122 e-Letters

  • Costing per sustained recovery is more meaningful for policy

    Garg et al. provide a useful, but somewhat incomplete, economic perspective on Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in India. Potential returns, like cost per recovered child, adjusted for spontaneous improvement under the existing system, are crucial for policy makers. Sixteen weeks after completion of the treatment phase (sustenance phase), only 123/838 children (14.7%) met the definition of recovery.1 For simplicity’s sake, we ignore: (i) anticipated lower recovery rates in public programme settings; and (ii) costs for linkages with the government-run Anganwadi centres for supplementary food during the sustenance phase.1 With these assumptions, our calculation of costs per recovered child are 6.8 (100/14.7) times higher than those of Garg et al.: US$ 1575/- (Rs. 97,650/-) and US$ 381 (Rs. 23,622/-) in research and Government settings, respectively. Further, annual budgetary requirements may be considerably higher due to non-response, relapse, and fresh cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). Data from rural Meerut, near Delhi, provides a ballpark estimate of spontaneous recovery rates (27%) within a similar follow-up period.2 Actual costs per child recovered, even unadjusted for potentially equivalent spontaneous healing, are thus much higher than those quoted by Garg et al. However, they offer no cost-effectiveness analysis reporting cost per life saved or Disability-Adjusted Life Year averted to enable robust comparisons with the existing system or oth...

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  • How to ensure safety of medications without spreading hysteria

    The information conveyed by Valerie Evans, Peter Roderick, and Allyson Pollock is compelling and of serious concern. While I agree that the explosion of brand-name fixed dose combination (FDC) medications in the Indian market is not safe or rational, I worry that the presentation of the information in this analysis may create some hysteria based on some of the lay media coverage of this study. It is unfortunate that there is such little clinical evidence on the safety and efficacy of the most commonly used Metformin FDCs that are sold to treat type 2 diabetes in India, but is irresponsible to publish such an article without some discussion of the potential harms that could come from abruptly stopping the Metformin FDCs .

    I agree that “the convenience of FDCs should not trump efficacy” - but there is already significant distrust in Western medicine by many patients in India without further added hysteria. The authors of this study bring to light the importance of tighter regulation and improved standards for the pharmaceutical industry in India, but the paper would have been better with a more evenhanded presentation of the information. Efficacy data on the Metformin FDCs may be limited, but there is no telling the degree of hyperglycemic crises that may emerge if many patients stop all their medications on the basis of lay media coverage of this analysis without first consulting with their prescribing physicians.

  • The Social Determinants of Health: What's missing?

    Donkin et al have highlighted the constructive steps being taken to implement policy change facilitating the Social Determinants of Health (SDH) across the globe 1. Although progress is not universal, what has been achieved deserves praise.

    We write, however, to highlight one key omission from the standard SDH model: religious faith. This deserves greater recognition as a social determinant of health for two reasons. First, is scale: a recent study demonstrated that 84% of the world’s 7.4 billion people affiliated themselves to a religious group 2. Second is the impact of religious faith on health, shaping both health beliefs and use of healthcare services 3.

    Theories of supernatural causation of illness are ancient and diverse. They are also universal: a 1980 study of health belief systems worldwide found evidence that supernatural causes of illness “far outweigh” natural ones 4. Of course many such models may be counter to the Western biomedical model. They should, however, still be acknowledged, not least because when believers encounter Western biomedicine the two models typically become mixed without any sense of conflict.

    The close link between healthcare services and religion is evident in both the historical (for example, medieval Christian hospitals in Europe) and contemporary (e.g. faith-based non-governmental organisations worldwide) contexts. The relationship between religion and healthcare is not confined to simple delivery. Religious fait...

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  • Efficacy and cost analysis of three types of therapeutic feeds in children with severe acute malnutrition in trbal villages of Nandurbar,Maharashtra,India. cra, India

    We, read with interest the article by Garg et al on costing of therapeutic feeds.
    We report our results on a similar trial conducted on 1092 tribal children of SAM,randomly given 3 therapeutic feeds i.e .C-RUTF(commercially produced ready to use therapeutic food),L-RUTF (locally produced RUTF) and ARF(Amylase rich energy dense food) giving 550,513 and 420 kcals respectively.Pea nut paste,sugar ,milk powder,oil were common ingredients,in identical proportions in C-RUTF and L-RUTF while ARF contained amylase rich flour instead of peanut paste.Micro nutrients were present in all three alike.At the end of 8 weeks of treatment,52.8% recovered in C-RUTF group,43.5% in L-RUTF group and 44.8% recovered in ARF group; the difference being statistically significant.The cost of treatment was 63, 59 and 43 USD approx. in the 3 groups respectively.Thus, though cost of ARF was the least compared to C-RUTF and L-RUTF ,recovery rates in ARF group were also compromised.The logistics of preparing the feeds in tribal village Anganwadis,issues of cleanliness in food preparation,time and labour required were also matters of concern.All these factors will require consideration while scaling up of community management of SAM.
    The clinical trial was registered under clinical trial registry of India,no.CTRI/2014/09/004958 and the data is the property of the Govt. of Maharashtra,India.

  • RE: Implementing One Health as an integrated approach to health in Rwanda

    I read the article “Implementing One Health as an integrated approach to health in Rwanda” by Nyatanyi et al1 with great interest and wish to share our efforts on Implementation of One Health in a Rural Medical School following concept of Public Money Stewardship. We have been working on human health coupled with ecological studies for a long time; however, we started working on One Health after sanction of a project on zoonosis by a joint task force of Indian Council for Medical Research and Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICMR-ICAR) in 2015. The work is being carried out in project mode but we are working on various factors, as given below, so that we may give guidelines to the government for its implementation in programme mode, now preferably in a manner similar to that given in the study by Nyatanyi et al1.

    One health laboratory: We have created a facility harbouring a containment laboratory, a BSL-2 laboratory as well as separate laboratories for serology and molecular testing. Planning for this facility included assessment of workload and availability of space and funds. Since we had limited funds made available to us from public money, we designed the facility for optimum use and thus followed the concept of public money stewardship given by Mahatma Gandhi whose principles we follow in our Institute. We also wanted to make this laboratory to be environmentally conscious and thus used solar panels to power it in a hybrid manner.2 Total...

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  • RE: Author's response

    We thank Cooney and Partridge for their interest in our article.1 We believe, however, that they have misunderstood much of what we wrote. We accessed websites with publicly available national and subnational data on population-level rates of religious affiliation and breastfeeding initiation. As we explained, two other selection criteria reduced the number of countries we examined: (1) sufficient within-population variability in both religious affiliation and breastfeeding initiation and (2) data on both variables, so that they could be associated at the same ecological (geographical) level. As we acknowledged, we did not find Lander-level data for Germany, the country that best met our selection criteria. Our inclusion of data from French-speaking regions is clearly a strength of our study--not a limitation. We used Protestant affiliation as defined in the databases we found, and we focused on the major Protestant groups in the general population. Since the data we used are publicly available, we invite Cooney and Partridge to analyse the associations between minor Protestant groups and breastfeeding rates in Ireland. Regarding the definition of Protestants, any degree of misclassification should have reduced, rather than increased, the associations we observed. Our scatterplots show the crude (unadjusted) data together with the crude correlations. For France, Ireland, the UK and Canada, crude and adjusted results were all in the same direction: a negative correlation be...

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  • RE: Response of the authors to the E-letters

    Drs. Dadhich and Prasad raise important issues in their comments and questions about our study on home-based management of children with uncomplicated severe acute malnutrition (SAM).  We are grateful for the opportunity to respond to them.

    In our view, there are two distinct goals in the management of children with SAM. The first, and more urgent, is to treat and move them away from severe malnutrition, a state of high risk of death. The second is to rehabilitate them to the point they are no longer malnourished. The treatments examined in the study achieved the first goal well. By the end of the treatment phase, 84.5% of the children in the RUTF-L group were no longer SAM. However, they did less well in achieving the second goal.  By the end of the treatment phase, 57% of those receiving RUTF-L had recovered to the point of no longer being malnourished. Should we have applied the same approach as most studies to calculate their WHZ - using height at enrolment and current weight, rather than concurrently measured height and weight - 81% of the children in the RUTF-L group would no longer be classified as malnourished by the end of the treatment phase.

    We note Dr. Prasad’s misunderstanding that over 40% of the children in our study remained SAM by the end of the treatment with RUTF-L. Should her interpretation have been correct, it would justify her expressed concern. However, as stated above, by the end of the treatment phase 84.5% of the c...

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  • Medicines in Nepal: What do we know about it’s quality?

    Medicines supplied in low and middle income countries are a matter of concern especially in regard to their quality. This article has raised a very genuine issue regarding the quality of medicine supplied to low and middle income countries(Nebot Giralt et al. 2017). This comment has been written in context to Nepal, a low income country as per the World Bank classification with population of around 28 million, out of which around 25 % of the people are living below the poverty line and 80% of the people living in rural areas(Central Bureau of Statistics 2015). The current ongoing Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for Elephantiasis in Nepal as a target to eliminate filariasis by 2020 has not been able to achieve its target due to poor compliance to the medicine. One of the reason could be due to people questioning about the quality of medicine distributed by government which could be the result of news spread five years back which stated five deaths, which later on was declared MDA not being the cause of death and more than 800 people falling ill after taking the medications. But still the fact cannot be ignored without proper investigation(Pandey 2012). 
    Still, many regions of the country lack access to basic health facility and essential medicine. The government of Nepal as per the national health policy has listed around 70 different drugs like anti-viral, anti-protozoal, some drugs for non-communicable diseases and so on to be distributed free of cost. The few p...

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  • RE: Concerns about a recent study on the influence of religion on breastfeeding rates
    We are concerned that the recent paper by Bernard et al published in BMJ Global Health 2016 fails to provide a scientific basis to support the stated conclusion that within Western countries the proportion of Catholics in the population influences the breastfeeding initiation rates. 
    The paper does not include a literature review on the role of religion in relation to infant feeding and there is no convincing scientific rationale presented to support the hypothesis being tested. There then follows a description of the study’s methods and results which reveals a series of methodological and reporting problems which, in our view, renders the work wide open to biases, confounders and incorrect deductions.There is evidence of selection bias in the five countries selected for within-country analyses, all limited to specific Western countries, with no explanation as why these particular countries were selected for inclusion.  It is noteworthy that of these selected five, the dominant languages for each is either English or French which suggests language bias may also be a factor. 
    A further problem with the methods is the unexplained differences in the selection of the Protestant populations for each of the five countries. For the US the researchers included two categories of Protestants in their analysis (Evangelical Protestants and Mainline Protestants), for Canada and France the category of Protestants was used but then for the U...
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  • Recent efforts to boost India’s plan of tuberculosis elimination
    Dear Editor,
    Pai et al put up a timely assessment of India’s ambition of achieving tuberculosis elimination by 2025.1 However, the authors seemed to have overlooked the major developments that have been introduced recently in the country. Inclusion of the updated facts could have enriched the discussion, I believe.
    In January 2017, a door to door campaign for active case finding for tuberculosis has been started by the Central TB Division (CTD).2 The scheme, if proved successful, has the capacity to effectively reduce the mean delay of two months between appearance of symptoms and initiation of treatment. This, along with introduction of bedaquiline at six referral sites and enhancing the use of cartridge based nucleic acid amplification test across the country, is expected to boost the performance of Revised National TB Control Programme in near future. In fact, CTD has already decided to start daily regimen in 104 districts, spread over five states.3 
    Now, apart from the budget, the future would also depend on successful vigilance on the dispensing pattern of anti tubercular drugs from private and informal sectors. A study earlier has demonstrated the use of steroids and fluoroquinolones by the pharmacists for probable cases of tuberculosis.5 With the warning against the silent rise of drug resistant tuberculosis and a projected 275% increase in the risk of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in India over next 20 years, the...
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