Peter Byass

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

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Publications (173)798.79 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: In 2011 there were 5.5 million HIV infected people in South Africa and 71% of those requiring antiretroviral therapy (ART) received it. The effective integration of traditional medical practitioners and biomedical providers in HIV prevention and care has been demonstrated. However concerns remain that the use of traditional treatments for HIV-related disease may lead to pharmacokinetic interactions between herbal remedies and ART drugs and delay ART initiation. Here we analyse the changing prevalence and determinants of traditional healthcare use amongst those dying of HIV-related disease, pulmonary tuberculosis and other causes in a rural South African community between 2003 and 2011. ART was made available in this area in the latter part of this period. Data was collected during household visits and verbal autopsy interviews. InterVA-4 was used to assign causes of death. Spatial analyses of the distribution of traditional healthcare use were performed. Logistic regression models were developed to test associations of determinants with traditional healthcare use. There were 5929 deaths in the study population of which 47.7% were caused by HIV-related disease or pulmonary tuberculosis (HIV/AIDS and TB). Traditional healthcare use declined for all deaths, with higher levels throughout for those dying of HIV/AIDS and TB than for those dying of other causes. In 2003-2005, sole use of biomedical treatment was reported for 18.2% of HIV/AIDS and TB deaths and 27.2% of other deaths, by 2008-2011 the figures were 49.9% and 45.3% respectively. In bivariate analyses, higher traditional healthcare use was associated with Mozambican origin, lower education levels, death in 2003-2005 compared to the later time periods, longer illness duration and moderate increases in prior household mortality. In the multivariate model only country of origin, time period and illness duration remained associated. There were large decreases in reported traditional healthcare use and increases in the sole use of biomedical treatment amongst those dying of HIV/AIDS and TB. No associations between socio-economic position, age or gender and the likelihood of traditional healthcare use were seen. Further qualitative and quantitative studies are needed to assess whether these figures reflect trends in healthcare use amongst the entire population and the reasons for the temporal changes identified.
    BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 12/2014; 14(1):504. · 2.08 Impact Factor
  • Osman Sankoh, Peter Byass
    The Lancet Global Health. 11/2014;
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    Peter Byass
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    ABSTRACT: New Global Burden of Disease estimates for liver cirrhosis, published in BMC Medicine, suggest that cirrhosis caused over a million deaths in 2010, with a further million due to liver cancer and acute hepatitis. Cause-specific mortality data were very sparse for some regions, particularly in Africa, with no relevant mortality data for 58/187 countries. Liver disease involves infectious, malignant and chronic aetiologies with overlapping symptoms. Where available mortality data come from verbal autopsies, separating different types of liver disease is challenging.
    BMC medicine. 09/2014; 12(1):159.
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The lack of adequate documentation of deaths, and particularly their cause, is often noted in African and Asian settings, but practical solutions for addressing the problem are not always clear. Verbal autopsy methods (interviewing witnesses after a death) have developed rapidly, but there remains a lack of clarity as to how these methods can be effectively applied to large unregistered populations. This paper sets out practical details for undertaking a representative survey of cause-specific mortality in a population of several million, taking Tigray Region in Ethiopia as a prototype. Sampling: Sampling was designed around an expected level of maternal mortality ratio of 400 per 100,000 live births, which needed measuring within a 95% confidence interval of approximately ±100. Taking a stratified cluster sample within the region at the district level for logistic reasons, and allowing for a design effect of 2, this required a population of around 900,000 people, equating to six typical districts. Since the region is administered in six geographic zones, one district per zone was randomly selected. Implementation: The survey was implemented as a two-stage process: first, to trace deaths that occurred in the sampled districts within the preceding year, and second to follow them up with verbal autopsy interviews. The field work for both stages was undertaken by health extension workers, working in their normally assigned areas. Most of the work was associated with tracing the deaths, rather than undertaking the verbal autopsy interviews. Discussion: This approach to measuring cause-specific mortality in an unregistered Ethiopian population proved to be feasible and effective. Although it falls short of the ideal situation of continuous civil registration and vital statistics, a survey-based strategy of this kind may prove to be a useful intermediate step on the road towards full civil registration and vital statistics implementation.
    Global Health Action 09/2014; 7:25264. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this study we analysed the spatial and temporal changes in patterns of mortality over a period when antiretroviral therapy (ART) was rolled out in a rural region of north-eastern South Africa. Previous studies have identified localised concentrated HIV related sub-epidemics and recommended that micro-level analyses be carried out in order to direct focused interventions.
    Global journal of health science 06/2014; 4(1):010403.
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    Global Health Action 05/2014; 7:24787. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Epidemiological transition (ET) theory, first postulated in 1971, has developed alongside changes in population structures over time. However, understandings of mortality transitions and associated epidemiological changes remain poorly defined for public health practitioners. Here, we review the concept and development of ET theory, contextualising this in empirical evidence, which variously supports and contradicts the original theoretical propositions. Design: AMedline literature search covering publications over four decades, from1971 to 2013, was conducted. Studies were included if they assessed human populations, were original articles, focused on mortality and health or demographic or ET and were in English. The reference lists of the selected articles were checked for additional sources. Results: We found that there were changes in emphasis in the research field over the four decades. There was an increasing tendency to study wide-ranging aspects of the determinants of mortality, including risk factors, lifestyle changes, socio-economics, and macro factors such as climate change. Research on ET has focused increasingly on low- and middle-income countries rather than industrialised countries, despite its origins in industrialised countries. Countries have experienced different levels of progress in ET in terms of time, pace, and underlying mechanisms. Elements of ET are described for many countries, but observed transitions have not always followed pathways described in the original theory. Conclusions: The classic ET theory largely neglected the critical role of social determinants, being largely a theoretical generalisation of mortality experience in some countries. This review shows increasing interest in ET all over the world but only partial concordance between established theory and empirical evidence. Empirical evidence suggests that some unconsidered aspects of social determinants contributed to deviations from classic theoretical pathways. A better-constructed, revised ET theory, with a stronger basis in evidence, is needed. Keywords: epidemiological transition; demographic transition; mortality; social determinants
    Global Health Action 05/2014; 7(23574). · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Despite indications that infection-related mortality in sub-Saharan Africa may be decreasing and the burden of non-communicable diseases increasing, the overwhelming reality is that health information systems across most of sub-Saharan Africa remain too weak to track epidemiological transition in a meaningful and effective way. Proposals: We propose a minimum dataset as the basis of a functional health information system in countries where health information is lacking. This would involve continuous monitoring of cause-specific mortality through routine civil registration, regular documentation of exposure to leading risk factors, and monitoring effective coverage of key preventive and curative interventions in the health sector. Consideration must be given as to how these minimum data requirements can be effectively integrated within national health information systems, what methods and tools are needed, and ensuring that ethical and political issues are addressed. A more strategic approach to health information systems in sub-Saharan African countries, along these lines, is essential if epidemiological changes are to be tracked effectively for the benefit of local health planners and policy makers. Conclusion: African countries have a unique opportunity to capitalize on modern information and communications technology in order to achieve this. Methodological standards need to be established and political momentum fostered so that the African continent's health status can be reliably tracked. This will greatly strengthen the evidence base for health policies and facilitate the effective delivery of services.
    Global Health Action 05/2014; 7:23359. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is common in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where it is associated with high early mortality. In the absence of newborn screening, most deaths among children with SCD go unrecognized and unrecorded. As a result, SCD does not receive the attention it deserves as a leading cause of death among children in SSA. In the current study, we explored the potential utility of verbal autopsy (VA) as a tool for attributing underlying cause of death (COD) in children to SCD. We used the 2007 WHO Sample Vital Registration with Verbal Autopsy (SAVVY) VA tool to determine COD among child residents of the Kilifi Health and Demographic Surveillance System (KHDSS), Kenya, who died between January 2008 and April 2011. VAs were coded both by physician review (physician coded verbal autopsy, PCVA) using COD categories based on the WHO International Classification of Diseases 10th Edition (ICD-10) and by using the InterVA-4 probabilistic model after extracting data according to the 2012 WHO VA standard. Both of these methods were validated against one of two gold standards: hospital ICD-10 physician-assigned COD for children who died in Kilifi District Hospital (KDH) and, where available, laboratory confirmed SCD status for those who died in the community. Overall, 6% and 5% of deaths were attributed to SCD on the basis of PCVA and the InterVA-4 model, respectively. Of the total deaths, 22% occurred in hospital, where the agreement coefficient (AC1) for SCD between PCVA and hospital physician diagnosis was 95.5%, and agreement between InterVA-4 and hospital physician diagnosis was 96.9%. Confirmatory laboratory evidence of SCD status was available for 15% of deaths, in which the AC1 against PCVA was 87.5%. Other recent studies and provisional data from this study, outlining the importance of SCD as a cause of death in children in many parts of the developing world, contributed to the inclusion of specific SCD questions in the 2012 version of the WHO VA instruments, and a specific code for SCD has now been included in the WHO and InterVA-4 COD listings. With these modifications, VA may provide a useful approach to quantifying the contribution of SCD to childhood mortality in rural African communities. Further studies will be needed to evaluate the generalizability of our findings beyond our local context.
    BMC Medicine 04/2014; 12(1):65. · 7.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Haryana was the first state in India to launch a conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme in 1994. Initially it targeted all disadvantaged girls but was revised in 2005 to restrict it to second girl children of all groups. The benefit which accrued at girl attaining 18 years and subject to conditionalities of being fully immunized, studying till class 10 and remaining unmarried, was increased from about US$ 500 to US $ 2000. Using a mixed methods approach, we evaluated the implementation and possible impact of these two schemes. A survey was conducted among 200 randomly selected respondents of Ballabgarh Block in Haryana to assess their perceptions of girl children and related schemes. A cohort of births during this period was assembled from population database of 28 villages in this block and changes in sex ratio at birth and in immunization coverage at one year of age among boys and girls was measured. Education levels and mean age at marriage of daughters were compared with daughters-in-law from outside Haryana. In-depth interviews were conducted among district level implementers of these schemes to assess their perceptions of programs' implementation and impact. These were analyzed using a thematic approach. The perceptions of girls as a liability and poor (9% to 15%) awareness of the schemes was noted. The cohort analysis showed that while there has been an improvement in the indicators studied, these were similar to those seen among the control groups. Qualitative analysis identified a "conspiracy of silence" - an underplaying of the pervasiveness of the problem coupled with a passive implementation of the program and a clash between political culture of giving subsidies and a bureaucratic approach that imposed many conditionalities and documentary needs for availing of benefits. The apparent lack of impact on the societal mindset calls for a revision in the current approach of addressing a social issue by a purely conditional cash transfer program.
    International Journal for Equity in Health 01/2014; 13(1):11. · 1.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Computer-coded verbal autopsy (CCVA) methods to assign causes of death (CODs) for medically unattended deaths have been proposed as an alternative to physician-certified verbal autopsy (PCVA). We conducted a systematic review of 19 published comparison studies (from 684 evaluated), most of which used hospital-based deaths as the reference standard. We assessed the performance of PCVA and five CCVA methods: Random Forest, Tariff, InterVA, King-Lu, and Simplified Symptom Pattern. The reviewed studies assessed methods' performance through various metrics: sensitivity, specificity, and chance-corrected concordance for coding individual deaths, and cause-specific mortality fraction (CSMF) error and CSMF accuracy at the population level. These results were summarized into means, medians, and ranges. The 19 studies ranged from 200 to 50,000 deaths per study (total over 116,000 deaths). Sensitivity of PCVA versus hospital-assigned COD varied widely by cause, but showed consistently high specificity. PCVA and CCVA methods had an overall chance-corrected concordance of about 50% or lower, across all ages and CODs. At the population level, the relative CSMF error between PCVA and hospital-based deaths indicated good performance for most CODs. Random Forest had the best CSMF accuracy performance, followed closely by PCVA and the other CCVA methods, but with lower values for InterVA-3. There is no single best-performing coding method for verbal autopsies across various studies and metrics. There is little current justification for CCVA to replace PCVA, particularly as physician diagnosis remains the worldwide standard for clinical diagnosis on live patients. Further assessments and large accessible datasets on which to train and test combinations of methods are required, particularly for rural deaths without medical attention.
    BMC Medicine 01/2014; 12(1):22. · 7.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent global malaria burden modeling efforts have produced significantly different estimates, particularly in adult malaria mortality. To measure malaria control progress, accurate malaria burden estimates across age groups are necessary. We determined age-specific malaria mortality rates in western Kenya to compare with recent global estimates. We collected data from 148,000 persons in a health and demographic surveillance system from 2003-2010. Standardized verbal autopsies were conducted for all deaths; probable cause of death was assigned using the InterVA-4 model. Annual malaria mortality rates per 1,000 person-years were generated by age group. Trends were analyzed using Poisson regression. From 2003-2010, in children <5 years the malaria mortality rate decreased from 13.2 to 3.7 per 1,000 person-years; the declines were greatest in the first three years of life. In children 5-14 years, the malaria mortality rate remained stable at 0.5 per 1,000 person-years. In persons ≥15 years, the malaria mortality rate decreased from 1.5 to 0.4 per 1,000 person-years. The malaria mortality rates in young children and persons aged ≥15 years decreased dramatically from 2003-2010 in western Kenya, but rates in older children have not declined. Sharp declines in some age groups likely reflect the national scale up of malaria control interventions and rapid expansion of HIV prevention services. These data highlight the importance of age-specific malaria mortality ascertainment and support current strategies to include all age groups in malaria control interventions.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(9):e106197. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    Osman Sankoh, Peter Byass
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    ABSTRACT: This synthesis brings together findings on cause-specific mortality documented by means of verbal autopsies applied to over 110,000 deaths across Africa and Asia, within INDEPTH Network sites.
    Global Health Action 01/2014; 7:25590. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    Peter Byass
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    ABSTRACT: Verbal Autopsy (VA) is widely viewed as the only immediate strategy for registering cause of death in much of Africa and Asia, where routine physician certification of deaths is not widely practiced. VA involves a lay interview with family or friends after a death, to record essential details of the circumstances. These data can then be processed automatically to arrive at standardized cause of death information. The Population Health Metrics Research Consortium (PHMRC) undertook a study at six tertiary hospitals in low- and middle-income countries which documented over 12,000 deaths clinically and subsequently undertook VA interviews. This dataset, now in the public domain, was compared with the WHO 2012 VA standard and the InterVA-4 interpretative model. The PHMRC data covered 70% of the WHO 2012 VA input indicators, and categorized cause of death according to PHMRC definitions. After eliminating some problematic or incomplete records, 11,984 VAs were compared. Some of the PHMRC cause definitions, such as 'preterm delivery', differed substantially from the International Classification of Diseases, version 10 equivalent. There were some appreciable inconsistencies between the hospital and VA data, including 20% of the hospital maternal deaths being described as non-pregnant in the VA data. A high proportion of VA cases (66%) reported respiratory symptoms, but only 18% of assigned hospital causes were respiratory-related. Despite these issues, the concordance correlation coefficient between hospital and InterVA-4 cause of death categories was 0.61. The PHMRC dataset is a valuable reference source for VA methods, but has to be interpreted with care. Inherently inconsistent cases should not be included when using these data to build other VA models. Conversely, models built from these data should be independently evaluated. It is important to distinguish between the internal and external validity of VA models. The effects of using tertiary hospital data, rather than the more usual application of VA to all-community deaths, are hard to evaluate. However, it would still be of value for VA method development to have further studies of population-based post-mortem examinations.
    BMC Medicine 01/2014; 12(1):23. · 7.28 Impact Factor
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    Joël Mossong, Peter Byass, Kobus Herbst
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    ABSTRACT: For public health purposes, it is important to see whether men and women in different age groups die of the same causes in South Africa.
    Global Health Action 01/2014; 7:25496. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The vast majority of deaths in the Kilifi study area are not recorded through official systems of vital registration. As a result, few data are available regarding causes of death in this population.
    Global Health Action 01/2014; 7:25593. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The MRC/Wits University Agincourt research centre, part of the INDEPTH Network, has documented mortality in a defined population in the rural northeast of South Africa for 20 years (1992-2011) using long-term health and socio-demographic surveillance. Detail on the unfolding, at times unpredicted, mortality pattern has been published. This experience is reviewed here and updated using more recent data.
    Global Health Action 01/2014; 7:25596. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: As the HIV/AIDS pandemic has evolved over recent decades, Africa has been the most affected region, even though a large proportion of HIV/AIDS deaths have not been documented at the individual level. Systematic application of verbal autopsy (VA) methods in defined populations provides an opportunity to assess the mortality burden of the pandemic from individual data. OBJECTIVE: To present standardised comparisons of HIV/AIDS-related mortality at sites across Africa and Asia, including closely related causes of death such as pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) and pneumonia. DESIGN: Deaths related to HIV/AIDS were extracted from individual demographic and VA data from 22 INDEPTH sites across Africa and Asia. VA data were standardised to WHO 2012 standard causes of death assigned using the InterVA-4 model. Between-site comparisons of mortality rates were standardised using the INDEPTH 2013 standard population. RESULTS: The dataset covered a total of 10,773 deaths attributed to HIV/AIDS, observed over 12,204,043 person-years. HIV/AIDS-related mortality fractions and mortality rates varied widely across Africa and Asia, with highest burdens in eastern and southern Africa, and lowest burdens in Asia. There was evidence of rapidly declining rates at the sites with the heaviest burdens. HIV/AIDS mortality was also strongly related to PTB mortality. On a country basis, there were strong similarities between HIV/AIDS mortality rates at INDEPTH sites and those derived from modelled estimates. CONCLUSIONS: Measuring HIV/AIDS-related mortality continues to be a challenging issue, all the more so as anti-retroviral treatment programmes alleviate mortality risks. The congruence between these results and other estimates adds plausibility to both approaches. These data, covering some of the highest mortality observed during the pandemic, will be an important baseline for understanding the future decline of HIV/AIDS.
    Global Health Action 01/2014; 7:25370. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Malaria continues to be a major cause of infectious disease mortality in tropical regions. However, deaths from malaria are most often not individually documented, and as a result overall understanding of malaria epidemiology is inadequate. INDEPTH Network members maintain population surveillance in Health and Demographic Surveillance System sites across Africa and Asia, in which individual deaths are followed up with verbal autopsies. OBJECTIVE: To present patterns of malaria mortality determined by verbal autopsy from INDEPTH sites across Africa and Asia, comparing these findings with other relevant information on malaria in the same regions. DESIGN: From a database covering 111,910 deaths over 12,204,043 person-years in 22 sites, in which verbal autopsy data were handled according to the WHO 2012 standard and processed using the InterVA-4 model, over 6,000 deaths were attributed to malaria. The overall period covered was 1992-2012, but two-thirds of the observations related to 2006-2012. These deaths were analysed by site, time period, age group and sex to investigate epidemiological differences in malaria mortality. RESULTS: Rates of malaria mortality varied by 1:10,000 across the sites, with generally low rates in Asia (one site recording no malaria deaths over 0.5 million person-years) and some of the highest rates in West Africa (Nouna, Burkina Faso: 2.47 per 1,000 person-years). Childhood malaria mortality rates were strongly correlated with Malaria Atlas Project estimates of Plasmodium falciparum parasite rates for the same locations. Adult malaria mortality rates, while lower than corresponding childhood rates, were strongly correlated with childhood rates at the site level. CONCLUSIONS: The wide variations observed in malaria mortality, which were nevertheless consistent with various other estimates, suggest that population-based registration of deaths using verbal autopsy is a useful approach to understanding the details of malaria epidemiology.
    Global Health Action 01/2014; 7:25369. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is a major global issue, as other categories of mortality have diminished and life expectancy has increased. The World Health Organization's Member States have called for a 25% reduction in premature NCD mortality by 2025, which can only be achieved by substantial reductions in risk factors and improvements in the management of chronic conditions. A high burden of NCD mortality among much older people, who have survived other hazards, is inevitable. The INDEPTH Network collects detailed individual data within defined Health and Demographic Surveillance sites. By registering deaths and carrying out verbal autopsies to determine cause of death across many such sites, using standardised methods, the Network seeks to generate population-based mortality statistics that are not otherwise available. OBJECTIVE: To describe patterns of adult NCD mortality from INDEPTH Network sites across Africa and Asia, according to the WHO 2012 verbal autopsy (VA) cause categories, with separate consideration of premature (15-64 years) and older (65+ years) NCD mortality. DESIGN: All adult deaths at INDEPTH sites are routinely registered and followed up with VA interviews. For this study, VA archives were transformed into the WHO 2012 VA standard format and processed using the InterVA-4 model to assign cause of death. Routine surveillance data also provide person-time denominators for mortality rates. RESULTS: A total of 80,726 adult (over 15 years) deaths were documented over 7,423,497 person-years of observation. NCDs were attributed as the cause for 35.6% of these deaths. Slightly less than half of adult NCD deaths occurred in the 15-64 age group. Detailed results are presented by age and sex for leading causes of NCD mortality. Per-site rates of NCD mortality were significantly correlated with rates of HIV/AIDS-related mortality. CONCLUSIONS: These findings present important evidence on the distribution of NCD mortality across a wide range of African and Asian settings. This comes against a background of global concern about the burden of NCD mortality, especially among adults aged under 70, and provides an important baseline for future work.
    Global Health Action 01/2014; 7:25365. · 2.06 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
798.79 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2011–2014
    • University of the Witwatersrand
      • School of Public Health
      Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
    • Bach Mai Hospital
      Hà Nội, Ha Nội, Vietnam
    • BRAC
      Mujib City, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    • Karolinska Institutet
      • HIV/AIDS and Global Health
      Solna, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2002–2014
    • Umeå University
      • Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine
      Umeå, Västerbotten, Sweden
  • 2012
    • All India Institute of Medical Sciences
      • Centre for Community Medicine
      New Delhi, NCT, India
  • 2003–2012
    • Đại học Y Hà Nội
      Hà Nội, Ha Nội, Vietnam
  • 2007–2011
    • University of Aberdeen
      • School of Medicine and Dentistry
      Aberdeen, SCT, United Kingdom
  • 2004–2011
    • Public Health Agency of Sweden
      Tukholma, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 1995–2009
    • Addis Ababa University
      • • School of Public Health
      • • Department of Community Health
      Addis Ababa, Adis Abeba Astedader, Ethiopia
  • 2008
    • University of Limpopo
      Pietersburg, Limpopo, South Africa
  • 2006
    • Gadjah Mada University
      • Department of Public Health
      Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta, Indonesia
    • University of Nottingham
      • School of Community Health Sciences
      Nottigham, England, United Kingdom
  • 2003–2006
    • Health Strategy and Policy Institute
      Hà Nội, Ha Nội, Vietnam
  • 2000
    • Medical Research Council Unit, The Gambia Unit
      Bakau, Banjul, Gambia