104 e-Letters

published between 2019 and 2022

  • On Warlord Discourses – an Inclusive Storytelling is Needed for COVID-19 Response.

    I thank both Rajan et al. and Bali et al. for highlighting a lack of inclusivity in the governance of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response.1,2 While the pandemic raises societal concerns, decision-making bodies remain unrepresentative of civil society and suffer from a dearth of diversity – with, for instance, an underrepresentation of women’s perspectives.1,2 I would add that inclusivity may have been thus far derogated by the popular discourse of some traditional, paternalistic leadership – namely, that which is conveyed through wordings worthy of warlords.

    “We are at war”, as declared the Director-General of the World Health Organization, before exhorting G20 leaders to “fight like hell” and calling for “aggressive action” to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.3 This rhetoric of war echoes that of some men country leaders and scientists, pressing authorities for immediate action. Yet, as metaphors frame the way people act,4 triggering civil and societal responsiveness should instead begin with wordings of compassion, cooperation and emancipation.

    First, the rhetoric of war may monopolize the public attention to a unique, imminent goal: mustering all forces to defeat and annihilate an enemy (here, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2) – any other objectives being put aside as under war economy. This imposed monopoly may contrast with population concerns: Do we – civil society – strive merely to exterminate SARS-CoV-2, or rathe...

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  • Management of bodies of deceased persons with COVID-19

    The report on "Safe management of bodies of deceased persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19: a rapid systematic review" is intetresting [1]. Yaacoub et al. concluded that "there is a need for contextual evidence in relation to these proposed management strategies (ie, acceptability, feasibility, impact on equity, resources considerations) [1]". Indeed, the safety issue on practicing with death body during COVID-19 pandemic is interesting but little mentioned. The evidences on possibility of disease transmission from corpse to a living person is not available. Although there is a report on infection in a medical worker who has an occupational job relating to corpse, there is still no scientific confirmation by molecular diagnostic test to confirm that there is a spreading of disease from dead body [2 - 3]. It is apparently that there are attempts for control of possible disease spreading by any settings but the important question is ont he efficacy of rpreventive methods. A simple question is whether we require a routine screening for COVID-19 pathogen in all dead bodies in the present COVID-19. crisis.

    Conflict of inteterest

    1. Yaacoub S, Schünemann HJ, Khabsa J, El-Harakeh A, Khamis AM, Chamseddine F, El Khoury R, Saad Z, Hneiny L, Cuello Garcia C, Muti-Schünemann GEU, Bognanni A, Chen C, Chen G, Zhang Y, Zhao H, Abi Hanna P, Loeb M, Piggott T, Reinap M, Rizk N, Stalteri R, Duda S, Solo K, Chu DK, Akl E...

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  • Integrating tech solutions into traditional gender-based violence programs

    Dear Editor,

    We were pleased to read the review by Eisenhut K, Sauerborn E, García-Moreno C, et al. and appreciated their insights on the landscape of mobile apps addressing violence against women.

    We read with great interest the authors’ observation that “collaborations between mHealth and ‘traditional’ approaches should be actively sought, subordinating the technology to the overall aims of preventing violence against women and mitigating its impacts.” In that spirit, we would like to highlight Physicians for Human Rights’ (PHR) experience implementing a “tech” solution within a larger “low-tech” programmatic ecosystem to address violence against women (VAW).

    The Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones at Physicians for Human Rights works with medical, legal, and law enforcement partners in Central and East Africa to address impunity for sexual violence in conflict. Since 2011, we and our partners have trained more than 2,000 professionals in the collection, documentation, and use of court-admissible forensic evidence of sexual violence. As part of this initiative, PHR developed MediCapt, an award-winning mobile application, which standardizes and digitizes the collection of forensic documentation of medical evidence of sexual violence and combines it with a mobile camera to capture and securely store forensic photographic evidence of injuries. MediCapt was “co-designed” with clinician-partners in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo a...

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  • COVID-19 restrictions and fathers of infants in neonatal care

    We fully agree with the authors in terms of need for a paradigm shift. We have called it a 'pandemic' but response has been largely country centric and not at all global.

    We would also like to highlight a typical reactionary response globally leading to exclusion of fathers from maternity and neonatal units.

    The Covid-19 pandemic is dividing families all over the world, especially at a time when togetherness is particularly important, such as at the time of birth, death and illness. Many families are experiencing situations that are prone to leave life-long scars.
    While the protection of the health of staff and mothers is of paramount importance, social distancing, curbs to travel and additional restrictions to presence of parents instituted by maternity and neonatal units across the world have created obvious difficulties for families. Having a sick baby in a neonatal unit during this pandemic is a particularly intense hardship for families. We are well aware of negative impacts of separation on children and families and the pandemic related restrictions have made this worse for the whole family, perhaps more so for parents of preterm and sick newborns.
    We have previously highlighted, along with many others, the importance of optimising fathers’ experiences in the neonatal unit (Ref 1-8) and suggested a focus on a co-parenting paradigm with a clear set of recommendations for neonatal and maternity services (Ref 1).
    Even though we...

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  • YouTube as a source on information on COVID-19: a pandemic of misinformation? Response

    Dear Editor,

    After reading the article, we would like to sincerely congratulate the authors Heidi Oi-Yee Li, Adrian Bailey, David Huynh and James Chan on their successful piece titled ‘YouTube as a source of information on COVID-19: a pandemic of misinformation?’ published in the British Medical Journal. This is a very relevant piece of work and we would like to offer some contributions.

    As the Covid-19 pandemic progresses daily, social media platforms such as YouTube, unfortunately can become victims to showcasing anecdotal and premature evidence that can lead to fatal consequences and further spread of the so called ‘infodemic’(1). The article we are responding to worryingly demonstrates the large viewership, 62,042,609, of the non-factual videos on YouTube (2). Despite this representing only a quarter of the videos used in the study this shows these videos are perhaps more popular to watch which risks miseducating a large number of viewers.
    However, it appears that since the publication of this article in March 2020 this issue has come to light and been addressed. YouTube has now updated its policies and created a ‘COVID-19 medical misinformation policy’ (3) . Assumingly, this policy has been created to protect its audiences from misinformation, going against viewing algorithms that would normally display videos higher up on the suggestions based on viewing number levels. The policy enforces that the spread of medical misinformation regarding coron...

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  • Model Hazard?

    Richardson (1) argues three substantive points:
    1. Models are merely fables dressed in formal language.
    2. Fables are unscientific.
    3. Models serve as epistemic confines to our understanding.

    We argue that 2., a premise he makes implicitly, is wrong. Formal language in fables cannot produce an ‘illusion’ of scientific-ness, because there is no division between ‘fables’ and ‘science’. We suggest that scientific models are stories (2) in some real sense, and therefore it does not make sense to say that models are unscientific because they are fables. Science is composed of a complex web of interacting models (stories) whose aims are to explain and understand the world. This would be consistent with Sugden’s (3) view of economic models as credible worlds.
    Richardson cites Rubinstein (4) to buttress his argument that models are merely fictions. This misuses Rubinstein, who argues ‘The models presented… are nothing but fables. Neither of them describes reality, but both of them still describe something from reality… studying both of them together helps to some extent in understanding economic mechanisms.’ (p.182). It does not seem fair to brand models as ‘merely’ fables on this reading, and nor does this give us licence to dismiss fables as unscientific.
    Epidemiologists often make significant assumptions in order to model disease progression. Many parameters are unknown, and there are often practical constraints to modelling significant hete...

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  • Health and Disease - Just Two States of the Same System

    Paul et al [1] argue for a systemic approach to global health policy. This shift is long overdue, and as they pointed out systems thinking has long been suppressed by the all-powerful reductionist research industry.

    Part of the problem is understanding of health and disease as distinctly dichotomous. However, the experience of health and dis-ease are dynamic as much in the presence as absence of identifiable disease [2]. In addition, health, illness dis-ease and disease occur on a continuum in the same person over time. It entails a continuous change in the physiological dynamics within the person that ultimately leads to changes that we recognise as one or the other disease. The process can lead to multiple expressions of disease, nevertheless, they are nothing more than the result of the overall physiological dysfunction within the same person [3].

    As is well known health and disease disparities follow the socioeconomic gradient [4]. The question arises – how? There is increasing evidence from psychoneuroimmunology research that shows the longterm effects of psychosocial stress on the physiological stress response pathways resulting in chronic inflammatory dysregulation and its link to disease burden [5, 6].

    Taken together, these findings provide a complex adaptive system explanation of the nature of health and disease arising through the network interaction between our environmental, socio-cultural and economic-political contexts and our biological...

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  • Ethics in Implementation Research

    Implementation research is crucial to determining effectiveness and appropriateness of interventions that are urgently needed in many contexts, constituting "global health". There is, however, an ongoing surprising relative lack of discussion on the need for appropriate understand of the ethical implications of Implementation research. Ethics committees and researchers are often not well versed in the ethics implications, and how these differ form traditional clinical research. the potential for unintended harm is great in the vulnerable circumstances wheer implementation research is often conducted. It is vital that if implementation research is conducted, ethical implications are considered throughout the process (i.e. continuing throughout the implementation itself and post-research). These issues have been laid out in an online teaching tool (by TDR/Global health Ethics Unit at WHO) and in the following publications:

  • Simple to use App guides antimicrobial prescribing decisions in LMICS and UK

    Responding to https://gh.bmj.com/content/5/4/e002094
    ‘The Commonwealth Pharmacists Association (CPA) https://commonwealthpharmacy.org/welcomes the publication of this systematic review which confirms the views held by the CPA that usable, point of prescribing decision information in low and middle income countries, is often not readily available where it is most needed. This of particular concern when we consider the prescribing and appropriate use of antimicrobials.
    The UK DHSC Fleming Fund (https://www.flemingfund.org/) Commonwealth Partnership for Antimicrobial Stewardship (CwPAMS) Project has for the last 6 months been piloting an App for use in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. This is part of the wider CwPAMS programme which is a collaboration between CPA and The Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) https://www.thet.org/our-work/grants/cwpams/
    The App guides prescribers as per national guidelines, and contains links to WHO resources and other training materials. It is explained clearly in this short u-tube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ7fa_aLgCI It is free, to download to a smart phone or device anywhere in the world where there is access to the internet and then...

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  • COVID-19: Considerations of domestic violence amongst low- and middle-income countries.

    Dear Editor,

    We read with great interest the original research by Coll CVN, Ewerling F, García-Moreno C, et al which found that domestic violence in low- and middle-income countries was more prevalent amongst certain groups of women.

    The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has already ravaged countries within Asia, Europe and the United States, defined as high-income by the World Bank Group. [1] Actions taken to prevent the spread of the virus has meant a large proportion of the population in these countries is currently under some degree of confinement, and consequently, an alarming increase in domestic violence has been reported by the news. [2]

    Coll CVN, Ewerling F, García-Moreno C, et al recognises Africa and SouthEast Asia to have a higher prevalence of domestic violence. At the time of writing (29/03/2020), the WHO has already reported 3005 cases and 51 deaths in Africa and 3709 cases and 139 deaths in SouthEast Asia, with no doubt that these numbers will continue to grow. [3]

    Resources to fight the COVID-19 epidemics in these regions are limited and thus, efforts aiming to curb the transmission will soon undoubtedly follow other countries’ mitigation plans; police enforcing a lockdown, healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients and government officials attempting to gather the necessary equipment for the care of its citizens. This means an extensive proportion of the workforce needed to help women undergoing domestic violence will already be si...

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