Tropmed Central Antwerp

    Socioeconomic inequality in malnutrition in developing countries

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    OBJECTIVE: The objectives of this study were to report on socioeconomic inequality in childhood malnutrition in the developing world, to provide evidence for an association between socioeconomic inequality and the average level of malnutrition, and to draw attention to different patterns of socioeconomic inequality in malnutrition. METHODS: Both stunting and wasting were measured using new WHO child growth standards. Socioeconomic status was estimated by principal component analysis using a set of household assets and living conditions. Socioeconomic inequality was measured using an alternative concentration index that avoids problems with dependence on the mean level of malnutrition. FINDINGS: In almost all countries investigated, stunting and wasting disproportionately affected the poor. However, socioeconomic inequality in wasting was limited and was not significant in about one third of countries. After correcting for the concentration index's dependence on mean malnutrition, there was no clear association between average stunting and socioeconomic inequality. The latter showed different patterns, which were termed mass deprivation, queuing and exclusion. Although average levels of malnutrition were higher with the new WHO reference standards, estimates of socioeconomic inequality were largely unaffected by changing the growth standards. CONCLUSION: Socioeconomic inequality in childhood malnutrition existed throughout the developing world, and was not related to the average malnutrition rate. Failure to tackle this inequality is a cause of social injustice. Moreover, reducing the overall rate of malnutrition does not necessarily lead to a reduction in inequality. Policies should, therefore, take into account the distribution of childhood malnutrition across all socioeconomic groups

    Characterization of Trypanosoma brucei gambiense variant surface glycoprotein LiTat 1.5

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    At present, all available diagnostic antibody detection tests for Trypanosoma brucei gambiense human African trypanosomiasis are based on predominant variant surface glycoproteins (VSGs), such as VSG LiTat 1.5. During investigations aiming at replacement of the native VSGs by recombinant proteins or synthetic peptides, the sequence of VSG LiTat 1.5 was derived from cDNA and direct N-terminal amino acid sequencing. Characterization of the VSG based on cysteine distribution in the amino acid sequence revealed an unusual cysteine pattern identical to that of VSG Kinu 1 of T. b. brucei. Even though both VSGs lack the third of four conserved cysteines typical for type A N-terminal domains, they can be classified as type A

    The taeniasis-cysticercosis complex in Cameroon

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    Long-running telemedicine networks delivering humanitarian services: experience, performance and scientific output

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    OBJECTIVE: To summarize the experience, performance and scientific output of long-running telemedicine networks delivering humanitarian services. METHODS: Nine long-running networks - those operating for five years or more- were identified and seven provided detailed information about their activities, including performance and scientific output. Information was extracted from peer-reviewed papers describing the networks' study design, effectiveness, quality, economics, provision of access to care and sustainability. The strength of the evidence was scored as none, poor, average or good. FINDINGS: The seven networks had been operating for a median of 11 years (range: 5-15). All networks provided clinical tele-consultations for humanitarian purposes using store-and-forward methods and five were also involved in some form of education. The smallest network had 15 experts and the largest had more than 500. The clinical caseload was 50 to 500 cases a year. A total of 59 papers had been published by the networks, and 44 were listed in Medline. Based on study design, the strength of the evidence was generally poor by conventional standards (e.g. 29 papers described non-controlled clinical series). Over half of the papers provided evidence of sustainability and improved access to care. Uncertain funding was a common risk factor. CONCLUSION: Improved collaboration between networks could help attenuate the lack of resources reported by some networks and improve sustainability. Although the evidence base is weak, the networks appear to offer sustainable and clinically useful services. These findings may interest decision-makers in developing countries considering starting, supporting or joining similar telemedicine networks

    Output-based payment to boost staff productivity in public health centres: contracting in Kabutare district, Rwanda

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    OBJECTIVE: In many low-income countries, public health systems do not meet the needs and demands of the population. We aimed to assess the extent to which output-based payment could boost staff productivity at health care facilities. METHODS: We assessed the performance of 15 health care centres in Kabutare, Rwanda, comparing productivity in 2001, when fixed annual bonuses were paid to staff, with that in 2003, when an output-based payment incentive scheme was implemented. FINDINGS: Changes to the structure of contracts were associated with improvements in health centre performance: specifically, output-based performance contracts induced sharp increases in the productivity of health staff. CONCLUSION: Institutional configurations of health care organizations deserve more attention. Those currently in place in the public sector may not the most suitable to meet current challenges in health care. More experiments are needed to confirm these early results from Rwanda and elsewhere, since risks associated with output-based incentive schemes should not be ignored
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