Prevalence of clinically-evident congenital anomalies in the Western highlands of Guatemala

Background
Congenital anomalies are a significant cause of death and disability for infants, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMIC), where 95% of all deaths due to anomalies occur. Limited data on the prevalence and survival of infants with congenital anomalies are available from Central America. Estimates have indicated that 53 of every 10,000 live births in Guatemala are associated with a congenital anomaly. We aim to report on the incidence and survival of infants with congenital anomalies from a population-based registry and classify the anomalies according to the International Classification of Disease, Tenth Revision (ICD-10).

Methods
We conducted a planned secondary analysis of data from the Maternal Newborn Health Registry (MNHR), a prospective, population-based study carried out by the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research in seven research sites. We included all deliveries between 2014 and 2018 in urban and rural settings in Chimaltenango, in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. These cases of clinically evident anomalies were reported by field staff and reviewed by medically trained staff, who classified them according to ICD – 10 categories. The incidence of congenital anomalies and associated stillbirth, neonatal mortality, and survival rates were determined for up to 42 days.

Results
Out of 60,142 births, 384 infants were found to have a clinically evident congenital anomaly (63.8 per 10,000 births). The most common were anomalies of the nervous system (28.8 per 10,000), malformations and deformations of the musculoskeletal system (10.8 per 10,000), and cleft lip and palate (10.0 per 10,000). Infants born with nervous system anomalies had the highest stillbirth and neonatal mortality rates (14.6 and 9.0 per 10,000, respectively).

Conclusions
This is the first population-based report on congenital anomalies in Guatemala. The rates we found of overall anomalies are higher than previously reported estimates. These data will be useful to increase the focus on congenital anomalies and hopefully increase the use of interventions of proven benefit.

Assessment of Anesthesia Capacity in Public Surgical Hospitals in Guatemala

BACKGROUND:
International standards for safe anesthetic care have been developed by the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Whether these standards are met is unknown in many nations, including Guatemala, a country with universal health coverage. We aimed to establish an overview of anesthesia care capacity in public surgical hospitals in Guatemala to help guide public sector health care development.

METHODS:
In partnership with the Guatemalan Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance (MSPAS), a national survey of all public hospitals providing surgical care was conducted using the WFSA anesthesia facility assessment tool (AFAT) in 2018. Each facility was assessed for infrastructure, service delivery, workforce, medications, equipment, and monitoring practices. Descriptive statistics were calculated and presented.

RESULTS:
Of the 46 public hospitals in Guatemala in 2018, 36 (78%) were found to provide surgical care, including 20 district, 14 regional, and 2 national referral hospitals. We identified 573 full-time physician surgeons, anesthesiologists, and obstetricians (SAO) in the public sector, with an estimated SAO density of 3.3/100,000 population. There were 300 full-time anesthesia providers working at public hospitals. Physician anesthesiologists made up 47% of these providers, with an estimated physician anesthesiologist density of 0.8/100,000 population. Only 10% of district hospitals reported having an anesthesia provider continuously present intraoperatively during general or neuraxial anesthesia cases. No hospitals reported assessing pain in the immediate postoperative period. While the availability of some medications such as benzodiazepines and local anesthetics was robust (100% availability across all hospitals), not all hospitals had essential medications such as ketamine, epinephrine, or atropine. There were deficiencies in the availability of essential equipment and basic intraoperative monitors, such as end-tidal carbon dioxide detectors (17% availability across all hospitals). Postoperative care and access to resuscitative equipment, such as defibrillators, were also lacking.

CONCLUSIONS:
This first countrywide, MSPAS-led assessment of anesthesia capacity at public facilities in Guatemala revealed a lack of essential materials and personnel to provide safe anesthesia and surgery. Hospitals surveyed often did not have resources regardless of hospital size or level, which may suggest multiple factors preventing availability and use. Local and national policy initiatives are needed to address these deficiencies.

Designing for Health Accessibility: Case Studies of Human-Centered Design to Improve Access to Cervical Cancer Screening

Our world faces immense challenges in global health and equity. There continue to be huge disparities in access to health care across geographies, despite the massive strides that have been made to address health issues. In this dissertation, I explore the role of human-centered design to improve global health access and reduce disparities. Human-centered design, a cross-disciplinary creative problem-solving approach, has been applied and studied in both academic research and practice, but its role in improving global health access remains poorly understood.

In this dissertation, I present research on designing for health accessibility in the context of one particular disease: cervical cancer. Every year, 300,000 women around the world die of cervical cancer and ninety percent of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Cervical cancer is an illustrative example of the global disparities in access to health care, given that cervical cancer is preventable and the majority of global cervical cancer mortality is in low- and middle-income countries.

My research examines the work of two organizations that created unique solutions to improve access to cervical cancer screening in India and Nicaragua. I develop case studies of each organization grounded in ethnographic fieldwork, including over 250 hours of observation and 15 interviews over two years. Through these case studies, I show how early efforts to understand the barriers inhibiting cervical cancer screening access allow design practitioners to create novel and feasible ways to address these barriers. This demonstrates the importance of design practitioners considering multiple dimensions of accessibility, including availability, physical accessibility, accommodation, affordability, and acceptability, while conducting design research in order to improve the potential impact of their ideas and prototypes. Overall, this dissertation establishes the foundation of a new paradigm to “design for accessibility” that can inspire further application and research across sectors to address the many social equity and accessibility challenges facing our world.

A Case Study of a Point-of-Care Electronic Medical Record [SABER] in Totonicapán, Guatemala: Benefits, Challenges, and Future Directions

Background: The adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) in lower-income nations has progressed slowly due to the lack of adequate infrastructure, funding, and training. However, EMRs have been successfully implemented previously in resource-limited health systems in South Africa, Haiti, Cameroon, Kenya, and Peru. Detailed, organized, and easily accessible medical records are particularly important in emergency departments due to the volume and acuity of the patient population.

Methods: In order to further study the plausibility of an EMR in a resource-limited emergency department, a web-based, Spanish-language EMR known as SABER was developed for use in Hospital Nacional José Felipe Flores in Totonicapán, Guatemala. The software collects patient data including demographics, triage, initial evaluation, review of systems, physical exam, and evaluation and plan. It then generates a .pdf file consistent with information requirements of the Guatemalan Ministry of Health. Local physicians, medical students, and nurses were trained in the use of the software, which debuted in July 2016. To assess the effectiveness of SABER as an EMR, focus groups and Likert scale surveys were conducted with six physicians and 31 medical students working in the Hospital Nacional emergency department.

Results: Thirty of 32 medical students and six of six doctors would recommend SABER to another provider. Positive aspects identified by staff include ease of use, quick data entry, and the potential for large data set research.

Discussion: Remaining challenges include incorporating electronic nursing orders and lab results, troubleshooting technology problems including printer difficulties, a lack of electronic signature capability, and lack of integration with the rest of the hospital. Our study is consistent with other studies that show use of an EMR may help to reduce health disparities through improved patient records, medical data collection, and organization.

Cervical Cancer Screening With Human Papillomavirus Self-Sampling Among Transgender Men in El Salvador

Purpose: Sexual and gender minority persons in low-income countries have very limited access to routine health services. This study evaluated the feasibility of using a self-sampled human papillomavirus (HPV) test to increase access to screening for cervical cancer among transgender men in El Salvador. Methods: We partnered with a local advocacy organization for recruitment. A total of 24 transgender men (men assigned female at birth) ages 19-55 were enrolled and provided consent. Questionnaires assessed sociodemographics, health and sexual histories, and knowledge about HPV and cervical cancer. Screening was performed with a self-sampled HPV test. Participants with a positive test were offered colposcopy and cryotherapy treatment, if appropriate. Those with a negative test were advised to return in 5 years for rescreening. Results: Out of 24 consenting participants, 23 (95.83%) agreed to conduct HPV self-sampling, and 22/23 (95.65%) expressed willingness to self-sample in the future. Among self-sampled individuals, 3/23 (13%) tested positive and accepted colposcopy and biopsy. Analyses of biopsied tissue revealed one case of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 1. Conclusion: HPV self-sampling and subsequent procedures were accepted by the majority of participants. This screening method may be a viable alternative to cytology among transgender men in El Salvador.

Designing and implementing a practical prehospital emergency trauma care curriculum for lay first responders in Guatemala

Background Injury disproportionately affects low-income and middle-income countries, yet robust emergency medical services are often lacking to effectively address the prehospital injury burden. A half-day prehospital emergency trauma care curriculum was designed for first responders and piloted in the Sacatepéquez, Chimaltenango, and Escuintla departments in Guatemala.

Methods Three hundred and fifty-four law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and civilians volunteered to participate in a 5-hour emergency care course teaching scene safety, triage, airway management, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, fracture management, and victim transport. A validated 26-question pretest/post-test study instrument was contextually adapted and used to measure overall test performance, the primary study outcome, as well as test performance stratified by occupation, the secondary study outcome. Pretest/post-test score distributions were compared using a Wilcoxon signed-rank test. For test evaluation, knowledge acquisition on a by-question and by-category basis was examined using McNemar’s χ² test, whereas item difficulty indices used frequency-of-distribution tests and item discrimination indices used point biserial correlation.

Results Two hundred and eighty-seven participants qualified for inclusion. Participant mean pretest versus post-test scores improved 24 percentage points after course completion (43% vs 68%, p<0.001). Cronbach’s alpha yielded values of 0.86 (pretest) and 0.94 (post-test), suggesting testing instrument reliability. Between-group analyses demonstrated law enforcement and civilian participants improved more than firefighters (p<0.001). Performance on 23 of 26 questions improved significantly. All test questions except one showed an increase in their PPDI.

Discussion A 1-day, contextually adapted, 5-hour course targeting laypeople demonstrates significant improvements in emergency care knowledge. Future investigations of similar curricula should be trialed in alternate low-resource settings with increased civilian participation to evaluate efficacy and replicability as adequate substitutes for longer courses. This study suggests future courses teaching emergency care for lay first responders may be reduced to 5 hours duration.

Level of evidence Level II.

Designing and implementing a practical prehospital emergency trauma care curriculum for lay first responders in Guatemala

Background: Injury disproportionately affects low-income and middle-income countries, yet robust emergency medical services are often lacking to effectively address the prehospital injury burden. A half-day prehospital emergency trauma care curriculum was designed for first responders and piloted in the Sacatepéquez, Chimaltenango, and Escuintla departments in Guatemala.

Methods: Three hundred and fifty-four law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and civilians volunteered to participate in a 5-hour emergency care course teaching scene safety, triage, airway management, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, fracture management, and victim transport. A validated 26-question pretest/post-test study instrument was contextually adapted and used to measure overall test performance, the primary study outcome, as well as test performance stratified by occupation, the secondary study outcome. Pretest/post-test score distributions were compared using a Wilcoxon signed-rank test. For test evaluation, knowledge acquisition on a by-question and by-category basis was examined using McNemar’s χ² test, whereas item difficulty indices used frequency-of-distribution tests and item discrimination indices used point biserial correlation.

Results: Two hundred and eighty-seven participants qualified for inclusion. Participant mean pretest versus post-test scores improved 24 percentage points after course completion (43% vs 68%, p<0.001). Cronbach’s alpha yielded values of 0.86 (pretest) and 0.94 (post-test), suggesting testing instrument reliability. Between-group analyses demonstrated law enforcement and civilian participants improved more than firefighters (p<0.001). Performance on 23 of 26 questions improved significantly. All test questions except one showed an increase in their PPDI.

Discussion: A 1-day, contextually adapted, 5-hour course targeting laypeople demonstrates significant improvements in emergency care knowledge. Future investigations of similar curricula should be trialed in alternate low-resource settings with increased civilian participation to evaluate efficacy and replicability as adequate substitutes for longer courses. This study suggests future courses teaching emergency care for lay first responders may be reduced to 5 hours duration.

Abortion care in Haiti: A secondary analysis of demographic and health data.

BACKGROUND:
Abortion-related mortality accounts for 8% of all global maternal deaths and 97% of the estimated 25 million unsafe abortions performed each year occur in low- and middle-income countries. Haiti has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the western hemisphere and to further understand the circumstances of induced abortion in Haiti, the current work uses data from the 2012 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) to describe the methods of induced abortion in Haiti between 2007-2012 and to identify potential factors associated with use of different abortion methods.

METHODS:
This is a secondary analysis of nationally representative cross-sectional data from the 2012 Haitian DHS, a two-stage cluster randomized household survey. Analysis included descriptive statistics on participant demographics, methods of abortion, and location of / assistant for the abortion. Multivariate regression was conducted to determine if demographic characteristics were associated with: 1) increased or decreased odds of having an abortion; or 2) increased or decreased odds of reporting an evidence based or non-evidence based method of abortion.

RESULTS:
Among the 14,287 women of childbearing age who completed the 2012 Haiti DHS survey, 289 women reported having an induced abortion in the previous five years. Recommended methods, manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) or misoprostol alone, were used in 26.6% of the abortions (n = 77). Additionally, 13.8% (n = 40) of abortions used these recommended methods in combination with a non-evidenced based method such as injections, plants or tablets. A total of 92 women had a dilation and curettage (D&C) abortion, either alone (n = 77) or in combination with another method (n = 15) and over a quarter (n = 80) of reported abortions were conducted by non-evidence based methods (n = 80). A majority of abortions using a recommended method were assisted by a relative/friend (n = 28) or were unassisted (n = 34). Most abortions occurred in private homes (n = 174) with hospitals/clinics being the second most common location (n = 84). Women in the middle (OR = 3.3, 95% CI = 2.0-5.6) and highest (OR = 7.4, 95% CI = 4.4-12.3) wealth brackets were more likely to have had an abortion in comparison to women in the lowest wealth bracket. Women who had ever been in a marital union were more likely to have had an abortion than those who had not. The only demographic factor predictive of aborting using a recommended method was living in an urban area, with urban-dwelling women being less likely to use a recommended abortion method (OR = 0.4, 95% CI = 0.2-0.9) in comparison with women living in rural settings.

CONCLUSION:
In a nationally representative survey in Haiti, 2% of women of childbearing age reported having an abortion in the five years prior to the survey. A large proportion of these abortions were carried out using non-evidence based methods and over half occurred outside of the formal health care system. Understanding women’s attitudes, knowledge and barriers around abortion is paramount to improving knowledge and access to evidence-based abortion care in an effort to decrease maternal morbidity and mortality in Haiti.

Astrocytic Tumors in Mexico: An Overview of Characteristics and Prognosis in an Open Reference Center for Low-Income Population.

Objective:
The authors aimed to analyze the current epidemiology of high- and low-grade gliomas, follow-up strategies, and prognosis in a national reference center of a developing country.

Materials and Methods:
Medical records of patients diagnosed with intracranial gliomas from January 2012 to January 2016 were reviewed. Data were classified by age, symptoms, Karnofsky functional scale (KFS), tumor location, extent of resection (EOR), histopathology, hospital stay, Glasgow outcome scale (GOS), adjuvant treatments, overall survival (OS), and mortality.

Results:
Astrocytomas accounted for 28.2% of the intracranial tumors and 53.5% were male. Headache was the most common symptom, while sensory disturbance was the least frequent. The right cerebral hemisphere was involved in 56.5% of cases and frontal lobe in 31.3%. Gross total resection (GTR) was achieved in 18.1% cases, 35.3% subtotal resection, and 46.4% biopsy. Regarding the astrocytomas, 43.3% were low grade and 56.4% high grade. Low-grade tumors had the highest frequency in the fourth decade of life, while Grade III and IV in the fifth and seventh decades of life, respectively. In high-grade lesions, there was a slight male predominance (~1.4:1). The initial KFS was regularly 80 for low-grade gliomas and 60 for high-grade. By 1-month postdischarge, the score decreased by 10 points. About half of the patients (47.5%) received adjuvant therapy after surgery. From the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS), the majority had a form of disability and 30-month OS was above 88% for Grade I-II and 0% for Grade III and IV.

Conclusions:
Astrocytic tumors were the most frequently noted intra-axial tumors. Age, histological grade, and EOR are important prognostic factors. These results are similar to other reports; however, increased variability was noted when treatment-related factors were considered. Additional studies are necessary to identify the factors related to these treatment results.

Oral Nutritional Supplementation in Children Treated for Cancer in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Is Feasible and Effective: the Experience of the Children’s Hospital Manuel De Jesus Rivera “La Mascota” in Nicaragua.

Children with cancer are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition, which can affect their tolerance of chemotherapy and outcome. In Nicaragua approximately two-thirds of children diagnosed with cancer present with under-nutrition. A nutritional program for children with cancer has been developed at “La Mascota” Hospital. Results of this oral nutritional intervention including difficulties, benefits, and relevance for children treated for cancer in low- and middle-income countries are here reported and discussed.