Identifying the research, advocacy, policy and implementation needs for the prevention and management of respiratory syncytial virus lower respiratory tract infection in low- and middle-income countries

Front Pediatr. 2022 Nov 9:10:1033125. doi: 10.3389/fped.2022.1033125. eCollection 2022.


Introduction: The high burden of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection in young children disproportionately occurs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The PROUD (Preventing RespiratOry syncytial virUs in unDerdeveloped countries) Taskforce of 24 RSV worldwide experts assessed key needs for RSV prevention in LMICs, including vaccine and newer preventive measures.

Methods: A global, survey-based study was undertaken in 2021. An online questionnaire was developed following three meetings of the Taskforce panellists wherein factors related to RSV infection, its prevention and management were identified using iterative questioning. Each factor was scored, by non-panellists interested in RSV, on a scale of zero (very-low-relevance) to 100 (very-high-relevance) within two scenarios: (1) Current and (2) Future expectations for RSV management.

Results: Ninety questionnaires were completed: 70 by respondents (71.4% physicians; 27.1% researchers/scientists) from 16 LMICs and 20 from nine high-income (HI) countries (90.0% physicians; 5.0% researchers/scientists), as a reference group. Within LMICs, RSV awareness was perceived to be low, and management was not prioritised. Of the 100 factors scored, those related to improved diagnosis particularly access to affordable point-of-care diagnostics, disease burden data generation, clinical and general education, prompt access to new interventions, and engagement with policymakers/payers were identified of paramount importance. There was a strong need for clinical education and local data generation in the lowest economies, whereas upper-middle income countries were more closely aligned with HI countries in terms of current RSV service provision.

Conclusion: Seven key actions for improving RSV prevention and management in LMICs are proposed.

Keywords: RSV; burden; decision research; developing countries; diagnostics; management; prevention.