WHO Committee: MenAfriVac safety

   WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety, following review of new data for the meningococcal A conjugate vaccine (MenAfriVac), “concluded that the experience from the first three countries to introduce this vaccine did not indicate any reasons for concern about the vaccine’s safety.” The data reviewed by the Advisory Committee ― at its meeting of 15-16 June 2011 ― were collected in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger during the September and December 2010 vaccination campaigns and from the surveillance systems, WHO said. The Committee “recognized that it would not be practical to conduct active surveillance on a widespread basis during future immunization activities, (but) it highlighted the need for continuous surveillance as the vaccine is rolled out to ensure that further data on the safety profile of the vaccine can be obtained.” Other issues discussed by the Committee included a new approach for classifying serious adverse events following immunization, information sheets describing the safety profile of important vaccines and the development of a global strategy to enhance vaccine safety capacity in low- and middle-income countries.

Full report: Meeting of the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety, July 2011
pdf, 339kb


WHO warns against inaccurate blood tests for active tuberculosis

    WHO issued a policy recommendation warning against the use of inaccurate blood tests for active tuberculosis, noting that “the use of currently available, commercial blood (serological) tests to diagnose active tuberculosis (TB) often leads to misdiagnosis, mistreatment and potential harm to public health.” WHO is urging countries “to ban the inaccurate and unapproved blood tests and instead rely on accurate microbiological or molecular tests, as recommended by WHO.” Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of WHO’s Stop TB Department, said, “In the best interests of patients and caregivers in the private and public health sectors, WHO is calling for an end to the use of these serological tests to diagnose tuberculosis. A blood test for diagnosing active TB disease is bad practice. Test results are inconsistent, imprecise and put patients’ lives in danger.”

Today’s policy recommendation applies to blood tests for active TB. Blood tests for inactive TB infection (also known as dormant or latent TB) are currently under review by WHO.


Twitter Watch: Week to 25 July 2011

Twitter Watch
A selection of items of interest this week from a variety of twitter feeds. This capture is highly selective and by no means intended to be exhaustive.

CDCgov CDC.gov
@CDCgov keeps children #immunized against vaccine preventable diseases saving nearly $14 billion in direct costs go.usa.gov/BVM #CDC247

EndPolioNow EndPolioNow
Rotarians play key role in Pakistan’s strategy to end polio bit.ly/nNRdWl

GAVIAlliance GAVI Alliance
Great news today! A new human clinical trial of an #HIV #vaccine is showing incredible promise: http://ht.ly/5JYHV #globalhealth #AIDS

GAVIAlliance GAVI Alliance
7 days until World #HepatitisDay. Did you know there is a #hepatitis B #vaccine? http://ht.ly/5K6f7 /via @WHOnews #globalhealth

Low Health Literacy and Health Outcomes

Annals of Internal Medicine
July 19, 2011; 155 (2)

Low Health Literacy and Health Outcomes: An Updated Systematic Review
Nancy D. Berkman, Stacey L. Sheridan, Katrina E. Donahue, David J. Halpern, and Karen Crotty
Ann Intern Med July 19, 2011 155:97-107;

Health literacy has been associated with health-related knowledge and patient comprehension. This systematic review updates a 2004 review and found 96 eligible studies that suggest that low health literacy is associated with less ability to understand and follow medical advice, poorer health outcomes, and differential use of some health care services. Policymakers, clinicians, and other stakeholders need to find ways to reduce the effects of low health literacy on health outcomes.

Testing Rules of Thumb and the Science of Health Literacy
Cynthia Baur and Nancy Ostrove
Ann Intern Med July 19, 2011 155:129-130;

In this issue, the study by Woloshin and Schwartz suggests that lay people understand percents better than natural frequencies when considering information about drug therapies, and Berkman and colleagues’ findings address conventional wisdom about the associations between health literacy and some health-related outcomes. This editorial discusses these 2 articles in light of currently accepted ideas about health literacy. The editorialists assert that the findings reinforce a fundamental principle of health literacy: the need to pretest communication materials with the target audience.