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Concept: The Gambia


OBJECTIVE: To explore ways of controlling Chrysomya putoria, the African latrine fly, in pit latrines. As pit latrines are a major source of these flies, eliminating these important breeding sites is likely to reduce village fly populations, and may reduce the spread of diarrhoeal pathogens. METHODS: We treated 24 latrines in a Gambian village: six each with (i) pyriproxyfen, an insect juvenile hormone mimic formulated as Sumilarv(®) 0.5G, a 0.5% pyriproxyfen granule, (ii) expanded polystyrene beads (EPB), (iii) local soap or (iv) no treatment as controls. Flies were collected using exit traps placed over the drop holes, weekly for five weeks. In a separate study, we tested whether latrines also function as efficient flytraps using the faecal odours as attractants. We constructed six pit latrines each with a built-in flytrap and tested their catching efficiency compared to six fish-baited box traps positioned 10 m from the latrine. Focus group discussions conducted afterwards assessed the acceptability of the flytrap latrines. RESULTS: Numbers of emerging C. putoria were reduced by 96.0% (95% CIs: 94.5-97.2%) 4-5 weeks after treatment with pyriproxyfen; by 64.2% (95% CIs: 51.8-73.5%) after treatment with local soap; by 41.3% (95% CIs = 24.0-54.7%) after treatment with EPB 3-5 weeks after treatment. Flytraps placed on latrines collected C. putoria and were deemed acceptable to local communities. CONCLUSIONS: Sumilarv 0.5G shows promise as a chemical control agent, whilst odour-baited latrine traps may prove a useful method of non-chemical fly control. Both methods warrant further development to reduce fly production from pit latrines. A combination of interventions may prove effective for the control of latrine flies and the diseases they transmit.

Concepts: Focus group, Insect, Polystyrene, Flies, Latrine, The Gambia, Pit toilet, Outhouse


Intimate partner violence is an important public health problem that cuts across geographic and cultural barriers. Intimate partner violence refers to the range of sexually, psychologically and physically coercive acts used against women by current or former male intimate partners. The frequency and severity of violence varies greatly but the main goal is usually to control the victims through fear and intimidation. About 80% of Gambian women believe it is acceptable for a man to beat his wife thus encouraging the perpetuation of violence against women. The objective was to ascertain the burden of intimate partner violence amongst pregnant women in Gambia.

Concepts: Childbirth, Domestic violence, The Gambia


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


MPT64 rapid speciation tests are increasingly being used in diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB). Mycobacterium africanum West Africa 2 (Maf 2) remains an important cause of TB in West Africa and causes one third of disease in The Gambia. Since the introduction of MPT64 antigen tests, a higher than expected rate of suspected non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) was seen among AFB smear positive TB suspects, which led us to prospectively assess sensitivity of the MPT64 antigen test in our setting.

Concepts: Africa, Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, West Africa, Ghana, The Gambia, Atlantic slave trade, Mycobacterium africanum


The death of a mother is a tragedy in itself but it can also have devastating effects for the survival of her children. We aim to explore the impact of a mother’s death on child survival in rural Gambia, West Africa.

Concepts: Africa, West Africa, Ghana, The Gambia, Senegal, Atlantic slave trade, Fula people, Mandinka people



The Gambia’s National Eye Health Programme has made a concerted effort to reduce the prevalence of trachoma. The present study had two objectives. The first was to conduct surveillance following mass drug administrations to determine whether The Gambia has reached the World Health Organization’s (WHO) criteria for trachoma elimination, namely a prevalence of trachomatous inflammation-follicular (TF) of less than 5% in children aged 1 to 9 years. The second was to determine the prevalence of trichiasis (TT) cases unknown to the programme and evaluate whether these meet the WHO criteria of less than 0.1% in the total population.

Concepts: Present, Africa, World, World Health Organization, World population, The Gambia, Trachoma, Trichiasis


The current Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak ravaging three nations in West Africa has affected more than 14,000 persons and killed over 5,000. It is the longest and most widely spread Ebola epidemic ever seen. At the time of this overview (written November 2014), having affected eight different nations, Nigeria and Senegal were able to control and eliminate the virus within a record time. Ghana has successfully, to date, kept the virus away from the country, despite economic and social relationships with affected nations. What lessons can we learn from Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana in the current epidemic? How can the world improve the health systems in low- and middle-income countries to effectively manage future outbreaks? Recently, the Royal College of Physicians launched a new partnership with the West African College of Physicians to curtail the effects of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the region. We believe that strengthened health systems, skilled human resources for health and national ownership of problems are key to effective management of outbreaks such as EVD.

Concepts: AIDS, Africa, West Africa, Ghana, The Gambia, Atlantic slave trade, Fula people, Economic Community of West African States


The malaria burden has decreased significantly in recent years in Africa through the widespread use of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) and long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs). However, the occurrence of malaria resurgences, the loss of immunity of exposed populations constitute among other factors, serious concerns about the future of malaria elimination efforts. This study investigated the evolution of malaria morbidity in Dielmo (Senegal) before and after the implementation of LLINs.

Concepts: Immune system, Malaria, Africa, Future, The Loss, The Gambia, Senegal, Dakar


The high rate of maternal mortality reported in The Gambia is influenced by many factors, such as difficulties in accessing quality healthcare and facilities. In addition, socio-cultural practices in rural areas may limit the resources available to pregnant women, resulting in adverse health consequences. The aim of this study is to depict the gender dynamics in a rural Gambian context by exploring the social and cultural factors affecting maternal health.

Concepts: Childbirth, Infant, Population, Obstetrics, Breastfeeding, Sociology, Abortion, The Gambia