Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: African Union member states


Background: Household coverage with iodized salt was assessed in 10 countries that implemented Universal Salt Iodization (USI).Objective: The objective of this paper was to summarize household coverage data for iodized salt, including the relation between coverage and residence type and socioeconomic status (SES).Methods: A review was conducted of results from cross-sectional multistage household cluster surveys with the use of stratified probability proportional to size design in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Niger, the Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda. Salt iodine content was assessed with quantitative methods in all cases. The primary indicator of coverage was percentage of households that used adequately iodized salt, with an additional indicator for salt with some added iodine. Indicators of risk were SES and residence type. We used 95% CIs to determine significant differences in coverage.Results: National household coverage of adequately iodized salt varied from 6.2% in Niger to 97.0% in Uganda. For salt with some added iodine, coverage varied from 52.4% in the Philippines to 99.5% in Uganda. Coverage with adequately iodized salt was significantly higher in urban than in rural households in Bangladesh (68.9% compared with 44.3%, respectively), India (86.4% compared with 69.8%, respectively), Indonesia (59.3% compared with 51.4%, respectively), the Philippines (31.5% compared with 20.2%, respectively), Senegal (53.3% compared with 19.0%, respectively), and Tanzania (89.2% compared with 57.6%, respectively). In 7 of 8 countries with data, household coverage of adequately iodized salt was significantly higher in high- than in low-SES households in Bangladesh (58.8% compared with 39.7%, respectively), Ghana (36.2% compared with 21.5%, respectively), India (80.6% compared with 70.5%, respectively), Indonesia (59.9% compared with 45.6%, respectively), the Philippines (39.4% compared with 17.3%, respectively), Senegal (50.7% compared with 27.6%, respectively) and Tanzania (80.9% compared with 51.3%, respectively).Conclusions: Uganda has achieved USI. In other countries, access to iodized salt is inequitable. Quality control and regulatory enforcement of salt iodization remain challenging. Notable progress toward USI has been made in Ethiopia and India. Assessing progress toward USI only through household salt does not account for potentially iodized salt consumed through processed foods.

Concepts: Social status, Thyroid, African Union member states, Home, English-speaking countries and territories, Least Developed Countries, Southeast Asia, Liberal democracies


Five classical designations of sickle haplotypes are made on the basis of the presence or absence of restriction sites and are named after the ethno-linguistic groups or geographic regions from which the individuals with sickle cell anemia originated. Each haplotype is thought to represent an independent occurrence of the sickle mutation rs334 (c.20A>T [p.Glu7Val] in HBB). We investigated the origins of the sickle mutation by using whole-genome-sequence data. We identified 156 carriers from the 1000 Genomes Project, the African Genome Variation Project, and Qatar. We classified haplotypes by using 27 polymorphisms in linkage disequilibrium with rs334. Network analysis revealed a common haplotype that differed from the ancestral haplotype only by the derived sickle mutation at rs334 and correlated collectively with the Central African Republic (CAR), Cameroon, and Arabian/Indian haplotypes. Other haplotypes were derived from this haplotype and fell into two clusters, one composed of Senegal haplotypes and the other composed of Benin and Senegal haplotypes. The near-exclusive presence of the original sickle haplotype in the CAR, Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa is consistent with this haplotype predating the Bantu expansions. Modeling of balancing selection indicated that the heterozygote advantage was 15.2%, an equilibrium frequency of 12.0% was reached after 87 generations, and the selective environment predated the mutation. The posterior distribution of the ancestral recombination graph yielded a sickle mutation age of 259 generations, corresponding to 7,300 years ago during the Holocene Wet Phase. These results clarify the origin of the sickle allele and improve and simplify the classification of sickle haplotypes.

Concepts: African Union member states, French language, Natural selection, Sickle, Linkage disequilibrium, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Sickle-cell disease


Drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) is a global public health problem. Adequate management requires baseline drug-resistance prevalence data. In West Africa, due to a poor laboratory infrastructure and inadequate capacity, such data are scarce. Therefore, the true extent of drug-resistant TB was hitherto undetermined. In 2008, a new research network, the West African Network of Excellence for Tuberculosis, AIDS and Malaria (WANETAM), was founded, comprising nine study sites from eight West African countries (Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo). The goal was to establish Good Clinical Laboratory Practice (GCLP) principles and build capacity in standardised smear microscopy and mycobacterial culture across partnering laboratories to generate the first comprehensive West African drug-resistance data.

Concepts: African Union member states, Atlantic slave trade, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Economic Community of West African States, Ghana, Africa, West Africa


While a number of new vaccines have been rolled out across the developing world (with more vaccines in the pipeline), cold chain systems are struggling to efficiently support national immunization programs in ensuring the availability of safe and potent vaccines. This article reflects on the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Inc. (CHAI) experience working since 2010 with national immunization programs and partners to improve vaccines cold chains in 10 countries-Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Cameroon, Mozambique, Lesotho and India - to identify the root causes and solutions for three common issues limiting cold chain performance. Key recommendations include: Collectively, the solutions detailed in this article chart a path to substantially improving the performance of the cold chain. Combined with an enabling global and in-country environment, it is possible to eliminate cold chain issues as a substantial barrier to effective and full immunization coverage over the next few years.

Concepts: Least Developed Countries, Kenya, Global Peace Index, East Africa, English-speaking countries and territories, African Union member states, Tanzania, Members of the Commonwealth of Nations


Ebola seems to be a particular risk in conflict affected contexts. All three of the countries most affected by the 2014-15 outbreak have a complex conflict-affected recent history. Other major outbreaks in the recent past, in Northern Uganda and in the Democratic Republic of Congo are similarly afflicted although outbreaks have also occurred in stable settings. Although the 2014-15 outbreak in West Africa has received more attention than almost any other public health issue in recent months, very little of that attention has focused on the complex interaction between conflict and its aftermath and its implications for health systems, the emergence of the disease and the success or failure in controlling it. The health systems of conflict-affected states are characterized by a series of weaknesses, some common to other low and even middle income countries, others specifically conflict-related. Added to this is the burden placed on health systems by the aggravated health problems associated with conflict. Other features of post conflict health systems are a consequence of the global institutional response. Comparing the experience of Northern Uganda and Sierra Leone in the emergence and management of Ebola outbreaks in 2000-1 and in 2014-15 respectively highlights how the various elements of these conflict affected societies came together with international agencies responses to permit the outbreak of the disease and then to successfully contain it (in Northern Uganda) or to fail to do so before a catastrophic cost had been incurred (in Sierra Leone). These case studies have implications for the types of investments in health systems that are needed to enable effective response to Ebola and other zoonotic diseases where they arise in conflict- affected settings.

Concepts: African Union member states, Complex system, Public health, Liberia, West Africa, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Epidemiology


The Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm) has put into place a bold financing plan for artemisinin-combination therapy in a pilot phase in seven countries covering half the population at risk of malaria in Africa. A report of the AMFm independent evaluation, conducted by ICF International and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, describes the success of the programme in the pilot sites: Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania (mainland and Zanzibar) and Uganda, comparing availability and affordability of high-quality artemisinin-combination therapies before and after AMFm launched. Proof of concept was achieved: AMFm increased availability and kept prices low, meeting its initial, ambitious benchmarks in most settings. Despite this overwhelming success, opposition to the programme and dwindling resources for malaria control conspire to cripple or kill AMFm.

Concepts: West Africa, Kenya, Medicine, African Union member states, African Union, Tanzania, Africa, East Africa


Evidence on whether removing fees benefits the poorest is patchy and weak. The aim of this paper is to measure the impact of user fee reforms on the probability of giving birth in an institution or undergoing a caesarean section (CS) in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Cameroon and Nigeria for the poorest strata of the population.

Concepts: Mossi, Burkina Faso, Childbirth, Global Peace Index, African Union member states, Niger, West Africa, Africa


Pneumonia is the leading cause of childhood mortality in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Because effective antibiotic treatment exists, timely recognition of pneumonia and subsequent care seeking for treatment can prevent deaths. For six high pneumonia mortality countries in SSA we examined if children with suspected pneumonia were taken for care, and if so, from which type of care providers, using national survey data of 76530 children. We also assessed factors independently associated with care seeking from health providers, also known as ‘appropriate’ providers. We report important differences in care seeking patterns across these countries. In Tanzania 85% of children with suspected pneumonia were taken for care, whereas this was only 30% in Ethiopia. Most of the children living in these six countries were taken to a primary health care facility; 86, 68 and 59% in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Burkina Faso respectively. In Uganda, hospital care was sought for 60% of children. 16-18% of children were taken to a private pharmacy in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania and Nigeria. In Tanzania, children from the richest households were 9.5 times (CI 2.3-39.3) more likely to be brought for care than children from the poorest households, after controlling for the child’s age, sex, caregiver’s education and urban-rural residence. The influence of the age of a child, when controlling for sex, urban-rural residence, education and wealth, shows that the youngest children (<2 years) were more likely to be brought to a care provider in Nigeria, Ethiopia and DRC. Urban-rural residence was not significantly associated with care seeking, after controlling for the age and sex of the child, caregivers education and wealth. The study suggests that it is crucial to understand country-specific care seeking patterns for children with suspected pneumonia and related determinants using available data prior to planning programmatic responses.

Concepts: African Union member states, Burkina Faso, Sub-Saharan Africa, Child, West Africa, Niger, Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo


Malaria is one of the greatest causes of mortality worldwide. Use of the most effective treatments for malaria remains inadequate for those in need, and there is concern over the emergence of resistance to these treatments. In 2010, the Global Fund launched the Affordable Medicines Facility–malaria (AMFm), a series of national-scale pilot programmes designed to increase the access and use of quality-assured artemisinin based combination therapies (QAACTs) and reduce that of artemisinin monotherapies for treatment of malaria. AMFm involves manufacturer price negotiations, subsidies on the manufacturer price of each treatment purchased, and supporting interventions such as communications campaigns. We present findings on the effect of AMFm on QAACT price, availability, and market share, 6-15 months after the delivery of subsidised ACTs in Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, and Tanzania (including Zanzibar).

Concepts: African Union, African Union member states, Africa, Marketing, Artemisinin, Tanzania, Malaria, East Africa


The 2014-2015 epidemic of Ebola virus disease in West Africa primarily affected Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Several countries, including Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal, experienced Ebola importations. Realizing the importance of a trained field epidemiology workforce in neighboring countries to respond to Ebola importations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Field Epidemiology Training Program unit implemented the Surveillance Training for Ebola Preparedness (STEP) initiative. STEP was a mentored, competency-based initiative to rapidly build up surveillance capacity along the borders of the at-risk neighboring countries Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau. The target audience was district surveillance officers. STEP was delivered to 185 participants from 72 health units (districts or regions). Timeliness of reporting and the quality of surveillance analyses improved 3 months after training. STEP demonstrated that mentored, competency-based training, where learners attain competencies while delivering essential public health services, can be successfully implemented in an emergency response setting.

Concepts: Nigeria, African Union member states, Epidemiology, Liberia, Economic Community of West African States, West Africa, Sierra Leone, Guinea