New and important publication from the Arba Minch group

Mulchandani R, Massebo F,Bocho F, Jeffries CL, Walker T, Messenger LA. A community-level investigation following a yellow fever virus outbreak in South Omo Zone, South-West Ethiopia. PeerJ. 2019;7. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6466.

Background

Despite the availability of a highly effective vaccine, yellow fever virus (YFV) remains an important public health problem across Africa and South America due to its high case-fatality rate. This study investigated the historical epidemiology and contemporary entomological and social determinants of a YFV outbreak in South Omo Zone (SOZ), Ethiopia.

Methods

A YFV outbreak occurred in SOZ, Ethiopia in 2012–2014. Historical epidemiological data were retrieved from the SOZ Health Department and analyzed. Entomological sampling was undertaken in 2017, including mosquito species identification and molecular screening for arboviruses to understand mosquito habitat distribution, and finally current knowledge, attitudes and preventative practices within the affected communities were assessed.

Results

From October 2012 to March 2014, 165 suspected cases and 62 deaths were reported, principally in rural areas of South Ari region (83.6%). The majority of patients were 15–44 years old (75.8%) and most case deaths were males (76%). Between June and August 2017, 688 containers were sampled across 180 households to identify key breeding sites for Aedesmosquitoes. Ensete ventricosum(“false banana”) and clay pots outside the home were the most productive natural and artificial breeding sites, respectively. Entomological risk indices classified most sites as “high risk” for future outbreaks under current World Health Organization criteria. Adult mosquitoes in houses were identified as members of the Aedes simpsonicomplex but no YFV or other arboviruses were detected by PCR. The majority of community members had heard of YFV, however few activities were undertaken to actively reduce mosquito breeding sites.

Discussion

Study results highlight the potential role vector control could play in mitigating local disease transmission and emphasize the urgent need to strengthen disease surveillance systems and in-country laboratory capacity to facilitate more rapid responses to future YFV outbreaks.

 

Recent publications

Publications by students attached to the SENUPH programme:

Arba Minch University

Abraham M, Massebo F, Lindtjørn B: High entomological inoculation rate of malaria vectors in area of high coverage of interventions in southwest Ethiopia: Implication for residual malaria transmission. Parasite Epidemiology and Control 2017, 2:61-69.

Wolaita Sodo University

Tadesse Tantu A, Demissie Gamebo T, Kuma Sheno B, Yohannis Kabalo M: Household food insecurity and associated factors among households in Wolaita Sodo town, 2015. Agriculture & Food Security 2017, 6:19.

Shone M, Demissie T, Yohannes B, Yohannis M: Household food insecurity and associated factors in West Abaya district, Southern Ethiopia, 2015. Agriculture & Food Security 2017, 6:2.

Lenja A, Demissie T, Yohannes B, Yohannis M: Determinants of exclusive breastfeeding practice to infants aged less than six months in Offa district, Southern Ethiopia: a cross-sectional study. Int Breastfeed J 2016, 11:32.

Start of PhD programme at Hawassa University

In October, the PhD programme started at Hawassa University. This is a joint programme between Hawassa University and the University of Bergen.

Nine students started, and have chosen a research topic, and are working to finalize their research plans. Some of these topics include

  1. Community-based management of acute malnutrition
  2. Measuring the occurrence of maternal, neonatal and childhood diseases, and analyze their use of health services (two students)
  3. Can an intervention to reduce the oral and physical abuse by health workers on women during labour improve the health for the mother and child?
  4. Does intimate partner violence and depression during pregnancy adversely affect maternal health during delivery, and the health of the newborn?
  5. To describe the vulnerability to food shortages by examining food insecurity, food intake and nutritional status over one year in Wolaita.
  6. Is the nutritional transition taking place in Wolaita increasing the occurrence of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes?
  7. Can better use of the iron-rich amaranth plant reduce the occurrence of iron eficiency anaemia?
  8. School health.

Public Health Network in South Ethiopia

The South Ethiopia Network of Universities in Public Health (SENUPH): improving women’s participation in post-graduate education is funded through The Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED) in Norway.

The vision of this project is to enhance the capacity of universities in south Ethiopia to train sufficient staff for the Region to carry out essential public health work, and do essential research to improve the health of the people living in South Ethiopia. This will be carried out by:

  • Establishing, and strengthening a network of the main universities in south Ethiopia doing teaching so the universities can increase their teaching capacity and train enough staff to meet the demands within the public health sector.
  • Substantially increasing the number of women with postgraduate education
  • Increasing the number of teachers at the universities in public health.
  • Strengthening the research capacity through PhD and Master’s programme so the research done in the region will aid in defining the future health policy.

This project has four integrated parts:

  • A PhD programme for all universities and located at Hawassa University
  • A master programme in Reproductive health at Dilla University
  • A master programme in Nutrition at Wolaita Soddo University and
  • A master programme in Medical Entomology (malaria control) at Arba Minch University).

By developing a network of the main universities in south Ethiopia we will address several important areas such as staff development, and enhance the human capacity in higher education, in public health, reproductive health, and nutrition and malaria control.