Predicting mortality in adults with suspected infection in a Rwandan hospital: an evaluation of the adapted MEWS, qSOFA and UVA scores

Rationale: Mortality prediction scores are increasingly being evaluated in low and middle income countries (LMICs) for research comparisons, quality improvement and clinical decision-making. The modified early warning score (MEWS), quick Sequential (Sepsis-Related) Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA), and Universal Vital Assessment (UVA) score use variables that are feasible to obtain, and have demonstrated potential to predict mortality in LMIC cohorts.

Objective: To determine the predictive capacity of adapted MEWS, qSOFA and UVA in a Rwandan hospital.

Design, setting, participants and outcome measures: We prospectively collected data on all adult patients admitted to a tertiary hospital in Rwanda with suspected infection over 7 months. We calculated an adapted MEWS, qSOFA and UVA score for each participant. The predictive capacity of each score was assessed including sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive value, OR, area under the receiver operating curve (AUROC) and performance by underlying risk quartile.

Results: We screened 19 178 patient days, and enrolled 647 unique patients. Median age was 35 years, and in-hospital mortality was 18.1%. The proportion of data missing for each variable ranged from 0% to 11.7%. The sensitivities and specificities of the scores were: adapted MEWS >4, 50.4% and 74.9%, respectively; qSOFA >2, 24.8% and 90.4%, respectively; and UVA >4, 28.2% and 91.1%, respectively. The scores as continuous variables demonstrated the following AUROCs: adapted MEWS 0.69 (95% CI 0.64 to 0.74), qSOFA 0.65 (95% CI 0.60 to 0.70), and UVA 0.71 (95% CI 0.66 to 0.76); there was no statistically significant difference between the discriminative capacities of the scores.

Conclusion: Three scores demonstrated a modest ability to predict mortality in a prospective study of inpatients with suspected infection at a Rwandan tertiary hospital. Careful consideration must be given to their adequacy before using them in research comparisons, quality improvement or clinical decision-making.

Health System Factors That Inuence Treatment Delay in Women With Breast Cancer in Sub-saharan Africa: A Systematic Review

Breast cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa experience long delays between their first presentation to a health care facility and the start of cancer treatment. The role of the health system in the increasing delay in treatment has not been widely investigated. This review aimed to identify existing information on health system factors that influence treatment delays in women with breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa to contribute to the reorientation of health policies in the region.
PubMed, ScienceDirect, African Journals Online, Mendeley, ResearchGate and Google Scholar were searched to identify relevant studies published between 2010 and July 2020. We performed a qualitative synthesis in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyse (PRISMA) statement. Related health system factors were extracted and classified according to the World Health Organization’s six health system building blocks. The quality of qualitative and quantitative studies was assessed by using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program quality-assessment tool and the National Institute of Health Quality Assessment Tool, respectively. In addition, we used the Confidence in the Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative Research tool to assess the evidence for each qualitative finding.
From 14,184 identified studies, this systematic review included 28 articles. We identified a total of 36 barriers and 8 facilitators that may influence treatment delay in women with breast cancer. The principal health system factors identified were mainly related to human resources and service delivery, particularly difficulty accessing health care, diagnostic errors, poor management, and treatment cost.
The present review shows that treatment delay among women with breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa is influenced by many related health system factors. Policymakers in sub-Saharan Africa need to tackle the financial accessibility to breast cancer treatment by adequate universal health coverage policies and reinforce the clinical competencies for health workers to ensure timely diagnosis and appropriate care for women with breast cancer in this region

Cervical cancer in Sub‐Saharan Africa: a multinational population‐based cohort study on patterns and guideline adherence of care

Cervical cancer (CC) is the most common female cancer in many countries of sub‐Saharan Africa (SSA). We assessed treatment guideline adherence and its association with overall survival (OS).

Our observational study covered nine population‐based cancer registries in eight countries: Benin, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Random samples of 44‐125 patients diagnosed 2010‐2016 were selected in each. Cancer‐directed therapy (CDT) was evaluated for degree of adherence to National Comprehensive Cancer Network (USA) Guidelines.

Of 632 patients, 15.8% received CDT with curative potential: 5.2% guideline‐adherent, 2.4% with minor and 8.2% major deviations. CDT was not documented or without curative potential in 22%; 15.7% were diagnosed FIGO IV disease. Adherence was not assessed in 46.9% (no stage or follow‐up documented 11.9%) or records not traced (35.1%). The largest share of guideline‐adherent CDT was observed in Nairobi (49%), the smallest in Maputo (4%). In FIGO I‐III patients (n=190), minor and major guideline deviations were associated with impaired OS: hazard rate ratio (HRR) 1.73, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.36‐8.37; and HRR 1.97, CI 0.59‐6.56 respectively. CDT without curative potential (HRR 3.88, CI 1.19‐12.71) and no CDT (HRR 9.43, CI 3.03‐29.33) showed substantially worse survival.

We found only one in six cervical cancer patients in SSA received CDT with curative potential. At least one‐fifth and possibly up to two thirds of women never accessed CDT, despite curable disease, resulting in impaired OS. Investments into more radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgical training could change the fatal outcomes of man

A Situational Analysis of the Specialist Anaesthesia Workforce of East, Central and Southern Africa

Background: An accurate account of the distribution of qualied anaesthesiologists in East, Central and Southern Africa has been lacking with most of the current publications being estimates of headline gures. As university training programmes, and more recently the College of Anaesthesiologists of East, Central and Southern Africa (CANECSA), work to scale up the anaesthesiology workforce, it is crucial to understand the scope of the need by carrying out an extensive survey. This is key to informing policymakers and stakeholders for tackling the problem of human resources for anaesthesia.

Methods: The anaesthesiologist distribution in the eight CANECSA member countries was determined using a combination existing databases and collection of new data from sources such as CANECSA records, national medical council registers, national anaesthesiology society records, as well as data validation through direct and indirect contact with the anaesthesiologists. Data collation and analysis was performed using Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets and SPSS by assessing relevant frequencies and crosstabulations. Data was stored in a cloud-based database managed by CANECSA.

Results: 411 qualified anaesthesiologists were identied within the CANECSA member countries, a rate of 0.21 anaesthesiologists per 100,000 population compared to 333 (0.17 anaesthesiologists per 100,000 population) reported by the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiology (WFSA) in 2015/2016. Newly quantified details on the distribution of anesthesiologists in the region include: the majority (89.5%) of anaesthesiologists perform clinical work and most (69.3%) are based in the main commercial cities of their countries of practice; only about one third (35.5%) are female; the majority are employed by government institutions (61.6%) and medical-training institutions (59.4%); and almost half (49.2%) of anaesthesiologists whose age was recorded ranged from 30 to 39 years.

Conclusion: The numbers of anaesthesiologists in CANECSA member countries are still far below all international recommendations constituting only about 5% of the minimum recommended figures for LMICs. Anaesthesiologist are highly concentrated in the major cities of the region, with few in provincial and rural areas. Nonetheless, all trends suggest huge opportunities for advancing training of more
anaesthesiologists through collaborative efforts.

Implementation Science Protocol for a participatory, theory-informed implementation research programme in the context of health system strengthening in sub-Saharan Africa (ASSET-ImplementER)

Background ASSET (Health System Strengthening in Sub-Saharan Africa) is a health system strengthening (HSS) programme that aims to develop and evaluate effective and sustainable solutions that support high-quality care that involve eight work packages across four sub-Saharan African countries. Here we present the protocol for the implementation science (IS) theme within ASSET that aims to (1) understand what HSS interventions work, for whom and how; and (2) how implementation science methodologies can be adapted to improve the design and evaluation of HSS interventions within resource-poor contexts.

Pre-implementation phase The IS theme, jointly with ASSET work-packages, applies IS determinant frameworks to identify factors that influence the effectiveness of delivering evidence-informed care. Determinants are used to select a set of HSS interventions for further evaluation, where work packages also theorise selective mechanisms to achieve the expected outcomes.

Piloting phase and rolling implementation phase Work-packages pilot the HSS interventions. An iterative process then begins involving evaluation, refection and adaptation. Throughout this phase, IS determinant frameworks are applied to monitor and identify barriers and enablers to implementation in a series of workshops, surveys and interviews. Selective mechanisms of action are also investigated. In a final workshop, ASSET teams come together, to reflect and explore the utility of the selected IS methods and provide suggestions for future use.

Structured templates are used to organise and analyse common and heterogeneous patterns across work-packages. Qualitative data are analysed using thematic analysis and quantitative data is analysed using means and proportions.

Conclusions We use a novel combination of implementation science methods at a programmatic level to facilitate comparisons of determinants and mechanisms that influence the effectiveness of HSS interventions in achieving implementation outcomes across different contexts. The study will also contribute conceptual development and clarification at the underdeveloped interface of implementation science, HSS and global health.

Neglected tropical diseases activities in Africa in the COVID-19 era: the need for a “hybrid” approach in COVID-endemic times

With the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic showing no signs of abating, resuming neglected tropical disease (NTD) activities, particularly mass drug administration (MDA), is vital. Failure to resume activities will not only enhance the risk of NTD transmission, but will fail to leverage behaviour change messaging on the importance of hand and face washing and improved sanitation—a common strategy for several NTDs that also reduces the risk of COVID-19 spread. This so-called “hybrid approach” will demonstrate best practices for mitigating the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by incorporating physical distancing, use of masks, and frequent hand-washing in the delivery of medicines to endemic communities and support action against the transmission of the virus through water, sanitation and hygiene interventions promoted by NTD programmes. Unless MDA and morbidity management activities resume, achievement of NTD targets as projected in the WHO/NTD Roadmap (2021–2030) will be deferred, the aspirational goal of NTD programmes to enhance universal health coverage jeopardised and the call to ‘leave no one behind’ a hollow one. We outline what implementing this hybrid approach, which aims to strengthen health systems, and facilitate integration and cross-sector collaboration, can achieve based on work undertaken in several African countries.

Organ Donation and Transplantation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Opportunities and Challenges

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), occupying about 80% of the African continent is a heterogeneous region with estimated population of 1.1 billion people in 47 countries. Most belong to the low resource countries (LRCs). The high prevalence of end-organ diseases of kidney, liver, lung and heart makes provision of organ donation and transplantation necessary. Although kidney and heart transplantations were performed in South Africa in the 1960s, transplant activity in SSA lags behind the developed world. Peculiar challenges militating against successful development of transplant programmes include high cost of treatment, low GDP of most countries, inadequate infrastructural and institutional support, absence of subsidy, poor knowledge of the disease condition, poor accessibility to health-care facilities, religious and trado-cultural practices. Many people in the region patronize alternative healthcare as first choice. Opportunities that if harnessed may alter the unfavorable landscape are: implementation of the 2007 WHO Regional Consultation recommendations for establishment of national legal framework and self-sufficient organ donation/transplantation in each country and adoption of their 2020 proposed actions for organ/transplantation for member states, national registries with sharing of data with GODT, prevention of transplant commercialization and tourism. Additionally, adapting some aspects of proven successful models in LRCs will improve transplantation programmes in SSA.

Analysing the Operative Experience of Paediatric Surgical Trainees in Sub-Saharan Africa Using a Web-Based Logbook

The expansion of local training programmes is crucial to address the shortages of specialist paediatric surgeons across Sub-Saharan Africa. This study assesses whether the current training programme for paediatric surgery at the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) is exposing trainees to adequate numbers and types of surgical procedures, as defined by local and international guidelines.
Using data from the COSECSA web-based logbook, we retrospectively analysed numbers and types of operations carried out by paediatric surgical trainees at each stage of training between 2015 and 2019, comparing results with indicative case numbers from regional (COSECSA) and international (Joint Commission on Surgical Training) guidelines.
A total of 7,616 paediatric surgical operations were recorded by 15 trainees, at different stages of training, working across five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Each trainee recorded a median number of 456 operations (range 56–1111), with operative experience increasing between the first and final year of training. The most commonly recorded operation was inguinal hernia (n = 1051, 13.8%). Trainees performed the majority (n = 5607, 73.6%) of operations recorded in the eLogbook themselves, assisting in the remainder. Trainees exceeded both local and international recommended case numbers for general surgical procedures, with little exposure to sub-specialities.
Trainees obtain a wide experience in common and general paediatric surgical procedures, the number of which increases during training. Post-certification may be required for those who wish to sub-specialise. The data from the logbook are useful in identifying individuals who may require additional experience and centres which should be offering increased levels of supervised surgical exposure.

Which Surgical Operations Should be Performed in District Hospitals in East, Central and Southern Africa? Results of a Survey of Regional Clinicians

In East, Central and Southern Africa (ECSA), district hospitals (DH) are the main source of surgical care for 80% of the population. DHs in Africa must provide basic life-saving procedures, but the extent to which they can offer other general and emergency surgery is debated. Our paper contributes to this debate through analysis and discussion of regional surgical care providers’ perspectives.

We conducted a survey at the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa Conference in Kigali in December 2018. The survey presented the participants with 59 surgical and anaesthesia procedures and asked them if they thought the procedure should be done in a district level hospital in their region. We then measured the level of positive agreement (LPA) for each procedure and conducted sub-analysis by cadre and level of experience.

We had 100 respondents of which 94 were from ECSA. Eighteen procedures had an LPA of 80% or above, among which appendicectomy (98%), caesarean section (97%) and spinal anaesthesia (97%). Twenty-one procedures had an LPA between 31 and 79%. The surgical procedures that fell in this category were a mix of obstetrics, general surgery and orthopaedics. Twenty procedures had an LPA below 30% among which paediatric anaesthesia and surgery.

Our study offers the perspectives of almost 100 surgical care providers from ECSA on which surgical and anaesthesia procedures should be provided in district hospitals. This might help in planning surgical care training and delivery in these hospitals.

Neonatal Septicaemia in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Protocol for Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Background: The morbidity and mortality from neonatal septicaemia (NNS) in low-middle income country remain high at the background of strained health care delivery system.The burden, pooled risks and outcomes of NNS are largely unknown. We aimed to produce a protocol for synthesizing evidence from available data for neonatal septicaemia in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: We developed a search strategy using MeSH, text words and entry terms. Nine databases will be searched: PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, AJOL, Google Scholar, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, Research gate and Scopus. Only Observational studies retrievable in the English Language will be included. The primary measurable outcome is the proportion of neonatal with septicaemia while secondary outcomes include proportion of bacterial isolates and their antibiogram, risk factors for NNS, in hospital mortality, length of hospital stay, frequency of necrotizing enterocolitis and other sequel . All identified studies will be screened based on the inclusion criteria. Data will be deduplicated in Endnote version 9, before exporting to Rayyan QCRI for screening. Extractable data will include first author’s name and year of publication, the country and regions in sub-Saharan Africa, total neonatal admissions, number with sepsis, the sample size, bacterial isolates, antibiogram, in-hospital mortality, length of hospital stay and frequency of necrotizing enterocolitis.

All studies will be assessed for methodological, clinical and statistical heterogeneity. The NIH Quality assessment tool for observational studies and the Cochrane tool of risk of bias will be used to assess for the strength of evidence. Publication bias will be assessed using the funnel plot.

Discussion: Results will be presented as the prevalence, standard error and confidence interval of newborns with neonatal septicaemia in sub-Saharan Africa. Subgroup analysis using categorical data such as risk factors, bacterial isolates, antibiogram and outcomes of neonatal septicaemia will also be reported. A cumulative meta-analysis will be done to assess the time trend of the risk factors, pathogens and antibiogram.The CMA version 3 will be used for statistical analysis. Results will be presented in forest plots.