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1.  Global malaria eradication and the importance of Plasmodium falciparum epidemiology in Africa 
BMC Medicine  2015;13:23.
The global agenda for malaria has, once again, embraced the possibility of eradication. As history has shown, there will be no single magic bullet that can be applied to every epidemiological setting. Africa has a diverse malaria ecology, lending itself to some of the highest disease burden areas of the world and a wide range of clinical epidemiological patterns making control with our current tools challenging. This commentary highlights why the epidemiology of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Africa should not be forgotten when planning an eradication strategy, and why forgetting Africa will, once again, be the single largest threat to any hope for global eradication.
PMCID: PMC4314741  PMID: 25644195
Africa; Eradication; Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum
2.  Sixty years trying to define the malaria burden in Africa: have we made any progress? 
BMC Medicine  2014;12(1):227.
Controversy surrounds the precise numbers of malaria deaths and clinical episodes in Africa. This would not have surprised malariologists working in Africa 60 years ago as they began to unravel the enigma that is ‘malaria’. Malaria is a complex disease manifesting as a multitude of symptoms, degrees of severity and indirect morbid consequences. Clinical immunity develops quickly and the presence of infection cannot always be used to distinguish between malaria and other illnesses. During the 1950s and 1960s parasite prevalence was used in preference to statistics on malaria mortality and morbidity. An argument is made for a resurrection of this measure of the quantity of malaria across Africa as a more reliable means to understand the impact of control.
PMCID: PMC4265359  PMID: 25495076
Malaria mortality; Morbidity; Parasitemia; Measurement; Monitoring; Africa
3.  Increasing malaria hospital admissions in Uganda between 1999 and 2009 
BMC Medicine  2011;9:37.
Some areas of Africa are witnessing a malaria transition, in part due to escalated international donor support and intervention coverage. Areas where declining malaria rates have been observed are largely characterized by relatively low baseline transmission intensity and rapid scaling of interventions. Less well described are changing patterns of malaria burden in areas of high parasite transmission and slower increases in control and treatment access.
Uganda is a country predominantly characterized by intense, perennial malaria transmission. Monthly pediatric admission data from five Ugandan hospitals and their catchments have been assembled retrospectively across 11 years from January 1999 to December 2009. Malaria admission rates adjusted for changes in population density within defined catchment areas were computed across three time periods that correspond to periods where intervention coverage data exist and different treatment and prevention policies were operational. Time series models were developed adjusting for variations in rainfall and hospital use to examine changes in malaria hospitalization over 132 months. The temporal changes in factors that might explain changes in disease incidence were qualitatively examined sequentially for each hospital setting and compared between hospital settings
In four out of five sites there was a significant increase in malaria admission rates. Results from time series models indicate a significant month-to-month increase in the mean malaria admission rates at four hospitals (trend P < 0.001). At all hospitals malaria admissions had increased from 1999 by 47% to 350%. Observed changes in intervention coverage within the catchments of each hospital showed a change in insecticide-treated net coverage from <1% in 2000 to 33% by 2009 but accompanied by increases in access to nationally recommended drugs at only two of the five hospital areas studied.
The declining malaria disease burden in some parts of Africa is not a universal phenomena across the continent. Despite moderate increases in the coverage of measures to reduce infection and disease without significant coincidental increasing access to effective medicines to treat disease may not lead to severe disease burden reductions in high transmission areas of Africa. More data is needed from a wider range of malaria settings to provide an honest tracking progress of the impact of scaled intervention coverage in Africa.
PMCID: PMC3096581  PMID: 21486498
4.  Malaria paediatric hospitalization between 1999 and 2008 across Kenya 
BMC Medicine  2009;7:75.
Intervention coverage and funding for the control of malaria in Africa has increased in recent years, however, there are few descriptions of changing disease burden and the few reports available are from isolated, single site observations or are of reports at country-level. Here we present a nationwide assessment of changes over 10 years in paediatric malaria hospitalization across Kenya.
Paediatric admission data on malaria and non-malaria diagnoses were assembled for the period 1999 to 2008 from in-patient registers at 17 district hospitals in Kenya and represented the diverse malaria ecology of the country. These data were then analysed using autoregressive moving average time series models with malaria and all-cause admissions as the main outcomes adjusted for rainfall, changes in service use and populations-at-risk within each hospital's catchment to establish whether there has been a statistically significant decline in paediatric malaria hospitalization during the observation period.
Among the 17 hospital sites, adjusted paediatric malaria admissions had significantly declined at 10 hospitals over 10 years since 1999; had significantly increased at four hospitals, and remained unchanged in three hospitals. The overall estimated average reduction in malaria admission rates was 0.0063 cases per 1,000 children aged 0 to 14 years per month representing an average percentage reduction of 49% across the 10 hospitals registering a significant decline by the end of 2008. Paediatric admissions for all-causes had declined significantly with a reduction in admission rates of greater than 0.0050 cases per 1,000 children aged 0 to 14 years per month at 6 of 17 hospitals. Where malaria admissions had increased three of the four sites were located in Western Kenya close to Lake Victoria. Conversely there was an indication that areas with the largest declines in malaria admission rates were areas located along the Kenyan coast and some sites in the highlands of Kenya.
A country-wide assessment of trends in malaria hospitalizations indicates that all is not equal, important variations exist in the temporal pattern of malaria admissions between sites and these differences require more detailed investigation to understand what is required to promote a clinical transition across Africa.
PMCID: PMC2802588  PMID: 20003178
5.  Information for decision making from imperfect national data: tracking major changes in health care use in Kenya using geostatistics 
BMC Medicine  2007;5:37.
Most Ministries of Health across Africa invest substantial resources in some form of health management information system (HMIS) to coordinate the routine acquisition and compilation of monthly treatment and attendance records from health facilities nationwide. Despite the expense of these systems, poor data coverage means they are rarely, if ever, used to generate reliable evidence for decision makers. One critical weakness across Africa is the current lack of capacity to effectively monitor patterns of service use through time so that the impacts of changes in policy or service delivery can be evaluated. Here, we present a new approach that, for the first time, allows national changes in health service use during a time of major health policy change to be tracked reliably using imperfect data from a national HMIS.
Monthly attendance records were obtained from the Kenyan HMIS for 1 271 government-run and 402 faith-based outpatient facilities nationwide between 1996 and 2004. A space-time geostatistical model was used to compensate for the large proportion of missing records caused by non-reporting health facilities, allowing robust estimation of monthly and annual use of services by outpatients during this period.
We were able to reconstruct robust time series of mean levels of outpatient utilisation of health facilities at the national level and for all six major provinces in Kenya. These plots revealed reliably for the first time a period of steady nationwide decline in the use of health facilities in Kenya between 1996 and 2002, followed by a dramatic increase from 2003. This pattern was consistent across different causes of attendance and was observed independently in each province.
The methodological approach presented can compensate for missing records in health information systems to provide robust estimates of national patterns of outpatient service use. This represents the first such use of HMIS data and contributes to the resurrection of these hugely expensive but underused systems as national monitoring tools. Applying this approach to Kenya has yielded output with immediate potential to enhance the capacity of decision makers in monitoring nationwide patterns of service use and assessing the impact of changes in health policy and service delivery.
PMCID: PMC2225405  PMID: 18072976

Results 1-5 (5)