Features

The Power and Precarity of Global Health Partnerships

A recent issue of Medicine Anthropology Theory devoted to the critique of global health partnerships (GHPs) raises a question of great significance to many Somatosphere readers: ‘In real world partnerships… after proposed innovations are tested, community health workers are trained, or an intervention has been piloted, what happens next?’ (Okeke 2018, 10). All too often, the answer is ‘little if …

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Diagnosis where? Testing Pigs and Humans for T. solium cysticercosis in Uganda

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Two live pigs being transported to a local butcher in Mukono district, Uganda

Taenia solium is a zoonotic disease shared between humans and pigs. Humans become infected with T. solium, also known as the pork tapeworm, when they consume undercooked pork infected with porcine cysticercosis. Human cysticercosis develops when humans ingest T. solium eggs. If cysterici travel to the human …

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Humanitarian diagnostics for sleeping sickness in Uganda

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Map of sleeping sickness RDT availability (red dots) in the north-western region of Uganda hosting refugees from South Sudan. In 2015, the majority of refugees in this region lived in Adjumani district, where RDTs were selectively withdrawn (blue dots) because the government’s surveillance strategy was not identifying cases. Partly this was because of the social complexity of getting the RDTs

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Diagnostics without diagnosis: RDTs for Sleeping Sickness in Uganda

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Diagnosing sleeping sickness (also known as human African trypanosomiasis (HAT)) is complicated, requiring the alignment of clinical suspicion with serological, parasitological, and molecular confirmation to determine appropriate treatment. Previously, diagnosis was carried out by mobile lab teams which confirmed cases in village screenings and transported patients for treatment. Since cases have declined however, expensive active screening campaigns have been phased …

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Laboratory capacity building and the open hardware movement

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Through my work in African laboratories I am regularly made aware of the challenging equipment shortages faced by research laboratories in many low/middle-income countries (LMICs). This extends far beyond the absence of “state-of-the-art” equipment and shiny, new models regularly produced by commercial companies. These shortages include the availability of what would normally be considered ubiquitous laboratory equipment – PCR machines, …

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ReEBOV: Developing an Ebola rapid diagnostic test at research ground zero

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Expired ReEBOV tests in a hospital laboratory in Sierra Leone. Photograph by Ann Kelly

In June 2015, as Sierra Leone and Guinea was experiencing new surges in clusters of Ebola virus cases, Nature published a news article asking why an inexpensive test that “could save lives” was not being deployed to the field. Indeed, while it seemed obvious to many …