PLOS Global Public Health

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EISSN : 2767-3375
Published by: Public Library of Science (PLoS) (10.1371)
Total articles ≅ 272
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, , Gartee Nallo, Anthony Bettee, Karsor Kollie, Rachel Tolhurst
PLOS Global Public Health, Volume 2; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000551

Abstract:
The intersections between NTDs, disability, and mental ill-health are increasingly recognised globally. Chronic morbidity resultant from many NTDs, particularly those affecting the skin—including lymphatic filariasis (LF), leprosy, Buruli ulcer (BU) and onchocerciasis—is well known and largely documented from a medicalised perspective. However less is known about the complex biosocial interaction shaping interconnected morbidities. We apply syndemic theory to explain the biosocial relationship between NTDs and mental distress in the context of structural violence in Liberia. By advancing syndemic theory to include intersectional thought, it is apparent that structural violence becomes embodied in different ways through interacting multi-level (macro, meso and micro) processes. Through the use of in-depth qualitative methods, we explore the syndemic interaction of NTDs and mental distress from the vantage point of the most vulnerable and suggest that: 1) the post-conflict environment in Liberia predisposes people to the chronic effects of NTDs as well as other ‘generalised stressors’ as a consequence of ongoing structural violence; 2) people affected by NTDs are additionally exposed to stigma and discrimination that cause additional stressors and synergistically produce negative health outcomes in relation to NTDs and mental distress; and 3) the impact and experience of consequential syndemic suffering is shaped by intersecting axes of inequity such as gender and generation which are themselves created by unequal power distribution across multiple systems levels. Bringing together health systems discourse, which is focused on service integration and centred around disease control, with syndemic discourse that considers the biosocial context of disease interaction offers new approaches. We suggest that taking a syndemic-informed approach to care in the development of people-centred health systems is key to alleviating the burden of syndemic suffering associated with NTDs and mental distress currently experienced by vulnerable populations in resource-limited settings.
, , Chiwoza Bandawe, Hans-Peter Kohler
PLOS Global Public Health, Volume 2; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000600

Abstract:
Hypertension is a rapidly growing disease burden among older persons in low-income countries (LICs) that is often inadequately diagnosed and treated. Yet, most LIC research on hypertension is based on cross-sectional data that does not allow inferences about the onset or persistence of hypertension, its correlates, and changes in hypertension as individuals become older. The Mature Adults Cohort of the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH-MAC) is used to provide among the first panel analyses of hypertension for older individuals in a sub-Saharan LIC using blood pressure measurements obtained in 2013 and 2017. We find that high blood pressure is very common among mature adults aged 45+, and hypertension is more prevalent among older as compared to middle-aged respondents. Yet, in panel analyses for 2013–17, we find no increase in the prevalence of hypertension as individuals become older. Hypertension often persists over time, and the onset of hypertension is predicted by factors such as being overweight/obese, or being in poor physical health. Otherwise, however, hypertension has few socioeconomic predictors. There is also no gender differences in the level, onset or persistence in hypertension. While hypertension is associated with several negative health or socioeconomic consequences in longitudinal analyses, cascade-of-care analyses document significant gaps in the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension. Overall, our findings indicate that hypertension and related high cardiovascular risks are widespread, persistent, and often not diagnosed or treated in this rural sub-Saharan population of older individuals. Prevalence, onset and persistence of hypertension are common across all subgroups—including, importantly, both women and men. While age is an important predictor of hypertension risk, even in middle ages 45–55 years, hypertension is already widespread. Hypertension among adults aged 45+ in Malawi is thus more similar to a “generalized epidemic” than in high-income countries where cardiovascular risk has strong socioeconomic gradients.
PLOS Global Public Health, Volume 2; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000205

Abstract:
Despite India having a high burden of infant deaths and preterm birth, there is a clear lack of studies documenting association between preterm birth and infant mortality in India. Additionally, existing studies have failed to account for unobserved heterogeneity while linking preterm birth with infant mortality. Hence, the present study examines association of preterm birth with early neonatal death (ENND), late neonatal death (LNND), and postneonatal death (PNND) in India. We used the reproductive calendar canvassed in the cross-sectional National Family Health Survey 2015–16 (NFHS-4) to identify preterm births. We used multivariable logistic regression to examine the associations for all births, most-, second most-, and third most- recent births occurred in five years preceding NFHS-4. We use mother fixed-effect logistic regression to confirm the associations among all recent births. Among all births, preterm births were 4.2, 3.8, and 1.7 times as likely as full-term births to die during early neonatal, late neonatal, and postneonatal periods respectively. Among most recent births, preterm births were 4.4, 4.0, and 2.0 times as likely as full-term births to die during early neonatal, late neonatal, and postneonatal periods respectively. Preterm births were also associated with risk of only ENND, LNND, and PNND among the second most recent births. Preterm births were associated with risk of only ENND and LNND among the third most recent births. Preterm births were also associated with ENND, LNND, and PNND in the mother fixed-effects regressions. This study establishes associations of preterm birth with ENND, LNND, and PNND in India using over 0.2 million births that occurred in 5 years preceding one of the largest population-based representative household surveys conducted in any part of the world. Our findings call for programmatic and policy interventions to address the considerable burden of preterm birth in the country.
, Josée Uwamariya, Jean Népomuscène Nshimyumuremyi, Gerardine Mukesharurema, Todd Anderson, Jean D’Amour Ndahimana, ,
PLOS Global Public Health, Volume 2; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000492

Abstract:
Introduction: To combat poor clinical outcomes among HIV-positive youth, Partners In Health/Inshuti Mu Buzima (PIH/IMB) implemented Adolescent Support Groups (ASGs), which combined peer support and group-based economic incentives to promote treatment adherence, economic empowerment, and viral suppression. This study assesses the association between ASG membership and clinical outcomes among HIV-positive youth living in rural Rwanda. Methods: We constructed a retrospective cohort using PIH/IMB’s electronic medical record (EMR) system. ASG members were matched to control youth within strata defined by health facility, year of birth, and whether the patient had enrolled in HIV services as a pediatric patient, as a PMTCT mother, or through another route. Our 12-month outcomes of interest were a) death-free retention in care, b) death-free retention with active follow-up, c) ≥80% adherence to appointment keeping, and d) viral load suppression (<20 copies/ml). We used generalized linear mixed models to estimate odds ratios for the association between ASG participation and each outcome. To mitigate possible unmeasured confounding, we additionally included participant data from the previous year and conducted a difference-in-difference analysis for each outcome to assess whether ASG members experienced greater changes compared to control youth over a similar period. Results: Two-hundred sixty ASG members were identified in the EMR and matched to 209 control youth for analysis. After 12 months of follow-up, ASG members had similar outcomes to the control youth in terms of death-free retention (93% vs. 94%), death-free retention with active follow-up (79% vs. 78%), ≥80% adherence to appointment keeping (42% vs. 43%), and viral suppression (48% vs. 51%). We did not observe any significant associations between ASG participation and clinical outcomes in crude or adjusted models, nor did ASG members experience greater improvements than control youth in our difference-in-difference analysis. Conclusions: The ASG program did not improve retention, appointment adherence, or viral suppression among HIV positive youth in rural Rwanda. Challenges implementing the intervention as designed underscore the importance of incorporating implementation strategies and youth perspectives in program design. This population remains vulnerable to poor clinical outcomes, and additional research is needed to better serve youth living with HIV.
, Anatole Balamo, Allah-Rabaye Thierry, Aremadji Gueral, Djerakoula Fidele, , Foksouna Sakadi
PLOS Global Public Health, Volume 2; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000608

Abstract:
As of March 2022, the COVID-19 vaccination rate in Chad approximated 1%. There are no published reports of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy or beliefs in Chad. We aimed to study COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and hesitancy among community members, patients, and health care workers in urban Chad. We recruited a prospective convenience sample of adult patients, community members, and healthcare workers from N’Djamena, Chad between August–October 2021. Participants completed a 15-minute, 25-question survey instrument exploring demographic, social, and clinical variables related to COVID-19 and an adapted WHO SAGE Vaccine Hesitancy Survey. Primary outcomes were vaccine acceptance and vaccine hesitancy. Regression models were fit to assess associations between Vaccine Hesitancy Scale (VHS) scores, ranging from 10 (least hesitant) to 50 (most hesitant) points, and pre-selected variables of interest. An inductive thematic analysis was used to analyze the qualitative vaccine hesitancy responses. Of 508 participants (32% female; mean age 32 years), 162 were patients, 153 were community members, and 193 were healthcare workers. COVID-19 vaccine acceptance was significantly higher among patients (67%) than community members (44%) or healthcare workers (47%), p < .001. The average VHS score was 29 points (patients = 27.0, community members = 28.9, healthcare workers = 29.4), and more than one-third of participants were classified as highly vaccine hesitant (score >30 points). Knowing someone who died from COVID-19, believing local healthcare workers support vaccination, trusting the government, having a higher socioeconomic status (i.e. having electricity), and reporting medical comorbidities were each associated with less vaccine hesitancy (all p < .05). The vaccine concerns most frequently endorsed were: vaccine side effects (48%), efficacy (38%), safety (34%), concerns about the pharmaceutical industry (27%), and lack of government trust (21%). Four main themes arose from qualitative vaccine hesitancy responses (n = 116): education, trust, clinical concerns, and misinformation and false beliefs. Overall, COVID-19 vaccine acceptance was low, including among health care workers, and reasons for vaccine hesitancy were broad. We detail the most commonly reported concerns of urban Chadians for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine; we also identify subgroups most likely to endorse vaccine hesitancy. These analyses may inform future vaccination outreach campaigns in N’Djamena.
PLOS Global Public Health, Volume 2; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000153

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Increasing job market demand for and availability of Canadian and U.S. global academic health programs in post-secondary education increases student demand to participate in internationally based fieldwork, while supportive resources remain weakly developed. Previous studies indicate provisions to protect the health, safety, and well-being of women students remain inadequately addressed during training, while more research to identify needs, expectations, gaps, and best practices would inform policy and practice to improve conditions for women working off-campus on global public health studies. One approach, reported here, is to document and better understand the lived experience of U.S. or Canadian women graduate students participating in global public health fieldwork. Participant in-depth phenomenological interviews and guided writing exercises aimed to capture lived experience descriptions for 25 women. A phenomenology of practice was applied throughout the research process, following Max van Manen’s qualitative methodology approach. Loss of environmental familiarity, combined with graduate students’ lack of power, created considerable hidden labor described by women in working to keep themselves safe from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) while participating in global public health fieldwork. Women shared specific experiences exemplifying how this can be both alleviated and/or intensified through a range of negotiated strategies, coping styles, and management techniques. Additionally, women recalled laboring as students to avoid or reduce instances of SGBV, that then, precluded them from having any material “of substance” to report once returned home. These findings offer new meaning structures, language for a foreign experience, or ways to describe, conceive of, and respond to global public health fieldwork that hold the potential to positively affect individuals’ experiences, institutional understanding, and thus practice, of future women students in global public health.
Charles E. Hart, Jahnavi Reddy Bhaskar, , , Martin Earl, Matthew Mahoney, Ana Martinez, Ivona Petzlova, Allen T. Esterly,
PLOS Global Public Health, Volume 2; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000215

Abstract:
A community engaged passive surveillance program was utilized to acquire ticks and associated information throughout New York state. Ticks were speciated and screened for several tick-borne pathogens. Of these ticks, only I. scapularis was commonly infected with pathogens of human relevance, including B. burgdorferi, B. miyamotoi, A. phagocytophilum, B. microti, and Powassan virus. In addition, the geographic and temporal distribution of tick species and pathogens was determined. This enabled the construction of a powerful visual analytical mapping tool, tickMAP to track the emergence of ticks and tick-borne pathogens in real-time. The public can use this tool to identify hot-spots of disease emergence, clinicians for supportive evidence during differential diagnosis, and researchers to better understand factors influencing the emergence of ticks and tick-borne diseases in New York. Overall, we have created a community-engaged tick surveillance program and an interactive visual analytical tickMAP that other regions could emulate to provide real-time tracking and an early warning for the emergence of tick-borne diseases.
Simji Gomerep, Martina Nuwan, Solomon Butswat, Joyce Bartekwa, Solomon Thliza, Christian Akude, , David Shwe, Rachel Reyna, , et al.
PLOS Global Public Health, Volume 2; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000290

Abstract:
Lassa fever (LF) is endemic in West Africa and constitutes a significant public health concern due to its potential for epidemics and associated high mortality. The first reported case and management of Lassa fever in Plateau State occurred more than 50 years ago. We set out to undertake a three-year epidemiological review of LF cases in Plateau State, North Central Nigeria. This is a retrospective study of all confirmed LF cases in Plateau State between 2016 and 2018. Plateau state Lassa fever- Line list and patient case records were used to extract relevant data. Lassa PCR was carried out at the NCDC accredited Laboratory network. Data analysis was done using STATA version SE14.1. Forty-four persons (44) had confirmed LF over the examined period, 18 (41%) in 2016, 15 (34%) in 2017 and 11 (25%) in 2018. The mean age was 29.7±14.6 years and 53% were males. Sixty-six percent (66%) of the patients resided in rural areas. It affected all local government areas (LGA) in the state except Pankshin, Jos East and Kanke LGAs. Twenty-five percent (25%) of the cases occurred among underprivileged communities of Jos North and another 25% in rural dwellers of Langtang North. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of cases occurred during the 1st quarter, 27% the 2nd quarter and 18% the 3rd quarter of the year. The case fatality rate was 57%. LF is endemic in Plateau State. Prevention strategies must be sustained year round and target the youth, urban and rural underprivileged communities. There is also need for case management improvement to reduce mortality.
PLOS Global Public Health, Volume 2; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000262

Abstract:
After a longstanding global presence, malaria is now largely non-existent or suppressed in most parts of the world. Today, cases and deaths are primarily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa. According to many experts, this persistence on the African continent reflects factors such as resistance to insecticides and drugs as well as insufficient access to essential commodities such as insecticide-treated nets and effective drugs. Crucially, however, this narrative ignores many central weaknesses in the fight against malaria and instead reinforces a narrow, commodity-driven vision of disease control. This paper therefore describes the core challenges hindering malaria programs in Africa and highlights key opportunities to rethink current strategies for sustainable control and elimination. The epidemiology of malaria in Africa presents far greater challenges than elsewhere and requires context-specific initiatives tailored to national and sub-national targets. To sustain progress, African countries must systematically address key weaknesses in its health systems, improve the quality and use of data for surveillance-responses, improve both technical and leadership competencies for malaria control, and gradually reduce overreliance on commodities while expanding multisectoral initiatives such as improved housing and environmental sanitation. They must also leverage increased funding from both domestic and international sources, and support pivotal research and development efforts locally. Effective vaccines and drugs, or other potentially transformative technologies such as genedrive modified mosquitoes, could further accelerate malaria control by complementing current tools. However, our underlying strategies remain insufficient and must be expanded to include more holistic and context-specific approaches critical to achieve and sustain effective malaria control.
, Ayoub Kakande, , Dhelia Williamson, , Joyce Namale-Matovu, Diana Valencia, Beatrice Nalwoga, Christine Namirembe, Joan Seyionga, et al.
PLOS Global Public Health, Volume 2; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000662

Abstract:
Sustainable birth defects surveillance systems provide countries with estimates of the prevalence of birth defects to guide prevention, care activities, and evaluate interventions. We used free and open-source software (Open Data Kit) to implement an electronic system to collect data for a hospital-based birth defects surveillance system at four major hospitals in Kampala, Uganda. We describe the establishment, successes, challenges, and lessons learned from using mobile tablets to capture data and photographs. After intensive training, surveillance midwives collected data using Android tablets with inbuilt logic checks; another surveillance midwife checked the quality of the data in real-time before data were securely uploaded onto a local server. Paper forms were used when needed as a backup for the electronic system. We experienced several challenges implementing the surveillance system, including forgotten passwords, unstable network, reduced tablet speed and freezing, loss of touch-screen sensitivity, decreased battery strength, and repetitive extensive retraining. We addressed these challenges by backing up and removing all photos from the tablet, uninstalling irrelevant applications to the study to increase storage space and speed, and monitoring and updating the system based mainly on feedback from the midwives. From August 2015 to December 2018, surveillance midwives documented information on 110,752 births at the participating hospitals. Of these, 110,573 (99.8%) were directly entered into the electronic data system and 179 (0.2%) were captured on paper forms. The use of mobile tablets for real-time data collection was successful in a hospital-based birth defects surveillance system in a resource-limited setting. Extensive training and follow-up can overcome challenges and are key to preparing staff for a successful data collection system.
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