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Re-envisioning the "F" in SAFE: Facial cleanliness and hygiene metrics, personal hygiene practices, and trachoma risk: Operational research for enhanced evaluation in Tanzania
RQ1 - Reliability assessment: What is the intra- and inter-rater reliability of current qualitative F and novel quantitative hygiene metrics across study contexts?
RQ2 – Validity assessment: What is the validity of each metric of interest (i.e., quantitative hygiene and qualitative F metrics) with regard to recent personal hygiene practices and trachoma outcomes?
RQ3 – Utility assessment: What is the utility of each metric (i.e., qualitative and quantitative)?
RQ4 – Risk factor assessment: Do proxy facial and hand hygiene outcomes, as measured by the novel quantitative hygiene metric, represent risk factors of incident C. trachomatis infection?
Innovative Community Referral: Can it improve VL case finding, treatment adherence and success in hard-to-reach settings of northwest Ethiopia?
Research questions: Does an innovative community referral linkage improve VL case finding in hard-to-reach areas of Northwest Ethiopia? Does innovative community referral linkage improve patient adherence to VL treatment? Does innovative community referral linkage improve VL patient’s treatment outcomes? Does an electronic referral linkage system improve back and forth communication and feedback between the treatment centre and community?
Re-envisioning the "F" in SAFE: Facial cleanliness and hygiene metrics, personal hygiene practices, and trachoma risk: Operational research for enhanced evaluation
Reliability assessment: What is the intra- and inter-rater reliability of current qualitative F and novel quantitative hygiene metrics across study contexts?
Validity assessment: What is the validity of each metric of interest (i.e., quantitative hygiene and qualitative F metrics) with regard to recent personal hygiene practices and trachoma outcomes?
Utility assessment: What is the utility of each metric (i.e., qualitative and quantitative)?
Risk factor assessment: Do proxy facial and hand hygiene outcomes, as measured by the novel quantitative hygiene metric, represent risk factors of incident C. trachomatis infection?"
Evaluating the adoption of COVID-19 prevention measures during mass drug administration in Anambra State, Nigeria
Are NTD programs in Anambra State, Nigeria, adopting and implementing prevention measures for COVID-19 in their drug delivery activities? What adaptations are required by staff and volunteers to adopt these measures? What are the barriers to doing so? What are the incremental costs associated with conducting MDA during a global pandemic?
To assess community readiness to participate in LF activities (surveys, social mobilisation, MDA and evaluations) in the context of COVID-19 in Kenya.
Can geostatistical tools be used to develop a stop IDA strategy for LF that can measure <1% Mf prevalence in adults?
To determine the appropriate serologic threshold(s) to be used to initiate MDA for onchocerciasis.
Morbidity management for hard to reach populations in insecure areas in Burkina Faso: analysis of barriers and determination of the resilience of the health system
The study aims to identify the most effective approaches for case management and delivery of surgical services for IDPs and migrants suffering from LF and/or trachoma in security compromised areas. Barriers to reaching morbidity patients will be assessed, in addition to determinants of the institutionalizatoin of NTD morbidity management within the national health system. Research aims will be addressed through the following key activities: document review and direct inspection protocols to determine health facilities' ability to provide MMDP services; active case finding including creation of WhatsApp groups and SMS messaging to help keep track of patients and refer them to care; key informant interviews with health workers and community leaders to assess behavior change communication strategies for raising awareness among affected individuals; one-on-one interviews and focus group discussions with patients to understand barriers to care; and stakeholder engagement to increase buy-in and identify ways to operationalize MMDP services within national program.
Evaluation of community directed vector control on transmission of Onchocerca volvulus in a Loa loa co-endemic region
This study will pilot the Slash and Clear methodology in an oncho-Loa loa co-endemic setting. Previous pilots in Uganda and Nigeria have demonstrated that this simple strategy of removing breeding sites can result in significant black fly reductions that last for several months. This study will provide important data on the impact of Slash and Clear on black fly biting, and consequently its impact on oncho elimination. Two intervention and one control community will be compared for two years, with repeated measurements being taken of biting rates.
To determine the appropriate serologic threshold(s) to be used to initiate MDA for onchocerciasis
The Neglected Mind-Skin Link: Promoting mental health and wellbeing of people affected by skin NTDs: Formative piloting of the WHO Guide on Mental Health and NTD Integration
This study is designed as a proof-of-concept to test the feasibility and acceptability of a proposed intervention package outlined in a soon to be published WHO manual on NTDs and mental health. The primary output of this study is to adapt a model of intervention from the soon to be published WHO guide on Mental Health and NTDs. The team aims to achieve this output through:
- Screening 300 individuals for symptoms of depression and anxiety, refer where necessary, and sample 30 of those individuals for participation in qualitative interviews.
- Conducting peer-led focus group discussions (separate groups for leprosy and LF) to better understand the needs, priorities, and barriers related to affected individuals’ mental wellbeing and quality of life.
- Conducting a workshop with health leaders, community health workers, nurses, service users, family/caregivers, and experts to develop a feasible and applicable theory of change that aligns with WHO guidelines.
- Conducting in depth interviews with key stakeholders to assess the developed model’s feasibility and accessibility Conducting quantitative measures for feasibility and acceptability to assess the stepped-care approach model which involves: improved screening, referral, uptake of service, knowledge uptake following training, and an assessment of whether supervision was carried out. They also plan to triangulate health information data to determine uptake of services.
- Conducting follow-up FGDs with those 30 individuals after a one-month period to understand their experience with primary health center mental health services.
Integrating Preventive Treatment for Female Genital Schistosomiasis within the National Health System: a Pilot Study in Cote d’Ivoire
This study aims to integrate screening and preventive treatment with praziquantel for FGS into routine HIV and reproductive health care visits for women. A pilot study will be conducted in four health facilities with a target sample size of 4800 women over a six-month period. Trainings will be conducted for health workers and the team will use a participatory design process with key stakeholders to ensure that barriers to integration in the health system and community participation are addressed. A scale-up report will be written with stakeholder engagement and all training materials that were developed will be instantly available for use in other clinics in Cote d’Ivoire. Delivery of praziquantel to the four facilities in the pilot study will utilize existing drug-procurement and delivery systems to ensure sustainability.
Utility of screening easy to access population sub groups as a surveillance tool in monitoring interruption of LF transmission
The question of how to conduct post-elimination surveillance is a high priority for the NTD community, given that most NTD programs scale back or shut down completely once elimination as a public health problem is achieved. Few solutions exist and this proposal provides an interesting and useful case study for surveillance moving forward. The study team plans to target 1708 pregnant women as a proxy for measuring LF resurgence in a post-elimination context. As a comparison group, they plan to conduct a prevalence survey of 427 households (1708 participants) in the same community to compare LF prevalence found in each methodology. Each participant at the health facility’s residence will be geo-referenced to understand the coverage area. They also plan to conduct interviews with patients and health workers, a time-motion study, and a cost analysis to assess the additional burden on health care workers and the health system. The study will occur in 14 facilities in one district of Malawi where LF was highly endemic prior to the launch of the program.
Urban dwellers have frequently been included as "hard to reach" when examining MDA coverage and uptake. Poor coverage in urban settings is a key factor that prevents programs in some settings from achieving success. This research study proposes a community-based participatory action research (CBPAR) strategy to better understand the reasons why this population isn’t reached and/or their decision not to participate in onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis MDAs. The results will help identify last mile strategies for urban populations and will generate a technical toolkit for how to conduct rapid participatory research in areas that require novel outreach methods amongst hard-to-reach populations. This form of social science methodology has not been used frequently within the NTD community and this proposal offers an opportunity to build the evidence base for these methods within the context of hard to reach populations.
The researchers plan to conduct a number of activities in order to determine the effectiveness of the participatory approach in targeting urban populations as compared to the standard mobilization and delivery approach.
- Rapid ethnographic interviews, a new technique aimed at rapidly collecting and analyzing qualitative data, to gather community feedback regarding barriers in accessing treatment
- An intervention development workshop with community leaders, health workers, researchers, and the ministry of health
- Deliver the newly designed strategy in Za-Kpota district and compare coverage in urban settings to Ouinhi district
- Finalize a rapid participatory approach toolkit and conduct a time-motion study of the approach to improve the business case to the MoH for uptake 5. Surveys and individual interviews with key stakeholders to determine acceptability, appropriateness, and feasibility of the proposed approach and toolkit
A knowledge co-production strategy to address systematic non-compliance with MDA for Lymphatic Filariasis in Leogane, Haiti
The researchers propose taking a novel approach to increase coverage and reach previously neglected populations by engaging non-compliant individuals in devising a more effective strategy through a technique called knowledge co-production. The researchers plan to address the following questions:
- Can an intervention package co-produced with systematically non-compliant individuals result in increased MDA coverage between the 2019 and 2020 LF MDA rounds?
- Who and where are the systematic non-compliers in Leogane and Gressier?
- What are the reasons motivating systematic non-compliance?
- Is MDA non-compliance associated with hotspots of LF transmission?
The researchers plan the following activities:
- A household cluster survey with 1300 individuals of all ages. This will define coverage in the past MDA and identify non-compliant individuals. In addition, ‘hidden’ non-compliers (NCs) will be located by a networking approach (respondent-driven sampling [RDS]).
- All NCs will then be eligible to be selected into groups of 10 by age (18-25; 26-50; >50), sex (M, F) and demography (urban/rural). These 12 groups will each work with the national health team to devise new approaches to the non-compliance issue. These will be put into place for the 2020 MDA and then assessed by the co-production strategy groups. After the 2020 MDA a second survey will occur to assess impact.
- The relationship between non-compliance and hotspots will be assessed using spatial analysis and defined serologically (FTS and DBS for antibodies) in collaboration with CDC.
Haiti, like many other countries, has made considerable progress in the elimination of lymphatic filariasis. To date, 118 out of 140 communes have passed TAS and stopped MDA. However, little is understood about why some communes have persistent transmission despite five or more rounds of MDA. The proposed study aims to identify alternative approaches to MDA that may help to increase access, uptake, and coverage, particularly for individuals who typically do not comply with MDAs. This cluster-randomized design will test a novel approach (door to door strategy) against the standard health post-based delivery method. Additionally, the study aims to identify non-compliant individuals and better understand their reasons for non-participation. Furthermore, a cost analysis will be undertaken as part of this study to understand the potential implications for the country program should the door-to-door strategy prove effective in reaching higher numbers of people.
Female Genital Schistosomiasis in rural Madagascar: improving community understanding and promoting integration into primary health care services- FIRM-UP
The study will take place in the context of a larger clinical trial (FIRM-UP) that includes 4000 women affected by schistosomiasis. For the current study, the team will develop the following “work packages” to better understand community awareness of FGS, clinical diagnosis, and how to provide enhanced training:
- Work Package 1: design and implement a community-based awareness campaign, using community surveys, focus group discussions, and in-depth interviews, to determine uptake and acceptability of FGS services. This will be followed with an end-line survey to assess change in the indicators following the campaign.
- Work Package 2: establish a diagnostic package with digital colposcopy (using smartphones to capture images) and on-site microscopy.
- Work Package 3: provide a refresher training for FIRM-UP study workers, organize a colposcopy and digital imaging workshop, and extended training for staff coming from other endemic regions in Madagascar. An open-source learning platform (‘Moodle’) will be developed to exchange training and learning materials.
Can geospatial algorithms be used by disease programs to help identify hotspots at community and Implementation Unit level?
IMPRESS – Improving access to integrated Morbidity management and disability PREvention Services through Stigma reduction for people with lower limb lymphoedema in Ethiopia: Feasibility and quasi-experimental study (year 2)
- Formative component: What is the capacity of the integrated morbidity management and disability prevention (MMDP) programme to incorporate a stigma reduction intervention for people with lower limb lymphoedema, and what are the barriers and facilitators to this?
- Intervention component: Is the stigma reduction intervention effective in increasing demand and access to services within an integrated MMDP programme for people with lower limb lymphoedema?
Integration of LF morbidity management and disability prevention (MMDP) into community health services: exploring the coverage and equity of community health worker-driven LF MMDP burden assessment and service uptake in Côte d’Ivoire.
This study will test the reliability of community health worker-led (CHW) MMDP burden estimates by having CHWs first estimate MMDP burden, followed by a rigorous population-based survey to get a representative estimate of MMDP burden for the district. Six months later, these cases will be followed up to see whether they accessed the MMDP services and assess the quality of care. The study will examine the accuracy of the CHW estimates, CHWs’ ability to diagnose properly, social biases of health care workers that may prevent equitable care delivery, and the cost comparison of the CHW method vs. population-based survey. In addition, the team plans to conduct an evaluation of the quality of MMDP service provision, including available psychosocial support, at all facilities in the selected health district. Programs need a feasible and reliable method for coming up with MMDP burden estimates for LF and strategies to ensure that people have access to care and utilize that care. This study addresses the two pillars of WHO dossier development for MMDP and will provide the Ministry of Health with essential information to plan and adapt their program to accommodate MMDP services.
Improving Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) services and integrating into primary health care in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR), Ethiopia
This study outlines an important first step to understanding NTD program integration in Ethiopia and builds on previous work in SNNPR. The study team plans to carry out significant formative research to better understand what gaps currently exist in the Ethiopian primary health care system that prevent integration of NTD services. They aim to answer the following questions:
- What are the current gaps in the Ethiopian primary health care system for implementing integrated NTD services and how can they be addressed?
- What is the community’s perception and awareness of selected NTDs and how can it be improved?
Following the gap analysis, the study team, along with the ministry of health and NTD taskforce of Ethiopia, will develop interventions to address these gaps. Outputs of the intervention stage are expected to include the following: a detailed description of the intervention, including case definitions, roles and responsibilities at the different levels of the health system, data recording and reporting mechanisms, referral systems; training manuals for the different primary healthcare system levels, job aids, guidance for supportive supervision. The team has made extensive plans to address issues of sustainability and scalability of the project including a cost analysis of the interventions, developing close partnerships with health facilities’ procurement departments, and close engagement during budget planning exercises of district health offices.
Integrating NTD programme monitoring into routine health systems data: evaluating a DHIS2 platform for real-time mass administration of medicines (MAM) reporting
This study includes an assessment of the Sightsavers rollout of a DHIS2 based tool for data collection in the NTD program in 2 states in Nigeria. In particular, the research project seeks to evaluate the health system strengthening effects of the tool for planning, monitoring and reporting of MDA. They plan to examine:
- the functionality of the tool at scale
- ease of integration across different NTD interventions
- data accessibility, accuracy, timeliness, and usefulness.
The team also aims to understand whether the implementation of this tool would enhance government ownership of the data and the NTD programme in general. This research will aid in identifying barriers and opportunities for potential scale up of the tool throughout Nigeria. The team also plans to focus on understanding how the data will be used at different levels of the health system.
The Zambia Neglected Tropical Disease Control Programme’s role in the attainment of Universal Health Coverage in Zambia: an implementation research study.
This study aims to conduct a landscape analysis to better understand the implementation context for the NTD control programme in Zambia. The activities include:
- an assessment of institutional structures, service delivery systems, existing resources/capacity
- mapping gaps, facilitators, and barriers to program implementation
- identifying potential opportunities to introduce innovative approaches for program integration and improvement.
Key informant interviews and focus group discussions with policy makers and NTD program officers will complement an extensive document review. The results of this assessment will be fed into the next National Health Strategic Plan, which expires in 2021.
Integrating spatial analysis in mixed methods approach to improve MDA Access by reaching underserved and vulnerable populations of Mali in NTD elimination framework
This mixed methods study plans to focus activities around two kinds of mobile, underserved populations: nomadic pastoralists in the rural district of Tominian and economic migrants and displaced groups from conflict areas in the urban district of Kalabancoro. Activities include:
- Quantitative questionnaire with a micro-narrative component. Micro-narratives are an established methodology focused on rapidly collecting qualitative data from a large number of participants
- Spatial analysis of study participants
- In-depth interviews and focus group discussions with health workers and community/opinion leaders
- Integrated analysis of the spatial data with questionnaire and micro-narrative data to better describe trends in the targeted vulnerable populations with respect to accessibility and acceptability of NTD program services
The team aims to combine spatial analysis with qualitative data collection to answer the following research questions:
- What are the factors leading to low coverage of MDA within underserved and vulnerable populations in Malian community?
- How are underserved and vulnerable populations currently being served by the public health interventions/health system?
- How effective and efficient is the ISAMA process for NTDs coverage in underserved and vulnerable populations compared to the current data collection and analysis approach?
- What critical factors influence the use of ISAMA approach in data analysis system process?
- How are characteristics of low coverage geographically distributed and the factors associated in underserved and vulnerable populations?
- Who are the underserved populations and what are their characteristics?
Developing an appropriate model of care for lymphatic filariasis and leprosy patients who need MMDP services in Bihar State, India
What is the comparative effect of enhancing the existing MMDP services with or without community-based components in significantly reducing the burden of Acute Attacks (AA), Hydrocele, and Mental Health (MH) issues among people affected by LF?
The influence of stigma on social participation and mental well-being amongst men and women affected/disabled by lymphatic filariasis and leprosy in the districts of Jaunpur and Patna in India
To what extent does stigma affect social participation and mental wellbeing among men and women affected/disabled by lymphatic filariasis or leprosy in Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh and Patna in Bihar?
Assessing the effectiveness of using the Community Directed Intervention (CDI) approach to improve community ownership of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Malawi
This project intends to assess the effectiveness of using the Community Directed Intervention (CDI) approach as a vehicle for delivery of mass drug administration (MDA) campaigns against targeted NTDs namely, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths (STH) such as Ascaris lumbricoides (roundworms), Trichuris trichiura (whip worms) and Ancylostoma sp. (hookworms) in selected districts of Malawi. The idea is to take advantage of the logistical setup, organizational strength and high degree of efficiency of the national NTD programme to improve delivery of the current MDA efforts to control selected and highly prioritized NTDs of schistosomiasis and STH and to enhance community ownership of the interventions in selected rural and remote communities by using the CDI approach. The primary research question is: Can the CDI approach be effectively used to deliver MDA to control NTDs at community level in rural Malawian districts?
This study aims to understand the relationship between trachomatous trichiasis (TT) and mental health disorders over an 18-month study period, by answering the following questions:
- What is the impact of the blinding stage of trachoma (Trachomatous Trichiasis) on common mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and suicidality?
- Will the validation of the 5-Question Stigma Indicators (5-QSI) generic stigma tool help to measure and monitor stigma in trachomatous trichiasis patients in Ethiopia
- What are the drivers for mental disorders in TT patients
- Is there a difference in depression, anxiety and suicidality prevalence between TT cases accepting vs declining TT surgery; and un-operated vs postoperative TT cases? The research team will be trained on good clinical practice through the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP). Following interviews, any patient with TT will be referred for surgery and patients found with a mental health disorder will be referred for care. If a negative impact of blinding trachoma on mental health is noted, the researchers plan to use the results of the study to advocate for additional funding for the trachoma program and highlight the need to address mental health in Ethiopia.
Strategies for the ENdgame: Targeting Infections among Non-compliants in the Elimination of Lymphatic filariasis (SENTINEL)
Non-compliance is a primary barrier to attaining elimination goals. This study aims to utilize data captured in MDA registers to address non-compliance in the Ahanta West District of Ghana, which has been identified as a hotspot of LF transmission with >1% microfilaria (mf) prevalence after 15-16 rounds of MDA. On the basis of information identified in the register, this study proposes to deploy two strategies:
- Engage and Treat individuals who were ill, missed treatment, or were unable to participate during the last MDA, and
- Test and Treat for individuals who might be systemically non-compliant or afraid of adverse events. The use of MDA registers to assist in locating non-compliant individuals is novel and would provide valuable evidence for other programs and represents an alternative strategy for countries struggling with the end game. It may also help provide insight as to whether systematically non-compliant individuals truly serve as a reservoir for LF in areas designated as hotspots. Qualitative data collection will aid in understanding reasons for systematic non-compliance and may lead to changes in social mobilization strategies.
Bringing near real-time data solutions to MDA in Ghana – progress towards elimination of Onchocerciasis
Ghana aims to eliminate onchocerciasis by 2025. Currently, all data points for mass drug administrations are collected on paper. Paper-based data collection does not allow for rapid evaluation and course correction throughout the implementation of the MDA. This study proposes a collaboration between the monitoring and evaluation division of the Ghana Health Service and the Clinical Informatics Research Unit at the University of Southampton. The study aims to answer the primary research question: Can community-driven electronic data collection, and near real-time provision of source data and interactive visualizations better support decision-makers on approaches to evaluating and managing MDAs for onchocerciasis?