the balance between financial and social returns. The experience of the fund suggests that future health funds targeting ailments of the poor might require investors that accept health benefits as part of their overall “return.” Learning from Bioventures may help develop health innovation funding for sub-Saharan African that has combined health, financial, and economic development impacts.
Biopiracy – the use of a people’s long-established medical knowledge without acknowledgement or compensation – has been a disturbing historical reality and exacerbates the global rich-poor divide. Bioprospecting, however, describes the commercialization of indigenous medicines in a manner acceptable to the local populace. Challenges facing bioprospectors seeking to develop traditional medicines in a quality-controlled manner include a lack of skilled labor and high-tech infrastructure, adapting Northern R&D protocols to Southern settings, keeping products affordable for the local population, and managing the threat of biopiracy. The Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA) has employed bioprospecting to develop new health treatments for conditions such as diabetes and burns. Because of its integration of Western science and Malagasy cultural traditions, IMRA may provide a useful example for African and other organizations interested in bioprospecting.
IMRA’s approach to drug development and commercialization was adapted from the outset to Malagasy culture and Southern economic landscapes. It achieved a balance between employing Northern R&D practices and following local cultural norms through four guiding principles. First, IMRA’s researchers understood and respected local practices, and sought to use rather than resist them. Second, IMRA engaged the local community early in the drug development process, and ensured that local people had a stake in its success. Third, IMRA actively collaborated with local and international partners to increase its credibility and research capacity. Fourth, IMRA obtained foreign research funds targeting the “diseases of civilization” to cross-fund the development of drugs for conditions that affect the Malagasy population. These principles are illustrated in the development of IMRA products like Madeglucyl, a treatment for diabetes management that was developed from a traditional remedy.
By combining local and international research interests, IMRA has been able to keep its treatments affordable for the Malagasy population. Our analysis of IMRA’s history, strategy, and challenges suggests that other developing world institutions seeking to use bioprospecting to address issues of local access to medicines would be well-advised to treat traditional medical knowledge with respect and humility, share its benefits with the local community, and pursue strategic partnerships.
The isolated northern region of Nicaragua has one of the highest rates of diarrheal disease in Central America. Political and environmental hardships faced by inhabitants of this region are contributing factors to this health inequity. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between water and latrine infrastructure and the prevalence of diarrhea in this region.
A population-based, cross-sectional survey of women of reproductive age was conducted in the Sahsa region of northern Nicaragua in July, 2009. Households were selected by two stage cluster sampling methodology. A questionnaire was administered in Spanish and Miskito with assessment of household and socioeconomic conditions, sanitation practices, and health care access. Diarrhea prevalence differences at the household level over a two week reporting period were estimated with a standardized instrument which included assessment of water treatment and latrine use and maintenance.
There were 189 women enrolled in the current study. The use of water purification methods, such as chlorine and filters, and latrine ownership were not associated with reduced prevalence of household diarrhea in the two week reporting period. Latrine overflow, however, was associated with an increased prevalence of diarrhea during the same two week period [adjusted prevalence difference and 95% CI: 0.19 (0.03, 0.36)].
Simple, low cost interventions that improve water and latrine infrastructure may reduce the prevalence of diarrheal disease in the isolated regions of Nicaragua and Central America.
In many low and middle income countries, the private sector is increasingly becoming an important source of health care, filling gaps where no or little public health care is available. However, knowledge on the private sector providers is limited The objective of this study was to determine the type and number of different types of health care providers, and the quality, cost and utilization of care delivered by those providers in rural Uganda.
The study was carried out in three rural districts. Methods included (1) mapping of health care providers; (2) a household survey to determine morbidity and health care utilization; (3) a health facility survey to assess quality of care; (4) focus group discussions to get qualitative information on providers and provider choice; and (5) key informant interviews to further explore service characteristics.
95.7% of all 445 facilities surveyed were private while 4.3% were public. Traditional practitioners and general merchandise shops that sold medicines comprised 77.1% of all providers. They had limited infrastructure and skills but were often located in the villages and therefore easily accessible. Among the formal providers there were 4 times as many private for profit providers than public, 76 versus 18. However, most of the private units were one-person drug shops.
In the household survey, 2580 persons were interviewed. 1097 (42%) had experienced illness during the preceding month. Care was sought in 54.1% of the cases. 35.6% were given self-treatment and in 10.3% no action was taken. Of the episodes for which people sought care at a health care facility, 37.0% visited a public health care provider, 39.7% a for profit provider, 11.8% a private not for profit provider, and 10.6% a traditional practitioner. Private for profit facilities were the most popular for ambulatory health care, while public facilities were preferred for more serious conditions and for hospitalization. Traditional practitioners were many but saw relatively few patients. They were mostly used for social problems and limited medical specific conditions.
Private providers play a major role in health care delivery in rural Uganda; reaching a wide client base. Traditional practitioners are many but have as much a social as a medical function in the community. The significance of the private health care sector points to the need to establish a policy that addresses quality and affordability issues and creates a strong regulatory environment for private practice in sub-Saharan Africa.
National health accounts provide useful information to understand the functioning of a health financing system. This article attempts to present a profile of the health system financing in Malawi using data from NHA. It specifically attempts to document the health financing situation in the country and proposes recommendations relevant for developing a comprehensive health financing policy and strategic plan.
Data from three rounds of national health accounts covering the Financial Years 1998/1999 to 2005/2006 was used to describe the flow of funds and their uses in the health system. Analysis was performed in line with the various NHA entities and health system financing functions.
The total health expenditure per capita increased from US$ 12 in 1998/1999 to US$25 in 2005/2006. In 2005/2006 public, external and private contributions to the total health expenditure were 21.6%, 60.7% and 18.2% respectively. The country had not met the Abuja of allocating at least 15% of national budget on health. The percentage of total health expenditure from households' direct out-of-pocket payments decreased from 26% in 1998/99 to 12.1% in 2005/2006.
There is a need to increase government contribution to the total health expenditure to at least the levels of the Abuja Declaration of 15% of the national budget. In addition, the country urgently needs to develop and implement a prepaid health financing system within a comprehensive health financing policy and strategy with a view to assuring universal access to essential health services for all citizens.
Despite the recent adoption of the UN resolution 1820 (2008) which calls for the cessation of war related sexual violence against civilians in conflict zones, Africa continues to see some of the worst cases of war related sexual violence including the mass sexual abuse of entire rural communities particularly in the Great Lakes region. In addition to calling for a complete halt to this abuse, there is a need for the systematic study of the reproductive, surgical and psychological effects of war related sexual violence in the African socio-cultural setting.
This paper examines the specific long term health consequences of war related sexual violence among rural women living in two internally displaced person's camps in Kitgum district in war affected Northern Uganda who accessed the services of an Isis-Women's International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) medical intervention.
The study employed a purposive cross-sectional study design where 813 respondents were subjected to a structured interview as part of a screening procedure for an emergency medical intervention to identify respondents who required psychological, gynaecological and surgical treatment.
Over a quarter (28.6%) of the women (n = 573) reported having suffered at least one form of war related sexual violence. About three quarters of the respondents had 'at least one gynaecological complaint' (72.4%) and 'at least one surgical complaint' (75.6%), while 69.4% had significant psychological distress scores (scores greater than or equal to 6 on the WHO SRQ-20). The factors that were significantly associated with war related sexual violence were the age group of less than or equal to 44 years, being Catholic, having suffered other war related physical trauma, and having 'at least one gynaecological complaint'. The specific gynaecological complaints significantly associated with war related sexual violence were infertility, chronic lower abdominal pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and sexual dysfunction. In a multivariable analysis the age group of less than or equal to 44 years, being Catholic and having 'at least one gynaecological complaint' remained significantly associated with war related sexual violence.
The results from this study demonstrate that war related sexual violence is independently associated with the later development of specific gynaecological complaints.
To determine whether training of providers participating in franchise clinic networks is associated with increased Family Planning service use among low-income urban families in Pakistan.
The study uses 2001 survey data consisting of interviews with 1113 clinical and non-clinical providers working in public and private hospitals/clinics. Data analysis excludes non-clinical providers reducing sample size to 822. Variables for the analysis are divided into client volume, and training in family planning. Regression models are used to compute the association between training and service use in franchise versus private non-franchise clinics.
In franchise clinic networks, staff are 6.5 times more likely to receive family planning training (P = 0.00) relative to private non-franchises. Service use was significantly associated with training (P = 0.00), franchise affiliation (P = 0.01), providers' years of family planning experience (P = 0.02) and the number of trained staff working at government owned clinics (P = 0.00). In this setting, nurses are significantly less likely to receive training compared to doctors (P = 0.00).
These findings suggest that franchises recruit and train various cadres of health workers and training maybe associated with increased service use through improvement in quality of services.
Few large and rigorous evaluations of participatory interventions systematically describe their context and implementation, or attempt to explain the mechanisms behind their impact. This study reports process evaluation data from the Ekjut cluster-randomised controlled trial of a participatory learning and action cycle with women's groups to improve maternal and newborn health outcomes in Jharkhand and Orissa, eastern India (2005-2008). The study demonstrated a 45% reduction in neonatal mortality in the last two years of the intervention, largely driven by improvements in safe practices for home deliveries.
A participatory learning and action cycle with 244 women's groups was implemented in 18 intervention clusters covering an estimated population of 114 141. We describe the context, content, and implementation of this intervention, identify potential mechanisms behind its impact, and report challenges experienced in the field. Methods included a review of intervention documents, qualitative structured discussions with group members and non-group members, meeting observations, as well as descriptive statistical analysis of data on meeting attendance, activities, and characteristics of group attendees.
Six broad, interrelated factors influenced the intervention's impact: (1) acceptability; (2) a participatory approach to the development of knowledge, skills and 'critical consciousness'; (3) community involvement beyond the groups; (4) a focus on marginalized communities; (5) the active recruitment of newly pregnant women into groups; (6) high population coverage. We hypothesize that these factors were responsible for the increase in safe delivery and care practices that led to the reduction in neonatal mortality demonstrated in the Ekjut trial.
Participatory interventions with community groups can influence maternal and child health outcomes if key intervention characteristics are preserved and tailored to local contexts. Scaling-up such interventions requires (1) a detailed understanding of the way in which context affects the acceptability and delivery of the intervention; (2) planned but flexible replication of key content and implementation features; (3) strong support for participatory methods from implementing agencies.
Cancer is a rapidly increasing problem in developing countries. Access, quality and efficiency of cancer services in developing countries must be understood to advance effective cancer control programs. Health services research can provide insights into these areas.
This article provides an overview of oncology health services in developing countries. We use selected examples from peer-reviewed literature in health services research and relevant publicly available documents. In spite of significant limitations in the available data, it is clear there are substantial barriers to access to cancer control in developing countries. This includes prevention, early detection, diagnosis/treatment and palliation. There are also substantial limitations in the quality of cancer control and a great need to improve economic efficiency. We describe how the application of health data may assist in optimizing (1) Structure: strengthening planning, collaboration, transparency, research development, education and capacity building. (2) Process: enabling follow-up, knowledge translation, patient safety and quality assurance. (3) Outcome: facilitating evaluation, monitoring and improvement of national cancer control efforts. There is currently limited data and capacity to use this data in developing countries for these purposes.
There is an urgent need to improve health services for cancer control in developing countries. Current resources and much-needed investments must be optimally managed. To achieve this, we would recommend investment in four key priorities: (1) Capacity building in oncology health services research, policy and planning relevant to developing countries. (2) Development of high-quality health data sources. (3) More oncology-related economic evaluations in developing countries. (4) Exploration of high-quality models of cancer control in developing countries. Meeting these needs will require national, regional and international collaboration as well as political leadership. Horizontal integration with programs for other diseases will be important.
HIV testing with counseling is an integral component of most national HIV and AIDS prevention strategies in southern Africa. Equity in testing implies that people at higher risk for HIV such as women; those who do not use condoms consistently; those with multiple partners; those who have suffered gender based violence; and those who are unable to implement prevention choices (the choice-disabled) are tested and can have access to treatment.
We conducted a household survey of 24,069 people in nationally stratified random samples of communities in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. We asked about testing for HIV in the last 12 months, intention to test, and about HIV risk behaviour, socioeconomic indicators, access to information, and attitudes related to stigma.
Across the ten countries, seven out of every ten people said they planned to have an HIV test but the actual proportion tested in the last 12 months varied from 24% in Mozambique to 64% in Botswana. Generally, people at higher risk of HIV were not more likely to have been tested in the last year than those at lower risk, although women were more likely than men to have been tested in six of the ten countries. In Swaziland, those who experienced partner violence were more likely to test, but in Botswana those who were choice-disabled for condom use were less likely to be tested. The two most consistent factors associated with HIV testing across the countries were having heard about HIV/AIDS from a clinic or health centre, and having talked to someone about HIV and AIDS.
HIV testing programmes need to encourage people at higher risk of HIV to get tested, particularly those who do not interact regularly with the health system. Service providers need to recognise that some people are not able to implement HIV preventive actions and may not feel empowered to get themselves tested.
The success of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was remarkable, but four countries - Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria - never interrupted polio transmission. Pakistan reportedly achieved all milestones except interrupting virus transmission. This paper describes the perceptions of health workers and managers regarding constraints in the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) to ultimately provide evidence for designing future interventions.
A qualitative cross-sectional study using focus group discussions and in-depth interviews was conducted in the Nankana Sahib District of Pakistan's Punjab province. Study subjects included staff at all levels in the PEI at district headquarters, in all 4 tehsils (sub-districts) and at 20 randomly selected primary health centers. In total, 4 FGD and 7 interview sessions were conducted and individual session summary notes were prepared and later synthesized, consolidated and subjected to conceptual analysis.
The main constraints identified in the study were the poor condition of the cold chain in all aspects, poor skills and a lack of authority in resource allocation and human resource management, limited advocacy and communication resources, a lack of skills and training among staff at all levels in the PEI/EPI in almost all aspects of the program, a deficiency of public health professionals, poor health services structure, administrative issues (including ineffective means of performance evaluation, bureaucratic and political influences, problems in vaccination areas and field programs, no birth records at health facilities, and poor linkage between different preventive programs), unreliable reporting and poor monitoring and supervision systems, limited use of local data for interventions, and unclear roles and responsibilities after decentralization.
The study highlights various shortcomings and bottlenecks in the PEI, and the barriers identified should be considered in prioritizing future strategies.
Quality of Life measurements are necessary tools for effectively evaluating health services. In the population of patients afflicted with war-related blindness in Iran, such measurements have yet to be documented and utilized. "The design and implementation of this study involved the determination of a baseline score for QOL in a population of Iranian blinded in the Iraq-Iran war in order to facilitate the design of interventions intended to improve the population's QOL."
This was a cross-sectional study of a representative population of 250 war victims blind in both eyes at a 14-day recreational conference.
Participants had a mean age of 43.20(SD8.34) and their composition was 96.5% male and 3.5% female with a mean SF-36 QOL score of 59.20(SD22.80). An increasing level of education among the participants correlated with a higher QOL score (p = 0.006). The QOL also has a significant correlation to number of injuries (p < 0.0001). High systolic and diastolic blood pressure, hearing loss, and tinnitus had negative individual correlations to QOL (p = 0.016, 0.016, 0.005, p < 0.0001). The male sexual disorders of erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation both had significant correlations to QOL (p = 0.026, p < 0.0001). Hypercholesterolemia showed significant correlation to QOL (p = 0.021).
As blind war survivors' age, they will present with a greater set of burdens despite their relatively better QOL in the physical component scale when compared with lower limb amputees. Risk factors of cardiovascular attack such as high blood pressure and hypercholesterolemia were present and need future interventions.
Quality of life, blindness, SF36, health
There is general agreement, including from the pharmaceutical industry, that current market based methods of generating research into the development of pharmaceutical products that are relevant for developing countries do not work. This conclusion is relevant not just for the most neglected diseases such as leishmaniasis but even for global diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Stimulating research will mean overcoming barriers such as patent thickets, poor coordination of research activities, exclusive licensing of new technologies by universities and the structural problems that inhibit conducting appropriate clinical trials in developing countries. In addition, it is necessary to ensure that the priorities for research reflect the needs of developing countries and not just donors. This article will explore each of these issues and then look at three emerging approaches to stimulating research -paying for innovation, priority review sales or vouchers and public-private partnerships, - and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
All of the stakeholders agree that there is a pressing need for a major expansion in the level of R&D. Whatever that new model turns out to be, it will have to deal with the 5 barriers outlined in this paper. Finally, none of the three proposals considered here for expanding research is free from major limitations.
Many articles have been written on conflicts of interests (COIs) in fields such as medicine, business, politics, public service and education. With the growing abundance of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), often involving complex relationships among the partners, it is important to understand how COIs can be mitigated and managed in PPPs.
We wanted to study PPPs, particularly in the areas of global health and agriculture, but discovered no single source of information available to identify and compare various approaches for avoiding and managing COIs in PPPs. This is a significant gap, especially for those wishing to study, compare and strengthen existing COI policies related to PPPs. In order to bridge this gap, we reviewed how PPPs currently address COIs and highlight what might be considered good practice in developing COI policies. We reviewed the online COI policies of 10 PPPs in global health and agriculture, and interviewed two global health PPP chief executives.
Based on our review of policies and interviews, we conclude that there exists a range of good practices including attention to accountability and governance, acknowledgement and disclosure, abstention and withdrawal, reporting and transparency, and independent monitoring. There appears to be a need for PPPs to interact closely and learn from each other on these parameters and to also place more emphasis on independent external monitoring of COIs as a means of strengthening their major social objectives on which their activities are largely predicated. We also recommend the establishment of a web based database, which would serve as a forum to discuss COI issues and how they can be resolved.