A New Dawn for Brazilian Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Is on the Way — Issues Around and Outside the Operating Room

In some developing countries, congenital heart disease still stands out among the leading causes of death in the first year of life. Therefore, there is a great need to develop programs designed to improve outcomes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of congenital heart disease in these nations, where children have always been and still are severely underserved.
The Brazilian Public Health Care System demands universal access to treatment as a constitutional right. Therefore, an underfunded Pediatric Cardiac Surgery program is unacceptable since it will cost lives and increase the infant mortality rate. Additionally, poor funding decreases providers’ interest, impedes technological advances and multidisciplinary engagement, and reduces access to comprehensive care.
Unfortunately, in most developing countries, Pediatric Cardiac Surgery progress is still the result of isolated personal efforts, dedication, and individual resilience. This article aims to present the current state of Brazilian pediatric cardiac surgery and discuss the structural and human limitations in developing a quality care system for children with congenital heart disease. Considering such constraints, quality improvement programs via International collaboration with centers of excellence, based on proper data collection and outcomes analysis, have been introduced in the country. Such initiatives should bring a new dawn to Brazilian Pediatric Cardiac Surgery

Burn Admissions Across Low- and Middle-income Countries: A Repeated Cross-sectional Survey

Burn injuries have decreased markedly in high-income countries while the incidence of burns remains high in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) where more than 90% of burns are thought to occur. However, the cause of burns in LMIC is poorly documented. The aim was to document the causes of severe burns and the changes over time. A cross-sectional survey was completed for 2014 and 2019 in eight burn centers across Africa, Asia, and Latin America: Cairo, Nairobi, Ibadan, Johannesburg, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Sao Paulo, and Guadalajara. The information summarised included demographics of burn patients, location, cause, and outcomes of burns. In total, 15,344 patients were admitted across all centers, 37% of burns were women and 36% of burns were children. Burns occurred mostly in household settings (43–79%). In Dhaka and Kathmandu, occupational burns were also common (32 and 43%, respectively). Hot liquid and flame burns were most common while electric burns were also common in Dhaka and Sao Paulo. The type of flame burns varies by center and year, in Dhaka, 77% resulted from solid fuel in 2014 while 74% of burns resulted from Liquefied Petroleum Gas in 2019. In Nairobi, a large proportion (32%) of burns were intentional self-harm or assault. The average length of stay in hospitals decreased from 2014 to 2019. The percentage of deaths ranged from 5% to 24%. Our data provide important information on the causes of severe burns which can provide guidance in how to approach the development of burn injury prevention programs in LMIC.

Evaluation of Computed Tomography Scoring Systems in the Prediction of Short-Term Mortality in Traumatic Brain Injury Patients from a Low- to Middle-Income Country

The present study aims to evaluate the accuracy of the prognostic discrimination and prediction of the short-term mortality of the Marshall computed tomography (CT) classification and Rotterdam and Helsinki CT scores in a cohort of TBI patients from a low- to middle-income country. This is a post hoc analysis of a previously conducted prospective cohort study conducted in a university-associated, tertiary-level hospital that serves a population of >12 million in Brazil. Marshall CT class, Rotterdam and Helsinki scores, and their components were evaluated in the prediction of 14-day and in-hospital mortality using Nagelkerk’s pseudo-R2 and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve. Multi-variate regression was performed using known outcome predictors (age, Glasgow Coma Scale, pupil response, hypoxia, hypotension, and hemoglobin values) to evaluate the increase in variance explained when adding each of the CT classification systems. Four hundred forty-seven patients were included. Mean age of the patient cohort was 40 (standard deviation, 17.83) years, and 85.5% were male. Marshall CT class was the least accurate model, showing pseudo-R2 values equal to 0.122 for 14-day mortality and 0.057 for in-hospital mortality, whereas Rotterdam CT scores were 0.245 and 0.194 and Helsinki CT scores were 0.264 and 0.229. The AUC confirms the best prediction of the Rotterdam and Helsinki CT scores regarding the Marshall CT class, which presented greater discriminative ability. When associated with known outcome predictors, Marshall CT class and Rotterdam and Helsinki CT scores showed an increase in the explained variance of 2%, 13.4%, and 21.6%, respectively. In this study, Rotterdam and Helsinki scores were more accurate models in predicting short-term mortality. The study denotes a contribution to the process of external validation of the scores and may collaborate with the best risk stratification for patients with this important pathology.

Global Surgery at the National Landscape: Perspectives after the XXXIV Brazilian Congress of Surgery

The XXXIV Brazilian Congress of Surgery included Global Surgery for the first time in its scientific program. Global Surgery is any action in research, clinical practice, and policy-making that aims to improve access and quality of care in surgical specialties. In 2015, The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery highlighted that five billion people lack safe, timely, and affordable surgical care. Even more critical, nine of ten people cannot access essential surgical care in low and middle-income countries, where a third of the worldwide population resides, and only 6% of global surgical procedures are performed. Although Brazilian researchers and institutions have been contributing to lay the movement’s foundations since 2014, Global Surgery remains a barely debated subject in the country. It is urgent to expand the field and break paradigms regarding the surgeons’ role in public health in Brazil. Accomplishing these standards requires a joint effort to strategically allocate resources and identify collaboration opportunities, including those from medical societies and regulatory bodies. As members of the International Student Surgical Network of Brazil – a nonprofit organization by and for students, residents, and young physicians focused on Global Surgery – we review why investing in surgery is cost-effective to strengthen health systems, reduce morbimortality, and lead to economic development. Additionally, we highlight and propose key recommendations to foster the field at the national level.

Has Latin America achieved universal health coverage yet? Lessons from four countries

Seven years after the commitment to United Nations’ call for Universal Health Coverage, healthcare services in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico are generally accessible and affordable; but they still struggle to meet population health demands and address the rising health care costs. We aim to describe measures taken by these four countries to commit by Universal Health Coverage, addressing their barriers and challenges.

Scoping literature review, supplemented with targeted stakeholders survey.

The four countries analysed achieved an overall index of essential coverage of 76–77%, and households out of pocket health expenditures fall below 25%. Services coverage was improved by expanding access to primary healthcare systems and coverage for non-communicable diseases, while provided community outreach by the increase in the number of skilled healthcare workers. New pharmaceutical support programs provided access to treatments for chronic conditions at zero cost, while high-costs drugs and cancer treatments were partially guaranteed. However, the countries lack with effective financial protection mechanisms, that continue to increase out of pocket expenditure as noted by lowest financial protection scores, and lack of effective financial mechanisms besides cash transfers.

Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico have made progress towards UHC. Although, better financial protection is urgently required.

Geographic accessibility to cancer treatment in Brazil: A network analysis

Geographic accessibility to healthcare services is a fundamental component in achieving universal health coverage, the central commitment of the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS). For cancer patients, poor accessibility has been associated with inadequate treatment, worse prognosis, and poorer quality of life.

We explored nationwide healthcare data from the SUS health information systems, and mapped the geographic accessibility to cancer treatment in two time-frames: 2009–2010 and 2017–2018. We applied social network analysis (SNA) to estimate the commuting route, flow, and distances travelled by cancer patients to undergo surgical, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy treatment.

A total of 12,751,728 treatment procedures were analyzed. Overall, more than half of the patients (49·2 to 60·7%) needed to travel beyond their municipality of residence for treatment, a fact that did not change over time. Marked regional differences were observed, as patients living in the northern and midwestern regions of the country had to travel longer distances (weighted average of 296 to 870 km). Cancer care hubs and attraction poles were mostly identified in the southeast and northeast regions, with Barretos being the main hub for all types of treatment throughout time.

Important regional disparities in the accessibility to cancer treatment in Brazil were revealed, suggesting the need to review the distribution of specialized care in the country. The data presented here contribute to ongoing research on improving access to cancer care and can provide reference to other countries, offering relevant data for oncological and healthcare service evaluation, monitoring, and strategic planning.

This work was funded by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation – Fiocruz (Inova – no. 8451635123 to BPF) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development – CNPq (no. 407060/2018–9 to BPF); Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel – CAPES (scholarship to PCA, Finance Code 001); and Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia de Inovação em Doenças de Populações Negligenciadas (INCT-IDPN).

The 4-Year Experience with Implementation and Routine Use of Pathogen Reduction in a Brazilian Hospital

(1) Background: We reviewed the logistics of the implementation of pathogen reduction (PR) using the INTERCEPT Blood System™ for platelets and the experience with routine use and clinical outcomes in the patient population at the Sírio-Libanês Hospital of São Paulo, Brazil. (2) Methods: Platelet concentrate (PC), including pathogen reduced (PR-PC) production, inventory management, discard rates, blood utilization, and clinical outcomes were analyzed over the 40 months before and after PR implementation. Age distribution and wastage rates were compared over the 10 months before and after approval for PR-PC to be stored for up to seven days. (3) Results: A 100% PR-PC inventory was achieved by increasing double apheresis collections and production of double doses using pools of two single apheresis units. Discard rates decreased from 6% to 3% after PR implementation and further decreased to 1.2% after seven-day storage extension for PR-PCs. The blood utilization remained stable, with no increase in component utilization. A significant decrease in adverse transfusion events was observed after the PR implementation. (4) Conclusion: Our experience demonstrates the feasibility for Brazilian blood centers to achieve a 100% PR-PC inventory. All patients at our hospital received PR-PC and showed no increase in blood component utilization and decreased rates of adverse transfusion reactions

Association between government policy and delays in emergent and elective surgical care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil: a modeling study

The impact of public health policy to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on access to surgical care is poorly defined. We aim to quantify the surgical backlog during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Brazilian public health system and determine the relationship between state-level policy response and the degree of state-level delays in public surgical care.

Monthly estimates of surgical procedures performed per state from January 2016 to December 2020 were obtained from Brazil’s Unified Health System Informatics Department. Forecasting models using historical surgical volume data before March 2020 (first reported COVID-19 case) were constructed to predict expected monthly operations from March through December 2020. Total, emergency, and elective surgical monthly backlogs were calculated by comparing reported volume to forecasted volume. Linear mixed effects models were used to model the relationship between public surgical delivery and two measures of health policy response: the COVID-19 Stringency Index (SI) and the Containment & Health Index (CHI) by state.

Between March and December 2020, the total surgical backlog included 1,119,433 (95% Confidence Interval 762,663–1,523,995) total operations, 161,321 (95%CI 37,468–395,478) emergent operations, and 928,758 (95%CI 675,202–1,208,769) elective operations. Increased SI and CHI scores were associated with reductions in emergent surgical delays but increases in elective surgical backlogs. The maximum government stringency (score = 100) reduced emergency delays to nearly zero but tripled the elective surgical backlog.

Strong health policy efforts to contain COVID-19 ensure minimal reductions in delivery of emergent surgery, but dramatically increase elective backlogs. Additional coordinated government efforts will be necessary to specifically address the increased elective backlogs that accompany stringent responses.

Practical considerations for expediting breast cancer treatment in Brazil

Patients in Brazil continue to present with late-stage breast cancer. Notwithstanding these figures, policies and programs to overcome this long-lasting scenario have had limited results. We enlist the main barriers for advancing breast cancer diagnosis in Brazil, based on the available evidence, and we propose feasible strategies that may serve as a platform to address this major public health challenge.

Communication Intervention Using Digital Technology to Facilitate Informed Choices at Childbirth in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

In Brazil and other low- and middle-income countries, excess interventions in childbirth are associated with an increase in preterm and early-term births, contributing to stagnant morbidity and mortality of mothers and neonates. The fact that women often report a negative experience with vaginal childbirth, with physical pain and feelings of unsafety, neglect, or abuse, may explain the high acceptability of elective cesarean sections. The recognition of information needs and of the right to informed choice during childbirth can help change this reality. The internet has been the main source of health information, but its quality is highly variable.

This study aimed to develop and evaluate an information and communication strategy through a smartphone app with respect to childbirth, to facilitate informed choices for access to safer and evidence-based care in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A randomized controlled trial, with 2 arms (intervention and control) and a closed, blind, parallel design, will be conducted with a smartphone app designed for behavior and opinion research in Brazil, with women of reproductive age previously registered on the app. After completing an entry questionnaire to verify the eligibility criteria and obtaining ethical consent, approximately 20,000 participants will be randomly allocated to the intervention and control groups at a 1:1 ratio. Participants allocated to the intervention group will be invited to engage in a digital information and communication strategy, which is designed to expand evidence-based knowledge on the advantages and disadvantages of options for labor and childbirth and the safety of the care processes. The information is based on the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization for a positive childbirth experience and has been updated to include the new challenges and disruptions in maternity care within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The control group will receive information regarding disposable and reusable diapers as a placebo intervention. The groups will be compared in their responses in generating the birth plan and the entry and exit questionnaires, regarding responses less or more aligned with the guidelines for a positive childbirth experience. A qualitative component to map information needs is included.

The digital trial started recruiting participants in late October 2020, and data collection has been projected to be complete by December 2020.

This study will evaluate an innovative intervention that has the potential to promote better communication between women and providers, such that they can make better choices using an approach suitable for use during the COVID-19 pandemic