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1.  Prevalence of mental disorders and torture among Tibetan refugees: A systematic review 
Background
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.
Methods
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the internet, contacted all authors of located studies, and contacted the Tibetan Government-in-exile, to locate unpublished studies.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.
Results
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%.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-5-7
PMCID: PMC1308816  PMID: 16280079
2.  Media reporting of tenofovir trials in Cambodia and Cameroon 
Background
Two planned trials of pre-exposure prophylaxis tenofovir in Cambodia and Cameroon to prevent HIV infection in high-risk populations were closed due to activist pressure on host country governments. The international news media contributed substantially as the primary source of knowledge transfer regarding the trials. We aimed to characterize the nature of reporting, specifically focusing on the issues identified by media reports regarding each trial.
Methods
With the aid of an information specialist, we searched 3 electronic media databases, 5 electronic medical databases and extensively searched the Internet. In addition we contacted stakeholder groups. We included media reports addressing the trial closures, the reasons for the trial closures, and who was interviewed. We extracted data using content analysis independently, in duplicate.
Results
We included 24 reports on the Cambodian trial closure and 13 reports on the Cameroon trial closure. One academic news account incorrectly reported that it was an HIV vaccine trial that closed early. The primary reasons cited for the Cambodian trial closure were: a lack of medical insurance for trial related injuries (71%); human rights considerations (71%); study protocol concerns (46%); general suspicions regarding trial location (37%) and inadequate prevention counseling (29%). The primary reasons cited for the Cameroon trial closure were: inadequate access to care for seroconverters (69%); participants not sufficiently informed of risks (69%); inadequate number of staff (46%); participants being exploited (46%) and an unethical study design (38%). Only 3/23 (13%) reports acknowledged interviewing research personnel regarding the Cambodian trial, while 4/13 (30.8%) reports interviewed researchers involved in the Cameroon trial.
Conclusion
Our review indicates that the issues addressed and validity of the media reports of these trials is highly variable. Given the potential impact of the media in formulation of health policy related to HIV, efforts are needed to effectively engage the media during periods of controversy in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-5-6
PMCID: PMC1242229  PMID: 16120208
3.  Monitoring of National Drug Policy (NDP) and its standardized indicators; conformity to decisions of the national drug selecting committee in Iran 
Background
Pharmaceuticals have made an important contribution to global reductions in morbidity and mortality. To help save lives and improve health, it is important to be sure about equity to access to drugs, drug efficacy, quality and safety, and rational use of drugs, which are standardized National Drug Policy (NDP) objectives. NDP's indicators are useful to evaluate the pharmaceutical system performance in a country. Iran has adapted a National Drug List (NDL). Since management of drug supply in Iran takes place only for drugs that have been selected in NDL and this list is selected by the member of Iran Drug Selecting Committee (IDSC), thus evaluation of IDSC's decision making during last 5 years is an appropriate way to evaluate the implementation of drug supply system in the country.
Methods
To identify strengths and weaknesses of pharmaceutical policy formation and implementation in Iran, four standard questionnaires of the World Health Organization (WHO) were used. To assess the agreement between decisions of IDSC and standardized NDP indicators in the last 5 years (1998–2002), a weighted questionnaire by nominal group technique based on the questions that should be answered during discussion about one drug in IDSC was designed and used.
Results
There is a totally generics based NDP with 95% local production, that provides affordable access to drugs. The system, structures, and mechanisms were in place; however, they did not function properly in some topics. Assessment of 59 dossiers of approved drugs for adding to NDL during last 5 years showed that IDSC's members pay more attention to efficacy, safety, and rationality in use rather than accessibility and affordability.
Conclusion
Revision of drug system in term of implementation of the processes to achieve NDP's objectives is necessary to save public health. Clarification of NDP's objectives and their impact for IDSC's members will result in improvement of the equity in access to pharmaceuticals.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-5-5
PMCID: PMC1145184  PMID: 15885139
4.  Good governance and good health: The role of societal structures in the human immunodeficiency virus pandemic 
Background
Only governments sensitive to the demands of their citizens appropriately respond to needs of their nation. Based on Professor Amartya Sen's analysis of the link between famine and democracy, the following null hypothesis was tested: "Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevalence is not associated with governance".
Methods
Governance has been divided by a recent World Bank paper into six dimensions. These include Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and the Control of Corruption. The 2002 adult HIV prevalence estimates were obtained from UNAIDS. Additional health and economic variables were collected from multiple sources to illustrate the development needs of countries.
Results
The null hypothesis was rejected for each dimension of governance for all 149 countries with UNAIDS HIV prevalence estimates. When these nations were divided into three groups, the median (range) HIV prevalence estimates remained constant at 0.7% (0.05 – 33.7%) and 0.75% (0.05% – 33.4%) for the lower and middle mean governance groups respectively despite improvements in other health and economic indices. The median HIV prevalence estimates in the higher mean governance group was 0.2% (0.05 – 38.8%).
Conclusion
HIV prevalence is significantly associated with poor governance. International public health programs need to address societal structures in order to create strong foundations upon which effective healthcare interventions can be implemented.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-5-4
PMCID: PMC1112596  PMID: 15850480
5.  Termination of the leprosy isolation policy in the US and Japan : Science, policy changes, and the garbage can model 
Background
In both the US and Japan, the patient isolation policy for leprosy /Hansen's disease (HD) was preserved along with the isolation facilities, long after it had been proven to be scientifically unnecessary. This delayed policy termination caused a deprivation of civil liberties of the involuntarily confined patients, the fostering of social stigmas attached to the disease, and an inefficient use of health resources. This article seeks to elucidate the political process which hindered timely policy changes congruent with scientific advances.
Methods
Examination of historical materials, supplemented by personal interviews. The role that science played in the process of policy making was scrutinized with particular reference to the Garbage Can model.
Results
From the vantage of history, science remained instrumental in all period in the sense that it was not the primary objective for which policy change was discussed or intended, nor was it the principal driving force for policy change. When the argument arose, scientific arguments were employed to justify the patient isolation policy. However, in the early post-WWII period, issues were foregrounded and agendas were set as the inadvertent result of administrative reforms. Subsequently, scientific developments were more or less ignored due to concern about adverse policy outcomes. Finally, in the 1980s and 1990s, scientific arguments were used instrumentally to argue against isolation and for the termination of residential care.
Conclusion
Contrary to public expectations, health policy is not always rational and scientifically justified. In the process of policy making, the role of science can be limited and instrumental. Policy change may require the opening of policy windows, as a result of convergence of the problem, policy, and political streams, by effective exercise of leadership. Scientists and policymakers should be attentive enough to the political context of policies.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-5-3
PMCID: PMC1079837  PMID: 15771781
6.  Prevalence, types and demographic features of child labour among school children in Nigeria 
Background
To determine the prevalence, types and demographic features of child labour among school children in Nigeria.
Methods
A cross-sectional interview study of 1675 randomly selected public primary and secondary school pupils aged 5 to less than 18 years was conducted in the Sagamu Local Government Area of Ogun State, Nigeria from October 1998 to September 1999.
Results
The overall prevalence of child labour was 64.5%: 68.6% among primary and 50.3% among secondary school pupils. Major economic activities included street trading (43.6%), selling in kiosks and shops (25.4%) and farming (23.6%). No child was involved in bonded labour or prostitution. Girls were more often involved in labour activities than boys (66.8% versus 62.1%, p = 0.048): this difference was most obvious with street trading (p = 0.0004). Most of the children (82.2%) involved in labour activities did so on the instruction of one or both parents in order to contribute to family income. Children of parents with low socio-economic status or of poorly educated parents were significantly involved in labour activities (p = 0.01 and p = 0.001 respectively). Child labour was also significantly associated with increasing number of children in the family size (p = 0.002). A higher prevalence rate of child labour was observed among children living with parents and relations than among those living with unrelated guardians.
Conclusion
It is concluded that smaller family size, parental education and family economic enhancement would reduce the pressure on parents to engage their children in labour activities.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-5-2
PMCID: PMC554995  PMID: 15743516
7.  Rural Indian tribal communities: an emerging high-risk group for HIV/AIDS 
Background
Rural Indian tribes are anthropologically distinct with unique cultures, traditions and practices. Over the years, displacement and rapid acculturation of this population has led to dramatic changes in their socio-cultural and value systems. Due to a poor health infrastructure, high levels of poverty and ignorance, these communities are highly vulnerable to various health problems, especially, communicable diseases including HIV/AIDS. Our study sought to assess knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding sexuality, and the risk factors associated with the spread of HIV/AIDS and STDs among these communities.
Methods
A nested cross sectional study was undertaken as part of the on going Reproductive and Child Health Survey. A total of 5,690 participants age 18–44 were recruited for this study. Data were obtained through home interviews, and focused on socio-demographics, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding sexuality, HIV/AIDS and other STDs.
Results
The study revealed that only 22% of adults had even heard of AIDS, and 18 % knew how it is transmitted. In addition, only 5% knew that STDs and AIDS were related to each other. AIDS awareness among women was lower compared to men (14% vs.30 %). Regarding sexual practices, 35% of the respondents reported having had extramarital sexual encounters, with more males than females reporting extramarital affairs.
Conclusion
Lack of awareness, permissiveness of tribal societies for premarital or extra-marital sexual relationships, and sexual mixing patterns predispose these communities to HIV/AIDS and STD infections. There is a dire need for targeted interventions in order to curtail the increasing threat of HIV and other STDs among these vulnerable populations.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-5-1
PMCID: PMC554109  PMID: 15723696

Results 1-7 (7)