Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The APUA African Chapter Network Initiative Uncovers New Data to Guide Improved Antibiotic Therapy

In 2001, APUA set out to develop a chapter network in Sub-Saharan Africa to supplement the limited resources available there to fight high rates of infectious disease. A major focus has been reduction of preventable or easily treatable bacterial diseases such as pneumonia and diarrheal diseases which are prevalent in the general population and often co-infect HIV patients.

Since 2001, APUA has established chapters in Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, with several more under development. APUA chapters in Zambia and Uganda facilitated introduction of APUA’s recent situation analysis funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. With the chapters’ assistance, APUA staff, Dr. Susan Foster and Dr. Aníbal Sosa coordinated in-country research teams of over 100 workers, compiling over 10,000 records from rural and urban sites. At the end of the two year study, country stakeholders were convened to consider implications and recommend interventions.

Key findings from the APUA situation analysis in Zambia and Uganda include:

  1. Health staff are still commonly prescribing the antibiotic cotrimoxazole for acute respiratory infection due to S. pneumoniae — even though resistance levels to this drug are very high and the standard for treatment has been changed to amoxicillin.
  2. Febrile children even with respiratory distress are almost as likely to get a drug meant to treat malaria as they are to get an antibiotic.
  3. In both countries, laboratories need to be upgraded with the proper equipment to collect data on drug resistance rates to various antibiotics and treatment guidelines need to be updated more frequently.

The APUA global chapter network in over 65 countries seeks to improve diagnosis and treatment of infections through improving regulatory policies and clinical practices. The APUA works in close collaboration with other organizations including the WHO, CGD, and the CDC. For more information on the APUA Global Chapter Network see the APUA Chapter Network page on our Web site or to learn more about the Gates Foundation Project in Zambia and Uganda visit our Current Projects page.