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    STRIVE PNG: using a partnership-based approach in implementation research to strengthen surveillance and health systems in Papua New Guinea
    Farquhar, R ; Dori, A ; MacCana, S ; Tefuarani, N ; Lavu, E ; Barry, A ; Karl, S ; Makita, L ; Robinson, L ; Laman, M (BMC, 2022-04-02)
    Successful implementation research requires effective and equitable relationships between policy-makers, researchers and implementers to effect evidence-based systems change. However, mainstream research grant models between Global North and Global South institutions often (unintentionally) reinforce power imbalances between partners, which result in missed opportunities for knowledge and learning exchange between policy-makers, researchers and implementers.This case study, centred on the STRIVE PNG project, describes how a partnership-based approach has been used to establish, maintain and review effective and equitable relationships between 13 partner organizations (independent research institutes, government health agencies and public health laboratories) to strengthen surveillance and health systems in Papua New Guinea (PNG). We provide an overview of key terms (with supporting conceptual frameworks), describe selected partnership processes and tools used within the project, and share observations regarding early outcomes achieved through this approach.
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    Safety and efficacy of mass drug administration with a single-dose triple-drug regimen of albendazole plus diethylcarbamazine plus ivermectin for lymphatic filariasis in Papua New Guinea: An open-label, cluster-randomised trial
    Tavul, L ; Laman, M ; Howard, C ; Kotty, B ; Samuel, A ; Bjerum, C ; O'Brian, K ; Kumai, S ; Amuga, M ; Lorry, L ; Kerry, Z ; Kualawi, M ; Karl, S ; Makita, L ; John, LN ; Bieb, S ; Wangi, J ; Weil, GJ ; Goss, CW ; Tisch, DJ ; Pomat, W ; King, CL ; Robinson, LJ ; Walker, M (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2022-02-01)
    BACKGROUND: Papua New Guinea (PNG) has a high burden of lymphatic filariasis (LF) caused by Wuchereria bancrofti, with an estimated 4.2 million people at risk of infection. A single co-administered dose of ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine and albendazole (IDA) has been shown to have superior efficacy in sustained clearance of microfilariae compared to diethylcarbamazine and albendazole (DA) in small clinical trials. A community-based cluster-randomised trial of DA versus IDA was conducted to compare the safety and efficacy of IDA and DA for LF in a moderately endemic, treatment-naive area in PNG. METHODOLOGY: All consenting, eligible residents of 24 villages in Bogia district, Madang Province, PNG were enrolled, screened for W. bancrofti antigenemia and microfilaria (Mf) and randomised to receive IDA (N = 2382) or DA (N = 2181) according to their village of residence. Adverse events (AE) were assessed by active follow-up for 2 days and passive follow-up for an additional 5 days. Antigen-positive participants were re-tested one year after MDA to assess treatment efficacy. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Of the 4,563 participants enrolled, 96% were assessed for AEs within 2 days after treatment. The overall frequency of AEs were similar after either DA (18%) or IDA (20%) treatment. For those individuals with AEs, 87% were mild (Grade 1), 13% were moderate (Grade 2) and there were no Grade 3, Grade 4, or serious AEs (SAEs). The frequency of AEs was greater in Mf-positive than Mf-negative individuals receiving IDA (39% vs 20% p<0.001) and in Mf-positive participants treated with IDA (39%), compared to those treated with DA (24%, p = 0.023). One year after treatment, 64% (645/1013) of participants who were antigen-positive at baseline were re-screened and 74% of these participants (475/645) remained antigen positive. Clearance of Mf was achieved in 96% (52/54) of infected individuals in the IDA arm versus 84% (56/67) of infected individuals in the DA arm (relative risk (RR) 1.15; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.30; p = 0.019). Participants receiving DA treatment had a 4-fold higher likelihood of failing to clear Mf (RR 4.67 (95% CI: 1.05 to 20.67; p = 0.043). In the DA arm, a significant predictor of failure to clear was baseline Mf density (RR 1.54; 95% CI, 1.09 to 2.88; p = 0.007). CONCLUSION: IDA was well tolerated and more effective than DA for clearing Mf. Widespread use of this regimen could accelerate LF elimination in PNG. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Registration number NCT02899936; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02899936.
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    Vector composition, abundance, biting patterns and malaria transmission intensity in Madang, Papua New Guinea: assessment after 7 years of an LLIN-based malaria control programme
    Keven, JB ; Katusele, M ; Vinit, R ; Rodriguez-Rodriguez, D ; Hetzel, MW ; Robinson, LJ ; Laman, M ; Karl, S ; Walker, ED (BMC, 2022-01-05)
    BACKGROUND: A malaria control programme based on distribution of long-lasting insecticidal bed nets (LLINs) and artemisinin combination therapy began in Papua New Guinea in 2009. After implementation of the programme, substantial reductions in vector abundance and malaria transmission intensity occurred. The research reported here investigated whether these reductions remained after seven years of sustained effort. METHODS: All-night (18:00 to 06:00) mosquito collections were conducted using human landing catches and barrier screen methods in four villages of Madang Province between September 2016 and March 2017. Anopheles species identification and sporozoite infection with Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum were determined with molecular methods. Vector composition was expressed as the relative proportion of different species in villages, and vector abundance was quantified as the number of mosquitoes per barrier screen-night and per person-night. Transmission intensity was quantified as the number of sporozoite-infective vector bites per person-night. RESULTS: Five Anopheles species were present, but vector composition varied greatly among villages. Anopheles koliensis, a strongly anthropophilic species was the most prevalent in Bulal, Matukar and Wasab villages, constituting 63.7-73.8% of all Anopheles, but in Megiar Anopheles farauti was the most prevalent species (97.6%). Vector abundance varied among villages (ranging from 2.8 to 72.3 Anopheles per screen-night and 2.2-31.1 Anopheles per person-night), and spatially within villages. Malaria transmission intensity varied among the villages, with values ranging from 0.03 to 0.5 infective Anopheles bites per person-night. Most (54.1-75.1%) of the Anopheles bites occurred outdoors, with a substantial proportion (25.5-50.8%) occurring before 22:00. CONCLUSION: The estimates of vector abundance and transmission intensity in the current study were comparable to or higher than estimates in the same villages in 2010-2012, indicating impeded programme effectiveness. Outdoor and early biting behaviours of vectors are some of the likely explanatory factors. Heterogeneity in vector composition, abundance and distribution among and within villages challenge malaria control programmes and must be considered when planning them.
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    Infectivity of Symptomatic Malaria Patients to Anopheles farauti Colony Mosquitoes in Papua New Guinea
    Timinao, L ; Vinit, R ; Katusele, M ; Koleala, T ; Nate, E ; Czeher, C ; Burkot, TR ; Schofield, L ; Felger, I ; Mueller, I ; Laman, M ; Robinson, LJ ; Karl, S (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-12-22)
    Plasmodium transmission from humans to mosquitoes is an understudied bottleneck in the transmission of malaria. Direct membrane feeding assays (DMFA) allow detailed malaria transmission studies from humans to mosquitoes. Especially for Plasmodium vivax, which cannot be cultured long-term under laboratory conditions, implementation of DMFAs requires proximity to P. vivax endemic areas. In this study, we investigated the infectivity of symptomatic Plasmodium infections to Anopheles farauti colony mosquitoes in Papua New Guinea (PNG). A total of 182 DMFAs were performed with venous blood collected from rapid diagnostic test (RDT) positive symptomatic malaria patients and subsequently analysed by light microscopy and quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). DMFAs resulted in mosquito infections in 20.9% (38/182) of cases. By light microscopy and qPCR, 10 - 11% of P. falciparum and 32 - 44% of P. vivax positive individuals infected An. farauti. Fifty-eight percent of P. vivax and 15% of P. falciparum gametocytaemic infections infected An farauti.
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    Nonrandom Selection and Multiple Blood Feeding of Human Hosts by Anopheles Vectors: Implications for Malaria Transmission in Papua New Guinea
    Keven, JB ; Katusele, M ; Vinit, R ; Rodriguez-Rodriguez, D ; Hetzel, MW ; Robinson, LJ ; Laman, M ; Karl, S ; Foran, DR ; Walker, ED (AMER SOC TROP MED & HYGIENE, 2021-12-01)
    Nonrandom selection and multiple blood feeding of human hosts by Anopheles mosquitoes may exacerbate malaria transmission. Both patterns of blood feeding and their relationship to malaria epidemiology were investigated in Anopheles vectors in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Blood samples from humans and mosquito blood meals were collected in villages and human genetic profiles ("fingerprints") were analyzed by genotyping 23 microsatellites and a sex-specific marker. Frequency of blood meals acquired from different humans, identified by unique genetic profiles, was fitted to Poisson and negative binomial distributions to test for nonrandom patterns of host selection. Blood meals with more than one genetic profiles were classified as mosquitoes that fed on multiple humans. The age of a person bitten by a mosquito was determined by matching the blood-meal genetic profile to the villagers' genetic profiles. Malaria infection in humans was determined by PCR test of blood samples. The results show nonrandom distribution of blood feeding among humans, with biased selection toward males and individuals aged 15-30 years. Prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum infection was higher in this age group, suggesting males in this age range could be super-spreaders of malaria parasites. The proportion of mosquitoes that fed on multiple humans ranged from 6% to 13% among villages. The patterns of host utilization observed here can amplify transmission and contribute to the persistence of malaria in PNG despite efforts to suppress it with insecticidal bed nets. Excessive feeding on males aged 15-30 years underscores the importance of targeted interventions focusing on this demographic group.
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    Investigating differences in village-level heterogeneity of malaria infection and household risk factors in Papua New Guinea
    Gul, D ; Rodriguez-Rodriguez, D ; Nate, E ; Auwan, A ; Salib, M ; Lorry, L ; Keven, JB ; Katusele, M ; Rosado, J ; Hofmann, N ; Ome-Kaius, M ; Koepfli, C ; Felger, I ; Kazura, JW ; Hetzel, MW ; Mueller, I ; Karl, S ; Clements, ACA ; Fowkes, FJ ; Laman, M ; Robinson, LJ (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2021-08-16)
    Malaria risk is highly heterogeneous. Understanding village and household-level spatial heterogeneity of malaria risk can support a transition to spatially targeted interventions for malaria elimination. This analysis uses data from cross-sectional prevalence surveys conducted in 2014 and 2016 in two villages (Megiar and Mirap) in Papua New Guinea. Generalised additive modelling was used to characterise spatial heterogeneity of malaria risk and investigate the contribution of individual, household and environmental-level risk factors. Following a period of declining malaria prevalence, the prevalence of P. falciparum increased from 11.4 to 19.1% in Megiar and 12.3 to 28.3% in Mirap between 2014 and 2016, with focal hotspots observed in these villages in 2014 and expanding in 2016. Prevalence of P. vivax was similar in both years (20.6% and 18.3% in Megiar, 22.1% and 23.4% in Mirap) and spatial risk heterogeneity was less apparent compared to P. falciparum. Within-village hotspots varied by Plasmodium species across time and between villages. In Megiar, the adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of infection could be partially explained by household factors that increase risk of vector exposure, such as collecting outdoor surface water as a main source of water. In Mirap, increased AOR overlapped with proximity to densely vegetated areas of the village. The identification of household and environmental factors associated with increased spatial risk may serve as useful indicators of transmission hotspots and inform the development of tailored approaches for malaria control.
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    Magneto-optical diagnosis of symptomatic malaria in Papua New Guinea.
    Arndt, L ; Koleala, T ; Orbán, Á ; Ibam, C ; Lufele, E ; Timinao, L ; Lorry, L ; Butykai, Á ; Kaman, P ; Molnár, AP ; Krohns, S ; Nate, E ; Kucsera, I ; Orosz, E ; Moore, B ; Robinson, LJ ; Laman, M ; Kézsmárki, I ; Karl, S (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-02-12)
    Improved methods for malaria diagnosis are urgently needed. Here, we evaluate a novel method named rotating-crystal magneto-optical detection (RMOD) in 956 suspected malaria patients in Papua New Guinea. RMOD tests can be conducted within minutes and at low cost. We systematically evaluate the capability of RMOD to detect infections by directly comparing it with expert light microscopy, rapid diagnostic tests and polymerase chain reaction on capillary blood samples. We show that compared to light microscopy, RMOD exhibits 82% sensitivity and 84% specificity to detect any malaria infection and 87% sensitivity and 88% specificity to detect Plasmodium vivax. This indicates that RMOD could be useful in P. vivax dominated elimination settings. Parasite density correlates well with the quantitative magneto-optical signal. Importantly, residual hemozoin present in malaria-negative patients is also detectable by RMOD, indicating its ability to detect previous infections. This could be exploited to reveal transmission hotspots in low-transmission settings.
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    Efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in Papua New Guinea
    Tavul, L ; Hetzel, MW ; Teliki, A ; Walsh, D ; Kiniboro, B ; Rare, L ; Pulford, J ; Siba, PM ; Karl, S ; Makita, L ; Robinson, L ; Kattenberg, JH ; Laman, M ; Oswyn, G ; Mueller, I (BMC, 2018-10-05)
    BACKGROUND: In 2009, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Department of Health adopted artemether-lumefantrine (AL) and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PPQ) as the first- and second-line treatments for uncomplicated malaria, respectively. This study was conducted to assess the efficacy of both drugs following adoption of the new policy. METHODS: Between June 2012 and September 2014, a therapeutic efficacy study was conducted in East Sepik and Milne Bay Provinces of PNG in accordance with the standard World Health Organization (WHO) protocol for surveillance of anti-malarial drug efficacy. Patients ≥ 6 months of age with microscopy confirmed Plasmodium falciparum or Plasmodium vivax mono-infections were enrolled, treated with AL or DHA-PPQ, and followed up for 42 days. Study endpoints were adequate clinical and parasitological response (ACPR) on days 28 and 42. The in vitro efficacy of anti-malarials and the prevalence of selected molecular markers of resistance were also determined. RESULTS: A total of 274 P. falciparum and 70 P. vivax cases were enrolled. The day-42 PCR-corrected ACPR for P. falciparum was 98.1% (104/106) for AL and 100% (135/135) for DHA-PPQ. The day-42 PCR-corrected ACPR for P. vivax was 79.0% (15/19) for AL and 92.3% (36/39) for DHA-PPQ. Day 3 parasite clearance of P. falciparum was 99.2% with AL and 100% with DHA-PPQ. In vitro testing of 96 samples revealed low susceptibility to chloroquine (34% of samples above IC50 threshold) but not to lumefantrine (0%). Molecular markers assessed in a sub-set of the study population indicated high rates of chloroquine resistance in P. falciparum (pfcrt SVMNT: 94.2%, n = 104) and in P. vivax (pvmdr1 Y976F: 64.8%, n = 54). CONCLUSIONS: AL and DHA-PPQ were efficacious as first- and second-line treatments for uncomplicated malaria in PNG. Continued in vivo efficacy monitoring is warranted considering the threat of resistance to artemisinin and partner drugs in the region and scale-up of artemisinin-based combination therapy in PNG.
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    Mathematical modelling of the impact of expanding levels of malaria control interventions on Plasmodium vivax
    White, MT ; Walker, P ; Karl, S ; Hetzel, MW ; Freeman, T ; Waltmann, A ; Laman, M ; Robinson, LJ ; Ghani, A ; Mueller, I (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2018-08-17)
    Plasmodium vivax poses unique challenges for malaria control and elimination, notably the potential for relapses to maintain transmission in the face of drug-based treatment and vector control strategies. We developed an individual-based mathematical model of P. vivax transmission calibrated to epidemiological data from Papua New Guinea (PNG). In many settings in PNG, increasing bed net coverage is predicted to reduce transmission to less than 0.1% prevalence by light microscopy, however there is substantial risk of rebounds in transmission if interventions are removed prematurely. In several high transmission settings, model simulations predict that combinations of existing interventions are not sufficient to interrupt P. vivax transmission. This analysis highlights the potential options for the future of P. vivax control: maintaining existing public health gains by keeping transmission suppressed through indefinite distribution of interventions; or continued development of strategies based on existing and new interventions to push for further reduction and towards elimination.
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    Temporal changes in Plasmodium falciparum anti-malarial drug sensitivity in vitro and resistance-associated genetic mutations in isolates from Papua New Guinea
    Koleala, T ; Karl, S ; Laman, M ; Moore, BR ; Benjamin, J ; Barnadas, C ; Robinson, LJ ; Kattenberg, JH ; Javati, S ; Wong, RPM ; Rosanas-Urgell, A ; Betuela, I ; Siba, PM ; Mueller, I ; Davis, TME (BMC, 2015-01-28)
    BACKGROUND: In northern Papua New Guinea (PNG), most Plasmodium falciparum isolates proved resistant to chloroquine (CQ) in vitro between 2005 and 2007, and there was near-fixation of pfcrt K76T, pfdhfr C59R/S108N and pfmdr1 N86Y. To determine whether the subsequent introduction of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) and reduced CQ-sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine pressure had attenuated parasite drug susceptibility and resistance-associated mutations, these parameters were re-assessed between 2011 and 2013. METHODS: A validated fluorescence-based assay was used to assess growth inhibition of 52 P. falciparum isolates from children in a clinical trial in Madang Province. Responses to CQ, lumefantrine, piperaquine, naphthoquine, pyronaridine, artesunate, dihydroartemisinin, artemether were assessed. Molecular resistance markers were detected using a multiplex PCR ligase detection reaction fluorescent microsphere assay. RESULTS: CQ resistance (in vitro concentration required for 50% parasite growth inhibition (IC₅₀) >100 nM) was present in 19% of isolates. All piperaquine and naphthoquine IC₅₀s were <100 nM and those for lumefantrine, pyronaridine and the artemisinin derivatives were in low nM ranges. Factor analysis of IC₅₀s showed three groupings (lumefantrine; CQ, piperaquine, naphthoquine; pyronaridine, dihydroartemisinin, artemether, artesunate). Most isolates (96%) were monoclonal pfcrt K76T (SVMNT) mutants and most (86%) contained pfmdr1 N86Y (YYSND). No wild-type pfdhfr was found but most isolates contained wild-type (SAKAA) pfdhps. Compared with 2005-2007, the geometric mean (95% CI) CQ IC₅₀ was lower (87 (71-107) vs 167 (141-197) nM) and there had been no change in the prevalence of pfcrt K76T or pfmdr1 mutations. There were fewer isolates of the pfdhps (SAKAA) wild-type (60 vs 100%) and pfdhfr mutations persisted. CONCLUSIONS: Reflecting less drug pressure, in vitro CQ sensitivity appears to be improving in Madang Province despite continued near-fixation of pfcrt K76T and pfmdr1 mutations. Temporal changes in IC₅₀s for other anti-malarial drugs were inconsistent but susceptibility was preserved. Retention or increases in pfdhfr and pfdhps mutations reflect continued use of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine in the study area including through paediatric intermittent preventive treatment. The susceptibility of local isolates to lumefantrine may be unrelated to those of other ACT partner drugs. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000913077 .