Stethoscope over rupees

COVID-19 self-tests are well-accepted in Nigeria.

One Health Trust researchers collaborated to assess willingness to use COVID-19 self-tests in Nigeria, a country that has experienced difficulties curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus. After surveying households in five regions, the study showed that out of 2,126 respondents, only 14 were aware of COVID-19 self-testing. However, more than 81 percent agreed with the concept of self-testing for COVID-19 and would likely or very likely use these tests if made available. Furthermore, approximately two-thirds of respondents were willing to pay for self-tests. The lack of awareness of COVID-19 self-testing underscores the necessity for sensibilization on tools that help control future COVID-19 surges. [BMJ Open]

India’s new health budget is inadequate and will stifle development.

OHT’s Ramanan Laxminarayan co-authored an opinion piece in The Indian Express on India’s budget plans, announced by the finance minister earlier this month. While India aims to increase health spending by 2.7 percent, this amount comprising 3.2 percent of its GDP, is still falling short of the 5.2 percent average spent by several low- and middle-income countries.  Increased investments by India’s central government in three areas: non-communicable diseases, primary care in urban areas, and health research, could result in immediate positive health outcomes. Given the growing under-35 population in India, ensuring the health of citizens is crucial to the country’s potential for development. [The Indian Express]

Limited research and investment in indoor air pollution.

In 2020, indoor air pollution resulted in 3.2 million deaths globally. Despite its apparent impact on human health, air quality regulations and standards have yet to pay indoor air pollutants the attention received by outdoor air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. Parameters that affect the concentration of indoor pollutants are sometimes difficult to assess, resulting in poor estimates and limited data on emissions from common indoor pollution sources. Investment in indoor emission inventories and pollutant models is urgently needed to monitor indoor environments and reduce the harmful effects of poor indoor air quality on human health. [Nature]

New antimalarial technology may help fight insecticide resistance.

Resistance to insecticides used in bed nets, a preventive method against malaria recommended by the WHO, is growing and poses a real challenge to malaria-endemic communities worldwide. New research has supported combining the insecticide pyrethroid and piperonyl butoxide (PBO) to combat resistance and provide an effective malaria prevention strategy. A study in Uganda showed that indoor mosquito density was reduced by nearly half when bed nets treated with PBO were used instead of nets not treated with PBO. These results were presented to the WHO Vector Control Advisory Group, which now recommends expanding coverage of PBO-treated bed nets in areas with high pyrethroid resistance. [The Lancet Infectious Diseases]

Increased gender-based violence and access to related information in Uganda.

Researchers analyzed survey data collected in Uganda in November 2020 to understand women and girls’ access to information on gender-based violence (GBV) prevention during the national COVID-19 lockdown. About seven in ten respondents reported an increase in GBV since the beginning of the lockdown. The researchers found that female and male respondents were more likely to receive information on GBV if they had a tertiary education. Being unmarried, unemployed, and living in rural areas were all associated with a lack of access to GBV information among men and women. Those who perceived themselves at risk of GBV were more likely to have access to related materials than those who did not see themselves as potential victims of GBV. The study results align with previous findings that socioeconomic status is linked to access to preventive services, including information on GBV. [eClinicalMedicine]

Migrant women’s host-country language proficiency affects their prenatal care communication quality.

Using data collected from migrant and native women who gave birth in Portuguese hospitals, researchers examined the effect of women’s host-country language proficiency on their perceived quality of communication with their prenatal care providers. As the migrant women’s proficiency in Portuguese decreased, so did their perceived women-prenatal care provider communication quality (WPCQ). Almost 30 percent of women rated their WPCQ as “optimal,” and prenatal communication quality in Portugal was seen as overall positive by the respondents. The researchers note that the qualitative nature of their study may have resulted in generally positive perceptions of prenatal care if respondents received compassionate care from providers, even if a significant language barrier was present. [BMC Public Health]

Regional influenza characteristics may help countries prepare for future outbreaks.

Regional epidemiologic characteristics of influenza and universal influenza transmission zones (ITZ) were explored in a new study to further inform global influenza tracking and policies. Researchers used influenza surveillance data from the World Health Organization FluNet collected between 1996 and 2021. The highest average positive rates of total influenza virus were primarily located in Central America and the Caribbean (22.38 percent), northern Africa (20.1 percent), and southwestern Europe (19.35 percent). The researchers also divided the 109 countries that contributed data to FluNet into seven ITZs based on the characteristics of influenza virus circulation and geographical location of the country, which could assist with creating an influenza preparedness plan within each ITZ. [IJID]

Over 7 million deaths were linked to 33 bacterial pathogens in 2019.

A pioneering study presented comprehensive estimates of the global mortality associated with 33 bacterial pathogens across 11 major infectious diseases using methods from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019. Among nearly 13.7 million deaths associated with infection in 2019, 7.7 million deaths were associated with 33 bacterial pathogens and 11 infectious diseases. Five primary pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, were responsible for just over half of the deaths caused by the 33 pathogens. Death associated with these bacterial pathogens was classified as the second leading cause of death in 2019, highlighting the urgent need for investment in preventive practices and optimized use of antibiotics. [The Lancet]

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