Publications by authors named "Anne Cécile Bissek"

33 Publications

Couple oriented counselling improves male partner involvement in sexual and reproductive health of a couple: Evidence from the ANRS PRENAHTEST randomized trial.

PLoS One 2021 30;16(7):e0255330. Epub 2021 Jul 30.

Centre Pasteur Cameroon, Epidemiology and Public Health Service, Yaounde, Cameroon.

Background: Male partner involvement (MPI) has been recognized as a priority area to be strengthened in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. We explored the impact of Couple Oriented Counselling (COC) in MPI in sexual and reproductive health and associated factors.

Method: From February 2009 to October 2011, pregnant women were enrolled at their first antenatal care visit (ANC-1) and followed up until 6 months after delivery in the Mother and Child Center of the Chantal Biya Foundation within the randomized prenahtest multicentric trial. The MPI index was defined using sexual and reproductive health behaviour variables by using multiple correspondence analysis followed by mixed classification. Men were considered as highly involved if they had shared their HIV test results with their partner, had discussed on HIV or condom used, had contributed financially to ANC, had accompanied their wife to ANC or had practiced safe sex. Factors associated to MPI were investigated by the logistic model with GEE estimation approach.

Results: A total of 484 pregnant women were enrolled. The median age of the women was 27 years (IQR: 23-31) and 55.23% had a gestational age greater than 16 weeks at ANC-1. Among them, HIV prevalence was 11.9% (95% CI: 9.0-15.4). The median duration of the women's relationship with their partner was 84 months (IQR: 48-120). MPI index at 6 months after delivery was significantly greater in the COC group than the classical counselling group (14.8% vs 8,82%; p = 0,043; Fig 1). The partners of the women who participated in the COC were more likely to be involved during follow up than others (aOR = 1.45; 95% CI = 1.00-2.10). Partners with no incoming activity (aOR = 2.90; 95% CI = 1.96-4.29), who did not used violence within the couple (aOR = 1.70; 95% CI = 1.07-2.68), and whose partner came early for ANC-1 (aOR = 1.37; 95% CI = 1.00-1.89) were more likely to be involved than others.

Conclusion: MPI remains low in stable couples and COC improves partner involvement. Our findings also support the need of strengthening outreach towards "stable" couples and addressing barriers. This could go a long way to improve PMTCT outcomes in Cameroon.

Trial Registration: PRENAHTEST, NCT01494961. Registered 15 December 2011-Retrospectively registered,
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July 2021

COVID-19 Preventive Behaviours in Cameroon: A Six-Month Online National Survey.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2021 03 4;18(5). Epub 2021 Mar 4.

Brain Research Africa Initiative (BRAIN), Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Since March 2020, the Cameroonian government implemented nationwide measures to stall COVID-19 transmission. However, little is known about how well these unprecedented measures are being observed as the pandemic evolves. We conducted a six-month online survey to assess the preventive behaviour of Cameroonian adults during the COVID-19 outbreak. A five-point adherence score was constructed based on self-reported observance of the following preventive measures: physical distancing, face mask use, hand hygiene, not touching one's face, and covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing. Predictors of adherence were investigated using ordinal logistic regression models. Of the 7381 responses received from all ten regions, 73.3% were from male respondents and overall mean age was 32.8 ± 10.8 years. Overall mean adherence score was 3.96 ± 1.11 on a scale of 0-5. Mean weekly adherence scores were initially high, but gradually decreased over time accompanied by increasing incidence of COVID-19 during the last study weeks. Predictors for higher adherence included higher age, receiving COVID-19 information from health personnel, and agreeing with the necessity of lockdown measures. Meanwhile, experiencing flu-like symptoms was associated with poor adherence. Continuous observance of preventive measures should be encouraged among Cameroonians in the medium- to long-term to avoid a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.
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March 2021

[National profile of early warning indicators of HIV pharmaco-resistance in Cameroon].

Pan Afr Med J 2020 23;37:374. Epub 2020 Dec 23.

Département de Santé Publique, Faculté de Médecine et des Sciences Biomédicales, Université de Yaoundé I, Yaoundé, Cameroun.

Introduction: since the launch of the "Treatment for All in Cameroon" strategy in 2015, an acceleration plan for antiretroviral (ARV) therapy in Cameroon was implemented, with remarkable progresses. These efforts were accompanied by the risk of developing HIV drug resistance. Then, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed surveillance of early warning indicators (IAP) for HIV drug resistance. The purpose of this study was to assess the national HIV Drug Resistance Early Warning Indicators (EWI) in Cameroon.

Methods: we conducted a retrospective study in the ten regions of Cameroon in December 2017 to evaluate the six EWIs recommended by the WHO in 68 randomly selected HIV care sites. The reporting period ranged from July 2016 to June 2017.

Results: national scores were: drug withdrawal within the estimated time frame (EWI1): 66%; retention on antiretroviral therapy 12 months after treatment initiation (EWI2): 66%; stock-out of antiretroviral drugs over a 12-month period (EWI3): 53%; viral load testing coverage (CV) (EWI4): 10%; coverage suppression after 12 months of antiretroviral therapy (EWI5): 73% and practices for ARV drug delivery (EWI6): (100%). Regional scores were similar.

Conclusion: the evaluation of EWI in Cameroon is limited and requires urgent interventions, primarily viral load testing coverage, optimal ARVs management and patient´s adherence.
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April 2021

Determinants of periodontitis according to the immunological and virological profiles of HIV-infected patients in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

BMC Oral Health 2020 12 11;20(1):359. Epub 2020 Dec 11.

Chantal BIYA International Reference Centre for Research on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Management (CIRCB), Melen Road, PO Box 3077, Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Background: HIV infection is associated to different oral manifestations (including periodontal diseases), which have decreased with the advent of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Yet, the occurrence of periodontitis is still consistent among patients with HIV living in sub Saharan-Africa, with limited evidence on the driven factors and mitigating measures in these settings. We aimed at evaluating the occurrence of periodontitis and its associated immunological and virological factors in patients with HIV living in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Methods: We included 165 (44 ART-naïve and 121 ART-experienced) patients > 18 years old attending the Yaoundé Central Hospital and the Chantal BIYA International Reference Centre, from January-April 2018. The periodontal status was assessed by measuring the clinical attachment loss, periodontal pocket depth, plaques index and gingival bleeding index. CD4+/CD8+ cells and viremia were measured using the fluorescence-activated cell sorting method (FACS Calibur) and the Abbott m2000 RT HIV-1 RNA kit respectively. A standard-questionnaire concerning participants' medical records and oral hygiene methods was filled. Data was analyzed and p < 0.05 considered statistically significant.

Results: There was a significantly high prevalence of periodontitis in the ART-naïve (53.2%) compared to the ART-experienced group (37.3%), with a twofold increased risk of the ART-naïve population presenting with periodontitis than the ART-experienced population (OR 2.06, p = 0.03). More importantly, ART-naïve, patients with CD4 < 200 cells presented with higher risk of having periodontitis compared to those with higher CD4-values, with a threefold difference (OR 3.21). Worth noting, males presented with a higher risk of having clinical attachment loss (OR 6.07). There was no significant association between the occurrence of periodontitis and the CD8 (p = 0.45) or viremia (p = 0.10).

Conclusion: In the Cameroonian context, a considerable number of adults infected with HIV suffer from periodontitis regardless of their treatment profile. Nonetheless, ART-naïve patients have a higher risk, indicating the protective role of ART. Interestingly, severely immune-compromised patients and men are vulnerable to periodontitis, thereby highlighting the need for clinicians to refer patients for regular periodontal screening especially male patients and those with low CD4. Such measures could greatly improve the quality of life of the population living with HIV in Cameroon.
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December 2020

First case of Dolutegravir and Darunavir/r multi drug-resistant HIV-1 in Cameroon following exposure to Raltegravir: lessons and implications in the era of transition to Dolutegravir-based regimens.

Antimicrob Resist Infect Control 2020 08 26;9(1):143. Epub 2020 Aug 26.

Chantal BIYA International Reference Centre for research on HIV/AIDS prevention and management, Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Background: Sub-Saharan African countries are transitioning to dolutegravir-based regimens, even for patients with extensive previous drug exposure, including first-generation integrase strand-transfer inhibitors (INSTI) such as raltegravir. Such exposure might have implications on cross-resistance to dolutegravir-based antiretroviral therapies (ART).

Case Presentation: We report a 65 years old Cameroonian, previously exposed to raltegravir, and failing on third-line treatment with multi-drug resistance to darunavir/r and dolutegravir. Genotypic resistance testing (GRT) and viral tropism were performed during monitoring time points. The patient initiated ART in August 2007. At the time point of the first (29.04.2010), second (01.12.2017) and third (08.08.2019) GRT, prior ART exposure included 3TC, d4T, NVP and EFV; additionally TDF, DRV/r and RAL; and additionally ABC and DTG respectively. First GRT revealed mutations associated with resistance only to first-generation Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI). Second GRT revealed mutations associated with high-level resistance to all NRTIs, first generation NNRTIs, all ritonavir boosted protease inhibitors (PI/r), and all INSTI, while viral tropism (using geno2pheno) revealed a CCR5-tropic virus with a false positive rate (FPR) of 60.9% suggesting effectiveness of maraviroc (MRV). The third GRT showed high-level resistance to NRTI, NNRTI, all PI and all INSTI, with additional mutations (H221HY for NNRTI and S147G for INSTI), and a CCR5-tropic virus with a slightly reduced FPR (57.0%). Without any locally available active therapeutic option, the patient has been on a maintenance therapy with "DRV/r (600mg x 2/day)+TDF+3TC" and patient/family-centered adherence has been reinforced. Since the first viral load (VL) measurement in 2010, the patient has had 12 VL tests with the VL ranging from 4.97 Log to 6.44 Log copies/mL and the CD4 count never exceeded 200 cells/μL.

Conclusions: As African countries transition to dolutegravir-based regimens, prior raltegravir-exposure may prompt selection (and potential transmission) of dolutegravir-resistance, supporting case surveillance.
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August 2020

Integrating pediatric TB services into child healthcare services in Africa: study protocol for the INPUT cluster-randomized stepped wedge trial.

BMC Public Health 2020 May 6;20(1):623. Epub 2020 May 6.

EGPAF, Washington DC, USA.

Background: Tuberculosis is among the top-10 causes of mortality in children with more than 1 million children suffering from TB disease annually worldwide. The main challenge in young children is the difficulty in establishing an accurate diagnosis of active TB. The INPUT study is a stepped-wedge cluster-randomized intervention study aiming to assess the effectiveness of integrating TB services into child healthcare services on TB diagnosis capacities in children under 5 years of age.

Methods: Two strategies will be compared: i) The standard of care, offering pediatric TB services based on national standard of care; ii) The intervention, with pediatric TB services integrated into child healthcare services: it consists of a package of training, supportive supervision, job aids, and logistical support to the integration of TB screening and diagnosis activities into pediatric services. The design is a cluster-randomized stepped-wedge of 12 study clusters in Cameroon and Kenya. The sites start enrolling participants under standard-of-care and will transition to the intervention at randomly assigned time points. We enroll children aged less than 5 years with a presumptive diagnosis of TB after obtaining caregiver written informed consent. The participants are followed through TB diagnosis and treatment, with clinical information prospectively abstracted from their medical records. The primary outcome is the proportion of TB cases diagnosed among children < 5 years old attending the child healthcare services. Secondary outcomes include: number of children screened for presumptive active TB; diagnosed; initiated on TB treatment; and completing treatment. We will also assess the cost-effectiveness of the intervention, its acceptability among health care providers and users, and fidelity of implementation.

Discussion: Study enrolments started in May 2019, enrolments will be completed in October 2020 and follow up will be completed by June 2021. The study findings will be disseminated to national, regional and international audiences and will inform innovative approaches to integration of TB screening, diagnosis, and treatment initiation into child health care services.

Trial Resistration: NCT03862261, initial release 12 February 2019.
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May 2020

EPI immunization coverage, timeliness and dropout rate among children in a West Cameroon health district: a cross sectional study.

BMC Public Health 2020 Feb 13;20(1):228. Epub 2020 Feb 13.

Division of Health Operations Research, Ministry of Public Health, Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Background: Monitoring of the expanded program on immunization's performance is not only limited to routine periodic reports but equally includes surveys. Based on unpublished national EPI surveillance data from the past 5 years in Cameroon, the Foumban health district has reported a high number of vaccine preventable disease suspected cases. Contradictory information on the immunization coverage in this district exists from both administrative data and published literature. As a result, the objective of this study was to estimate the immunization coverage and dropout rate in age group 12-23 months and timeliness in age group 0-59 months among children in Foumban Health District (Cameroon), in 2018.

Method: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study targeting randomly selected children aged 0-59 months from Foumban health district. Data were collected by trained and supervised surveyors using a pretested questionnaire to describe the immunization coverage, timeliness and dropout rate in eighty clusters of about thirty buildings selected by stratified random sampling in July 2018.

Results: In total, 80 clusters covering 2121 buildings were selected and all were reached (100%). A total of 1549 (81.2%) households accepted to participate in the survey and 1430 children aged 0-59 months including 294 (20.6%) aged 12-23 months were enrolled into the study. Of these 1430 children, 427 [29.9 (27.4-32.2)%] aged 0-59 months were vaccinated with evidence. In the age group 12-23 months, the immunization coverage with evidence of BCG, DPT-Hi + Hb 3 and measles/rubella were 28.6(23.4-33.9)%, 22.8 (18.1-27.6)% and 14.3 (10.3-18.1)% respectively. Within age group 0-59 months; the proportion of children who missed their vaccination appointments increased from 23.3 to 31.7% for the vaccine planned at birth (BCG) and last vaccine planned (Measles/Rubella) for the EPI program respectively. In age group 12-23 months; the specific (DPT-Hi + Hb1-3) and general (BCG-Measles/Rubella) dropout rates of vaccination with evidence were 14.1 and 50.0% respectively.

Conclusion: Documented immunization coverage, dropout rate and timeliness in Foumban Health district are lower than that targeted by the Cameroon EPI. Competent health authorities have to take necessary actions to ensure the implementation of national guidelines with regards to children access to immunization. Also, studies have to be conducted to identify determinants of low immunization coverage and delays in immunization schedules as well as high dropout rates.
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February 2020

Health facility preparedness for cholera outbreak response in four cholera-prone districts in Cameroon: a cross sectional study.

BMC Health Serv Res 2019 Jul 8;19(1):458. Epub 2019 Jul 8.

Division of Health Operations Research, Ministry of Public Health, Dschang, Cameroon.

Background: The risk of cholera outbreak remains high in Cameroon. This is because of the persistent cholera outbreaks in neighboring countries coupled with the poor hygiene and sanitation conditions in Cameroon. The objective of this study was to assess the readiness of health facilities to respond to cholera outbreak in four cholera-prone districts in Cameroon.

Methodology: A cross-sectional study was conducted targeting all health facilities in four health districts, labeled as cholera hotspots in Cameroon in August 2016. Data collection was done by interview with a questionnaire and by observation regarding the availability of resources and materials for surveillance and case management, access to water, hygiene, and sanitation. Data analysis was descriptive with STATA 11.

Principal Findings: A total of 134 health facilities were evaluated, most of which (108/134[81%]) were urban facilities. The preparedness regarding surveillance was limited with 13 (50%) health facilities in the Far North and 22(20%) in the Littoral having cholera case definition guide. ORS for Case management was present in 8(31%) health facilities in the Far North and in 94(87%) facilities in the littoral. Less than half of the health facilities had a hand washing protocol and 7(5.1%) did not have any source of drinking water or relied on unimproved sources like lake. A total of 4(3.0%) health facilities, all in the Far North region, did not have a toilet.

Conclusions: The level of preparedness of health facilities in Cameroon for cholera outbreak response presents a lot of weaknesses. These are present in terms of lack of basic surveillance and case management materials and resources, low access to WaSH. If not addressed now, these facilities might not be able to play their role in case there is an outbreak and might even turn to be transmission milieus.
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July 2019

Lifetime experiences of gender-based violence, depression and condom use among female sex workers in Cameroon.

Int J Soc Psychiatry 2019 09 24;65(6):445-457. Epub 2019 Jun 24.

1 Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Background: In general populations, consistent data highlight the relationships among violence, HIV risk behavior and depression; however, these patterns are not well understood among female sex workers (FSWs). We examined the relationship between FSWs' experiences with sexual violence and consistent condom use as a key HIV risk behavior and explored mental health as a potential mediator.

Methods: In total, 2,165 FSWs were recruited via respondent-driven sampling in Cameroon in 2016. The women answered questions about violence, condom use and mental health.

Results: Inconsistent condom use with clients was reported by 23.5% of participants (508/2,165). Lifetime sexual violence was prevalent with 33.0% (713/2,163) of participants. Almost 50% (1,067/2,143) of respondents had some level of depression. Sexual violence was significantly associated with inconsistent condom use (adjusted risk ratio (aRR) 1.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) (1.2-1.6)). Of FSWs with no depression, 24.9% (267/1,071) reported sexual violence, versus 56.1% (32/57) of respondents with severe depression ( < .01). Severe depression significantly increased risk of condomless sex (aRR 1.8, 95% CI (1.3-2.6)); in mediation analysis, both sexual violence and severe depression remained significant predictors of condomless sex (aRR 1.4, 95% CI (1.2, 1.6) and aRR 1.7, 95% CI (1.2-2.4), respectively). Depression did not mediate the relationship between sexual violence and condom use.

Conclusion: Sexual violence and depression are prevalent and independently associated with condom nonuse with clients among FSWs in Cameroon. Results highlight the need for interventions to address mental health as well as gender-based violence for FSWs.
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September 2019

Practices of Care to HIV-Infected Children: Current Situation in Cameroon.

Clin Med Insights Pediatr 2019 3;13:1179556519846110. Epub 2019 May 3.

Department of surgery and speciality, Otorhinolaryngology unit, Laquintinie Hospital, Douala, Cameroon.

Background: To accelerate access to pediatric HIV care in Cameroon, operational challenges in implementing HIV pediatric care need to be identified. The aim of this study was to assess the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of health care workers regarding pediatric HIV infection in Cameroon.

Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted over a 4-month period (April to August 2014) in 12 health facilities in 7 regions of Cameroon selected using systematic random sampling. Data were collected from interviews with health care providers and managers using standardized self-administered questionnaires and stored in the ACCESS software.

Results: In total, 103 health care providers were included in this study, of which 59 (57.3%) were health workers and 44 (42.7%) community agents. Most of the health workers in charge of HIV pediatric care were nurses, requiring effective medical task shifting that was institutionalized in Cameroon. The knowledge of health care providers in relation to pediatric HIV care was acceptable. Indications for prescription of test for early infant diagnosis were known (96.1%), but their attitudes and practices regarding initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) in infants less than 2 years (5.2%) and first-line ART protocols (25.4%) were insufficient, due to little information about standard procedures.

Conclusion: Capacity building of health care providers and large-scale dissemination of normative national documents are imperative to improve HIV pediatric care in the health care facilities.
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May 2019

Impact of 19 years of mass drug administration with ivermectin on epilepsy burden in a hyperendemic onchocerciasis area in Cameroon.

Parasit Vectors 2019 Mar 19;12(1):114. Epub 2019 Mar 19.

Global Health Institute, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.

Background: Surveys conducted in 1991-1992 in the Mbam Valley (Cameroon) revealed that onchocerciasis was highly endemic, with community microfilarial loads (CMFL) > 100 microfilariae/snip in some villages. Also in 1991-1992, a survey of suspected cases of epilepsy (SCE) found 746 SCE using a questionnaire administered to individuals identified by key informants, with prevalences reaching 13.6% in some communities. From 1998, annual community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) was implemented to control onchocerciasis. In 2017, a door-to-door household survey was conducted in three of the villages visited in 1991-1992, using a standardized 5-item epilepsy screening questionnaire.

Results: In 2017, a total of 2286 individuals living in 324 households were screened (582 in Bayomen, 553 in Ngongol and 1151 in Nyamongo) and 112 SCE were identified (4.9%). Neurologists examined 92 of these SCE and confirmed the diagnosis of epilepsy for 81 of them (3.5%). Between the surveys in 1991-1992 and 2017, the prevalence of SCE decreased from 13.6% to 2.5% in Bayomen (P = 0.001), from 8.7% to 6.6% in Ngongol (P = 0.205) and from 6.4% to 5.4% in Nyamongo (P = 0.282). The median age of SCE shifted from 20 (IQR: 12-23) to 29 years (IQR: 18-33; P = 0.018) in Bayomen, from 16 (IQR: 12-21) to 26 years (IQR: 21-39; P < 0.001) in Ngongol and from 16 (IQR: 13-19) to 24 years (IQR: 19-32; P < 0.001) in Nyamongo. The proportions of SCE aged < 10, 10-19, 20-29 and ≥ 30 years shifted from 9.5, 58.3, 25.0 and 7.1% in 1991-1992 to 2.7, 20.5, 39.3 and 37.5% in 2017, respectively.

Conclusions: SCE prevalence decreased overall between 1991-1992 and 2017. The age shift observed is probably due to a decrease in the number of new cases of epilepsy resulting from the dramatic reduction of Onchocerca volvulus transmission after 19 years of CDTI.
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March 2019

Epidemiology of onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy in the Mbam and Sanaga river valleys of Cameroon: impact of more than 13 years of ivermectin.

Infect Dis Poverty 2018 Dec 3;7(1):114. Epub 2018 Dec 3.

Neurology Department, Yaoundé Central Hospital, Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Background: A high epilepsy prevalence has been reported in several onchocerciasis-endemic villages along the Mbam and Sanaga river valleys in Cameroon, including Bilomo and Kelleng. We sought to determine the prevalence of epilepsy in these two villages following more than 13 years of community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI).

Methods: Door-to-door surveys were performed on the entire resident population in the villages in August 2017 and January 2018. Epilepsy was diagnosed using a 2-step approach: administration of a standardized 5-item questionnaire followed by confirmation by a neurologist. Previously published diagnostic criteria for onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy (OAE) were used. Ov16 serology was done for children aged 7-10 years to assess onchocerciasis transmission. Findings were compared with previous data from these two villages.

Results: A total of 1525 individuals (1321 in Bilomo and 204 in Kelleng) in 233 households were surveyed in both villages. The crude prevalence of epilepsy was 4.6% in Bilomo (2017) and 7.8% in Kelleng (2018), including 12 (15.6% of cases) persons with epilepsy (PWE) with nodding seizures. The age and sex-standardized prevalence in Kelleng decreased from 13.5% in 2004 to 9.3% in 2018 (P < 0.001). The median age of PWE shifted from 17 (IQR: 12-22) years to 24 (IQR: 20-30) years in Bilomo (P < 0.001); and slightly from 24 (IQR: 14-34) years to 28 (IQR: 21.25-36.75) years in Kelleng (P = 0.112). Furthermore, 47.6% of all tested children between 7 and 10 years had Ov16 antibodies.

Conclusions: There is a decrease in epilepsy prevalence after 13 years and more of CDTI in both villages. The age-shift observed in PWE suggests that ivermectin may prevent OAE in younger residents. Ov16 seropositivity in children indicates ongoing onchocerciasis transmission possibly due to suboptimal control measures. Our findings support the existence of OAE in Cameroon and highlight the need to strengthen onchocerciasis elimination programs.
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December 2018

The temporal relationship between onchocerciasis and epilepsy: a population-based cohort study.

Lancet Infect Dis 2018 11 26;18(11):1278-1286. Epub 2018 Sep 26.

UMI 233, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Montpellier, France; Université Montpellier, Montpellier, France; INSERM Unité 1175, Montpellier, France. Electronic address:

Background: Many studies have suggested that onchocerciasis might be associated with epilepsy. Therefore, we did a cohort study to assess the incidence of epilepsy relative to Onchocerca volvulus skin microfilarial density (MFD) measured during childhood and to assess the possibility of a temporal relationship.

Methods: During onchocerciasis surveys undertaken in 25 villages in Cameroon during 1991-93, we measured MFD in individuals aged 5 years or older. In 2017, we revisited seven of these villages. With a standardised five-item questionnaire, we collected information on the occurrence of epilepsy in 856 individuals who were aged 5-10 years in 1991-93, and had MFD determined during the original surveys. We did multivariable analyses to assess the overall incidence and incidence ratios taking into account age, sex, individual MFD in 1991-93, and onchocerciasis endemicity level in the village.

Findings: In 2017, we obtained data on the history of epilepsy for 85% (729 of 856) of individuals. Among these individuals, we classified 60 as being suspected cases of epilepsy. The overall incidence of epilepsy was 350 per 100 000 person-years (95% CI 270-450). The adjusted incidence ratio for developing epilepsy was 7·07 (95% CI 0·98-51·26; p=0·0530) in individuals with initial MFD of one to five microfilariae per skin snip (mf per snip), 11·26 (2·73-46·43) in individuals with six to 20 mf per snip, 12·90 (4·40-37·83) in individuals with 21-50 mf per snip, 20·00 (3·71-108·00) in individuals with 51-100 mf per snip, 22·58 (3·21-158·56) in individuals with 101-200 mf per snip, and 28·50 (95% CI 3·84-211·27; p=0·0010) in individuals with more than 200 mf per snip, compared with that of individuals without detectable densities of skin microfilariae.

Interpretation: Individual O volvulus MFD in childhood was associated with the risk of either seizures or epilepsy in an onchocerciasis focus in Cameroon. This temporal relationship suggests a potential causal link between onchocerciasis and epilepsy.

Funding: European Research Council, NSETHIO Project.
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November 2018

Maternal age, infant age, feeding options, single/multiple pregnancy, type of twin sets and mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

J Trop Pediatr 2019 06;65(3):280-286

'Chantal Biya' International Reference Centre for Research on HIV and AIDS Prevention and Management (CIRCB), Yaounde, Cameroon.

Background: Some risk factors for mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV have been identified. To further reduce MTCT, other risk factors were evaluated.

Materials And Methods: A retrospective study on early infant diagnosis was conducted. Two-sided chi-square test was used to assess associations with infant HIV status.

Results: A total of 15 233 HIV-infected mothers and 15 404 infants were recruited. MTCT rate was 9.34%. Only 3.8% of infants born to mothers on antiretroviral treatment were infected. Under nevirapine, 4.1% of infants were infected. MTCT increased with infant' age at testing. Younger mothers tend to transmit more HIV (P = 0.003). More children were infected in single pregnancies compared with multiple pregnancies, P < 0.001. There were more infections in male-female twins' sets (P = 0.037).

Conclusions: Maternal age, type of pregnancy and twins' sets are new MTCT risk factors. Strategies to further decrease transmission through family planning, pre/post natal consultations and clinical practices are needed.
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June 2019

Community knowledge, perceptions and attitudes regarding leprosy in rural Cameroon: The case of Ekondotiti and Mbonge health districts in the South-west Region.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2018 02 12;12(2):e0006233. Epub 2018 Feb 12.

Department of Internal Medicine and Specialties, Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, The University of Yaounde 1, Yaounde, Cameroon.

Background: Although leprosy is one of the oldest diseases known to humanity, it remains largely misunderstood. Misconceptions about leprosy lead to stigma towards people with the disease. This study aimed at exploring the knowledge, perceptions and attitudes regarding leprosy in rural Cameroon.

Methods: We carried out a cross-sectional community survey of 233 respondents aged 15-75 years, free from leprosy, and living in two rural health districts of the South-west Region of Cameroon. A questionnaire designed to evaluate knowledge, perceptions and attitudes about leprosy was used. Binary logistic regression was used to determine independent predictors of negative attitudes.

Results: About 82% of respondents had heard about, and 64.4% knew someone with leprosy. Information on leprosy was mainly from community volunteers (40.6%), friends (38.0%), and the media (24%). Only 19.7% of respondents knew the cause of leprosy, and a considerable proportion linked it to a spell (25.3%), unclean blood (15.5%) and heredity (14.6%). About 72% knew that leprosy is curable and 86.3% would advise medical treatment. Attitudes towards leprosy patients were generally negative. Only 42% would shake hands, 32.6% would share the same plate, and 28.3% and 27% respectively, would allow their child to play or marry a person with leprosy. Furthermore, only 33.9% approved of participation of leprosy patients, and 42.9% of their employment. Independent predictors of negative attitudes were: the belief that leprosy is a curse; is caused by a germ; and having seen a leprosy patient. The negative attitudes were dampened by: the beliefs that leprosy is a punishment, is hereditary and is due to poor personal hygiene.

Conclusion: An awareness intervention using community volunteers and the media, with information on the cause of leprosy, its clinical manifestations and curability, and sensitization messages correcting the misconceptions and beliefs regarding leprosy, could improve the community knowledge and attitudes towards leprosy. This would ultimately contribute to the reduction of leprosy burden in the community.
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February 2018

[Epidemiological and clinical profile of skin damages in black African patients on chronic hemodialysis].

Pan Afr Med J 2016 11;25:142. Epub 2016 Nov 11.

Département de Médecine Interne et Spécialités, Faculté de Médecine et des Sciences Biomédicales, Université de Yaoundé I, Yaoundé, Cameroun.

Introduction: Dermatologic manifestations are common among patients on chronic hemodialysis and may represent systemic involvement. Our study aims to determine the epidemiological and clinical profile of skin damages in black patients living in Yaounde, Cameroon.

Methods: We conducted a cross sectional study including all patients receiving chronic haemodialysis treatment for at least 3 months in two hemodialysis centers in Yaounde from February to May 2014. Patients underwent an interview and a dermatological examination. Chi-squared tests and Student's t-test (or equivalents) were used for statistical analysis, with significance level at p <0.05.

Results: A total of 112 patients (78 (69.9%) men) with an average age of 48.6 ± 13 years and a mean duration of dialysis of 46,3 ± 37 months were included in the study. Skin lesions were present in 94 (83.9%) patients. Xerosis (63.3%), pruritus (37.5%), melanoderma (34.8%), acne (12.5%) and half and half nails (10.7%) were the most common dermatologic manifestations. Xerosis was associated with anuria (p = 0.0001) and advanced age (p = 0.032); melanoderma was associated with anuria (p = 0.042) and time spent on dialysis (p = 0.027) while half and half nails were associated with young age (p = 0.018) and biweekly dialysis (p = 0.01 ).

Conclusion: Skin damages are frequent and dominated by xerosis, pruritus and melanoderma in patients on chronic hemodialysis living in Yaounde. Biweekly dialysis, advanced age, anuria and time spent on dialysis were associated factors.
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April 2017

Feasibility Study of HIV Sentinel Surveillance using PMTCT data in Cameroon: from Scientific Success to Programmatic Failure.

BMC Infect Dis 2017 01 3;17(1). Epub 2017 Jan 3.

National HIV drug resistance surveillance and prevention Working Group (HIVDR-WG), National AIDS Control Committee, Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Background: In low-income countries (LICs), HIV sentinel surveillance surveys (HIV-SSS) are recommended in between two demographic and health surveys, due to low-cost than the latter. Using the classical unlinked anonymous testing (UAT), HIV-SSS among pregnant women raised certain ethical and financial challenges. We therefore aimed at evaluating how to use prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) routine data as an alternative approach for HIV-SSS in LICs.

Methods: A survey conducted through 2012 among first antenatal-care attendees (ANC1) in the ten regions of Cameroon. HIV testing was performed at PMTCT clinics as-per the national serial algorithm (rapid test), and PMTCT site laboratory (PMTCT-SL) performances were evaluated by comparison with results of the national reference laboratory (NRL), determined as the reference standard.

Results: Acceptance rate for HIV testing was 99%, for a total of 6521 ANC1 (49 · 3% aged 15-24) enrolled nationwide. Among 6103 eligible ANC1, sensitivity (using NRL testing as the reference standard) was 81 · 2%, ranging from 58 · 8% (South region) to 100% (West region); thus implying that 18 · 8% HIV-infected ANC1 declared HIV-negative at the PMTCT-SL were positive from NRL-results. Specificity was 99 · 3%, without significant disparity across sites. At population-level, this implies that every year in Cameroon, ~2,500 HIV-infected women are wrongly declared seronegative, while ~1,000 are wrongly declared seropositive. Only 44 · 4% (16/36) of evaluated laboratories reached the quality target of 80%.

Conclusions: The study identified weaknesses in routine PMTCT HIV testing. As Cameroon transitions to using routine PMTCT data for HIV-SSS among pregnant women, there is need in optimizing quality system to ensure robust routine HIV testing for programmatic and surveillance purposes.
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January 2017

The Burden of Leprosy in Cameroon: Fifteen Years into the Post-elimination Era.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2016 Oct 12;10(10):e0005012. Epub 2016 Oct 12.

Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, The University of Yaounde 1, Yaounde, Cameroon.

Background: Cameroon achieved the elimination target of leprosy in 2000, and has maintained this status ever since. However, a number of health districts in the country continue to report significant numbers of leprosy cases. The aim of this study was to assess the burden of leprosy in Cameroon from 2000 to 2014.

Methods: We obtained and analysed using the new leprosy burden concept of analysis, leprosy surveillance data collected between 2000 and 2014 from the National Leprosy Control Programme.

Principal Findings: Cameroon achieved leprosy elimination in 2000, registering a prevalence rate of 0.94/10,000 population. The prevalence rate dropped further to reach 0.20/10,000 population (78% reduction) in 2014. Similarly, the new case detection rate dropped from 4.88/100,000 population in 2000 to 1.46/100,000 population (85.3% reduction) in 2014. All 10 regions of the country achieved leprosy elimination between 2000 and 2014; however, 10 health districts were still to do so by 2014. The number of high-leprosy-burden regions decreased from 8 in 2000 to 1 in 2014. Seven and two regions were respectively medium and low-burdened at the end of 2014. At the health districts level, 18 remained at the high-leprosy-burdened level in 2014.

Conclusion: The leprosy prevalence and detection rates as well as the overall leprosy burden in Cameroon have dropped significantly between 2000 and 2014. However, a good number of health districts remain high-leprosy-burdened. The National Leprosy Control Programme should focus efforts on these health districts in the next coming years in order to further reduce the burden of leprosy in the country.
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October 2016

Buruli Ulcer in Cameroon: The Development and Impact of the National Control Programme.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2016 Jan 13;10(1):e0004224. Epub 2016 Jan 13.

Regional Bureau for Africa of the FAIRMED Foundation, Yaounde, Cameroon.

Background: Cameroon is endemic for Buruli ulcer (BU) and organised institutional BU control began in 2002. The objective was to describe the evolution, achievements and challenges of the national BU control programme (NBUCP) and to make suggestions for scaling up the programme.

Methods: We analysed collated data on BU from 2001 to 2014 and reviewed activity reports NBUCP in Cameroon. Case-detection rates and key BU control indicators were calculated and plotted on a time scale to determine trends in performance. A linear regression analysis of BU detection rate from 2005-2014 was done. The regression coefficient was tested statistically for the significance in variation of BU detection rate.

Principal Findings: In 14 years of BU control, 3700 cases were notified. The BU detection rate dropped significantly from 3.89 to 1.45 per 100 000 inhabitants. The number of BU endemic health districts rose from two to 64. Five BU diagnostic and treatment centres are functional and two more are planned for 2015. The health system has been strengthened and BU research and education has gained more interest in Cameroon.

Conclusion/significance: Although institutional BU control Cameroon only began 30 years after the first cases were reported in 1969, a number of milestones have been attained. These would serve as stepping stones for charting the way forward and improving upon control activities in the country if the major challenge of resource allocation is dealt with.
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January 2016

Features of human scabies in resource-limited settings: the Cameroon case.

BMC Dermatol 2015 Jul 23;15:12. Epub 2015 Jul 23.

Department of Medicine and Medical Specialties, Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé I, Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Background: The persistent high prevalence of human scabies, especially in low- and middle-income countries prompted us to research the sociodemographic profile of patients suffering from it, and its spreading factors in Cameroon, a resource-poor setting.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey from October 2011 to September 2012 in three hospitals located in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and enrolled patients diagnosed with human scabies during dermatologists' consultations who volunteered to take part in the study.

Results: We included 255 patients of whom 158 (62 %) were male. Age ranged from 0 to 80 years old with a median of 18 (Inter quartile range: 3-29) years. One to eight persons of our patients' entourage exhibited pruritus (mean = 2.1 ± 1.8). The number of persons per bed/room varied from 1 to 5 (mean = 2.1 ± 0.8). The first dermatologist's consultation occurred 4 to 720 days after the onset of symptoms (mean = 77.1 ± 63.7). The post-scabies pruritus (10.2 % of cases) was unrelated to the complications observed before correct treatment (all p values > 0.05), mainly impetiginization (7.1 %) and eczematization (5.9 %).

Conclusion: Human scabies remains preponderant in our milieu. Populations should be educated on preventive measures in order to avoid this disease, and clinicians' knowledges must be strengthened for its proper diagnosis and management.
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July 2015

[Epidemiological distribution of HIV infection among pregnant women in the ten regions of Cameroon and strategic implications for prevention programs].

Pan Afr Med J 2015 29;20:79. Epub 2015 Jan 29.

Groupe de Travail National pour la Surveillance et la Prévention de la Pharmacorésistance du VIH (HIVDR-WG), Ministère de la Santé Publique, Yaoundé, Cameroun ; Groupe Technique Central (GTC), Comité National de Lutte contre le SIDA (CNLS), Ministère de la Santé Publique, Yaoundé, Cameroun.

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May 2016

The Burden of Orphans and Vulnerable Children Due to HIV/AIDS in Cameroon.

Open AIDS J 2012 19;6:245-58. Epub 2012 Oct 19.

Department of Public Health and Hygiene, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon.

HIV/AIDS is a major public health problem in Cameroon and Africa, and the challenges of orphans and vulnerable children are a threat to child survival, growth and development. The HIV prevalence in Cameroon was estimated at 5.1% in 2010. The objective of this study was to assess the burden of orphans and vulnerable children due to HIV/AIDS in Cameroon. A structured search to identify publications on orphans and other children made vulnerable by AIDS was carried out. A traditional literature search on google, PubMed and Medline using the keywords: orphans, vulnerable children, HIV/AIDS and Cameroon was conducted to identify potential AIDS orphans publications, we included papers on HIV prevalence in Cameroon, institutional versus integrated care of orphans, burden of children orphaned by AIDS and projections, impact of AIDS orphans on Cameroon, AIDS orphans assisted through the integrated care approach, and comparism of the policies of orphans care in the central African sub-region. We also used our participatory approach working experience with traditional rulers, administrative authorities and health stakeholders in Yaounde I and Yaounde VI Councils, Nanga Eboko Health District, Isangelle and Ekondo Titi Health Areas, Bafaka-Balue, PLAN Cameroon, the Pan African Institute for Development-West Africa, Save the orphans Foundation, Ministry of Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Public Health. Results show that only 9% of all OVC in Cameroon are given any form of support. AIDS death continue to rise in Cameroon. In 1995, 7,900 people died from AIDS in the country; and the annual number rose to 25,000 in 2000. Out of 1,200,000 orphans and vulnerable children in Cameroon in 2010, 300,000(25%) were AIDS orphans. Orphans and the number of children orphaned by AIDS has increased dramatically from 13,000 in 1995 to 304,000 in 2010. By 2020, this number is projected to rise to 350,000. These deaths profoundly affect families, which often are split up and left without any means of support. Similarly, the death of many people in their prime working years hamper the economy. Businesses are adversely affected due to the need to recruit and train new staff. Health and social service systems suffer from the loss of health workers, teachers, and other skilled workers. OVC due to HIV/AIDS are a major public health problem in Cameroon as the HIV prevalence continues its relentless increase with 141 new infections per day. In partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs and other development organizations, the Ministry of Public Health has been striving hard to provide for the educational and medical needs of the OVC, vocational training for the out-of- school OVC and income generating activities for foster families and families headed by children. A continous multi-sectorial approach headed by the government to solve the problem of OVC due to AIDS is very important. In line with the foregoing, recommendations are proposed for the way forward.
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December 2012

The spectrum of skin diseases in a rural setting in Cameroon (sub-Saharan Africa).

BMC Dermatol 2012 Jun 21;12. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Department of Internal Medicine and Specialties, Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, The University of Yaounde I, Yaounde, Cameroon.

Background: Skin disorders are generally considered to be more prevalent in the rural areas of Cameroon. This study was carried out to verify this assumption by describing the spectrum of skin disorders in a rural setting of Cameroon.

Methods: We carried out a community-based clinical skin examination of 400 consenting subjects from 4 villages of Cameroon: Nyamanga (27%), Yebekolo (24%), Mbangassina (23%) and Bilomo (26%).

Results: The overall prevalence of skin diseases in our sample was 62% {95% CI: 57.2%, 66.8%} (248/400). The commonest skin disorders were: fungal infections (25.4%), parasitic infestations (21.4%), atrophic skin disorders (11.7%), hypertrophic skin disorders (9.7%), disorders of skin appendages {acne} (8.9%), benign neoplasm (6.5%), bacterial skin infections (5.2%), pigmentation disorders (4.8%), and dermatitis/eczema (4.0%). Skin infections and infestations constituted 52.82% of all skin disorders. The overall prevalence of infectious and parasitic infestation was 32.75% {95%CI: 28.17%, 37.59%} (131/400) as against 29.25% {95%CI: 24.83%, 33.98%} (117/400) for non-infectious disorders.Among people with skin infections/parasitic infestations, those with fungal infections and onchocercal skin lesions were the most prevalent, accounting for 48.1% (63/131) and 35.1% (46/131); and an overall prevalence of 15.75% {95%CI: 12.3%, 19.7%} (63/400) and 11.5% {95%CI: 8.5%, 15.0%} (46/400) respectively.There was secondary bacterial infection in 12.1% {95%CI: 8.31%, 16.82%} (30/248) of subjects with skin diseases. Hypertrophic and atrophic disorders of the skin were mainly keloids (9.68%), scarification marks (6.05%) and burn scars (5.65%). Skin diseases like dermatitis and eczema (4.03%), malignant tumours and pigmentation disorders were rare in our sample.The proportion of subjects diagnosed with skin disorders after examination (62.8%) was significantly higher than the proportion of 40.8% that declared having skin diseases (p < 0.0001).

Conclusion: The prevalence of skin diseases in the rural Mbam valley is alarming, dominated by easily treatable or preventable skin infections and their magnitude is highly neglected by the community, contrasting with findings in the urban setting. Similar studies are needed in other ecological/demographic settings of the country in order to construct a better understanding of the epidemiology of skin disorders. This would lead to the development of national policies to improve skin care.
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June 2012

Implementation of HIV early infant diagnosis and HIV type 1 RNA viral load determination on dried blood spots in Cameroon: challenges and propositions.

AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses 2012 Feb 27;28(2):176-81. Epub 2011 Jul 27.

"Chantal Biya" International Reference Centre for Research on HIV and AIDS Prevention and Management, Yaounde, Cameroon.

The testing of dried blood spots (DBSs) for human immunodeficiency type 1 (HIV-1) proviral DNA by PCR is a technology that has proven to be particularly valuable in diagnosing exposed infants. We implemented this technology for HIV-1 early infant diagnosis (EID) and HIV-1 RNA viral load determination in infants born of HIV-1-seropositive mothers from remote areas in Cameroon. The samples were collected between December 2007 and September 2010. Fourteen thousand seven hundred and sixty-three (14,763) DBS samples from infants born of HIV-positive mothers in 108 sites nationwide were tested for HIV. Of these, 1452 were positive on first PCR analyses (PCR1), giving an overall infection rate of 12.30%. We received only 475 DBS specimen for a second PCR testing (PCR2); out of these, 145 were positive. The median HIV-1 RNA viral load for 169 infant DBS samples tested was 6.85 log copies/ml, with values ranging from 3.37 to 8 log copies/ml. The determination of the viral load on the same DBS as that used for PCR1 allowed us to bypass the PCR2. The viral load values were high and tend to decrease with age but with a weak slope. The high values of viral load among these infants call for early and effective administration of antiretroviral therapy (ART). The findings from this study indicate that the use of DBS provides a powerful tool for perinatal screening programs, improvement on the testing algorithm, and follow-up during treatment, and thus should be scaled up to the entire nation.
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February 2012

Social stigma as an epidemiological determinant for leprosy elimination in Cameroon.

J Public Health Afr 2011 Mar 3;2(1):e10. Epub 2011 Mar 3.

Department of Internal Medicine and Specialties (Dermatology and Neurology), Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon.

Leprosy has been eliminated as a public health problem in most countries of the world according to the WHO, but the social stigma to the disease is still very high. The present study was performed to investigate the role of social stigma as a determinant for leprosy elimination in a leprosy endemic region of Cameroon. Focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and structured questionnaires were used to investigate leprosy social stigma among lepers, their contacts and a control group consisting of patients attending a health facility for reasons other than leprosy. Informed consent was sought and gained prior to starting the study. Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews identified three types of stigma: lack of self-esteem, tribal stigma and complete rejection by society. From the 480 structured questionnaires administered, there were overall positive attitudes to lepers among the study population and within the divisions (P=0.0). The proportion of participants that felt sympathetic with deformed lepers was 78.1% [95% confidence interval (CI): 74.4-81.8%] from a total of 480. Three hundred and ninety nine (83.1%) respondents indicated that they could share a meal or drink at the same table with a deformed leper (95% CI: 79.7-86.5%). Four hundred and three (83.9%) participants indicated that they could have a handshake and embrace a deformed leper (95% CI: 80.7-87.3%). A total of 85.2% (95.0% CI: 81.9-88.4%) participants affirmed that they could move with a deformed leper to the market or church. A high proportion of 71.5% (95.0% CI: 67.5%-75.5%) participants stated that they could offer a job to a deformed leper. The results indicate that Menchum division had the lowest mean score of 3.3 on positive attitudes to leprosy compared with Mezam (4.1) and Boyo (4.8) divisions. The high proportion of positive attitudes among the participants and in different divisions is a positive indicator that the elimination of leprosy social stigma is progressing in the right direction. Quantification of stigma to assess the elimination struggle is a new research area in public health.
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March 2011

Knowledge, attitudes and practice with respect to epilepsy among secondary school students in the Kumbo West Health District - North West Region- Cameroon.

Epilepsy Behav 2010 Jul;18(3):247-53

Neurology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Specialties, Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaounde I, Cameroon.

Background: The main goal of this study was to obtain baseline data on awareness and attitudes and practices with respect to epilepsy among secondary school students.

Methods: We interviewed a total of 659 students from three randomly selected secondary schools in the Kumbo West Health District, using a 12-item questionnaire in English.

Results: About 94.7% had heard about epilepsy, 25.8% had read on the subject, 55.2% knew someone with epilepsy and 77.7% had witnessed a seizure. While 37.9% of students would object to association with people with epilepsy (PWE), 47.8% would object to marriage with PWE. About 77.2% would offer equal employment to PWE although 72.7% believed there were jobs not suitable for PWE. Up to 58% of our sample thought epilepsy is contagious and about 62.2% of them declared that epilepsy is curable. Respectively 65%, 9%, and 30% would recommend a medical doctor, a traditional healer and God's help for treatment of epilepsy. Independent determinants of attitudes were found to be: the belief that epilepsy is a form of insanity or is contagious, having witnessed a seizure, being female, being a Christian and having a higher level of education.

Conclusion: There was a high level of awareness on epilepsy and the negative attitudes observed among these students were better than those reported in the same community. The determinants of negative attitudes were found to be diversified, confirming our hypothesis of variation, and our data further suggest that the interplay between these factors may be more complex than generally thought. This requires further qualitative study.
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July 2010

Effectiveness of multidrug antiretroviral regimens to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 in routine public health services in Cameroon.

PLoS One 2010 Apr 29;5(4):e10411. Epub 2010 Apr 29.

Laboratoire Epidémiologie, Centre Pasteur du Cameroun, Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Background: Multidrug antiretroviral (ARV) regimens including HAART and short-course dual antiretroviral (sc-dARV) regimens were introduced in 2004 to improve Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) in Cameroon. We assessed the effectiveness of these regimens from 6-10 weeks and 12 months of age, respectively.

Methodology/findings: We conducted a retrospective cohort study covering the period from October 2004 to March 2008 in a reference hospital in Cameroon. HIV-positive pregnant women with CD4 < or = 350 cells/mm(3) received first-line HAART [regimen 1] while the others received ARV prophylaxis including sc-dARV or single dose nevirapine (sd-NVP). Sc-dARV included at least two drugs according to different gestational ages: zidovudine (ZDV) from 28-32 weeks plus sd-NVP [regimen 2], ZDV and lamuvidine (3TC) from 33-36 weeks plus sd-NVP [regimen 3]. When gestational age was > or = 37 weeks, women received sd-NVP during labour [regimen 4]. Infants received sd-NVP plus ZDV and 3TC for 7 days or 30 days. Early diagnosis (6-10 weeks) was done, using b-DNA and subsequently RT-PCR. We determined early MTCT rate and associated risk factors using logistic regression. The 12-month HIV-free survival was assessed using Cox regression. Among 418 mothers, 335 (80%) received multidrug ARV regimens (1, 2, and 3) and MTCT rate with multidrug regimens was 6.6% [95%CI: 4.3-9.6] at 6 weeks, without any significant difference between regimens. Duration of mother's ARV regimen < 4 weeks [OR = 4.7, 95%CI: 1.3-17.6], mother's CD4 < 350 cells/mm(3) [OR = 6.4, 95%CI: 1.8-22.5] and low birth weight [OR = 4.0, 95%CI: 1.4-11.3] were associated with early MTCT. By 12 months, mixed feeding [HR = 8.7, 95%CI: 3.6-20.6], prematurity [HR = 2.3, 95%CI: 1.2-4.3] and low birth weight were associated with children's risk of progressing to infection or death.

Conclusions: Multidrug ARV regimens for PMTCT are feasible and effective in routine reference hospital. Early initiation of ARV during pregnancy and proper obstetrical care are essential to improve PMTCT.
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April 2010

Knowledge, attitudes and practices with respect to epilepsy among student nurses and laboratory assistants in the South West Region of Cameroon.

Epilepsy Behav 2010 Mar 12;17(3):381-8. Epub 2010 Feb 12.

Neurology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Specialties, Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaounde I, Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Objective: This study was designed as part of a series of studies mandated by the Cameroon Ministry of Public Health (National Epilepsy Control Program) to obtain new data for improvement of the epilepsy teaching program in schools training health personnel in the South West Region of Cameroon.

Method: A 12-item semistructured questionnaire was self-administered to 340 student nurses and laboratory assistants in five training schools for health personnel in the South West Region of Cameroon.

Results: All of them had heard about epilepsy, 86.5% knew someone with epilepsy, 88.5% had witnessed a seizure, but only 48.8% had read about epilepsy. About 33% and 52% would, respectively, object to their children associating with and marrying people with epilepsy (PWE). About 15.3% believed that epilepsy is a form of insanity, 10% thought epilepsy is contagious, 67.4% (P<0.001) would recommend medical treatment for epilepsy, 22% would offer prayers only, and 6% would recommend traditional medicine. Independent predictors of attitudes were: acquaintance with someone with epilepsy, knowledge of the cause of epilepsy, the belief that epilepsy is contagious or is a form of insanity, being male, and being in the first year of studies.

Conclusion: The knowledge level in this student sample is high, but the relatively low proportion of respondents who have read about epilepsy suggests that the observed high level of awareness of epilepsy may be from knowledge gained in the community; thus, there exist knowledge gaps. Therefore, a teaching course on epilepsy needs to be introduced into the curriculum of these training schools as early as the first year of studies. The course content must take into account the belief and value systems of the community and address misconceptions about epilepsy.
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March 2010