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Concept: Malawi

242

Background We hypothesized that mass distribution of a broad-spectrum antibiotic agent to preschool children would reduce mortality in areas of sub-Saharan Africa that are currently far from meeting the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Methods In this cluster-randomized trial, we assigned communities in Malawi, Niger, and Tanzania to four twice-yearly mass distributions of either oral azithromycin (approximately 20 mg per kilogram of body weight) or placebo. Children 1 to 59 months of age were identified in twice-yearly censuses and were offered participation in the trial. Vital status was determined at subsequent censuses. The primary outcome was aggregate all-cause mortality; country-specific rates were assessed in prespecified subgroup analyses. Results A total of 1533 communities underwent randomization, 190,238 children were identified in the census at baseline, and 323,302 person-years were monitored. The mean (±SD) azithromycin and placebo coverage over the four twice-yearly distributions was 90.4±10.4%. The overall annual mortality rate was 14.6 deaths per 1000 person-years in communities that received azithromycin (9.1 in Malawi, 22.5 in Niger, and 5.4 in Tanzania) and 16.5 deaths per 1000 person-years in communities that received placebo (9.6 in Malawi, 27.5 in Niger, and 5.5 in Tanzania). Mortality was 13.5% lower overall (95% confidence interval [CI], 6.7 to 19.8) in communities that received azithromycin than in communities that received placebo (P<0.001); the rate was 5.7% lower in Malawi (95% CI, -9.7 to 18.9), 18.1% lower in Niger (95% CI, 10.0 to 25.5), and 3.4% lower in Tanzania (95% CI, -21.2 to 23.0). Children in the age group of 1 to 5 months had the greatest effect from azithromycin (24.9% lower mortality than that with placebo; 95% CI, 10.6 to 37.0). Serious adverse events occurring within a week after administration of the trial drug or placebo were uncommon, and the rate did not differ significantly between the groups. Evaluation of selection for antibiotic resistance is ongoing. Conclusions Among postneonatal, preschool children in sub-Saharan Africa, childhood mortality was lower in communities randomly assigned to mass distribution of azithromycin than in those assigned to placebo, with the largest effect seen in Niger. Any implementation of a policy of mass distribution would need to strongly consider the potential effect of such a strategy on antibiotic resistance. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; MORDOR ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02047981 .).

Concepts: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Sahara, Malawi, United Nations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates

190

In contrast to western countries, foot complaints are rare in Africa. This is remarkable, as many African adults walk many hours each day, often barefoot or with worn-out shoes. The reason why Africans can withstand such loading without developing foot complaints might be related to the way the foot is loaded. Therefore, static foot geometry and dynamic plantar pressure distribution of 77 adults from Malawi were compared to 77 adults from the Netherlands. None of the subjects had a history of foot complaints. The plantar pressure pattern as well as the Arch Index (AI) and the trajectory of the center of pressure during the stance phase were calculated and compared between both groups. Standardized pictures were taken from the feet to assess the height of the Medial Longitudinal Arch (MLA). We found that Malawian adults: (1) loaded the midfoot for a longer and the forefoot for a shorter period during roll off, (2) had significantly lower plantar pressures under the heel and a part of the forefoot, and (3) had a larger AI and a lower MLA compared to the Dutch. These findings demonstrate that differences in static foot geometry, foot loading, and roll off technique exist between the two groups. The advantage of the foot loading pattern as shown by the Malawian group is that the plantar pressure is distributed more equally over the foot. This might prevent foot complaints.

Concepts: Africa, Foot, Malawi, Netherlands, Length, Dutch people, Arches of the foot, Flat feet

175

Malaria causes significant mortality and morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), especially among children less than five years of age (U5 children). Although the economic burden of malaria in this region has been assessed previously, the extent and variation of this burden remains unclear. This study aimed to estimate the economic costs of malaria in U5 children in three countries (Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya).

Concepts: Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Sahara, Malawi, West Africa, Niger-Congo languages

168

BACKGROUND: Antenatal care (ANC) is a key strategy to improve maternal and infant health. However, survey data from sub-Saharan Africa indicate that women often only initiate ANC after the first trimester and do not achieve the recommended number of ANC visits. Drawing on qualitative data, this article comparatively explores the factors that influence ANC attendance across four sub-Saharan African sites in three countries (Ghana, Kenya and Malawi) with varying levels of ANC attendance. METHODS: Data were collected as part of a programme of qualitative research investigating the social and cultural context of malaria in pregnancy. A range of methods was employed interviews, focus groups with diverse respondents and observations in local communities and health facilities. RESULTS: Across the sites, women attended ANC at least once. However, their descriptions of ANC were often vague. General ideas about pregnancy care - checking the foetus' position or monitoring its progress - motivated women to attend ANC; as did, especially in Kenya, obtaining the ANC card to avoid reprimands from health workers. Women’s timing of ANC initiation was influenced by reproductive concerns and pregnancy uncertainties, particularly during the first trimester, and how ANC services responded to this uncertainty; age, parity and the associated implications for pregnancy disclosure; interactions with healthcare workers, particularly messages about timing of ANC; and the cost of ANC, including charges levied for ANC procedures - in spite of policies of free ANC - combined with ideas about the compulsory nature of follow-up appointments. CONCLUSION: In these socially and culturally diverse sites, the findings suggest that ‘supply’ side factors have an important influence on ANC attendance: the design of ANC and particularly how ANC deals with the needs and concerns of women during the first trimester has implications for timing of initiation.

Concepts: Health care, Pregnancy, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Focus group, Ethiopia, Qualitative research, Malawi

134

It is estimated that more than two-thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) must leave their home to collect water, putting them at risk for a variety of negative health outcomes. There is little research, however, quantifying who is most affected by long water collection times.

Concepts: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Sahara, Black people, Malawi, Southern Africa, Morocco

101

Under the premise that in a resource-constrained environment such as Sub-Saharan Africa it is not possible to do everything, to everyone, everywhere, detailed geographical knowledge about the HIV epidemic becomes essential to tailor programmatic responses to specific local needs. However, the design and evaluation of national HIV programs often rely on aggregated national level data. Against this background, here we proposed a model to produce high-resolution maps of intranational estimates of HIV prevalence in Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania based on spatial variables. The HIV prevalence maps generated highlight the stark spatial disparities in the epidemic within a country, and localize areas where both the burden and drivers of the HIV epidemic are concentrated. Under an era focused on optimal allocation of evidence-based interventions for populations at greatest risk in areas of greatest HIV burden, as proposed by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), such maps provide essential information that strategically targets geographic areas and populations where resources can achieve the greatest impact.

Concepts: HIV, AIDS, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, United States, Geography, President of the United States, Malawi

23

Home-based HIV testing and counselling (HTC) achieves high uptake, but is difficult and expensive to implement and sustain. We investigated a novel alternative based on HIV self-testing (HIVST). The aim was to evaluate the uptake of testing, accuracy, linkage into care, and health outcomes when highly convenient and flexible but supported access to HIVST kits was provided to a well-defined and closely monitored population.

Concepts: Health care, Malawi, The UpTake, Blantyre, Malawi

18

The aim of this study was to determine the association between violent conflict and HIV incidence within and across 36 sub-Saharan Africa countries between 1990 and 2012.

Concepts: AIDS, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Sahara, Malawi, Southern Africa, Morocco

16

Despite efforts to expand contraceptive access for young people, few studies have considered where young women (age 15-24) in low- and middle-income countries obtain modern contraceptives and how the capacity and content of care of sources used compares with older users.

Concepts: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Sahara, Malawi, West Africa, Southern Africa, Morocco

14

To (i) summarize the methods undertaken to measure physical accessibility as the spatial separation between women and health services, and (ii) establish the extent to which distance to skilled care for childbirth affects utilization in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Sahara, Malawi, Southern Africa