An assessment of orofacial clefts in Tanzania.

Clefts of the lip (CL), the palate (CP), or both (CLP) are the most common orofacial congenital malformations found among live births, accounting for 65% of all head and neck anomalies. The frequency and pattern of orofacial clefts in different parts of the world and among different human groups varies widely. Generally, populations of Asian or Native American origin have the highest prevalence, while Caucasian populations show intermediate prevalence and African populations the lowest. To date, little is known regarding the epidemiology and pattern of orofacial clefts in Tanzania.A retrospective descriptive study was conducted at Bugando Medical Centre to identify all children with orofacial clefts that attended or were treated during a period of five years. Cleft lip and/or palate records were obtained from patient files in the Hospital’s Departments of Surgery, Paediatrics and medical records. Age at presentation, sex, region of origin, type and laterality of the cleft were recorded. In addition, presence of associated congenital anomalies or syndromes was recorded.A total of 240 orofacial cleft cases were seen during this period. Isolated cleft lip was the most common cleft type followed closely by cleft lip and palate (CLP). This is a departure from the pattern of clefting reported for Caucasian and Asian populations, where CLP or isolated cleft palate is the most common type. The distribution of clefts by side showed a statistically significant preponderance of the left side (43.7%) (?2 = 92.4, p < 0.001), followed by the right (28.8%) and bilateral sides (18.3%). Patients with isolated cleft palate presented at very early age (mean age 1.00 years, SE 0.56). Associated congenital anomalies were observed in 2.8% of all patients with orofacial clefts, and included neural tube defects, Talipes and persistent ductus arteriosus.Unilateral orofacial clefts were significantly more common than bilateral clefts; with the left side being the most common affected side. Most of the other findings did not show marked differences with orofacial cleft distributions in other African populations.

Establishing a children’s orthopaedic hospital for Malawi: an assessment after 5 years.

Beit Cure International Hospital (BCIH) is a specialist orthopaedic hospital providing surgical services to the children of Malawi. The hospital started treating patients in late 2002, and this analysis represents an attempt to assess the impact of the hospital, and develop strategies for future partnerships and development. Analysis was made of all the 563 case files of new patients treated operatively in the fifth year of hospital services. Data recorded included district and region of origin of patient, diagnosis, age and sex. Patients were treated from all 3 regions, with almost 50% coming from Southern region. Club foot, burn contracture, and genu varus were the most common diagnoses. Half the children were infants up to 5 years of age, while 60% were male. The underlying reasons behind these findings are analysed and their implications in terms of future hospital strategy are discussed.

Peters anomaly with post axial polydactyly, bilateral camptodactyly and club foot in a Kenyan neonate: a case report.

A case of bilateral Peters anomaly with bilateral post axial polydactyly, bilateral camptodactyly, and club foot was examined in a neonatal Kenyan baby girl of African descent who had been delivered in the hospital and admitted to the newborn unit. She died aged five days. There are no cases of Peters anomaly recorded in Africa according to a literature search. In addition, available data point to the majority of the principal associations in Peters anomaly to be genitourinary anomalies, making this case a rare one in its isolated collection of musculoskeletal associations.A Kenyan baby girl of African descent who was born through a caesarean section presented in the new born unit of our hospital with bilateral corneal opacities, bilateral polydactyly, camptodactyly and club foot.This is a rare case of Peters anomaly and its association with multiple musculoskeletal abnormalities makes it special.

Why do patients refuse trichiasis surgery? Lessons and an education initiative from Mtwara Region, Tanzania.

BACKGROUND:
Trachomatous trichiasis is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness worldwide. A relatively simple surgery can spare vision. Although this surgery is usually performed free of charge in endemic regions, multiple studies indicate that surgical refusal is common. Prior studies have attempted to examine these reasons, although they generally rely on patient recall months to years after the surgery was offered. This study set out to determine major decision-making factors at the time of refusal. In addition, this study looked for ways to help increase surgical uptake by targeting modifiable factors.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:
We used a combination of focus groups, interviews with community health workers, and individual interviews with trichiasis patients who refused surgery to understand their decision-making. We found that several factors influenced surgical refusals, including misconception regarding recovery time, inability to find a post-surgical caregiver, and the time of year of the surgical campaign. Fear of the surgery itself played a minimal role in refusals.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:
Trichiasis patients refuse surgery for many reasons, but a large percentage is due to lack of information and education, and is, therefore, modifiable within the structure of a surgical outreach project. To address this, we developed a “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) document aimed at community health workers, which may have helped to decrease some of the misconceptions that had led to prior refusals.

Gender-based analysis of factors affecting junior medical students’ career selection: addressing the shortage of surgical workforce in Rwanda.

Background
There is a strong need for expanding surgical workforce in low- and middle-income countries. However, the number of medical students selecting surgical careers is not sufficient to meet this need. In Rwanda, there is an additional gender gap in speciality selection. Our study aims to understand the early variables involved in junior medical students’ preference of specialisation with a focus on gender disparities.

Methods
We performed a cross-sectional survey of medical students during their clinical rotation years at the University of Rwanda. Demographics, specialisation preference, and factors involved in that preference were obtained using questionnaires and analysed using descriptive statistics and odds ratios.

Results
One hundred eighty-one respondents participated in the study (49.2% response rate) with a female-to-male ratio of 1 to 2.5. Surgery was the preferred speciality for 46.9% of male participants, and obstetrics/gynaecology for 29.4% of females. The main selection criteria for those who had already decided on surgery as a career included intellectual challenge (60.0%), interaction with residents (52.7%), and core clerkship experience (41.8%) for male participants and interaction with residents (57.1%), intellectual challenge (52.4%), and core clerkship experience (52.4%) for female participants. Females were more likely than males to join surgery based on perceived research opportunities (OR 2.7, p = 0.04). Male participants were more likely than their female participants to drop selection of surgery as a speciality when an adverse interaction with a resident was encountered (OR 0.26, p = 0.03).

Conclusion
This study provides insight into factors that guide Rwandan junior medical students’ speciality preference. Medical students are more likely to consider surgical careers when exposed to positive clerkship experiences that provide intellectual challenges, as well as focused mentorship that facilitates effective research opportunities. Ultimately, creating a comprehensive curriculum that supports students’ preferences may help encourage their selection of surgical careers.

Linking household and health facility surveys to assess obstetric service availability, readiness and coverage: evidence from 17 low- and middle-income countries.

Improving access and quality of obstetric service has the potential to avert preventable maternal, neonatal and stillborn deaths, yet little is known about the quality of care received. This study sought to assess obstetric service availability, readiness and coverage within and between 17 low- and middle-income countries.We linked health facility data from the Service Provision Assessments and Service Availability and Readiness Assessments, with corresponding household survey data obtained from the Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. Based on performance of obstetric signal functions, we defined four levels of facility emergency obstetric care (EmOC) functionality: comprehensive (CEmOC), basic (BEmOC), BEmOC-2, and low/substandard. Facility readiness was evaluated based on the direct observation of 23 essential items; facilities “ready to provide obstetric services” had ?20 of 23 items available. Across countries, we used medians to characterize service availability and readiness, overall and by urban-rural location; analyses also adjusted for care-seeking patterns to estimate population-level coverage of obstetric services.Of the 111?500 health facilities surveyed, 7545 offered obstetric services and were included in the analysis. The median percentages of facilities offering EmOC and “ready to provide obstetric services” were 19% and 10%, respectively. There were considerable urban-rural differences, with absolute differences of 19% and 29% in the availability of facilities offering EmOC and “ready to provide obstetric services”, respectively. Adjusting for care-seeking patterns, results from the linking approach indicated that among women delivering in a facility, a median of 40% delivered in facilities offering EmOC, and 28% delivered in facilities “ready to provide obstetric services”. Relatively higher coverage of facility deliveries (?65%) and coverage of deliveries in facilities “ready to provide obstetric services” (?30% of facility deliveries) were only found in three countries.The low levels of availability, readiness and coverage of obstetric services documented represent substantial missed opportunities within health systems. Global and national efforts need to prioritize upgrading EmOC functionality and improving readiness to deliver obstetric service, particularly in rural areas. The approach of linking health facility and household surveys described here could facilitate the tracking of progress towards quality obstetric care.

Pilot study assessing the direct medical cost of treating patients with cancer in Kenya; findings and implications for the future.

Currently the majority of cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, where there are appreciable funding concerns. In Kenya, most patients currently pay out of pocket for treatment, and those who are insured are generally not covered for the full costs of treatment. This places a considerable burden on households if family members develop cancer. However, the actual cost of cancer treatment in Kenya is unknown. Such an analysis is essential to better allocate resources as Kenya strives towards universal healthcare.To evaluate the economic burden of treating cancer patients.Descriptive cross-sectional cost of illness study in the leading teaching and referral hospital in Kenya, with data collected from the hospital files of sampled adult patients for treatment during 2016.In total, 412 patient files were reviewed, of which 63.4% (n?=?261) were female and 36.6% (n?=?151) male. The cost of cancer care is highly dependent on the modality. Most reviewed patients had surgery, chemotherapy and palliative care. The cost of cancer therapy varied with the type of cancer. Patients on chemotherapy alone cost an average of KES 138,207 (USD 1364.3); while those treated with surgery cost an average of KES 128,207 (1265.6), and those on radiotherapy KES 119,036 (1175.1). Some patients had a combination of all three, costing, on average, KES 333,462 (3291.8) per patient during the year.The cost of cancer treatment in Kenya depends on the type of cancer, the modality, cost of medicines and the type of inpatient admission. The greatest contributors are currently the cost of medicines and inpatient admissions. This pilot study can inform future initiatives among the government as well as private and public insurance companies to increase available resources, and better allocate available resources, to more effectively treat patients with cancer in Kenya. The authors will be monitoring developments and conducting further research.

Out-of-Pocket and Catastrophic Expenses Incurred by Seeking Pediatric and Adult Surgical Care at a Public, Tertiary Care Centre in Uganda.

Background
Surgical care is critical to establish effective healthcare systems in low- and middle-income countries, yet the unmet need for surgical conditions is as high as 65% in Ugandan children. Financial burden and geographical distance are common barriers to help-seeking in adult populations and are unmeasured in the pediatric population. We thus measured out-of-pocket (OOP) expenses and distance traveled for pediatric surgical care in a tertiary hospital in Mbarara, Uganda, as compared to adult surgical and pediatric medical patients.

Methods
Patients admitted to pediatric surgical (n = 20), pediatric medical (n = 18) and adult surgical (n = 18) wards were interviewed upon discharge over a period of 3 weeks. Patient and caregiver-reported expenses incurred for the present illness included prior/future care needed, and travel distance/cost. The prevalence of catastrophic expenses (≥10% of annual income) was calculated and spending patterns compared between wards.

Results
Thirty-five percent of pediatric medical patients, 45% of pediatric surgical patients and 55% of adult surgical patients incurred catastrophic expenses. Pediatric surgical patients paid more for their current treatment (p <  0.01)—specifically medications (p <  0.01) and tests (p <  0.01)—than pediatric medical patients, and comparable costs to adults. Adult patients paid more for treatment prior to the hospital (p = 0.04) and miscellaneous expenses (e.g., food while admitted) (p = 0.02). Patients in all wards traveled comparable distances.

Conclusions
Seeking healthcare at a publicly funded hospital is financially catastrophic for almost half of patients. Out-of-stock supplies and broken equipment make surgical care particularly vulnerable to OOP expenses because analgesics, anaesthesia and preoperative imaging are prerequisites to care.

Surgical consent in sub-Saharan Africa: a modern challenge for the humanitarian surgeon.

Surgical consent is one of the pillars of ethical conduct in Western world surgical practice. Recent studies have described the consenting processes for clinical trials in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), but only a few have explored its practice before surgical procedures. The recent World Medical Association (WMA) Declaration of Lisbon recommends autonomy and independent decision-making. However, informed consent is influenced by cultural background, family structure, socioeconomic status, religion and education. The authors of the paper support the WMA recommendations, but agree the process for obtaining informed consent should be reviewed and developed to integrate in a culturally appropriate manner. This commentary reports the author’s personal experience of surgical consent in Burundi and reviews the literature describing its practice and the specific challenges faced in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its aim is to encourage a debate among surgeons as to how surgical consent can be undertaken in different scenarios of LMICs.

A profile of surgical burden and anaesthesia services at Mozambique’s Central Hospital: A review.

Surgical and anaesthesia data, including outcomes, remain limited in low-income countries (LIC). This study reviews the surgical burden and anaesthesia services at a tertiary care hospital in Mozambique.Information on activities within the department of anaesthesia at Maputo Central Hospital for 2014-15 was collected from its annual report and verified by the Chairman of Anaesthesia. Personnel information and health care metrics for the hospital in 2015 were collected and verified by hospital leadership.Maputo Central Hospital has 1423 beds with 50.1% allocated to primary surgical services. 39.7% of total admissions were to surgical services, and in 2015 the hospital performed 10,049 major operations requiring anaesthesia. The OB/GYN service had the most operations with 2894 (28.8%), followed by general surgery (1665, 16.6%). Inpatient surgical mortality was 4.1% and surgical-related diagnoses comprised two of the top 9 causes of death, with malignant neoplasms and hemorrhage from trauma causing the highest mortality. In 2014-15, Maputo Central Hospital employed 15 anesthesiologists, with 4 advanced and 23 basic mid-level anaesthesia providers. Of 10,897 total anaesthesia cases in 2014, 6954 were general anaesthesia and 3925 were neuraxial anaesthesia. Other anaesthesia services included chronic pain and intensive care consultation. Anaesthesia department leadership noted a strong desire to improve data collection and analysis for anaesthesia outcomes and complications, requested an additional administrator for statistical analysis.This profile of anaesthesia services at a large tertiary hospital in Mozambique highlights several features of anaesthesia care and surgical burden in LICs, including challenges of resource limitations, patient comorbidity, and social dynamics present in Mozambique that contribute to prolonged hospital stays. As noted, enhanced data collection and analysis within the department and the hospital may be useful in identifying strategies to improve outcomes and patient safety.