We are changing the guard at SACEMA. Alex Welte, who has managed “the shop” so effectively for the last five years has decided to step down. His successor, Dr Juliet Pulliam of the University of Florida, is expected to succeed him in late June 2016. It is appropriate, then, to look back at Alex’s substantial contribution to our organisation.
The remarkable expansion in access to ART globally since 2004 has transformed HIV from a life-threatening into a chronic illness. Improved survival as a result of ART has starkly highlighted the lack of preparedness amongst health systems to deal with the complex needs of children living with HIV as they grow older and enter adolescence. While the drive to increase coverage to ART needs to continue, there is also an urgent need for policymakers and healthcare providers to focus beyond the goal of prolonging survival and to concentrate ensuring that adolescents living with HIV achieve an optimum quality of life.
Soil transmitted helminths infections can have a negative impact on the health of children affecting nutritional status and development. Therefore, most endemic countries have started implementing mass chemotherapy programmes through school infrastructures. The success of a national deworming programme may be influenced by environmental conditions or the access to water, sanitation and hygiene. The question is which of these factors lead to success or failure of a programme. We therefore tried to get a better understanding of the determinants of geographical variations in programme impact in Kenya.
Schistosomiasis (bilharzia) is a parasitic disease which mainly affects under-resourced communities, especially in rural areas and is often not prioritized in national budgets in sub-Saharan African countries. The spatial and temporal distribution of schistosomiasis is mainly determined by the distribution of the intermediate host freshwater snail species. This is well-known, but the distribution is difficult to predict. The development of geospatial technology including GIS and remote sensing or earth observation has facilitated the progress made in predicting or modelling schistosomiasis in Africa.
Leprosy is caused by infection with Mycobacterium leprae and is characterized by peripheral nerve damage and skin lesions. Globally, new case detection rates for leprosy have remained fairly stable in the past decade, with India responsible for more than half of cases reported annually. We took a statistical look at recent annual new case detection trends reported by the government of India’s National Leprosy Eradication Programme. We found evidence of a very slow declining trend, but with substantial differences between districts. Enhancements in current public health policy must be undertaken to hasten the decline of leprosy.
In the SACEMA Quarterly of November 2015 we published an item from Alide Dasnois about compensating miners for the burden of lung disease. On 6 March 2016 City Press published an article titled “Silicosis claims: Anglo has to cough up nearly R500m” which reports on a first step in the process of paying the individual claims.
SACEMA has currently several vacancies both at Masters and PhD level. SACEMA is looking to appoint up to two strong quantitative analysts into contract positions (deadline for application: 14 March 2016) and is also inviting applications from ambitious postdoctoral scientists to conduct high-impact statistical and dynamical modelling work in public health (applications on ongoing basis).
In the coming months two short courses will be organised under the auspices of SACEMA: Bayesian Biostatistics from 4-8 April 2016 (registration deadline: 17 March 2016) and Using quantitative bias analysis with epidemiologic data from 18-20 May 2016 (early bird registration deadline: 1 April 2016).
While we all believe in ‘inter-disciplinary research’, the reality often falls short of the intention. How then can we begin to learn each others languages, hear what others are saying, use our joint knowledge and understanding to throw light on important problems, and hopefully make the world a slightly better place?
The most recent South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence and Behaviour Survey conducted in 2012 incorporated new tools for generating greater information about the current state of the HIV epidemic from the national household survey. The results from the direct HIV incidence estimates from the multi-assay recent infection algorithm from the survey and estimates from more conventional modelling approaches to estimating incidence were found to generate fairly similar results. The 2012 household survey data also provided an opportunity to externally validate model projections over time.