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1.
S Afr Med J ; 111(10): 934-937, 2021 08 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1478412

ABSTRACT

Some clinicians prescribe ivermectin for COVID-19 despite a lack of support from any credible South African professional body. They argue that when faced by clinical urgency, weak signals of efficacy should trigger action if harm is unlikely. Several recent reviews found an apparent mortality benefit by including studies at high risk of bias and with active rather than placebo controls. If these studies are discounted, the pooled mortality effect is no longer statistically significant, and evidence of benefit is very weak. Relying on this evidence could cause clinical harm if used to justify vaccine hesitancy. Clinicians remain responsible for ensuring that guidance they follow is both legitimate and reliable. In the ivermectin debate, evidence-based medicine (EBM) principles have largely been ignored under the guise thatin a pandemic the 'rules are different', probably to the detriment of vulnerable patients and certainly to the detriment of the profession's image. Medical schools and professional interest groups are responsible for transforming EBM from a taught but seldom-used tool into a process of lifelong learning, promoting a consistent call for evidence-based and unconflicted debate integral to clinical practice.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/drug therapy , Ivermectin/administration & dosage , Practice Patterns, Physicians'/standards , /psychology , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , Evidence-Based Medicine/standards , Humans , Ivermectin/adverse effects , Research Design , South Africa
2.
Eurosurveillance ; 26(29):10, 2021.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-1341599

ABSTRACT

Background In South Africa, COVID-19 control measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 spread were initiated on 16 March 2020. Such measures may also impact the spread of other pathogens, including influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) with implications for future annual epidemics and expectations for the subsequent northern hemisphere winter. Methods We assessed the detection of influenza and RSV through facility-based syndromic surveillance of adults and children with mild or severe respiratory illness in South Africa from January to October 2020, and compared this with surveillance data from 2013 to 2019. Results Facility-based surveillance revealed a decline in influenza virus detection during the regular season compared with previous years. This was observed throughout the implementation of COVID-19 control measures. RSV detection decreased soon after the most stringent COVID-19 control measures commenced;however, an increase in RSV detection was observed after the typical season, following the reopening of schools and the easing of measures. Conclusion COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical interventions led to reduced circulation of influenza and RSV in South Africa. This has limited the country's ability to provide influenza virus strains for the selection of the annual influenza vaccine. Delayed increases in RSV case numbers may reflect the easing of COVID-19 control measures. An increase in influenza virus detection was not observed, suggesting that the measures may have impacted the two pathogens differently. The impact that lowered and/or delayed influenza and RSV circulation in 2020 will have on the intensity and severity of subsequent annual epidemics is unknown and warrants close monitoring.

3.
S Afr Med J ; 111(2): 100-105, 2021 01 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1168064

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many hospitals severely limiting or denying parents access to their hospitalised children. This article provides guidance for hospital managers, healthcare staff, district-level managers and provincial managers on parental access to hospitalised children during a pandemic such as COVID-19. It: (i) summarises legal and ethical issues around parental visitation rights; (ii) highlights four guiding principles; (iii) provides 10 practical recommendations to facilitate safe parental access to hospitalised children; (iv) highlights additional considerations if the mother is COVID-19-positive; and (v) provides considerations for fathers. In summary, it is a child's right to have access to his or her parents during hospitalisation, and parents should have access to their hospitalised children; during an infectious disease pandemic such as COVID-19, there is a responsibility to ensure that parental visitation is implemented in a reasonable and safe manner. Separation should only occur in exceptional circumstances, e.g. if adequate in-hospital facilities do not exist to jointly accommodate the parent/caregiver and the newborn/infant/child. Both parents should be allowed access to hospitalised children, under strict infection prevention and control (IPC) measures and with implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), including handwashing/sanitisation, face masks and physical distancing. Newborns/infants and their parents/caregivers have a reasonably high likelihood of having similar COVID-19 status, and should be managed as a dyad rather than as individuals. Every hospital should provide lodger/boarder facilities for mothers who are COVID-19-positive, COVID-19-negative or persons under investigation (PUI), separately, with stringent IPC measures and NPIs. If facilities are limited, breastfeeding mothers should be prioritised, in the following order: (i) COVID-19-negative; (ii) COVID-19 PUI; and (iii) COVID-19-positive. Breastfeeding, or breastmilk feeding, should be promoted, supported and protected, and skin-to-skin care of newborns with the mother/caregiver (with IPC measures) should be discussed and practised as far as possible. Surgical masks should be provided to all parents/caregivers and replaced daily throughout the hospital stay. Parents should be referred to social services and local community resources to ensure that multidisciplinary support is provided. Hospitals should develop individual-level policies and share these with staff and parents. Additionally, hospitals should ideally track the effect of parental visitation rights on hospital-based COVID-19 outbreaks, the mental health of hospitalised children, and their rate of recovery.


Subject(s)
Child Health/standards , Child, Hospitalized/statistics & numerical data , Hospitals/standards , Infection Control/standards , Patient Isolation/standards , Visitors to Patients/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19 , Child , Female , Humans , Infant, Newborn , South Africa
5.
Samj South African Medical Journal ; 110(11):1077-1080, 2020.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-979208

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic requires urgent decisions regarding treatment policy in the face of rapidly evolving evidence. In response, the South African Essential Medicines List Committee established a subcommittee to systematically review and appraise emerging evidence, within very short timelines, in order to inform the National Department of Health COVID-19 treatment guidelines. To date, the subcommittee has reviewed 14 potential treatments, and made recommendations based on local context, feasibility, resource requirements and equity. Here we describe the rapid review and evidence-to-decision process, using remdesivir and dexamethasone as examples. Our experience is that conducting rapid reviews is a practical and efficient way to address medicine policy questions under pandemic conditions.

6.
South African Medical Journal ; 2020.
Article in English | AIM (Africa) | ID: covidwho-864951

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic requires urgent decisions regarding treatment policy in the face of rapidly evolving evidence. In response, the South African Essential Medicines List Committee established a subcommittee to systematically review and appraise emerging evidence, within very short timelines, in order to inform the National Department of Health COVID-19 treatment guidelines. To date, the subcommittee has reviewed 14 potential treatments, and made recommendations based on local context, feasibility, resource requirements and equity. Here we describe the rapid review and evidence-to-decision process, using remdesivir and dexamethasone as examples. Our experience is that conducting rapid reviews is a practical and efficient way to address medicine policy questions under pandemic conditions.

7.
Samj South African Medical Journal ; 110(7):588-593, 2020.
Article | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-771237

ABSTRACT

Background. Accurate diagnosis and attribution of the aetiology of pneumonia are important for measuring the burden of disease, implementing appropriate treatment strategies and developing more effective interventions. Objectives. To produce revised guidelines for the diagnosis of pneumonia in South African (SA) children, encompassing clinical, radiological and aetiological methods. Methods. An expert group was established to review diagnostic evidence and make recommendations for a revised SA guideline. Published evidence was reviewed and graded using the British Thoracic Society grading system. Results. Diagnosis of pneumonia should be considered in a child with acute cough, fast breathing or difficulty breathing. Revised World Health Organization guidelines classify such children into: (i) severe pneumonia;(ii) pneumonia (tachypoea or lower chest indrawing);or (iii) no pneumonia. Malnourished or immunocompromised children with lower chest indrawing should be managed as cases of severe pneumonia. Pulse oximetry should be done, with hospital referral for oxygen saturation <92%. A chest X-ray is indicated in severe pneumonia or when tuberculosis (TB) is suspected. Microbiological investigations are recommended in hospitalised patients or in outbreak settings. Improved aetiological methods show the importance of co-infections. Blood cultures have a low sensitivity (<5%), for diagnosing bacterial pneumonia. Highly sensitive, multiplex tests on upper respiratory samples or sputum detect multiple potential pathogens in most children. However, even in symptomatic children, it may be impossible to distinguish colonising from causative organisms, unless identification of the organism is strongly associated with attribution to causality, e.g. respiratory syncytial virus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Bordetella pertussis, influenza, para-influenza or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Investigations for TB should be considered in children with severe pneumonia who have been hospitalised, in a case of a known TB contact, if the tuberculin skin test is positive, if a child is malnourished or has lost weight, and in children living with HIV. Induced sputum may provide a higher yield than upper respiratory sampling for B. pertussis, M. tuberculosis and Pneumocystis jirovecii. Conclusions. Advances in clinical, radiological and aetiological methods have improved the diagnosis of childhood pneumonia.

8.
S. Afr. Med. J. ; 8(110): 741-746, 20200801.
Article in English | WHO COVID, ELSEVIER | ID: covidwho-732683

ABSTRACT

Background. More comprehensive immunisation regimens, strengthening of HIV prevention and management programmes and improved socioeconomic conditions have impacted on the epidemiology of paediatric community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in South Africa (SA). Objectives. To summarise effective preventive strategies to reduce the burden of childhood CAP. Methods. An expert subgroup reviewed existing SA guidelines and new publications focusing on prevention. Published evidence on pneumonia prevention informed the revisions; in the absence of evidence, expert opinion was used. Evidence was graded using the British Thoracic Society (BTS) grading system. Recommendations. General measures for prevention include minimising exposure to tobacco smoke or air pollution, breastfeeding, optimising nutrition, optimising maternal health from pregnancy onwards, adequate antenatal care and improvement in socioeconomic and living conditions. Prevention of viral transmission, including SARS-CoV-2, can be achieved by hand hygiene, environmental decontamination, use of masks and isolation of infected people. Specific preventive measures include vaccines as contained in the Expanded Programme on Immunisation schedule, isoniazid prophylaxis for tuberculosis, co-trimoxazole prophylaxis for HIV-infected infants and children who are immunosuppressed, and timely diagnosis of HIV, as well as antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation. HIV-infected children treated with ART from early infancy, and HIV-exposed children, have similar immunogenicity and immune responses to most childhood vaccines as HIV-unexposed infants. Validation. These recommendations are based on available published evidence supplemented by the consensus opinion of SA paediatric experts, and are consistent with those in published international guidelines.

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