Institution Registered at: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and MRC Unit The Gambia at the LSHTM
PhD Title: Childhood TB diagnosis: Investigating the utility of non-sputum-based approaches.
Study Description: Diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) in children is challenging for several reasons including its non-specific clinical and radiological presentation, difficulties in obtaining good quality sputum samples, and the paucibacillary nature of the disease in children. Therefore, majority of childhood TB diagnosis is made presumptively, based on non-specific clinical, epidemiological and radiological parameters in the absence of microbiological confirmation, with the consequential risk of over- or under-diagnosis and/or missed diagnosis.
As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) has prioritised the need for rapid, preferably non-sputum-based, point-of-care diagnostic solutions for diagnosis of childhood TB. There are currently a number of non-sputum-based TB diagnostic tools and approaches that have been endorsed and included in recent guidelines by the WHO. These include softwares for computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) of TB, which provide automated interpretation of digital chest X-ray (CXR) images, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) detection in stool samples using Xpert Ultra assay (“stool Xpert”). These non-sputum-based TB diagnostics have shown promising results in adults, but data on their performance in an entirely paediatric population are sparse.
Therefore, the aim of my PhD project is to investigate the accuracy and added value of the computer-aided diagnosis for TB (CAD4TB) software and stool Xpert for diagnosis of TB in prospectively recruited children (age <15 years) with presumed pulmonary TB within national health systems in West Africa. My PhD project will utilise the established multi-country childhood TB research platform of WANETAM and the project will be carried out in The Gambia, Ghana and Republic of Benin.
- Toyin Togun, MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM & LSHTM, ITD Faculty, London, UK (Lead supervisor)
- Dr Audrey Forson, University of Ghana Medical School, Accra, Ghana (co-supervisor 1)
- Dr Schadrac Agbla, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK (co-supervisor 2)
Profile: I am a pediatrician and lecturer at the University for Development Studies (UDS) and Tamale Teaching Hospital in Tamale, Ghana. My research interests are at the intersection of paediatric infectious diseases and adolescent health, particularly in resource-constrained settings.
I am passionate about providing contextually derived solutions in global health through social justice and equity-based practices.
I have worked on several multi-site international projects including Global PEAD-SURG and COVID-Surg 3 for which I was the hospital lead. I also served as a study doctor for the ‘Achieving Control of Asthma in Children in Africa’ (ACACIA) study in Ghana where I oversaw data collection and facilitation of spirometry in adolescents. I conceptualised and led the establishment of the adolescent support group for sickle cell patients, to create mental health resources through enhanced social capital, where resources are scarce.
I am passionate about finding innovative and pragmatic solutions to improve the diagnosis of paediatric TB especially in low- and middle-income countries, because it is a grossly under-researched but topical public health issue. I am keen to contribute to the development and practical implementation of tailored diagnostics and interventions for TB in children within public health facilities.
Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sheila-Owusu-2
LinkedIn: Sheila Agyeiwaa Owusu | LinkedIn