Clinical Profile and Predictors of Mortality in Neonates Born With Non-Immune Hydrops Fetalis: Experience From a Lower-Middle-Income Country

Introduction
Hydrops fetalis (HF) is a life-threatening condition in which a fetus has an abnormal collection of fluid in the tissue around the lungs, heart, abdomen, or under the skin. Based on its pathophysiology, it is classified into immune and non-immune types. With the widespread use of anti-D immunoglobulin, non-immune HF has become more common, with an incidence of one in 1,700-3,000 live births. A multitude of fetal diseases with various causes can lead to non-immune HF. Due to the recent advances in prenatal diagnostic and therapeutic interventions together with improved neonatal intensive care, the diagnosis and subsequent management of HF have been refined. However, HF is still associated with a high mortality rate. A recent assessment of the literature found that there is a lack of data on prognostic variables in neonates with HF from low- and middle-income countries. In light of this, we sought to establish the etiologic causes, predictors of mortality, and eventual fate of newborns born non-immune HF at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi during the 10-year period spanning January 2009-December 2019 in this retrospective analysis.

Methodology
For this study, we collected data from the computerized database and patient record files at the hospital on all infants with non-immune HF. Demographic data, postnatal interventions, clinical and laboratory findings, outcomes, and the results of comparison between HF patients who died and those who survived were analyzed.

Results
The incidence of non-immune HF at our hospital was 0.62/1,000 live births during the period under study, with 33 newborn babies diagnosed with non-immune HF from a total of 53,033 live-born deliveries. An etiologic factor was discovered in 17 (51.5%) neonates with non-immune HF while 16 (48.4%) were classified as those with unidentified etiology. The most common causes were cardiovascular and genetic syndromes, which resulted in 100% mortality. The overall mortality rate was 67%. The need for mechanical ventilation, surfactant therapy, and prolonged hospitalization were identified as independent risk factors of mortality.

Conclusion
Our study proves that the need for mechanical ventilation [moderate to severe hypoxic respiratory failure (HRF)] and prolonged hospitalization are strong predictors of poor outcomes in neonates with non-immune HF. Therefore, severe hydrops causing significant mortality can be anticipated based on the patients’ respiratory status and the need for escalated oxygen support.

ERAS Society Recommendations for Improving Perioperative Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Through Implementation of Existing Tools and Programs: An Urgent Need for the Surgical Safety Checklist and Enhanced Recovery After Surgery

The Lancet Commission and Global Surgery Foundation in 2015 highlighted the need for access to safe and affordable surgical and anesthetic care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) [1]. Patients that do have access to care in LMICs, however, have a higher risk of complications and mortality than in high-income countries (HICs). Ninety-six percent of all perioperative deaths worldwide occur in LMICs, and the economic impact of this is a staggering 2.6% of the combined gross domestic product of LMICs [1]. Although it is a common belief that the greatest contributors to adverse outcomes in LMICs are poor access to care and late presentation, deficits in the quality of accessible care are a substantial concern.

Following the Lancet Commission and the World Health Assembly Resolution 68.15, all member countries committed to developing a National, Surgical, Obstetric and Anaesthesia Plan (NSOAP) to assist in improving access to safe surgery and anesthesia [1]. The missing link in the NSOAP strategy is support for the implementation of standardized, evidence-based perioperative care guidelines and tools to measure guideline compliance and outcomes. This is crucial not only because of the need to improve perioperative care but as access to safe surgery and anesthesia improves, there is likely to be increased patient volume and pressure on the healthcare system to provide quality surgical care. A new set of tools need not be developed to improve perioperative care in LMICs. These tools already exist with evidence for their effectiveness. The Surgical Safety Checklist (SSC) and Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) Program are two examples [2, 3]. Barriers to acceptance, adoption, and implementation of existing tools present the greatest hurdles that must be overcome to improve perioperative outcomes in LMICs.

The SSC is a communication tool used by the surgical team to confirm that appropriate actions are taken in the perioperative period to maintain patient safety. At the same time, the three pause points within the checklist include conversation prompts to ensure there is a shared understanding between the surgical team members. The SSC was designed to optimize its effectiveness in LMICs with a focus on influencing globally relevant outcomes using recommendations that are applicable and supported by the resources in LMICs. As a result, the use of the SSC has been shown to significantly reduce perioperative morbidity and mortality in LMICs as well as in HIC settings, and its impact may be larger when implemented well in LMICs [2].

Despite evidence of effectiveness, the acceptance and adoption of the SSC remain poor in LMICs with ranges between 20 and 40% when compared with facilities in HIC where rates of adoption range between 80 and 95% [4]. The reasons for this failed penetrance relate to a lack of resources and infrastructure for initial and ongoing implementation and audits and surgical hierarchies that may not support aspects of the SSC, such as encouraging all members of the team to vocalize concerns if they exist. The barriers to successful implementation are further exacerbated by checklist fatigue and similar factors that also lead to decreased meaningful use in HICs. The need for improved implementation of the SSC in LMICs has been recognized by global health organizations. With this increased focus on quality and safety initiatives and implementation, it is time to consider other strategies for improvement.

ERAS is another tool that has the potential to benefit LMICs with strategies that have demonstrated benefits across a variety of settings and clinical outcomes [3]. The ERAS program is based on implementation of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines performed by a multidisciplinary perioperative team, using tools to monitor and evaluate compliance to the guidelines and patient outcomes concurrently. Randomized trials of ERAS-based care vs traditional care conducted in HICs have shown a significant reduction in length of stay (20–40%) and complications (20–30%). Cost studies of ERAS have demonstrated a return-on-investment ratio up to 7.3 (i.e., a savings of $7.3 for every $1 invested), showing that ERAS is value-based surgery [3].

There are few established ERAS programs in LMICs, however, data from these centers demonstrate similar benefits to HICs [5]. Whether these benefits can be achieved at scale remains unknown, and the crux of the issue relates to how ERAS is applied in tertiary-university centers in LMICs compared to the district and regional levels. ERAS guidelines in their current format are specialty-specific, predominantly for elective procedures, and thus likely to be easily implemented in tertiary-university LMIC hospitals, which have similar subspecialty units. The implementation in these units will have the added benefit of facilitating the teaching and training of all perioperative team members.

The greatest unmet surgical and anesthetic need is, however, at the district and regional level in LMICs [1]. Unlike tertiary hospitals, surgery in these centers is often performed on an emergency basis by surgeons with no sub-specialty training. To address this gap, the ERAS® Society, in partnership with the World Bank and perioperative leaders in LMICs, has undertaken the development of a generic perioperative ERAS® Society guideline for elective and emergency surgery. This approach will integrate the SSC and be applied to patients undergoing a variety of operations including general and obstetrical surgery. These practices will focus on key ERAS measures such as patient education/engagement, avoidance of opioids and prolonged fasting, early mobilization, and early feeding. In addition to these guidelines, the ERAS® Society and World Bank are developing a tailored implementation program and monitoring tool to assess guideline compliance and patient outcomes specifically targeted to LMICs.

ERAS and the SSC share a similar quality that makes them well-suited for adoption in poorly resourced settings—that is their adaptability. Both tools are designed to be tailored to suit the context in which they will be adopted. Combining the NSOAP strategy with existing tools such as SSC and ERAS have the potential to provide a platform to improve the quality of surgical care in LMICs with improved patient outcomes and service efficiency, at scale, rapidly and make a significant contribution to addressing the unmet surgical and anesthetic need in LMICs.

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

Background
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.

Methods
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.

Findings
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.

Interpretation
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.

Preliminary model assessing the cost-effectiveness of preoperative chlorhexidine mouthwash at reducing postoperative pneumonia among abdominal surgery patients in South Africa

Background
Pneumonia is a common and severe complication of abdominal surgery, it is associated with increased length of hospital stay, healthcare costs, and mortality. Further, pulmonary complication rates have risen during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This study explored the potential cost-effectiveness of administering preoperative chlorhexidine mouthwash versus no-mouthwash at reducing postoperative pneumonia among abdominal surgery patients.

Methods
A decision analytic model taking the South African healthcare provider perspective was constructed to compare costs and benefits of mouthwash versus no-mouthwash-surgery at 30 days after abdominal surgery. We assumed two scenarios: (i) the absence of COVID-19; (ii) the presence of COVID-19. Input parameters were collected from published literature including prospective cohort studies and expert opinion. Effectiveness was measured as proportion of pneumonia patients. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed to assess the impact of parameter uncertainties. The results of the probabilistic sensitivity analysis were presented using cost-effectiveness planes and cost-effectiveness acceptability curves.

Results
In the absence of COVID-19, mouthwash had lower average costs compared to no-mouthwash-surgery, $3,675 (R 63,770) versus $3,958 (R 68,683), and lower proportion of pneumonia patients, 0.029 versus 0.042 (dominance of mouthwash intervention). In the presence of COVID-19, the increase in pneumonia rate due to COVID-19, made mouthwash more dominant as it was more beneficial to reduce pneumonia patients through administering mouthwash. The cost-effectiveness acceptability curves shown that mouthwash surgery is likely to be cost-effective between $0 (R0) and $15,000 (R 260,220) willingness to pay thresholds.

Conclusions
Both the absence and presence of SARS-CoV-2, mouthwash is likely to be cost saving intervention for reducing pneumonia after abdominal surgery. However, the available evidence for the effectiveness of mouthwash was extrapolated from cardiac surgery; there is now an urgent need for a robust clinical trial on the intervention on non-cardiac surgery.

Shock index as a prognosticator for emergent surgical intervention and mortality in trauma patients in Johannesburg: A retrospective cohort study

Introduction
Trauma is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide with exsanguination being the primary preventable cause through early surgical intervention. We assessed two popular trauma scoring systems, injury severity scores (ISS) and shock index (SI) to determine the optimal cut off values that may predict the need for emergent surgical intervention (ESI) and in-hospital mortality.

Methods
A retrospective analysis of patient records from a tertiary hospital’s trauma unit for the year 2019 was done. Descriptive statistics, univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed. Receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was conducted and area under the curve (AUC) reported for predicting the need for ESI in all study participants, as well as in patients with penetrating injuries alone, based on continuous variables of ISS, SI or a combination of ISS and SI. The Youdin Index was applied to determine the optimal ISS and SI cut off values.

Results
A total of 1964 patients’ records were included, 89.0% were male and the median age (IQR) was 30 (26–37) years. Penetrating injuries accounted for 65.9% of all injuries. ISS and SI were higher in the ESI group with median (IQR) 11 (10–17) and 0.74 (0.60–0.95), respectively. The overall mortality rate was 4.5%. The optimal cut-off values for ESI and mortality by ISS (AUC) were 9 (0.74) and 12 (0.86) (p = 0.0001), with optimal values for SI (AUC) being 0.72 (0.60), and 0.91 (0.68) (p = 0.0001), respectively.

Acute kidney injury among medical and surgical in-patients in the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital, Cape Coast, Ghana: a prospective cross-sectional study

Background: Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a syndrome associated with high morbidity, mortality and high hospital costs. Despite its adverse clinical and economic effects, only a few studies have reported reliable estimates on the incidence of AKI in sub-Sahara Africa. We assessed the incidence and associated factors of AKI among medical and surgical patients admitted to a tertiary hospital in Ghana.

Methods: A prospective cross-sectional study was conducted among one hundred and forty-five (145) consecutive patients admitted to the medical and the surgical wards at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital (CCTH), Cape Coast, Ghana from April 2017 to April 2018. Socio-demographic and clinical information were collected using structured questionnaires. AKI was diagnosed and staged with the KDIGO guideline, using admission serum creatinine as baseline kidney function.

Results: The mean age of the study participants was 46.6±17.7 years, whilst the male:female ratio was 68:77. The overall incidence of AKI among the participants was 15.9% (95% CI: 10.33 – 22.84%). Stage 1 AKI occurred in 56.5% of the participants, whilst stages 2 and 3 AKI respectively occurred among 4.1% and 2.8% of respondents. About 20% of the participants in the medical ward developed AKI (n= 15) whilst 12% of those in surgical ward developed AKI (n= 8). Among the participants admitted to the medical ward, 60.0%, 26.7% and 13.3% had stages 1, 2 and 3 AKI respectively. Whilst 50.0%, 25.0% and 25.0% respectively developed stages 1, 2 and 3 AKI in the surgical ward. Medical patients with AKI had hyper-tension (40%), followed by liver disease (33.3%); 37.5% of surgical inpatients had gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.

Conclusion: The incidence of AKI is high among medical and surgical patients in-patients in the CCTH, Ghana, with hypertension and liver disease as major comorbidities.

Severe impact of COVID-19 pandemic on non-COVID patient care and health delivery: An observational study from a large multispecialty hospital of India

OBJECTIVES:
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted health-care delivery globally, especially for non-COVID diseases. These cases received suboptimal attention and care during the pandemic. In this observational cohort study, we have studied the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various aspects of medical and surgical practices.

MATERIAL AND METHODS:
This observational, cross-sectional cohort study was performed on the data of a 710 bedded, multispecialty, and tertiary care corporate hospital of the national capital of India. The data of the pandemic period (April 1, 2020–March 31, 2021) were divided into three main groups and were then compared with the patient data of the preceding non-pandemic year (April 1, 2019–March 31, 2020) of more than six hundred thousand cases.

RESULTS:
From the data of 677,237 cases in these 2 years, we found a significant effect of COVID-19 pandemic on most spheres of clinical practice (P < 0.05), including outpatient attendance and surgical work. The specialties providing critical and emergency care were less affected. Although the total hospital admissions reduced by 34.07%, these were not statistically significant (P = 0.506), as the number of COVID-19 admissions took place during this time and compensated for the drop. CONCLUSION: The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted health-care delivery to non-COVID cases across all the major medical and surgical specialties. Still, major urgent surgical and interventional work for cases was undertaken with due precautions, without waiting for the ongoing pandemic to end, as the delay in their treatment could have been catastrophic.

Oxygen delivery systems for adults in Sub-Saharan Africa: A scoping review

Background
Respiratory diseases are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Oxygen is an essential medicine used to treat hypoxemia from respiratory diseases. However, the availability and utilization of oxygen delivery systems for adults in sub-Saharan Africa is not well-described. We aim to identify and describe existing data around oxygen availability and provision for adults in sub-Saharan Africa, determine knowledge or research gaps, and make recommendations for future research and capacity building.

Methods
We systematically searched four databases for articles on April 22, 2020, for variations of keywords related to oxygen with a focus on countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Inclusion criteria were studies that included adults and addressed hypoxemia assessment or outcome, oxygen delivery mechanisms, oxygen availability, oxygen provision infrastructure, and oxygen therapy and outcomes.

Results
35 studies representing 22 countries met inclusion criteria. Availability of oxygen delivery systems ranged from 42%-94% between facilities, with wide variability in the consistency of availability. There was also wide reported prevalence of hypoxemia, with most studies focusing on specific populations. In facilities where oxygen is available, health care workers are ill-equipped to identify adult patients with hypoxemia, provide oxygen to those who need it, and titrate or discontinue oxygen appropriately. Oxygen concentrators were shown to be the most cost-effective delivery system in areas where power is readily available.

Conclusions
There is a substantial need for building capacity for oxygen delivery throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Addressing this critical issue will require innovation and a multi-faceted approach of developing infrastructure, better equipping facilities, and health care worker training

Cancer care delivery innovations, experiences and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic: The Rwanda experience

Globally, cancer is the second leading cause of mortality. In 2018, 9.6 million lives were lost to cancer of which over 70% occurred in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) where limited access to cancer care and overwhelming late disease presentations negatively impact cancer related survival and quality of life [1]. Moreover, globally, new cancer cases are expected to increase from 18.1 million in 2018 to 21.4 million by 2030 [2]. In settings of poor health care systems and impoverished communities, the scarcity of and limited access to diagnostic and treatment modalities negatively impacts health outcomes and undermines achievement of the universal health care coverage (UHC) targets.

Over the past 20 years, Rwanda has recorded gains in key health indicators including increased life expectancy (from 48.6 in 2000 to 67.4 in 2015); declines in maternal mortality (from 1071 in 2000 to 210 per 100 000 live births in 2015) [3]. Concurrently, impressive gains were registered in the control of infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria [3]. However, little gains have been recorded for the management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) where age-standardized NCD mortality rates slightly decreased from 894.9 to 548.6 deaths per 100 000 people from 2000 to 2016 [4,5]. Anecdotally, plausible hindrances to the prevention and control of NCDs in Rwanda include low community awareness, lack of trained providers, limited access to diagnostic services and treatment capacity for complicated cases

Awake prone positioning for COVID-19 patients at Eka Kotebe General Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: A prospective cohort study

OBJECTIVES:
The objectives of the study were to evaluate the benefit of awake prone positioning in COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Eka Kotebe General Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Consecutive patients with COVID-19 who require supplemental oxygen to maintain oxygen saturation of ≥90% during the month of October 2020 were enrolled. Structured questionnaires were employed to collect data. Admission oxygen saturation was recorded for each patient before and after their first proning session. Analysis of descriptive and comparison statistics was done using SPSS version 25.

RESULTS:
A total of 61 patients were included in the study. The mean age (+SD) for the cohort was 55.4 (+16.9) years. The average duration of proning was 5+2.5 h/session and 8+6 h/day. The average oxygen saturation before proning was 89% (SD 5.2) and 93% (SD 2.8) 1 h after proning (P < 0.001); supplemental oxygen requirements significantly decreased with prone ventilation, before proning: FiO2 0.33 (+0.14) versus 1 h after prone ventilation: FiO2 0.31 (+0.13) (P < 0.001). Oxygen improvement with prone ventilation was not associated with duration of illness or total prone position hours. When assessed at 28 days after admission, 55.7% (n = 34) had been discharged home, 1.6% (n = 1) had died, and 42.6 (n = 26) were still hospitalized. CONCLUSION: Awake prone positioning demonstrated improved oxygen saturation in our oxygen requiring COVID-19 patients. Even though further studies are needed to support causality and determine the effect of proning on disease severity and mortality, early institution of prone ventilation in appropriate oxygen requiring COVID-19 patients should be encouraged.