eLetters

182 e-Letters

  • Under-5 mortality in sub-Saharan Africa has decreased, not increased, from 1990-2018

    I write a quick note to correct what is probably an editing error. Both the abstract and the text state that under-five mortality has increased in sub-Saharan Africa 1990-2018, while decreasing in the rest of the world. In fact, the Unicef data referenced in the paper (https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-survival/under-five-mortality/) indicate that under five mortality has decreased from 178 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 78 per 1000 in 2018, a reduction of 100 per 1000 or 56%. The UN inter-agency group for child mortality estimation (IGME) has similar estimates (https://childmortality.org/data/SDG%20Regions%20%3E%20Sub-Saharan%20Africa).

  • Health system redesign for maternal and newborn survival: rethinking care models to close the global equity gap.

    It was interesting to read Roder-DeWan S et al.,(1) paper entitle Health system redesign for maternal and newborn survival: rethinking care models to close the global equity gap.
    This paper focuses on problems with the current approach, discuss the feasibility of redesign, propose reforms to transform current health systems. We support the authors that health system redesign is needed to enhance people’s access to standard care and reduce newborn mortality rate especially in low- income country which is higher than in high-income countries about nine times(1). This is also in line with Sustainable Development Goal No.3 (SDGs) target 3.1 that by 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births(2). Gabrysch S et al,(2019) found in their study that giving birth in a health care facility does not necessarily gives assurance of a survival benefit for women or babies however it should be recommended in facilities capable of providing emergency obstetric and newborn care and capable of safeguarding uncomplicated births(3).
    It is therefore important to reconsider the healthcare systems so that every pregnant woman receives the best of healthcare. Niyitegeka J et al,(2017) in a study conducted in Rwanda found out that women who had to travel more than 90 minutes to the nearest district hospital had significantly worse neonatal outcomes compared to those had Odds Ratio 5.12 times referred from health centers located on the same...

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  • Involving All for Covid-19 Prevention and Control

    Dear Editor,
    Gilmore. B., et al have highlighted that the community involvement is pivotal to improving on prevention and control of Covid-19. We believed that governments should implement strict policies, to foster a culture of compliance and trust, not infringing on human rights (B., 2009). Take Taiwan for example, who learned from their experiences with SARS in 2003, developed and implemented policies and infrastructure in 2004 to combat any similar outbreaks in future. In 2004, the year after the SARS outbreak, the Taiwan government established the National Health Command Center (NHCC). The NHCC is part of a disaster management center that focuses on large-outbreak response and acts as the operational command point for direct communications among central, regional, and local authorities (C. Jason Wang, Chun Y. Ng, & Robert H. Brook, 2020). Such a policy is able to encourage the dissemination of pertinent information to the people, increase transparency and build trust in the framework. Furthermore, the use of Info dynamics should take precedence to minimize the spread of misinformation among communities. In a 2020 issue, Tangcharoensathien V et al (Tangcharoensathien. V., 2020), the WHO presented a framework for managing the Covid-19 infodemic (G., 2020) which can continue strengthening on a trusting relationship among people and healthcare personnel. Therefore, rallying community members for various roles in disease prevention and control will be widely ac...

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  • Health system redesign for maternal and newborn survival: rethinking care models to close the global equity gap

    It was interesting to read Roder-DeWan S et al.,(1) paper entitle Health system redesign for maternal and newborn survival: rethinking care models to close the global equity gap.
    This paper focuses on problems with the current approach, discuss the feasibility of redesign, propose reforms to transform current health systems. We support the authors that health system redesign is needed to enhance people’s access to standard care and reduce newborn mortality rate especially in low- income country which is higher than in high-income countries about nine times(1). This is also in line with Sustainable Development Goal No.3 (SDGs) target 3.1 that by 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births(2). Gabrysch S et al,(2019) found in their study that giving birth in a health care facility does not necessarily gives assurance of a survival benefit for women or babies however it should be recommended in facilities capable of providing emergency obstetric and newborn care and capable of safeguarding uncomplicated births(3).
    It is therefore important to reconsider the healthcare systems so that every pregnant woman receives the best of healthcare. Niyitegeka J et al,(2017) in a study conducted in Rwanda found out that women who had to travel more than 90 minutes to the nearest district hospital had significantly worse neonatal outcomes compared to those had Odds Ratio 5.12 times referred from health centers located on the same...

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  • Protecting Postnatal Care in the Pandemic

    We read with interest the article by Blanchet et al on Protecting essential health services in low-income and middle-income countries and humanitarian settings while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We concur with this paper’s message that essential health services in maternal and newborn health must be prioritised and protected during the pandemic, and welcome the priority list of 120 essential services which has been co-produced with context-specific expertise from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Zanzibar. This list was based on the Disease Control Priorities, 3rd edition, Highest Priority Package (DCP3 HPP) which listed 108 key interventions thought most important to achieve essential universal health coverage(1).

    However, we were dismayed not to find a separate category of interventions to provide essential elements of postnatal care to women. Several components of this care are listed under other categories (e.g. safe blood transfusion to treat postpartum haemorrhage, management of maternal sepsis, manual removal of the placenta). However, the list does not distinguish which of these components relate directly to postnatal care and therefore conflates these components with other aspects of care within the broader obstetric continuum. There is additionally a lack of representation of key conditions that occur frequently and primarily in the postnatal period (e.g. lactational mastitis and postnatal depression), which exists within the WHO essential interv...

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  • Response letter

    We thank Hanson and colleagues for their editorial response1 to our paper, Health system redesign for maternal and newborn survival: rethinking care models to close the global equity gap2. Reassessment of care models for childbirth in low-income countries is urgently needed to change stubbornly flat trajectories of maternal and newborn mortality. The central point of our paper is that the current childbirth care model that sends one-third or more of pregnant women to deliver in under-equipped, understaffed, low-volume health clinics in the highest mortality countries is not evidence-based, ethical or equitable and that convergence with global best practice—delivery in highly skilled facilities—is long overdue.

    Hanson and colleagues note that primary care facilities might perform better if they were “staffed and equipped to standard”, but evidence does not support this strategy3. For example, the most rigorous randomized study in this field, the Better Birth Study, showed that despite extensive coaching and support, primary care facilities in India failed to reduce mortality over control facilities4. High and middle-income countries have long determined that low birth volumes and lack of surgical and advanced care make primary care delivery unadvisable. This clinical reality is no different in low-income settings.

    Other points that Hanson and colleagues make align with the core arguments we offer for health system redesign. We agree that redesign should focus...

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  • An integrated primary health care response to COVID-19 in Siaya, Kenya

    Title: An integrated primary health care response to COVID-19 in Siaya, Kenya

    Authors: Neema Kaseje, Andy Haines, Kennedy Oruenjo, Dan Kaseje, and Marcel Tanner.

    We note that the article makes a strong case for the critical role of community health workers (CHWs) in pandemics, and we would like to outline the experience of rapid scale up of a programme to support CHWs in Siaya, Western Kenya.

    On November 6th 2020, the Kenya Ministry of Health (MOH) reported a total of 59’595 COVID-19 cases and 1072 deaths due to COVID-19 (1).

    In the last 4 months, to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we deployed CHWs, equipped with mobile technology, and accompanied by young university graduates under 30 years old. They visited households door to door and screened community members for symptoms of COVID-19. They isolated, tested, and managed suspected cases of COVID-19. Symptomatic testing was performed at home (by the Siaya rapid response team) and in health facilities (by clinicians). Youth were included to build their capacity in health interventions and provide them with practical experience during the lockdown period in Kenya. They were selected based on their academic credentials, their interest in working with CHWs, and their ability to use digital tools. CHWs and youth educated households about preventive measures including frequent handwashing, universal mask wearing (indoors when visitors are present and outdoors), and home management of mild case...

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  • COVID 19 in India – An Opportunity in Disguise

    We read with interest the commentary on COVID-19: time for paradigm shift in the nexus between local, national and global health by Elisabeth Paul et al [1] and agree with them. We would like to bring out the Indian perspective in our article and how it might change the host behaviour and health system.

    Every time a pandemic has occurred, it has changed the course of history and paved the way for economic development. People have changed their health behaviour out of fear of contracting the disease and the change has become a new norm.

    The novel COVID 19 pandemic is known to the world for around six months now. With a long incubation period, asymptomatic transmission and high infectiousness, it has spread rapidly, and has caused thousands of deaths in a short period. Right from the mode of transmission, control measures like ‘lockdown’, testing strategies and variable treatment modalities, the natural history of COVID 19 has been unusually rapid and lot has remained unexplained. Despite several predictive mathematical modeling exercises, the disease progression has been on its own will, infecting individuals at random and regulating itself as it has spread to countries of its choice. The clinical phenotype of the disease has been varying with time, place and person, defying the fundamental order of epidemiology. [2]

    The India curve has been delayed but community transmission in clusters is evident. India is a densely populated country but with a favou...

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  • Preventing viral transmissions in communities and households: strategies from a multidisciplinary view highly needed

    Rapid response

    Preventing viral transmissions in communities and households: strategies from a multidisciplinary view highly needed

    Re: Reduction of secondary transmission of SARS-COV-2 in households by facemask use, disinfection and social distancing: a cohort study in Beijing, China. Yu Wang. BMJ Global Health 2020; 5: e002794, doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2020-002794

    Dear Editor,

    In their original research in BMJ Global Health Wang et al. (1) claim that their study provides the first evidence for the effectiveness of face mask use and social distancing in preventing COVID-19 transmission, not just in public spaces but inside the household with members at risk of getting infected. They argue that these non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) reduce risk for families living with someone in quarantine or isolation and families of healthcare workers who may face ongoing risk and that NPI are effective at preventing transmission even in homes that are crowded and small.

    More specific, Wang et al. (1) conclude that face mask use 2 days prior to symptom onset could be preventing secondary transmission while starting to wear facemasks after the onset of symptoms did not have any effect on a secondary transmission. Almost a quarter of family members became infected in the families with a second transmission ( total of 77 persons with 13 children with a mean age of 3 years with mild symptoms and one child with asymptomatic symptoms, 64 adult cases; 3 as...

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  • Co-linearity between pre-symptomatic and post-symptomatic mask wearing

    The effectiveness of masks in the household is a critically important topic for control of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. I am concerned the multivariate regression performed in this analysis incorrectly attributed all of the effect of post-symptomatic mask-wearing to the pre-symptomatic mask-wearing variable. It is highly likely that these 2 variables are highly co-linear, and looking at Table 2, it appears likely that those families that wore masks pre-symptoms (n=27 without transmission, n=4 with transmission) were largely the same families where all members of the household wore masks post-symptoms (n=31 without transmission, n=5 with transmission). It's likely there are not enough numbers to further disentangle whether pre-symptom or post-symptom mask-wearing truly was the benefit - most likely it's some of both.

    The message that post-symptomatic mask-wearing has no effect appears to lack sufficient support, so I would caution anyone jumping to use that conclusion here.

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