Implementation and evaluation of nonclinical interventions for appropriate use of cesarean section in low- and middle-income countries: protocol for a multisite hybrid effectiveness-implementation type III trial

Background: While cesarean sections (CSs) are a life-saving intervention, an increasing number are performed without medical reasons in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Unnecessary CS diverts scarce resources and thereby reduces access to healthcare for women in need. Argentina, Burkina Faso, Thailand, and Vietnam are committed to reducing unnecessary CS, but many individual and organizational factors in healthcare facilities obstruct this aim. Nonclinical interventions can overcome these barriers by helping providers improve their practices and supporting women’s decision-making regarding childbirth. Existing evidence has shown only a modest effect of single interventions on reducing CS rates, arguably because of the failure to design multifaceted interventions effectively tailored to the context. The aim of this study is to design, adapt, and test a multifaceted intervention for the appropriate use of CS in Argentina, Burkina Faso, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Methods: We designed an intervention (QUALIty DECision-making-QUALI-DEC) with four components: (1) opinion leaders at heathcare facilities to improve adherence to best practices among clinicians, (2) CS audits and feedback to help providers identify potentially avoidable CS, (3) a decision analysis tool to help women make an informed decision on the mode of birth, and (4) companionship to support women during labor. QUALI-DEC will be implemented and evaluated in 32 hospitals (8 sites per country) using a pragmatic hybrid effectiveness-implementation design to test our implementation strategy, and information regarding its impact on relevant maternal and perinatal outcomes will be gathered. The implementation strategy will involve the participation of women, healthcare professionals, and organizations and account for the local environment, needs, resources, and social factors in each country.

Discussion: There is urgent need for interventions and implementation strategies to optimize the use of CS while improving health outcomes and satisfaction in LMICs. This can only be achieved by engaging all stakeholders involved in the decision-making process surrounding birth and addressing their needs and concerns. The study will generate robust evidence about the effectiveness and the impact of this multifaceted intervention. It will also assess the acceptability and scalability of the intervention and the capacity for empowerment among women and providers alike.

Predictors of Survival After Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma in South America: The InterCHANGE Study

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) incidence is high in South America, where recent data on survival are sparse. We investigated the main predictors of HNSCC survival in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Colombia.

Sociodemographic and lifestyle information was obtained from standardized interviews, and clinicopathologic data were extracted from medical records and pathologic reports. The Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression were used for statistical analyses.

Of 1,463 patients, 378 had a larynx cancer (LC), 78 hypopharynx cancer (HC), 599 oral cavity cancer (OC), and 408 oropharynx cancer (OPC). Most patients (55.5%) were diagnosed with stage IV disease, ranging from 47.6% for LC to 70.8% for OPC. Three-year survival rates were 56.0% for LC, 54.7% for OC, 48.0% for OPC, and 37.8% for HC. In multivariable models, patients with stage IV disease had approximately 7.6 (LC/HC), 11.7 (OC), and 3.5 (OPC) times higher mortality than patients with stage I disease. Current and former drinkers with LC or HC had approximately 2 times higher mortality than never-drinkers. In addition, older age at diagnosis was independently associated with worse survival for all sites. In a subset analysis of 198 patients with OPC with available human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 data, those with HPV-unrelated OPC had a significantly worse 3-year survival compared with those with HPV-related OPC (44.6% v 75.6%, respectively), corresponding to a 3.4 times higher mortality.

Late stage at diagnosis was the strongest predictor of lower HNSCC survival. Early cancer detection and reduction of harmful alcohol use are fundamental to decrease the high burden of HNSCC in South America.

Outcomes in the management of high-risk gestational trophoblastic neoplasia in trophoblastic disease centers in South America

Background: South America has a higher incidence of gestational trophoblastic disease than North America or Europe, but whether this impacts chemotherapy outcomes is unclear. The purpose of this study was to evaluate outcomes among women with high-risk gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN) treated at trophoblastic disease centers in developing South American countries.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study included patients with high-risk GTN treated in three trophoblastic disease centers in South America (Botucatu and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Buenos Aires, Argentina) from January 1990 to December 2014. Data evaluated included demographics, clinical presentation, FIGO stage, WHO prognostic risk score, and treatment-related information. The primary treatment outcome was complete sustained remission by 18 months following completion of therapy or death.

Results: Among 1264 patients with GTN, 191 (15.1%) patients had high-risk GTN and 147 were eligible for the study. Complete sustained remission was ultimately achieved in 87.1% of cases overall, including 68.4% of ultra high-risk GTN (score ≥12). Early death (within 4 weeks of initiating therapy) was significantly associated with ultra high-risk GTN, occurring in 13.8% of these patients (p=0.003). By Cox’s proportional hazards regression, factors most strongly related to death were non-molar antecedent pregnancy (RR 4.35, 95% CI 1.71 to 11.05), presence of liver, brain, or kidney metastases (RR 4.99, 95% CI 1.96 to 12.71), FIGO stage (RR 3.14, 95% CI 1.52 to 6.53), and an ultra-high-risk prognostic risk score (RR 7.86, 95% CI 2.99 to 20.71). Median follow-up after completion of chemotherapy was 4 years. Among patients followed to that timepoint, the probability of survival was 90% for patients with high-risk GTN (score 7-11) and 60% for patients with ultra-high-risk GTN (score ≥12).

Conclusion: Trophoblastic disease centers in developing South American countries have achieved high remission rates in high-risk GTN, but early deaths remain an important problem, particularly in ultra-high-risk GTN.

An International Collaborative Study on Surgical Education for Quality Improvement (ASSURED): A Project by the 2017 International Society of Surgery (ISS/SIC) Travel Scholars International Working Group

Background: There is a huge difference in the standard of surgical training in different countries around the world. The disparity is more obvious in the various models of surgical training in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) compared to high-income countries. Although the global training model of surgeons is evolving from an apprenticeship model to a competency-based model with additional training using simulation, the training of surgeons in LMICs still lacks a standard pathway of training.

Methods: This is a qualitative, descriptive, and collaborative study conducted in six LMICs across Asia, Africa, and South America. The data were collected on the status of surgical education in these countries as per the guidelines designed for the ASSURED project along with plans for quality improvement in surgical education in these countries.

Results: The training model in these selected LMICs appears to be a hybrid of the standard models of surgical training. The training models were tailored to the country’s need, but many fail to meet international standards. There are many areas identified that can be addressed in order to improve the quality of surgical education in these countries.

Conclusions: Many areas need to be improved for a better quality of surgical training in LMICs. There is a need of financial, technical, and research support for the improvement in these models of surgical education in LMICs.

An approach to identify a minimum and rational proportion of caesarean sections in resource-poor settings: a global network study.

Caesarean section prevalence is increasing in Asia and Latin America while remaining low in most African regions. Caesarean section delivery is effective for saving maternal and infant lives when they are provided for medically-indicated reasons. On the basis of ecological studies, caesarean delivery prevalence between 9% and 19% has been associated with better maternal and perinatal outcomes, such as reduced maternal land fetal mortality. However, the specific prevalence of obstetric and medical complications that require caesarean section have not been established, especially in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). We sought to provide information to inform the approach to the provision of caesarean section in low-resource settings.We did a literature review to establish the prevalence of obstetric and medical conditions for six potentially life-saving indications for which caesarean section could reduce mortality in LMICs. We then analysed a large, prospective population-based dataset from six LMICs (Argentina, Guatemala, Kenya, India, Pakistan, and Zambia) to determine the prevalence of caesarean section by indication for each site. We considered that an acceptable number of events would be between the 25th and 75th percentile of those found in the literature.Between Jan 1, 2010, and Dec 31, 2013, we enrolled a total of 271 855 deliveries in six LMICs (seven research sites). Caesarean section prevalence ranged from 35% (3467 of 9813 deliveries in Argentina) to 1% (303 of 16 764 deliveries in Zambia). Argentina’s and Guatemala’s sites all met the minimum 25th percentile for five of six indications, whereas sites in Zambia and Kenya did not reach the minimum prevalence for caesarean section for any of the indications. Across all sites, a minimum overall caesarean section of 9% was needed to meet the prevalence of the six indications in the population studied.In the site with high caesarean section prevalence, more than half of the procedures were not done for life-saving conditions, whereas the sites with low proportions of caesarean section (below 9%) had an insufficient number of caesarean procedures to cover those life-threatening causes. Attempts to establish a minimum caesarean prevalence should go together with focusing on the life-threatening causes for the mother and child. Simple methods should be developed to allow timely detection of life-threatening conditions, to explore actions that can remedy those conditions, and the timely transfer of women with those conditions to health centres that could provide adequate care for those conditions.Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.