Scielo RSS <![CDATA[SAMJ: South African Medical Journal]]> vol. 112 num. 6 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Prof. Arderne Forder, aged 90 years: Microbiologist <i>par excellence</i></b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Colette Gunst Smith, 24 January 1972 - 6 January 2022 -a true clinician-scientist with a person-centred being</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Liberalising cannabis legislation in South Africa: Potential public health consequences for adolescents and pregnant women</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Optimising blood cultures: The interplay between diagnostic and antimicrobial stewardship</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Practice update to optimise the performance and interpretation of blood cultures: 2022</b>]]> Blood cultures are an important diagnostic and antibiotic stewardship tool to aid in treatment, monitoring and prognosis of patients with infection. This guideline is intended to update our 2010 guideline on the optimal use of blood cultures. Since then, there have been significant changes to the definitions of sepsis, guidance on the number of blood cultures recommended per draw, central and peripheral line blood cultures, advances in mitigating culture contamination, updates on the indications for blood cultures, and guidance on performance of follow-up cultures. <![CDATA[<b>Persistent maternal tachycardia: A clinical alert for healthcare professionals providing maternity care in South Africa</b>]]> Cardiac disease is one of the commonest causes of indirect maternal deaths globally. This brief report is a reminder that isolated maternal tachycardia at rest is a clinical alert and warrants a detailed history in relation to cardiac disorders, thorough clinical examination of all organ systems, relevant investigations such as imaging, and expert advice to avoid serious adverse events. We reflect on a belatedly investigated persistent maternal tachycardia resulting in a fatal postpartum collapse due to mitral stenosis. The lost window of opportunity for appropriate investigation and management of the tachycardia provides an insight into many similar maternal deaths in South Africa. Key clinical messages regarding persistent maternal tachycardia are presented for midwives and doctors caring for pregnant women. <![CDATA[<b>Prophylaxis is the new standard of care in patients with haemophilia</b>]]> Randomised controlled clinical trial evidence on prophylaxis as optimal care for patients with haemophilia was generated more than a decade ago. However, this knowledge has not translated into clinical practice in South Africa (SA) owing to many barriers to prophylaxis. These include the high treatment burden imposed by prophylaxis (frequent injections two to four times a week), the need for intravenous access to administer replacement clotting factor therapies, and the higher volume of clotting factor required compared with episodic treatment. The recently introduced non-factor therapies in haemophilia care have addressed many of these barriers. For example, emicizumab, which is currently the only globally approved non-factor therapy, can be administered subcutaneously less frequently (weekly, fortnightly or every 4 weeks) and has led to global adoption of prophylaxis as the standard of care in haemophilia by the bleeding disorders community. Haemophilia A is the most prevalent clotting factor deficiency in SA, with >2 000 people diagnosed to date. However, only a few of these patients are currently on prophylaxis. In this 'In Practice' article, we review the rationale for prophylaxis, outline its goals and benefits, and provide evidence-based guidance on which haemophilia patients should be prioritised for emicizumab prophylaxis. This consensus guidance facilitates the adoption of prophylaxis as a national policy and the new standard of care in haemophilia in SA. <![CDATA[<b>Is open-identity gamete donation lawful in South Africa?</b>]]> South African (SA) gamete banks and gamete donation agencies do not offer open-identity donors, as it is generally believed that donor anonymity is a legal requirement in SA. However, analysis of SA statutory instruments and case law shows that this belief is mistaken, and that gamete donation in SA can be anywhere on the spectrum between anonymous and known. Accordingly, open-identity gamete donation would be lawful in SA and can be offered to the public by SA gamete banks and gamete donation agencies. <![CDATA[<b>Immunological and virological outcomes in children on lamivudine monotherapy: A South African public sector experience</b>]]> BACKGROUND. In resource-limited settings, holding regimens such as lamivudine monotherapy (LAM) have been used to manage HIV-positive children failing combination antiretroviral therapy to mitigate the risk of drug resistance developing, while adherence barriers are addressed or when access to second- or third-line regimens is restricted. South African HIV treatment guidelines previously advocated the use of LAM to manage HIV-infected children with virological failure. However, the outcomes of patients on LAM compared with those who continued on a failing regimen have not been well described. OBJECTIVES. To investigate characteristics of a large cohort of children placed on LAM and their outcomes. METHOD. This was a retrospective review of children with virological failure and the documented Μ184V drug resistance mutation who were placed on LAM v. a control group of children who continued on a failing regimen despite persistent virological failure. Virological and immunological outcomes of LAM were compared with those in patients who remained on a failing regimen. RESULTS. A total of 179 children were included in the analysis, with 92 in the LAM group and 87 in the control group. The median (interquartile range (IQR)) age at baseline was 9.2 (5.4 - 12) years, the median CD4 count was 384 (184 - 622) cells/uL, and the median HIV viral load was 4.7 (IQR 3.7 - 5.3) log10. Twenty-two children (25.6%) in the LAM group and 15 (17.4%) in the control group experienced immunological deterioration. There was no statistical difference between the two groups with regard to overall time to immunological deterioration (log-rank p-value 0.4810). CONCLUSION. Given that a higher proportion of children in the LAM group experienced immunological failure, the LAM strategy may be a useful short-term one but should be restricted to children with limited treatment options. Managing children with virological failure will continue to be a challenge until improved adherence strategies are available. <![CDATA[<b>Solid malignancies during the first year of life: A 20-year review at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND. Among paediatric tumours, two groups stand out: neonatal and infantile tumours, which respectively represent 2% and 10% of paediatric tumours. The distribution of tumours in these age groups is different from that in older children. OBJECTIVES. Descriptive analysis of a cohort of patients treated for a solid malignancy at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital (RCWMCH), Cape Town, South Africa. METHODS. A 20-year retrospective case series review of patients aged <1 year at diagnosis was performed on data extracted from the RCWMCH oncology database. RESULTS. Of 243 cases extracted from the database, 198 were solid tumours, of which 122 (61.1%) were included in the analysis; the 76 excluded were benign or of eye, bone or central nervous system origin and therefore did not meet the inclusion criteria. There were 38 renal malignancies (31.2%), 30 neuroblastomas (24.6%), 25 soft-tissue sarcomas (20.5%), 17 germ cell tumours/gonadal tumours (13.9%) and 12 liver tumours (9.8%). Of the patients, 119 (97.5%) had surgery, 91 (74.6%) had chemotherapy and 10 (8.2%) had radiotherapy. Tumour group 5-year survival was 78.5% for neuroblastic tumours, 79.0% for nephroblastomas, 81.5% for hepatoblastomas, 62.5% and 54.2% for rhabdomyosarcoma and non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft-tissue sarcomas, respectively, and 79.5% for malignant extracranial and extragonadal germ cell tumours. For the entire cohort, the mean follow-up was 46 months, with an estimated 5-year overall survival of 74.6%. Mortality was 21.5% and loss to follow-up 6.6%. CONCLUSION. The distribution of tumours differs slightly from the literature, with a predominance of renal tumours over neuroblastomas. The overall mortality rate of 21.5%, the surgical complication rate of 10.9% and the 5-year overall survival of 74.6% correspond with the literature, supporting the view that a paediatric hospital in a middle-income country can achieve results similar to those in higher-income countries when international protocols are applied by a dedicated multidisciplinary team. <![CDATA[<b>Safety and efficacy of inclisiran in South African patients at high cardiovascular risk: A subanalysis of the ORION phase III clinical trials</b>]]> BACKGROUND. Inclisiran significantly reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in individuals with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) or ASCVD risk equivalents (type 2 diabetes, familial hypercholesterolaemia or a 10-year risk of a cardiovascular event &gt;20%) in the ORION phase III clinical trials. Infrequent dosing at days 1, 90, 270 and 450 resulted in a mean LDL-C reduction of -50%. A total of 298 participants from South Africa (SA) were enrolled. Local data are needed to support the use of inclisiran in the SA population, potentially addressing an unmet need for additional LDL-C-lowering therapies. OBJECTIVES. To analyse the ORION phase III trial data to assess the efficacy and safety of inclisiran in SA participants. METHODS. ORION-9, 10 and 11 were randomised, double-blind, phase III trials. Participants were receiving maximally tolerated statins with or without other lipid-lowering therapies (excluding protein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitors). Participants were randomised 1:1 to inclisiran sodium 300 mg/284 mg (free acid) or placebo administered at days 1, 90, 270 and 450. The co-primary endpoints were the LDL-C percentage change from baseline to day 510 and the time-averaged percentage change in LDL-C from baseline after day 90 up to day 540. Key secondary endpoints included the absolute change in LDL-C from baseline to day 510, the time-averaged absolute change from baseline after day 90 up to day 540, and changes in other lipids and lipoproteins. RESULTS. The mean age of the participants was 58.6 years (56% male). The mean LDL-C level at baseline was 3.6 mmol/L. At day 510, inclisiran reduced LDL-C levels by 54.2% compared with placebo (95% confidence interval (CI) -61.3 -47.2; p<0.0001). The corresponding time-averaged reduction in LDL-C was 52.8% (95% CI -57.9 - -47.8; p<0.0001). Treatment-emergent adverse events at the injection site were more common with inclisiran compared with placebo (10.1% v. 0.7%); however, all were mild or moderate in nature and none were persistent. CONCLUSION. Inclisiran, given in addition to maximally tolerated standard lipid-lowering therapy, is effective and safe and results in robust reductions in LDL-C in SA patients at high cardiovascular risk. <![CDATA[<b>Diagnostic performance of dobutamine stress echocardiography: A South African experience</b>]]> BACKGROUND. Dobutamine stress echocardiography (DSE) is a well-established modality for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease, but there are no reported diagnostic data in southern Africa. OBJECTIVES. To compare the safety, sensitivity and specificity of a South African (SA) DSE programme with larger, international series. METHODS. All patients undergoing DSE from 2019 to 2021 at a single SA centre were included. A new wall motion abnormality (>2 segments) signified inducible ischaemia. RESULTS. A total of 106 patients (mean (standard deviation) age 61 (11) years, 68% male) were analysed. Six patients (6%) experienced chest pain during DSE and 4 (4%) developed an atrial arrhythmia. The sensitivity and specificity for epicardial coronary stenosis were 77% and 74%, respectively, changing to 82% and 72% when excluding those who had previous coronary artery bypass surgery. CONCLUSION. The sensitivity, specificity and safety of an SA DSE programme were comparable to international series. A DSE programme is feasible in a resource-constrained environment. <![CDATA[<b>Pharmacist-led medication therapy management of diabetes club patients at a primary healthcare clinic in Cape Town, South Africa: A retrospective and prospective audit</b>]]> BACKGROUND. Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a complex chronic condition and remains a public health concern worldwide. In South Africa (SA), many patients with DM access public sector primary healthcare clinics, and those who are considered to be stable are referred to the club system, which is managed by a multidisciplinary team. Patients who have DM are often diagnosed with concurrent medical conditions, resulting in multiple medication therapies that lead to medication therapy problems (MTPs). Prescriber adherence to standard treatment guidelines (STGs) is aimed at improving glycaemic control to minimise complications and decrease healthcare costs. The pharmacist's role in medication therapy management (MTM) for DM is underutilised in public sector healthcare facilities. OBJECTIVES. To evaluate the implementation of a pharmacist-led MTM intervention to optimise the management of stable patients with type 2 DM attending a diabetes club at a Cape Town community day centre. METHOD. An evaluation study design using a case study approach was conducted over 8 months from November 2016 to June 2017. A retrospective and prospective audit was conducted from patient folders of stable patients who attended the club. Quantitative data were extracted from the folders. A trained pharmacist audited baseline (pre-intervention) data. Prescribing staff were notified of therapeutic discrepancies through written pharmacist's pharmacotherapeutic recommendations (intervention). Pharmacist-led interventions audited prescriber adherence to SA STGs and the Essential Medicines List, and prescriber responses to the pharmacist's recommendations (post-intervention) were recorded as accepted, partially accepted or rejected. Estimated costs were calculated for rational and irrational prescribing of aspirin during the MTM process. RESULTS. Of 104 patient folders audited, most were for females (n=70; 67.3%). A total of 453 MTPs were identified, averaging four interventions per folder reviewed. The most common MTPs identified were the absence of basic clinical data: body mass index not documented (22.5%) in the folder, no medical indication noted (19.2%), and laboratory tests not requested (18.3%) by clinicians. Prescriber acceptance of the pharmacist's recommendations was found to be low (26.8%), suggestive of clinical inertia. Aspirin was found to be irrationally prescribed to patients with DM (15.4%). CONCLUSION. Pharmacists can identify, resolve and prevent MTPs and rationalise appropriate medication therapy in patients with DM. Prescriber uptake of pharmacists' pharmacotherapeutic recommendations seems overlooked. Pharmacist-led workshops to advocate for rational prescribing are needed to mitigate MTPs among stable patients with type 2 DM at public sector healthcare facilities.