Epidemiological profile and clinico-pathological features of pediatric gynecological cancers at Moi Teaching & Referral Hospital, Kenya

Background
The main pediatric (0–18 years) gynecologic cancers include stromal carcinomas (juvenile granulosa cell tumors and Sertoli-Leydig cell tumors), genital rhabdomyosarcomas and ovarian germ cell. Outcomes depend on time of diagnosis, stage, tumor type and treatment which can have long-term effects on the reproductive career of these patients. This study seeks to analyze the trends in clinical-pathologic presentation, treatment and outcomes in the cases seen at our facility. This is the first paper identifying these cancers published from sub-Saharan Africa.

Method
Retrospective review of clinico-pathologic profiles and treatment outcomes of pediatric gynecologic oncology patients managed at MTRH between 2010 and 2020. Data was abstracted from gynecologic oncology database and medical charts.

Results
Records of 40 patients were analyzed. Most, (92.5%, 37/40) of the patients were between 10 and 18 years. Ovarian germ cell tumors were the leading histological diagnosis in 72.5% (29/40) of the patients; with dysgerminomas being the commonest subtype seen in 12 of the 37 patients (32.4%). The patients received platinum-based chemotherapy in 70% of cases (28/40). There were 14 deaths among the 40 patients (35%)

Conclusion
Surgery remains the main stay of treatment and fertility-sparing surgery with or without adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy are the standard of care with excellent prognosis following early detection and treatment initiation. LMICs face several challenges in access to quality care and that affects survival of these patients. Due to its commonality, ovarian germ cell cancers warrant a high index of suspicion amongst primary care providers attending to adnexal masses in this age grou

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Pediatric Surgical Volume in Four Low- and Middle-Income Country Hospitals: Insights from an Interrupted Time Series Analysis

Background
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on surgical care delivery in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) has been challenging to assess due to a lack of data. This study examines the impact of COVID-19 on pediatric surgical volumes at four LMIC hospitals.

Methods
Retrospective and prospective pediatric surgical data collected at hospitals in Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Nigeria, and Zambia were reviewed from January 2019 to April 2021. Changes in surgical volume were assessed using interrupted time series analysis.

Results
6078 total operations were assessed. Before the pandemic, overall surgical volume increased by 21 cases/month (95% CI 14 to 28, p < 0.001). From March to April 2020, the total surgical volume dropped by 32%, or 110 cases (95% CI − 196 to − 24, p = 0.014). Patients during the pandemic were younger (2.7 vs. 3.3 years, p < 0.001) and healthier (ASA I 69% vs. 66%, p = 0.003). Additionally, they experienced lower rates of post-operative sepsis (0.3% vs 1.5%, p < 0.001), surgical site infections (1.3% vs 5.8%, p < 0.001), and mortality (1.6% vs 3.1%, p < 0.001).

Conclusions
During the COVID-19 pandemic, children’s surgery in LMIC saw a sharp decline in total surgical volume by a third in the month following March 2020, followed by a slow recovery afterward. Patients were healthier with better post-operative outcomes during the pandemic, implying a widening disparity gap in surgical access and exacerbating challenges in addressing the large unmet burden of pediatric surgical disease in LMICs with a need for immediate mitigation strategies.

Clinical presentation and outcomes in children with retinoblastoma managed at the Uganda Cancer Institute

Background. The majority of patients with retinoblastoma, the most common intraocular cancer of childhood, are found in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), with leukocoria being the most common initial presenting sign and indication for referral. Findings from the current study serve to augment earlier findings on the clinical presentation and outcomes of children with retinoblastoma in Uganda. Methods. This was a retrospective study in which we reviewed records of children admitted with a diagnosis of retinoblastoma at the Uganda Cancer Institute from January 2009 to February 2020. From the electronic database, using admission numbers, files were retrieved. Patient information was recorded in a data extraction tool. Results. A total of 90 retinoblastoma patients were studied, with a mean age at the first Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) presentation of 36.7 months. There were more males (57.8%) than females, with a male to female ratio of 1.37 : 1. The majority (54.4%) had retinoblastoma treatment prior to UCI admission. The most common presenting symptoms were leukocoria (85.6%), eye reddening (64.4%), and eye swelling (63.3%). At 3 years of follow-up after index admission at UCI, 36.7% of the patients had died, 41.1% were alive, and 22.2% had been lost to follow-up. The median 3-year survival for children with retinoblastoma in our study was 2.18 years. Significant predictors of survival in the multivariate analysis were follow-up duration (), features of metastatic spread (), history of eye swelling (), and bilateral enucleation (). Conclusions. The majority of children who presented to the Uganda Cancer Institute were referred with advanced retinoblastoma, and there was a high mortality rate. Retinoblastoma management requires a multidisciplinary team that should include paediatric ophthalmologists, paediatric oncologists, ocular oncologists, radiation oncologists, and nurses.

Enhancing the value of short term volunteer missions in health from host country perspectives: the Case of Uganda

Short-term medical missions (STMMs), estimated to involve 1.6 million volunteers and US$2-3 billion annually, can be very valuable, but there is a growing critique of practices. Serious concerns have arisen around possible harms to host countries and patients, including medical errors, non-alignment with local systems and priorities, cultural insensitivity, and the high cost compared to benefits. Scholars and practitioners across diverse sectors involved-faith-based, corporate, NGO, and educational-have questioned the value of STMMs and proposed strategies for improving them. Missing from this assessment are voices of host communities and research on host country efforts to control the quality of visiting programs. In this study, we investigated host perspectives on STMMs. The study was driven by the need to examine the regulatory and policy environment as well as to establish the perspectives of all country stakeholders on STMMs with the view of enhancing their value. This research is a collaborative effort between researchers at Uganda Christian University in Mukono, Uganda and Lehigh University, PA, United States of America. A qualitative methodology was adopted, with in-depth interviews as the main tool. A total of 46 interviews with policy makers, Non-Governmental Organisations and those who have engaged with volunteers in the communities were conducted in Uganda. The analysis was computer-assisted and thematic. The study revealed that the health needs of the country are many, and STMMs contribute to closing some of the gaps, although this may be limited given the scope of needs. Some of these health needs include limited infrastructure and budget support for health, low levels of staffing and inadequate resources such as equipment in the facilities. It was further revealed that the contributions made are bi-directional, with host communities claiming that they contribute towards pre-visit preparations, accommodation, local expertise on tropical diseases, and social support while volunteers contribute skills, treatment, equipment, awareness and research. Nevertheless, from the perspective of stakeholders interviewed, STMM volunteers face challenges such as cultural shock, inadequate resources to work with, manpower to support them, high expectations from the communities and delay in clearance for practice. Despite their contributions, the study established that host communities expressed concerns about the nature of STMMs involving lack of experience, hidden interests, misalignment with community needs, security risks, code of conduct and sustainability of support. A review of Ugandan laws reveals many that are related to the regulation of health services, but none that specifically mentions short-term mission trips. Most stakeholders interviewed were unaware of any regulatory oversight of visiting health teams, although some were aware of the need for clearance of visitors’ credentials. It is therefore recommended that in order to enhance the value of STMMs in Uganda, concrete actions be taken involving improving and making known the conditions for licensing and oversight, improving communication, enhancing collaboration and supporting capacity building for local experts.

The structure, function and implementation of an outcomes database at a Ugandan secondary hospital: the Mbarara Surgical Services Quality Assurance Database

The Mbarara Surgical Services Quality Assurance Database (Mbarara SQUAD) is an outcomes database of surgical, obstetric and anaesthetic/critical care at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, a secondary referral hospital in southwestern Uganda. The primary scope of SQUAD is the assessment of the outcomes of care. The primary outcome is mortality. The aim is to improve the quality of care, guide allocation of resources and provide a platform for research. The target population includes all inpatients admitted for treatment to the surgery service, the obstetrics and gynaecology services, and the intensive care unit (ICU). Data collection was initiated in 2013 and closed in 2018. Data were extracted from patient charts and hospital logbooks. The database has over 50 000 patient encounters, including over 20 000 obstetrics and gynaecology admissions, 15 000 surgical admissions and 16 000 otolaryngology outpatient visits. Entries are coded using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) for diagnoses, and the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) for procedures. The completeness and accuracy of the data entry and the coding were validated. Governance of data use is by a local steering committee in Mbarara. The structure, function and implementation of this database may be relevant for similar hospital databases in low-income countries.

A qualitative study of an undergraduate online emergency medicine education program at a teaching Hospital in Kampala, Uganda

Background
Globally, half of all years of life lost is due to emergency medical conditions, with low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) facing a disproportionate burden of these conditions. There is an urgent need to train the future physicians in LMICs in the identification and stabilization of patients with emergency medical conditions. Little research focuses on the development of effective emergency medicine (EM) medical education resources in LMICs and the perspectives of the students themselves. One emerging tool is the use of electronic learning (e-learning) and blended learning courses. We aimed to understand Uganda medical trainees’ use of learning materials, perception of current e-learning resources, and perceived needs regarding EM skills acquisition during participation in an app-based EM course.

Methods
We conducted semi-structured interviews and focus groups of medical students and EM residents. Participants were recruited using convenience sampling. All sessions were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. The final codebook was approved by three separate investigators, transcripts were coded after reaching consensus by all members of the coding team, and coded data were thematically analyzed.

Results
Twenty-six medical trainees were included in the study. Analysis of the transcripts revealed three major themes: [1] medical trainees want education in EM and actively seek EM training opportunities; [2] although the e-learning course supplements knowledge acquisition, medical students are most interested in hands-on EM-related training experiences; and [3] medical students want increased time with local physician educators that blended courses provide.

Conclusions
Our findings show that while students lack access to structured EM education, they actively seek EM knowledge and practice experiences through self-identified, unstructured learning opportunities. Students value high quality, easily accessible EM education resources and employ e-learning resources to bridge gaps in their learning opportunities. However, students desire that these resources be complemented by in-person educational sessions and executed in collaboration with local EM experts who are able to contextualize materials, offer mentorship, and help students develop their interest in EM to continue the growth of the EM specialty.

Risk factors for postpartum haemorrhage in the Northern Province of Rwanda: A case control study

Background
Postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) remains a major global burden contributing to high maternal mortality and morbidity rates. Assessment of PPH risk factors should be undertaken during antenatal, intrapartum and postpartum periods for timely prevention of maternal morbidity and mortality associated with PPH. The aim of this study is to investigate and model risk factors for primary PPH in Rwanda.

Methods
We conducted an observational case-control study of 430 (108 cases: 322 controls) pregnant women with gestational age of 32 weeks and above who gave birth in five selected health facilities of Rwanda between January and June 2020. By visual estimation of blood loss, cases of Primary PPH were women who changed the blood-soaked vaginal pads 2 times or more within the first hour after birth, or women requiring a blood transfusion for excessive bleeding after birth. Controls were randomly selected from all deliveries without primary PPH from the same source population. Poisson regression, a generalized linear model with a log link and a Poisson distribution was used to estimate the risk ratio of factors associated with PPH.

Results
The overall prevalence of primary PPH was 25.2%. Our findings for the following risk factors were: antepartum haemorrhage (RR 3.36, 95% CI 1.80–6.26, P<0.001); multiple pregnancy (RR 1.83; 95% CI 1.11–3.01, P = 0.02) and haemoglobin level <11 gr/dL (RR 1.51, 95% CI 1.00–2.30, P = 0.05). During the intrapartum and immediate postpartum period, the main causes of primary PPH were: uterine atony (RR 6.70, 95% CI 4.78–9.38, P<0.001), retained tissues (RR 4.32, 95% CI 2.87–6.51, P<0.001); and lacerations of genital organs after birth (RR 2.14, 95% CI 1.49–3.09, P<0.001). Coagulopathy was not prevalent in primary PPH.

Conclusion
Based on our findings, uterine atony remains the foremost cause of primary PPH. As well as other established risk factors for PPH, antepartum haemorrhage and intra uterine fetal death should be included as risk factors in the development and validation of prediction models for PPH. Large scale studies are needed to investigate further potential PPH risk factors

Pediatric Hydrocephalus in Northwest Tanzania: a descriptive cross-sectional study of clinical characteristics and early surgical outcomes from the Bugando Medical Centre.

Objectives
In this study, we present data from a neurosurgical training program in Tanzania for the treatment of pediatric hydrocephalus. The objectives of the study were to identify the demographics and clinical characteristics of pediatric patients with hydrocephalus that were admitted to Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania as well as to describe their surgical treatment and early clinical outcomes.

Methods
This cross-sectional study included 38 pediatric patients. Physical examinations were conducted pre- and post-operatively, and their mothers completed a questionnaire providing demographic and clinical characteristics.

Results
There was a slight preponderance of male sex (21/38; 55.3%) with median age at the time of admission of 98.5 days. The majority of patients were surgically treated (33/38; 86.8%). Among those surgically treated, most received a ventriculoperitoneal shunt (23/33; 69.7%), while seven were treated with an endoscopic third ventriculostomy (7/33; 21.2%). At the time of admission, the majority of patients (86%) had head circumferences that met criteria for macrocephaly. The median time between admission and surgery was 23 days (2-47 days). Overall, five patients (13.2%) died, including two that did not receive surgical intervention.

Conclusions
We found that in our population, pediatric patients with hydrocephalus often present late for treatment with additional significant delays prior to receiving any surgical intervention. Five patients died, of which two had not undergone surgery. Our study reinforces that targeted investments in clinical services are needed to enable access to care, improve surgical capacity, and alleviate the burden of neurosurgical disease from pediatric hydrocephalus in sub-Saharan Africa.

Feasibility of delivering foot and ankle surgical courses in a partnership in Eastern, Central and Sothern Africa

Foot and ankle pathology if not treated appropriately and in a timely manner can adversely affect both disability and quality adjusted life years. More so in the low- and middle-income countries where ambulation is the predominant means of getting around for the majority of the population in order to earn a livelihood. This has necessitated the equipping of the new generation of orthopaedic surgeons with the expertise and skills set to manage these conditions. To address this need, surgeons from the British Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (BOFAS) and College of Surgeons of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) transferred the “Principles of Foot and Ankle Surgery” course to an African regional setting. The course was offered to surgical trainees from 14-member countries of the COSECSA region and previously in the UK. The faculty was drawn from practicing surgeons experienced in both surgical education and foot and ankle surgery. The course comprises didactic lectures, case-based discussions in small groups, patient evaluations and guided surgical dissections on human cadavers. It was offered free to all participants. The feasibility of the course was evaluated using the model defined by Bowen considering the eight facets of acceptability, demand, implementation, practicality, adaptation, integration, expansion and limited efficacy. At the end of the course participants were expected to give verbal subjective feedback and objective feedback using a cloud based digital feedback questionnaire. The course content was evaluated by the participants as “Poor”, “Below average”, “Average”, “Good” and “Excellent”, which was converted into a value from 1–5 for analysis. The non-parametric categorical data was analysed using the Two-sample Wilcoxon rank-sum (Mann–Whitney) test, and significance was considered to be p < 0.05.

Antimicrobial stewardship: Attitudes and practices of healthcare providers in selected health facilities in Uganda

Though antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) programmes are the cornerstone of Uganda’s national action plan (NAP) on antimicrobial resistance, there is limited evidence on AMS attitude and practices among healthcare providers in health facilities in Uganda. We determined healthcare providers’ AMS attitudes, practices, and associated factors in selected health facilities in Uganda. We conducted a cross-sectional study among nurses, clinical officers, pharmacy technicians, medical officers, pharmacists, and medical specialists in 32 selected health facilities in Uganda. Data were collected once from each healthcare provider in the period from October 2019 to February 2020. Data were collected using an interview-administered questionnaire. AMS attitude and practice were analysed using descriptive statistics, where scores of AMS attitude and practices for healthcare providers were classified into high, fair, and low using a modified Blooms categorisation. Associations of AMS attitude and practice scores were determined using ordinal logistic regression. This study reported estimates of AMS attitude and practices, and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were reported. We adjusted for clustering at the health facility level using clustered robust standard errors. A total of 582 healthcare providers in 32 healthcare facilities were recruited into the study. More than half of the respondents (58%,340/582) had a high AMS attitude. Being a female (aOR: 0.66, 95% CI: 0.47–0.92, P < 0.016), having a bachelor’s degree (aOR: 1.81, 95% CI: 1.24–2.63, P < 0.002) or master’s (aOR: 2.06, 95% CI: 1.13–3.75, P < 0.018) were significant predictors of high AMS attitude. Most (46%, 261/582) healthcare providers had fair AMS practices. Healthcare providers in the western region’s health facilities were less likely to have a high AMS practice (aOR: 0.52, 95% CI 0.34–0.79, P < 0.002). In this study, most healthcare providers in health facilities had a high AMS attitude and fair AMS practice.