The Chiranjeevi Yojana (CY) : a public-private-partnership to promote institutional births in Gujarat, India : studies of providers and users

Introduction: National, regional and local governments, particularly in lower middleincome countries, are encouraged to pursue partnerships with the pool of private providers available to them, in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal for maternal health. The state of Gujarat in India (population 60 million) has been a pioneer in designing a large-scale Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), the Chiranjeevi Yojana (CY), for emergency obstetric care (EmOC) for vulnerable women through qualified obstetricians. The program was instituted in 2006-07 and 865 obstetricians partnered with the state at the time.

Methodology: The papers in this thesis examine this CY program through three quantitative and one qualitative study. The studies were conducted in three districts of Gujarat state, Sabarkantha, Surendranagar and Dahod. The methods included two crosssectional surveys (i.e., a facility survey and a facility-based survey of women who gave birth) and in-depth interviews.

These four studies elucidate characteristics of CY providers and CY beneficiaries, as well as outcomes in the health system environment and the population. In order to synthesise these results coherently, I adapted the Anderson’s theoretical model to synthesise, explain and discuss the findings in my studies. In the adapted model, I present my findings in three clear and linked domains – (1) Environment – Health system and population environment in which the CY program was implemented (2) Enabler – Characteristics of the health system and population that were enabled, i.e., made eligible, as per program criteria to participate in the CY program and (3) Outcomes – in the health system and population environment, examined through (a) Health system and provider behaviours (b) Users’ behaviours (c) Health status of the mothers and (d) Financial status of households with respect to using obstetric services.

Results: The CY program influenced the health system’s environment towards increasing the availability of free CEmOC by 10 times, from 0.32 to 3.65 per 500,000 population, but actual performance of notionally free CEmOC functions was only 2 per 500,000 population (Study I). Providers’ behaviour was reflected in the en masse participation or non-participation of providers in ten out of seventeen urban centres. The facilities that participated in the CY program had a significantly higher likelihood, independently, of being general facilities (PR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3–2.9), or conducting lower proportion of caesarean births (PR 2.1, 95% CI 1.2–3.5) or having obstetricians new in private practice (PR 1.9, 95% CI 1.2–3.1) or being less expensive (PR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1–3.0) (Study II). The CY program criteria influenced the population environment by enabling mothers to become eligible for CY benefit. These mothers were significantly more likely to be vulnerable – rural, multiparous, scheduled tribe, and less educated. Users’ behaviours showed that eligible mothers had significantly less prevalence of ante-natal visits, as well as shorter hospital stay after birth. The evaluated health status showed low caesarean rates among eligible vulnerable mothers (6%) and high caesarean (40%) and episiotomy (63%) rates among ineligible mothers (Study III). The perceived health status of the population was reflected in the fact that most mothers and families were very happy with the care they had received and none reported any preferential treatment of paying mothers over CY beneficiary mothers. However, a few mothers who experienced instances of poor quality of care or rude behaviour, reflected back on their experience and still reported it as a “good (sari) delivery”. The financial status of the population showed only 15% of eligible mothers were CY beneficiaries, and only 4 % of them received a completely cashless birth. The median degree of subsidy for women in CY who birthed vaginally was 85% and by caesarean section was 71 % compared to out-of-pocket expenditure sustained by non-beneficiaries in the private health sector. Mothers without formal education were significantly less likely (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.3–0.7) to receive CY benefit. Only having CY program knowledge (OR 4.7, 95% CI 2.6–8.4) and showing proof of poverty (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.3–5.4) increased the likelihood of receiving the benefit. (Study III).

Discussion: Although the CY program increased the availability of free emergency obstetric care to 10 times more than the UN standards, their actual performance increased by only twice. This indicated poor management mechanisms within the state authorities. Although the CY program criteria recognised vulnerable mothers adequately accurately, their behaviours, health status and financial status showed mixed outcomes. Vulnerable populations behaviours to ensure improved maternal health and access to the CY program were varied, despite the program being in effect for seven years before our study. The health status of the vulnerable population, in terms of low caesarean rates, were below established norms in the literature, and among the non-vulnerable populations was much higher. The financial status of the eligible population was not much eased by the program since 85% of them did not receive the CY benefit. However, the highest median expenditure in our study (INR 7224) was well below the mean cost in private facilities across the nation (INR 15000) thus indicating a possible partial protection from out-of-pocket cost due to the CY program activity in the region.

Conclusion: The recently established Prime Minister’s People’s Health Program in India depends on PPPs for secondary and tertiary care all over the country. As revealed in this thesis, improved, adequate and effective health systems through PPPs requires better contract designing and managing capacities within in the state system. The health status and users’ behaviours could be assisted by the ongoing digitization of health systems such that (a) maternal health data is collected by both public and private sectors in enough detail to be able to categorise it by Robson’s criteria and thus monitor BEmOC and CEmOC performance, ante-natal visits, length of stay in hospital and other relevant variables (b) user feed-back is collected in a manner that captures actual experiences of women during birth, and that of their families during their interactions with the health system.

An Ethnographic Study of Nursing on a Surgery Ship Providing Humanitarian Care

Less than half the world’s population has access to essential health services (United Nations, 2020), the majority of whom live in low to middle-income countries (LMICs; Meara et al., 2015). The inability to access health services denies people a life of dignity. To bridge this current gap in the provision of health care, nongovernmental organisations are responding by deploying specialist, short term healthcare teams (Ng-Kamstra et al., 2016). Nurses, as the largest group of health professionals, provide care within those teams. Substantial literature is linked to nurses deployed in a disaster response situation, However, there is limited research into nurses’ roles within teams meeting a humanitarian response outside that urgent disaster context, and what their contribution brings. The purpose of this ethnographic study was to explore nursing involvement within humanitarian healthcare provision to generate insight into the area of humanitarian nursing in an acute, short term, nondisaster context and to extend the research literature surrounding this topic. The study was framed within the context of a faith-based nongovernmental organisation delivering specialist surgery on a civilian hospital ship. The aim was to advance the mission and purpose of humanitarian (nondisaster) nursing, providing a detailed description of the culture of nursing care in that setting. An interpretivist standpoint, influenced by a social constructivist theoretical position, was taken. Data were collected over 6 months, using participant observation, a reflection of artefacts, and the collective voice of volunteer nurses. Thematic analysis was conducted considering Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research (COREQ) guidelines. Findings elucidated nursing within the context of a community of nursing practice (CoNP), revealing four major themes: (1) “What drew us here?” (expressions of motivation), (2) “Who we are and how we do what we do” (expressions of engagement), (3) challenges (embracing change), and (4) development (expressions of transformation). This study contributes new knowledge by describing the culture of nursing and how nurses enact their care in a previously undescribed humanitarian context. Based on the analysis of findings, a professional practice model (PPM) named HHEALED was proposed. An in-depth application of the model was made to the specific organisational context framing the study. Recommendations arising from this study address nurses’ social and professional roles within humanitarian care that could further validate and strengthen policies and programs for the delivery of humanitarian health care for a mobile platform providing specialist surgical care.

Context Specific Realities and Experiences of Nurses and Midwives in Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care Services in Two District Hospitals in Rwanda

Background
In low and middle-income countries, nurses and midwives are the frontline healthcare workers in obstetric care. Insights into the experiences of these healthcare workers in managing obstetric care emergencies are critical for improving quality of care. This article presents such insights, from the nurses and midwives working in Rwandan district hospitals, who reflected on their experiences of managing the most common birth-related complications; postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) and newborn asphyxia. This is a qualitative part of a broader research about implementation of an mLearning and mHealth decision support tool (Safe Delivery Application), in basic emergency obstetric and newborn care services in Rwanda.

Methods
In this exploratory qualitative aspect of the research, the first author facilitated four focus group discussions with 26 nurses and midwives from two district hospitals in Rwanda. Each focus group discussion was made up of two parts. The first part focused on the participants’ reflections on the research results, while the second part explored their experiences of delivering obstetric care services in their respective district hospitals. The research results included: survey results reflecting their knowledge and skills of PPH management and of neonatal resuscitation (NR); and findings from a six-month record review of PPH management and NR outcomes, from the district hospitals under study. Data were analyzed using hybrid thematic analysis.

Results
Nurses and midwives felt that the presented findings were a true reflection of the reality and offered diverse explanations for the results. The participants’ narratives of lived experiences of providing BEmONC services are presented under two broad themes: (1) self-reflections on their current practices and (2) contextual factors influencing the delivery of BEmONC services.

Conclusion
The insights of nurses and midwives regarding the management of birth related complications revealed multi-faceted factors that influence the quality of their obstetric care. Even though the study was focused on their management of PPH and NR, the resulting recommendations to improve quality of care could benefit the broader field of maternal and child health particularly in low and middle income countries.

Treating Children With Advanced Rheumatic Heart Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa: The NGO EMERGENCY’s Project at the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan

Rheumatic heart disease is endemic in Sub-Saharan Africa and while efforts are under way to boost prophylaxis and early diagnosis, access to cardiac surgery is rarely affordable. In this article, we report on a humanitarian project by the NGO EMERGENCY, to build and run the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan. This hospital is a center of excellence offering free-of-charge, high-quality treatment to patients needing open-heart surgery for advanced rheumatic and congenital heart disease. Since it opened in 2007, more than 8,000 patients have undergone surgery there; most of them Sudanese, but ~20% were admitted from other countries, an example of inter-African cooperation. The program is not limited to surgical procedures. It guarantees long-term follow-up and anticoagulant treatment, where necessary. By way of example, we report clinical features and outcome data for the pediatric cohort: 1,318 children under the age of 15, operated on for advanced rheumatic heart disease between 2007 and 2019. The overall 5-year survival rate was 85.0% (95% CI 82.7–87.3). The outcomes for patients with mitral valves repaired and with mitral valves replaced are not statistically different. Nevertheless, observing the trend of patients undergoing valve repair, a better outcome for this category might be assumed. RHD in children is an indicator of poor socio-economic conditions and an inadequate health system, which clearly will not be cured by cardiac surgery alone. Nevertheless, the results achieved by EMERGENCY, with the crucial involvement and participation of the Sudanese government over the years, show that building a hospital, introducing free cardiac surgery, and offering long-term post-operative care may help spread belief in positive change in the future.

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.

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.

Validation of the Interagency Integrated Triage Tool in a resource-limited, urban emergency department in Papua New Guinea: a pilot study

Background
The Interagency Integrated Triage Tool (IITT) is a three-tier triage system designed for resource-limited emergency care (EC) settings. This study sought to assess the validity and reliability of a pilot version of the tool in an urban emergency department (ED) in Papua New Guinea.

Methods
A pragmatic observational study was conducted at Gerehu General Hospital in Port Moresby, commencing eight weeks after IITT implementation. All ED patients presenting within the subsequent two-month period were included. Triage assessments were performed by a variety of ED clinicians, including community health workers, nurses and doctors. The primary outcome was sensitivity for the detection of time-critical illness, defined by ten pre-specified diagnoses. The association between triage category and ED outcomes was examined using Cramer’s V correlation coefficient. Reliability was assessed by inter-rater agreement between a local and an experienced, external triage officer.

Findings
Among 4512 presentations during the study period, 58 (1.3%) were classified as category one (emergency), 967 (21.6%) as category two (priority) and 3478 (77.1%) as category three (non-urgent). The tool’s sensitivity for detecting the pre-specified set of time-sensitive conditions was 70.8% (95%CI 58.2-81.4%), with negative predictive values of 97.3% (95%CI 96.7 – 97.8%) for admission/transfer and 99.9% (95%CI 99.7 – 100.0%) for death. The admission/transfer rate was 44.8% (26/58) among emergency patients, 22.9% (223/976) among priority patients and 2.7% (94/3478) among non-urgent patients (Cramer’s V=0.351, p=0.00). Four of 58 (6.9%) emergency patients, 19/976 (2.0%) priority patients and 3/3478 (0.1%) non-urgent patients died in the ED (Cramer’s V=0.14, p=0.00). The under-triage rate was 2.7% (94/3477) and the over-triage rate 48.2% (28/58), both within pre-specified limits of acceptability. On average, it took staff 3 minutes 34 seconds (SD 1:06) to determine and document a triage category. Among 70 observed assessments, weighted κ was 0.84 (excellent agreement).

Interpretation
The pilot version of the IITT demonstrated acceptable performance characteristics, and validation in other EC settings is warranted.

Funding
This project was funded through a Friendship Grant from the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and an International Development Fund Grant from the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine Foundation.

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.

Respiratory morbidity and mortality of traumatic cervical spinal cord injury at a level I trauma center in India

Study design
Descriptive retrospective.

Objectives
To evaluate the burden of respiratory morbidity in terms of ventilator dependence (VD) days and length of stay in neurotrauma ICU (NICU) and hospital, and to determine mortality in patients with traumatic cervical spinal cord injury (CSCI) in a low middle-income country (LMIC).

Setting
Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Center (JPNATC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India.

Methods
A total of 135 patients admitted with CSCI in the NICU between January 2017 to December 2018 were screened. Information regarding age, gender, American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) impairment scale (AIS), level of injury, duration of VD, length of NICU, hospital stay, and outcome in terms of mortality or discharge from the hospital were obtained from the medical records.

Results
A total of 106 CSCI patients were analyzed. The mean (SD) age of patients was 40 (±16) years and male: female ratio was 5:1. The duration of VD, duration of NICU, and hospital stay was a median of 8 days (IQR 1127), 6 days (IQR 1118), and 15 days (IQR 3127) respectively. Mortality was 19% (20/106). The mortality was significantly associated with poorer AIS score, VD, and duration of ICU and hospital stay. All patients were discharged to home only after they became ventilator-free.

Conclusions
The ventilator burden, hospital stay, and mortality are high in patients with CSCI in LMICs. Poor AIS scores, prolonged VD, ICU and hospital stay are associated with mortality. There is a need for comprehensive CSCI rehabilitation programs in LMICs to improve outcome.

Surgical management and outcomes of late-presenting acute limb ischaemia at 2 referral hospitals in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: A 1-year prospective study

Objective: The study was performed to show the overall perspective of surgical management for acute limb ischemia specific to Ethiopian population.
Methods: A prospective planned cohort study was conducted to analyze the socio-demography, clinical presentation, causes of limb ischemia, and outcomes of surgical intervention, and variables associated with complications of acute limb ischemia.
Results:A total of 102 patients were operated upon. The male to female ratio was 2:1; the mean age of presentation was 54±17 years. Patients presented after an average of 9±4.8 days of symptom onset. The type of procedures performed were, thrombectomy 51(47.2%), primary amputation 24(22.2%), bypass or interposition vascular grafts 10(9.2%), embolectomy 10(9.2%), primary vascular repair 7(6.4%), and femoro-femoral graft 6(5.5%). Local and systemic complications occurred in 35.3% and 17.6% respectively. Amputation after re-vascularization surgery was seen in 32.4%. A 30-day total amputation & mortality rate was 52.9% and 9.8% respectively. Clinical variables found to have a statistical significant association (P<0.05) with complications were age ≥ 60 years, late presentation (≥ 9days), patients with hypertensive disease and previous myocardial infarction.
Conclusions: Optimizing co-morbidities, timely detection and treating immediately on arrival could potentially play a key role in improving surgical outcomes of acute limb ischemia.