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Lusaka, Zambia

Chanda P.,Ministry of Health Headquarters | Hamainza B.,Operational Research Unit | Moonga H.B.,Parasitology Unit | Chalwe V.,Tropical Diseases Research Center | Pagnoni F.,World Health Organization
Malaria Journal | Year: 2011

Background: Access to prompt and effective treatment is a cornerstone of the current malaria control strategy. Delays in starting appropriate treatment is a major contributor to malaria mortality. WHO recommends home management of malaria using artemisininbased combination therapy (ACT) and Rapid Diagnostic tests (RDTs) as one of the strategies for improving access to prompt and efective malaria case management. Methods. A prospective evaluation of the effectiveness of using community health workers (CHWs) as delivery points for ACT and RDTs in the home management of malaria in two districts in Zambia. Results: CHWs were able to manage malaria fevers by correctly interpreting RDT results and appropriately prescribing antimalarials. All severe malaria cases and febrile non-malaria fevers were referred to a health facility for further management. There were variations in malaria prevalence between the two districts and among the villages in each district. 100% and 99.4% of the patients with a negative RDT result were not prescribed an antimalarial in the two districts respectively. No cases progressed to severe malaria and no deaths were recorded during the study period. Community perceptions were positive. Conclusion: CHWs are effective delivery points for prompt and effective malaria case management at community level. Adherence to test results is the best ever reported in Zambia. Further areas of implementation research are discussed. © 2011 Chanda et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Alvarado O.,Medecins Sans Frontieres | Trelles M.,Medecins Sans Frontieres | Trelles M.,Gynaecology and Emergency Medicine Unit | Tayler-Smith K.,Medecins Sans Frontieres | And 17 more authors.
International Orthopaedics | Year: 2015

Purpose: Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) is one of the main providers of orthopaedic surgery in natural disaster and conflict settings and strictly imposes a minimum set of context-specific standards before any surgery can be performed. Based on MSF’s experience of performing orthopaedic surgery in a number of such settings, we describe: (a) whether it was possible to implement the minimum standards for one of the more rigorous orthopaedic procedures—internal fixation—and when possible, the time frame, (b) the volume and type of interventions performed and (c) the intra-operative mortality rates and postoperative infection rates. Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of routine programme data collected between 2007 and 2014 from three MSF emergency surgical interventions in Haiti (following the 2010 earthquake) and three ongoing MSF projects in Kunduz (Afghanistan), Masisi (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Tabarre (Haiti). Results: The minimum standards for internal fixation were achieved in one emergency intervention site in Haiti, and in Kunduz and Tabarre, taking up to 18 months to implement in Kunduz. All sites achieved the minimum standards to perform amputations, reductions and external fixations, with a total of 9,409 orthopaedic procedures performed during the study period. Intraoperative mortality rates ranged from 0.6 to 1.9 % and postoperative infection rates from 2.4 to 3.5 %. Conclusions: In settings affected by natural disaster or conflict, a high volume and wide repertoire of orthopaedic surgical procedures can be performed with good outcomes when minimum standards are in place. More demanding procedures like internal fixation may not always be feasible. © 2015, The Author(s).

Harries A.D.,International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease | Harries A.D.,London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Zachariah R.,Operational Research Unit | Chimzizi R.,Management science for Health | And 9 more authors.
BMC Public Health | Year: 2011

Background: In Malawi, high case fatality rates in patients with tuberculosis, who were also co-infected with HIV, and high early death rates in people living with HIV during the initiation of antiretroviral treatment (ART) adversely impacted on treatment outcomes for the national tuberculosis and ART programmes respectively. This article i) discusses the operational research that was conducted in the country on cotrimoxazole preventive therapy, ii) outlines the steps that were taken to translate these findings into national policy and practice, iii) shows how the implementation of cotrimoxazole preventive therapy for both TB patients and HIV-infected patients starting ART was associated with reduced death rates, and iv) highlights lessons that can be learnt for other settings and interventions. Discussion. District and facility-based operational research was undertaken between 1999 and 2005 to assess the effectiveness of cotrimoxazole preventive therapy in reducing death rates in TB patients and subsequently in patients starting ART under routine programme conditions. Studies demonstrated significant reductions in case fatality in HIV-infected TB patients receiving cotrimoxazole and in HIV-infected patients about to start ART. Following the completion of research, the findings were rapidly disseminated nationally at stakeholder meetings convened by the Ministry of Health and internationally through conferences and peer-reviewed scientific publications. The Ministry of Health made policy changes based on the available evidence, following which there was countrywide distribution of the updated policy and guidelines. Policy was rapidly moved to practice with the development of monitoring tools, drug procurement and training packages. National programme performance improved which showed a significant decrease in case fatality rates in TB patients as well as a reduction in early death in people with HIV starting ART. Summary. Key lessons for moving this research endeavour through to policy and practice were the importance of placing operational research within the programme, defining relevant questions, obtaining "buy-in" from national programme staff at the beginning of projects and having key actors or "policy entrepreneurs" to push forward the policy-making process. Ultimately, any change in policy and practice has to benefit patients, and the ultimate judge of success is whether treatment outcomes improve or not. © 2011 Harries et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Ponsar F.,Medecins Sans Frontieres | Van Herp M.,Medecins Sans Frontieres | Zachariah R.,Operational Research Unit | Gerard S.,Medecins Sans Frontieres | And 2 more authors.
Health Policy and Planning | Year: 2011

Malaria is the most common cause of morbidity and mortality in children under 5 in Mali. Health centres provide primary care, including malaria treatment, under a system of cost recovery. In 2005, Médecins sans Frontieres (MSF) started supporting health centres in Kangaba with the provision of rapid malaria diagnostic tests and artemisinin-based combination therapy. Initially MSF subsidized malaria tests and drugs to reduce the overall cost for patients. In a second phase, MSF abolished fees for all children under 5 irrespective of their illness and for pregnant women with fever. This second phase was associated with a trebling of both primary health care utilization and malaria treatment coverage for these groups. MSF's experience in Mali suggests that removing user fees for vulnerable groups significantly improves utilization and coverage of essential health services, including for malaria interventions. This effect is far more marked than simply subsidizing or providing malaria drugs and diagnostic tests free of charge. Following the free care strategy, utilization of services increased significantly and under-5 mortality was reduced. Fee removal also allowed for more efficient use of existing resources, reducing average cost per patient treated. These results are particularly relevant for the context of Mali and other countries with ambitious malaria treatment coverage objectives, in accordance with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. This article questions the effectiveness of the current national policy, and the effectiveness of reducing the cost of drugs only (i.e. partial subsidies) or providing malaria tests and drugs free for under-5s, without abolishing other related fees. National and international budgets, in particular those that target health systems strengthening, could be used to complement existing subsidies and be directed towards effective abolition of user fees. This would contribute to increasing the impact of interventions on population health and, in turn, the effectiveness of aid. © The Author 2011; all rights reserved.

Trelles M.,Medecins Sans Frontieres | Dominguez L.,Medecins Sans Frontieres | Tayler-Smith K.,Operational Research Unit | Kisswani K.,MSF OCB | And 5 more authors.
Conflict and Health | Year: 2015

Background: Since 2011, civil war has crippled Syria leaving much of the population without access to healthcare. Various field hospitals have been clandestinely set up to provide basic healthcare but few have been able to provide quality surgical care. In 2012, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) began providing surgical care in the Jabal al-Akrad region of north-western Syria. Based on the MSF experience, we describe, for the period 5th September 2012 to 1st January 2014: a) the volume and profile of surgical cases, b) the volume and type of anaesthetic and surgical procedures performed, and c) the intraoperative mortality rate. Methods: A descriptive study using routinely collected MSF programme data. Quality surgical care was assured through strict adherence to the following minimum standards: adequate infrastructure, adequate water and sanitation provisions, availability of all essential disposables, drugs and equipment, strict adherence to hygiene requirements and universal precautions, mandatory use of sterile equipment for surgical and anaesthesia procedures, capability for blood transfusion and adequate human resources. Results: During the study period, MSF operated on 578 new patients, of whom 57 % were male and median age was 25 years (Interquartile range: 21-32 years). Violent trauma was the most common surgical indication (n-254, 44 %), followed by obstetric emergencies (n-191, 33 %) and accidental trauma (n-59, 10 %). In total, 712 anaesthetic procedures were performed. General anaesthesia without intubation was the most common type of anaesthesia (47 % of all anaesthetics) followed by spinal anaesthesia (25 %). A total of 831 surgical procedures were performed, just over half being minor/wound care procedures and nearly one fifth, caesarean sections. There were four intra-operative deaths, giving an intra-operative mortality rate of 0.7 %. Conclusions: Surgical needs in a conflict-afflicted setting like Syria are high and include both combat and non-combat indications, particularly obstetric emergencies. Provision of quality surgical care in a complex and volatile setting like this is possible providing appropriate measures, supported by highly experienced staff, can be implemented that allow a specific set of minimum standards of care to be adhered to. This is particularly important when patient outcomes - as a reflection of quality of care - are difficult to assess. © 2015 Trelles et al.

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