Dr Michael Marks from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, along with colleagues from Atoifi Health Research Group, have evaluated the experience of healthcare workers and patients using a newly-developed point of care test for syphilis and yaws in the Solomon Islands.
Solomon Islands has the third most cases of yaws in the world each year, after Ghana and Papua New Guinea.
Dr Marks explains, "Syphilis and yaws are closely related bacterial infections. In many countries where the diseases are found there is limited access to diagnostic testing. Recently a point of care test for both diseases has been developed."
The point of care test was deployed in the outpatient and ante-natal departments of Atoifi Hospital and four rural health clinics in surrounding communities of East Kwaio. Researchers from the Atoifi Health Research Group then evaluated the experience of healthcare workers and patients in using the test.
Ms Rowena Asugeni, Director of Research at Atoifi Hospital, reported, "both healthcare workers and patients experienced the point of care test as a positive development."
The speed with which health care workers could provide the results was appreciated. One health care worker said, "last taem ia, bae mifala givim go lo lab afta wan wik na bifo mifala resivim resolt (before when we have the sample to the lab we had to wait a week to receive the result)."
Patients also reported that improving access to testing at the clinic level was beneficial due to the delays involved in travelling to hospitals for testing. One patient explained, "sendem go lo hospital o sendem go lo olketa nara place testim kam olketa blud ia ating bae hem lelebet slo to so ating hem gud na for okelta makem lo hia nomoa (being sent to a hospital or another place for blood tests is slow so it is good to be able to take it here)."
Longer term and larger evaluations of point of care testing are now required to assess the impact and cost-effectiveness of scaling up the use of the tests to help manage syphilis and yaws in Solomon Islands.
Findings have been published in the PLOS NTDs journal. You can read the article in full for FREE: http://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.0006360
For more information, please contact: Dr Michael Marks michael.marks[at]lshtm.ac.uk or Ms Rowena Asugeni rowenaasugeni[at]gmail.com