Originally published in Think Global HealthThe colossal undertaking that is the global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is facing another gargantuan challenge: monitoring their safety over time.The vaccines have proven to be safe and effective in clinical trials. Yet as with the rollout of any new medicine or treatment, it takes time to see the bigger picture. Clinical trials, including those for the COVID-19 vaccines, follow thousands of volunteers from a limited population for several months.
OPINION: The pandemic may be interfering with our fight against drug-resistant bacteria. Luckily, the same tactics can beat back both scourges. As health-care systems around the world fight to contain Covid-19, they may be inadvertently opening the door wider to another killer that is just as dangerous.I’m talking about the spread of pathogens that are resistant to treatment, such as antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The death toll from Covid is staggering, but so is that from antibiotic resistance: Nasty superbugs such as Clostridium difficile, or C.
Madagascar reported its first cases of COVID-19 in March 2020. It was not long before the outbreak spread throughout multiple regions, including some of the country’s most remote communities. The Government of Madagascar quickly mobilized response activities to minimize the outbreak’s spread and impact on the population, including coordinating activities with the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) ACCESS program, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), and other partners and stakeholders.
COVID-19 will impact the prevention and treatment of many diseases, and there are particularly grim possibilities for tuberculosis (TB), which could set back our progress toward its elimination. Fortunately, our emphasis on strengthening local health systems is helping to build resilience against this kind of shock. We reached out to MSH technical experts leading three new global and national TB programs to learn what’s on their minds as their teams begin implementation under a COVID-19 reality. They all agree: COVID-19 reminds us why we cannot become complacent, and when it comes to the global fight to eliminate TB, it is no longer business as usual. Read what Ersin Topcuoglu, Daniel Gemechu, and Ehsanullah Darwish had to say about how we can fundamentally improve the way countries fight TB.
Health workers not only need water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services to prevent the spread of COVID-19 right now but also to provide safe essential health services every day. But 25% of health facilities around the world lack basic water services. One in six facilities doesn’t have hand hygiene services, such as soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, available at points of care. And health workers in facilities in sub-Saharan Africa face even greater WASH challenges.Two frontline health workers—Margaret Odera and Dr. Ann Phoya—recently called for improved WASH services during an event alongside the 75th United Nations General Assembly. Read on to find out what it’s like to be a health worker on the frontlines without WASH and the steps they are taking to access and improve WASH in Kenya and Malawi.
Originally published in Think Global HealthHalf of all medical equipment in Bangladesh’s public health facilities—hospital beds, ventilators, nebulizers, refrigerators, and vehicles—goes unused. Meanwhile, in Uganda, ultrasound machines are overused for a small number of patients, while many in need go without. In Ukraine, about 40 percent of adults have had to borrow money or sell assets to afford medical treatment.Why such painful gaps and discrepancies?
Until recently, “PPE” was an obscure acronym for many people, but now it has become a vital global commodity. Today, with the realities of COVID-19, health workers around the world are experiencing a troubling shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)—a mix of items including gloves, mask, aprons, and goggles that can help prevent disease transmission in health care settings. This shortage puts health workers in harm's way while trying to respond to the unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic.
Swift and effective action to address the COVID-19 pandemic has required countries to engage in an all hands on deck approach. We recently asked our colleagues on the frontlines in Malawi and Kenya, Dr. Ann Phoya and Dr. Ndinda Kusu, to share how their teams are working with all sectors of society to scale up preparedness and response measures, strengthen capacities and systems to meet the challenge of COVID-19, and help maintain uninterrupted essential health services.
Nwando Mba is the Director of Public Health Laboratory Services at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a sub-recipient to the Resilient and Sustainable Systems for Health (RSSH) project, funded by the Global Fund and managed by MSH. A medical laboratory scientist by profession, Mba started her career over 30 years ago in Nigeria’s Vaccine Production Laboratory at Yaba, Lagos. Mba discusses Nigeria’s efforts to increase the country’s testing capacity for coronavirus.
Read this blog on the CSEM websiteAs COVID-19 infiltrates the physical, mental, social, economic and geographical landscapes we all inhabit, citizens around the world are forced to obey new national laws and policies on social isolation, lockdowns, and movement restrictions.For some groups of particularly vulnerable people - the elderly, disabled, those suffering from physical and mental ill-health or those at risk of violence and abuse - the restrictive measures have a significant and negative effect. These people’s health and wellbeing, in all senses, are being corroded.
Andre Zagorski of the MSH-led, USAID-funded MTaPS Program talks about the program's urgent work to help contain the virus in more than a dozen countries.Andre ZagorskiHow did you and MTaPS rally to support USAID’s call for a rapid response to COVID-19 in a dozen countries? What were the challenges? MTaPS is the USAID Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) go-to program for infection prevention and control (IPC), and we have been implementing activities to strengthen health systems for stronger IPC programs in 10 countries since the MTaPS award in 2018.
A conversation with Dr. Bernard Nahlen, Director of the Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame and member of the MSH Board of Directors Dr. Bernard NahlenSome countries are entering peak malaria transmission season over the next few months, overlapping with the COVID-19 pandemic. How might the crisis affect ongoing malaria eradication efforts? One issue is case management. As a reminder, there were more deaths due to malaria than to Ebola in West Africa in 2014, because people were reluctant to go to clinics for treatment for fevers and aches.
Raian Amzad, a technical advisor with the DFID-funded Better Health in Bangladesh (BHB) project, and her colleagues took time away from their regular work to help Bangladesh’s central response to COVID-19. Here’s how the project and the country are handling the pandemic threat. Can you tell me about your recent work assignment related to COVID-19? What did your typical day look like?On March 17, the Directorate General of Health Services opened a temporary Integrated Control Room for COVID-19 response. Fifteen different groups are working there.