David A Walton

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (6)87.75 Total impact

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    Louise C Ivers · David A Walton ·
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    ABSTRACT: Cholera is an acute watery diarrheal disease caused by infection with Vibrio cholerae. The disease has a high fatality rate when untreated and outbreaks of cholera have been increasing globally in the past decade, most recently in Haiti. We present the case of a 28-year-old Haitian male with a history of severe untreated mental health disorder that developed acute fatal watery diarrhea in mid-October 2010 in central Haiti after drinking from the local river. We believe he is the first or among the first cases of cholera in Haiti during the current epidemic. By reviewing his case, we extracted lessons for global health on the importance of mental health for overall health, the globalization of diseases in small communities, and the importance of a comprehensive approach to the health of communities when planning services in resource-poor settings.
    The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 01/2012; 86(1):36-8. DOI:10.4269/ajtmh.2012.11-0435 · 2.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This joint statement argues for a comprehensive, integrated cholera response in Haiti. The cholera epidemic in Haiti is particularly devastating because of the vulnerability of Haiti's population after the January 12, 2010, earthquake, the long-standing weakness of its health, water, and sanitation systems, and the observed virulence of the El Tor hybrid strain. From October 19, 2010-when the first cases were confirmed in the National Public Health Laboratory-to April 4, 2011, 274,418 cases of cholera and 4,787 deaths related to cholera had been reported across all ten departments of Haiti [1]. The Haitian Ministere de la Sante Publique et de la Population (MSPP, the Ministry of Health) and the Direction Nationale de l'Eau Potable et de l'Assainissement (DINEPA, the government body charged with water and sanitation) have, with the support of many nongovernmental and international groups, made great strides against cholera. Case-fatality rates have dropped to 2.1% from 7% at the outset of the epidemic (and up to 10% in certain regions); incidence has also declined across Haiti, according to recent reports [1]. But fewer cases in the dry season (November-April) should not lead to complacency: seasonal variation is expected in epidemics of waterborne disease. Some have raised doubts about the sustainability of free water distribution within internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. But we believe that such efforts are an essential service that has contributed to the relatively few cases of cholera in the camps (as compared to other urban and rural areas). Given the likelihood of case resurgence and endemicity of cholera in Haiti, this document argues for a comprehensive, integrated strategy for cholera prevention and care in Haiti. We must reduce suffering and preventable death in the short term, and we must build effective water, sanitation, and health delivery infrastructure to fortify Haiti against cholera and other diseases of poverty in the long term. The document identifies three principal goals. First, we must continue aggressive case finding and scale up treatment efforts, including oral rehydration therapy, intravenous rehydration, antibiotic therapy (for moderate and severe cases), and complementary supplementation with zinc and vitamin A. Second, we must shore up Haiti's water infrastructure by building systems for consistent chlorination and filtration at public water sources and by distributing point-of-use water purification technologies. We must also strengthen sanitation infrastructure by improving and expanding waste management facilities (such as sewage systems and latrines) and waste monitoring. Third, we must link prevention to care by bolstering surveillance, education campaigns (about hand-washing, for example), and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) efforts. Prevention must also include advocacy for scaled-up production of cholera vaccine and the development of a vaccine strategy for Haiti. A vaccination campaign should be implemented if adequate vaccine and resources can be mobilized without undermining efforts to treat acutely ill patients or strengthen water and sanitation infrastructure. This document identifies key challenges and outlines the components of a comprehensive cholera response to aid medical and public health practitioners in Haiti and elsewhere. With leadership from the Haitian government, we must work together to bolster responses to the acute problem of cholera today and strengthen Haiti's health, water, and sanitation infrastructure to prevent similar outbreaks in the future.
    PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 05/2011; 5(5):e1145. DOI:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001145 · 4.45 Impact Factor
  • David Walton · Arjun Suri · Paul Farmer ·

    Annals of internal medicine 03/2011; 154(9):635-7. DOI:10.1059/0003-4819-154-9-201105030-00328 · 17.81 Impact Factor
  • David A Walton · Louise C Ivers ·

    New England Journal of Medicine 01/2011; 364(1):3-5. DOI:10.1056/NEJMp1012997 · 55.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pathology provides a critical bridge between the patients, their physicians and the therapeutic and surgical interventions that can be provided to them. Clinicians caring for patients in resource poor settings may provide basic healthcare, which does not include access to pathologic services; however, the value of pathology in alleviating health disparities for underserved patients is substantial when implemented. Partners in health is a comprehensive, community-based healthcare organization with clinics in 7 countries-most among the poorest in the world-which has the ability to obtain surgical biopsies and, if a pathologic diagnosis can be rendered, provide treatment, and long-term follow-up. Over the past 5 years, pathologists from the Brigham and Women's Hospital have collaborated with clinicians from partners in health to meet this need which included 129 cases from Haiti and Rwanda and a range of pathology: 64 malignancies, 28 normal tissue or nondiagnostic specimens, 16 infectious or inflammatory cases, 8 benign lesions, and other rare entities. Providing pathology services in resource poor settings through collaboration with clinicians working on-site is only hindered by the establishment of a working collaboration; however, the benefits are enormous and include patient access to curative or tailored therapies, logistical management of treatment resources, and exposure of pathologists to unique and challenging cases.
    The American journal of surgical pathology 11/2009; 34(1):118-23. DOI:10.1097/PAS.0b013e3181c17fe6 · 5.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Three decades ago, the world's ministries of health declared primary health care--the delivery of basic preventive and curative services--a top priority. Since then, however, the world's poorest countries have not met most primary health care goals. Twenty-six years after the Declaration of Alma Ata, we are said to be living in a time of "limited resources," a phrase that construes various health interventions as competing priorities. As HIV has become the leading infectious cause of adult death in much of the world, it is difficult to argue that AIDS prevention and care are not ranking priorities for primary health care, yet precisely such arguments have held sway among international health policy makers. We present new information emerging from the scale-up of an established and integrated AIDS prevention-and-care program, based initially in a squatter settlement in central Haiti, to a second site in rural Haiti. The program includes robust prevention efforts as well as community-based therapy for advanced AIDS; three related components--women's health and active case finding and therapy for tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections--were central to this effort. We tracked changes in key indices over the 14 months following the introduction of these services to a public clinic in central Haiti. We found that integrated AIDS prevention and care, including the use of antiretroviral agents, to be feasible in resource-poor settings and that such efforts may have favorable and readily measured impact on a number of primary health care goals, including vaccination, family planning, tuberculosis case finding and cure, and health promotion. Other collateral benefits, though less readily measured, include improved staff morale and enhanced confidence in public health and medicine. We conclude that improving AIDS prevention and treatment can help to reinvigorate flagging efforts to promote universal primary health care.
    Journal of Public Health Policy 02/2004; 25(2):137-58. DOI:10.1057/palgrave.jphp.3190013 · 1.78 Impact Factor