January 23, 2023
Financial incentives for COVID-19 vaccination have no unintended negative consequences.
A large-scale study conducted in Sweden assessed the unintended effects of offering financial incentives for taking the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, a practice that experts and advisors warn against, due to long-standing evidence from the literature of negative consequences from incentivizing vaccination with financial rewards. Researchers found that receiving the first vaccine dose with monetary compensation did not negatively impact the participants’ likelihood and timing of receiving their second and third vaccine doses, which were not accompanied by a financial incentive. The participants’ other health behaviors, such as receiving flu shots and donating blood, as well as their trust in vaccination providers, morals, and sense of civic responsibility, were not affected. [Nature]
Married women have little autonomy in decisions about contraceptive use in Ethiopia.
Researchers evaluated the effect of decision-making autonomy on contraceptive use among married women living in three high-fertility regions in Ethiopia. Analysis of data from national surveys conducted in 2016 revealed that less than one-fifth of married women in high-fertility regions could make independent decisions about contraceptive use. Married women aged 25 and older were more likely to possess decision-making autonomy than women between 15 and 24 years old. Other factors such as exposure to media, religion, and age of first marriage significantly impacted autonomy to decide on contraceptive use. [BMC Public Health]
Shorter antibiotic courses for Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteremia have no impact on the number of excess mortalities.
A retrospective study of Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteremia cases in tropical Australia assessed the effects of shorter antibiotic courses on excess mortality. After examining health outcomes among hospitalized patients in Far North Queensland, researchers found no difference in the 90-day all-cause mortality or the 90-day hospital readmission rates in patients receiving five or fewer days of intravenous antibiotic therapy compared to those with a course longer than five days. In addition to preventing and reducing the burden of AMR, short-course antibiotic therapy can also decrease hospital costs and increase patient satisfaction. [International Journal of Infectious Diseases]
Social factors significantly impact the association between precipitation events and diarrheal illness.
Geolocated survey data from low- to middle-income countries revealed that precipitation shocks (droughts and heavy precipitation) are associated with reported symptoms of diarrheal illness in young children. Depending on the local climate features, social factors such as household access to piped water and hygiene practices positively or negatively influenced the relationship between precipitation anomalies and reported diarrheal symptoms in children. No significant association between precipitation events and diarrheal illness was found among children living in households that adequately treated water before consumption. The researchers point to social vulnerabilities in LMICs as an entry point for public health interventions that target this climate-disease relationship. [PNAS]
An HIV risk reduction intervention was accepted by women engaged in sex work in Uganda.
Women engaged in sex work (WESW) are disproportionately vulnerable to HIV infection compared to the general adult population. Researchers interviewed WESW in Uganda to understand their experiences participating in an HIV risk reduction intervention between 2018 and 2023. Participants shared that the primary motivating factor for joining the intervention study was gaining access to health information about sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). They viewed the group format of the intervention positively. They reported overall satisfaction with the information and resources provided by the facilitators, indicating that the intervention could be implemented among WESW at a greater scale. [PLOS One]
Pharmacists in Nepal could play a greater role in HIV/AIDS care delivery.
A qualitative study assessed stakeholders’ views on the role of pharmacists in Nepal to understand how pharmacists could be involved in the delivery of HIV/AIDS care in the country. Social unawareness, government-related weaknesses, and a lack of pharmacy advocates were cited as barriers to pharmacists’ involvement in HIV/AIDS care delivery in Nepal. However, over half of the respondents stated that pharmacists could spearhead pharmacovigilance and adherence monitoring efforts, which would require further organizational support and self-motivation among pharmacists. [PLOS One]
Malaria screening for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa should be implemented in Sweden.
Researchers screened sub-Saharan African migrant adults and children in two Swedish cities for malaria parasites (Plasmodium species) using rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and real-time PCR. Nine and two percent of participants were positive for Plasmodium infection, based on PCR testing and RDT, respectively. Among migrants who last resided in Uganda before arriving in Sweden, a high prevalence of malaria parasites was detected, especially in children in this group (35.8 percent). Malaria screening is not currently included in Sweden’s national migrant health program, and the researchers point to the importance of screening in preventing and reducing the burden of the disease in migrant populations. [The Lancet Regional Health]
Three components of ambient air pollution are significantly linked to stroke fatality.
Ambient PM2.5, or fine particulate matter, was the fourth-leading cause of stroke-related deaths globally in 2019. Researchers aimed to investigate the toxicity of each PM chemical component (black carbon, organic matter, sulfate, nitrate, and ammonium) in the context of fatality among hospitalized stroke patients in China, where most residents experience poor air quality. The study showed that annual black carbon, organic matter, and sulfate concentrations were significantly correlated with in-house stroke fatality. There was no significant association between nitrate concentration and stroke fatality, consistent with previous research that suggests that nitrate at ambient levels has little to no effect on human health. [The Lancet Regional Health]
Dogs on a long antibiotic course contracted resistant organisms from their human owners.
Researchers assessed the stools of eight dog-human owner pairs, of which the dog had been diagnosed with a bacterial infection warranting a two-week antibiotic course. Stool samples were tested within 24 hours of initiating the antibiotic treatment and again within 48 hours of completing the course. One human-dog pair shared a genetically identical resistant bacterial species on day one of the treatment. In two pairs, a resistant E. coli species identified in the human on day one was found in the dog on day 14 at the end of the study period, indicating positive transmission from humans to pets. [Antimicrobial Stewardship & Healthcare Epidemiology]
Frequent displacement in the Indus Delta puts residents at greater risk of contracting zoonotic diseases.
Researchers conducted interviews in the Indus Delta in the Sindh Province of Pakistan in 2019 to assess zoonotic disease dynamics in populations regularly displaced by annual monsoons and natural disasters. The participants reported a lack of access to human and veterinary healthcare and dependence on livestock, fish, and their products, resulting in increased vulnerability to zoonotic disease. Despite this, the participants were knowledgeable about infectious diseases; with more agency in policy decisions, residents of the Indus Delta could be critical to zoonotic disease prevention and mitigation at regional and state levels. [International Journal for Equity in Health]
Image from Canva.