Winning papers

Established in 2016 to recognize outstanding, published research in the global health field by junior faculty appointed in the Faculty of Medicine, McGill University. Two $500 awards (with plaques) are given each year at Global Health Night in November.


Intradermal pre-exposure rabies vaccination in a Canadian travel clinic: 6-year retrospective observational study

Ling Yuan Kong MD, Jean Vincelette MD, Gaétan Laplante, Jo-Anne Duchesne, Michael Libman MD, Sapha Barkati MD MSc

CMAJ Open April 10, 2018 vol. 6 no. 2 E168-E175,

Background: The intradermal route of vaccine administration for pre-exposure rabies prophylaxis, endorsed by the Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization, was implemented at a large travel clinic in Montréal in 2008. We evaluated the effect of intradermal vaccination availability on uptake of pre-exposure rabies prophylaxis and rates of seroconversion with intradermal vaccination.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study using data from December 2008 to December 2014. The number of travellers who received pre-exposure rabies prophylaxis before and after the introduction of intradermal vaccination was compared. Postvaccination antibody titres were measured in intradermal vaccination recipients. We compared demographic and travel characteristics between vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers and between travellers in the intradermal and intramuscular groups using univariate and multivariate analyses.

Results: The proportion of travellers who received pre-exposure prophylaxis increased after the introduction of intradermal vaccination (annual average of 300 travellers from December 2009 to December 2014 v. 183 travellers from December 2006 to December 2007). Seroconversion occurred in 99.9% of those in the intradermal group. Travellers who received pre-exposure prophylaxis were older (mean age 35.8 yr v. 32.1 yr) and had longer travel duration than those who did not receive pre-exposure prophylaxis. Travellers to Asia were more likely to receive pre-exposure prophylaxis, and travellers visiting friends and relatives were less likely to receive it. Travellers in the intradermal group were younger than those in the intramuscular group and were more likely to be travelling for tourism.

Interpretation: The introduction of intradermal vaccination for pre-exposure rabies prophylaxis was associated with an increase in vaccination uptake. Reduced cost may be responsible for the increased coverage among younger travellers and those travelling for tourism. The high seroconversion rate after intradermal vaccination supports the effectiveness of this route of administration for pre-exposure rabies prophylaxis in immunocompetent people.

Global tobacco control and economic norms: an analysis of normative commitments in Kenya, Malawi and Zambia

Raphael Lencucha, Srikanth K Reddy, Ronald Labonte,Jeffrey Drope, Peter Magati, Fastone Goma, Richard Zulu and Donald Makoka

Health Policy and Planning, Volume 33, Issue 3, 1 April 2018, Pages 420–428,

Tobacco control norms have gained momentum over the past decade. To date 43 of 47 Sub-Saharan African countries are party to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The near universal adoption of the FCTC illustrates the increasing strength of these norms, although the level of commitment to implement the provisions varies widely. However, tobacco control is enmeshed in a web of international norms that has bearing on how governments implement and strengthen tobacco control measures. Given that economic arguments in favor of tobacco production remain a prominent barrier to tobacco control efforts, there is a continued need to examine how economic sectors frame and mobilize their policy commitments to tobacco production. This study explores the proposition that divergence of international norms fosters policy divergence within governments. This study was conducted in three African countries: Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia. These countries represent a continuum of tobacco control policy, whereby Kenya is one of the most advanced countries in Africa in this respect, whereas Malawi is one of the few countries that is not a party to the FCTC and has implemented few measures. We conducted 55 key informant interviews (Zambia = 23; Kenya = 17; Malawi = 15). Data analysis involved deductive coding of interview transcripts and notes to identify reference to international norms (i.e. commitments, agreements, institutions), coupled with an inductive analysis that sought to interpret the meaning participants ascribe to these norms. Our analysis suggests that commitments to tobacco control have yet to penetrate non-health sectors, who perceive tobacco control as largely in conflict with international economic norms. The reasons for this perceived conflict seems to include: (1) an entrenched and narrow conceptualization of economic development norms, (2) the power of economic interests to shape policy discourses, and (3) a structural divide between sectors in the form of bureaucratic silos.




Population level impact of an accelerated HIV response plan to reach the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target in Cote d'Ivoire: insights from mathematical modeling

Mathieu Maheu-Giroux, Juan F. Vesga, Souleymane Diabaté, Michel Alary, Stefan Baral, Daouda Diouf, Kouamé Abo, Marie-Claude Boily

PLoS Medicine, 14(6): e1002321., June 15, 2017

Background National responses will need to be markedly accelerated to achieve the ambitious target of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). This target aims for 90% of HIV-positive individuals to be aware of their status, for 90% of those aware to receive antiretroviral therapy (ART), and for 90% of those on treatment to have a suppressed viral load by 2020, with each individual target reaching 95% by 2030. We aimed to estimate the impact of various treatment-as-prevention scenarios in Coˆte d’Ivoire, one of the countries with the highest HIV incidence in West Africa, with unmet HIV prevention and treatment needs, and  where key populations are important to the broader  HIV epidemic. Methods and findings An age-stratified dynamic model was developed and calibrated to epidemiological and programmatic data using a Bayesian framework. The model represents sexual and vertical HIV transmission in  the general population, female sex workers (FSW), and men who have sex with men (MSM). We estimated the impact of scaling up interventions to reach the UNAIDS targets, as well as the impact of 8 other scenarios, on HIV transmission  in adults and children, compared to our baseline scenario that maintains 2015 rates of testing, ART initiation, ART discontinuation, treatment failure, and levels of condom use. In 2015, we estimated that 52% (95% credible intervals:  46%–58%) of HIV-positive individuals were aware of their status, 72% (57%–82%) of those aware were on ART, and 77% (74%–79%) of those on ART were virologically suppressed. Reaching the UNAIDS targets on time would avert 50%  (42%–60%) of new HIV infections over 2015–2030 compared to 30% (25%–36%) if the 90-90-90 target is reached in 2025. Attaining the UNAIDS targets in FSW, their clients, and MSM (but not in the rest of the population) would avert a  similar fraction of new infections (30%; 21%–39%). A 25-percentage-point drop in condom use from the 2015 levels among FSW and MSM would reduce the impact of reaching the UNAIDS targets, with 38% (26%–51%) of infections averted. The study’s main limitation is that homogenous spatial coverage of interventions was assumed, and future lines of inquiry should examine how geographical prioritization could affect HIV transmission. Conclusions Maximizing the impact of the UNAIDS targets will require rapid scale-up of interventions, particularly testing, ART initiation, and limiting ART discontinuation. Reaching clients of FSW, as well as key populations, can efficiently reduce transmission.  Sustaining the high condom-use levels among key populations should remain an important prevention pillar.

Population Survey of Iodine Deficiency and Environmental Disruptors of Thyroid Function in Young Children in Haiti

Julia E. von Oettingen, Tesha D. Brathwaite, Christopher Carpenter, Ric Bonnell, Xuemei He, Lewis E. Braverman, Elizabeth N. Pearce, Philippe Larco, Nancy Charles Larco, Eddy Jean-Baptiste, and Rosalind S. Brown

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, February 2017, 102(2):644–651 doi: 10.1210/jc.2016-2630

Context: Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable neurodevelopmental delay in children worldwide and a possible public health concern in Haiti. Objective: To determine the prevalence of iodine deficiency in Haitian young children and its influence by environmental factors. Design: Cross-sectional study, March through June 2015. Setting: Community churches in 3 geographical regions in Haiti. Participants: 299 healthy Haitian children aged 9 months to 6 years; one-third each enrolled in a coastal, mountainous, and urban region. Main Outcome Measures: Urinary iodide, serum thyrotropin (TSH), goiter assessment, and urinary perchlorate and thiocyanate. Results: Mean age was 3.361.6 years, with 51% female, median family income USD 30/week, and 16% malnutrition.Median urinary iodide levels were normal in coastal (145 mg/L, interquartile range [IQR] 97 to 241)and urbanregions (187mg/L, IQR 92 to316), but revealed mild iodine deficiency in a mountainous region (89mg/L, IQR 56 to 129), P,0.0001. Grade 1 goiters were palpated in 2 children, but TSH values were normal. Urinary thiocyanate and perchlorate concentrations were not elevated. Predictors of higher urinary iodide included higher urinary thiocyanate and perchlorate, breastfeeding, and not living in a mountainous region. Conclusions: Areas of mild iodine deficiency persist in Haiti’s mountainous regions. Exposure to two well understood environmental thyroid function disruptors is limited. (J Clin Endocrinol Metab 102: 644–651, 2017)




Trauma care and referral patterns in Rwanda: implications for trauma system development

Georges Ntakiyiruta, MD; Evan G. Wong, MD; Mathieu C. Rousseau, MD; Landouald Ruhungande, MD; Adam L. Kushner, MD; Alexander S. Liberman, MD; Kosar Khwaja, MD; Marc Dakermandji, MD; Marnie Wilson, MD; Tarek Razek, MD; Patrick Kyamanywa, MD; Dan L. Deckelbaum, MD

Canadian Journal of Surgery, 59(1):35-41: DOI: 10.1503/cjs.008115, February 2016

Background Trauma remains a leading cause of death worldwide. The development of trauma systems in low-resource settings may be of benefit. The objective of this study was to describe operative procedures performed for trauma at a tertiary care facility in Kigali, Rwanda, and to evaluate geographical variations and referral patterns of trauma care. Methods We retrospectively reviewed all prospectively collected operative cases performed at the largest referral hospital in Rwanda, the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali (CHUK), between June 1 and Dec. 1, 2011, for injury-related diagnoses. We used the Pearson Χ2 and Fisher exact tests to compare cases arising from within Kigali to those transferred from other provinces. Geospatial analyses were also performed to further elucidate transfer patterns. Results Over the 6-month study period, 2758 surgical interventions were performed at the CHUK. Of these, 653 (23.7%) were for trauma. Most patients resided outside of Kigali city, with 337 (58.0%) patients transferred from other provinces and 244 (42.0%) from within Kigali. Most trauma procedures were orthopedic (489 [84.2%]), although general surgery procedures represented a higher proportion of trauma surgeries in patients from other provinces than in patients from within Kigali (28 of 337 [8.3%] v. 10 of 244 [4.1%]). Conclusion To our knowledge, this is the first study to highlight geographical variations in access to trauma care in a low-income country and the first description of trauma procedures at a referral centre in Rwanda. Future efforts should focus on maturing prehospital and interfacility transport systems, strengthening district hospitals and further supporting referral institutions.

Cryptosporidium hominis Is a Newly Recognized Pathogen in the Arctic Region of Nunavik, Canada: Molecular Characterization of an Outbreak.


Karine Thivierge, Asma Iqbal, Brent Dixon, Réjean Dion, Benoît Levesque, Philippe Cantin, Lyne Cédilotte, Momar Ndao, Jean-François Proulx, Cedric P. Yansouni

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 10(4): e0004534. DOI:10.1371/journal.pntd.0004534, April 8, 2016

Background Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of childhood diarrhea in low-resource settings, and has been repeatedly associated with impaired physical and cognitive development. In May 2013, an outbreak of diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium hominis was identified in the Arctic region of Nunavik, Quebec. Human cryptosporidiosis transmission was previously unknown in this region, and very few previous studies have reported it elsewhere in the Arctic. We report clinical, molecular, and epidemiologic details of a multi-village Cryptosporidium outbreak in the Canadian Arctic. Methodology/Principal Findings We investigated the occurrence of cryptosporidiosis using a descriptive study of cases with onset between April 2013 and April 2014. Cases were defined as Nunavik inhabitants of any age presenting with diarrhea of any duration, in whom Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected by stool microscopy in a specialised reference laboratory. Cryptosporidium was identified in stool from 51 of 283 individuals. The overall annual incidence rate (IR) was 420 / 100,000 inhabitants. The IR was highest among children aged less than 5 years (1290 /100,000 persons). Genetic subtyping for stool specimens from 14/51 cases was determined by DNA sequence analysis of the 60 kDa glycoprotein (gp60) gene. Sequences aligned with C. hominis subtype Id in all cases. No common food or water source of infection was identified. Conclusions/Significance In this first observed outbreak of human cryptosporidiosis in this Arctic region, the high IR seen is cause for concern about the possible long-term effects on growth and development of children in Inuit communities, who face myriad other challenges such as overcrowding and food-insecurity. The temporal and geographic distribution of cases, as well as the identification of C. hominis subtype Id, suggest anthroponotic rather than zoonotic transmission. Barriers to timely diagnosis delayed the recognition of human cryptosporidiosis in this remote setting.

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