Modeling the Cost-Effectiveness of Adjuvant Chemotherapy for Stage III Colon Cancer in South African Public Hospitals

Cancer incidence is rising in low- and middle-income countries, where resource constraints often complicate therapeutic decisions. Here, we perform a cost-effectiveness analysis to identify the optimal adjuvant chemotherapy strategy for patients with stage III colon cancer treated in South African (ZA) public hospitals.

A decision-analytic Markov model was developed to compare lifetime costs and outcomes for patients with stage III colon cancer treated with six adjuvant chemotherapy regimens in ZA public hospitals: fluorouracil, leucovorin, and oxaliplatin for 3 and 6 months; capecitabine and oxaliplatin (CAPOX) for 3 and 6 months; capecitabine for 6 months; and fluorouracil/leucovorin for 6 months. Transition probabilities were derived from clinical trials to estimate risks of toxicity, disease recurrence, and survival. Societal costs and utilities were obtained from literature. The primary outcome was the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio in international dollars (I$) per disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) averted, compared with no therapy, at a willingness-to-pay (WTP) threshold of I$13,006.56.

CAPOX for 3 months was cost-effective (I$5,381.17 and 5.74 DALYs averted) compared with no adjuvant chemotherapy. Fluorouracil, leucovorin, and oxaliplatin for 6 months was on the efficiency frontier with 5.91 DALYs averted but, with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of I$99,021.36/DALY averted, exceeded the WTP threshold.

In ZA public hospitals, CAPOX for 3 months is the cost-effective adjuvant treatment for stage III colon cancer. The optimal strategy in other settings may change according to local WTP thresholds. Decision analytic tools can play a vital role in selecting cost-effective cancer therapeutics in resource-constrained settings.

Assessment of proton-pump inhibitor use at a tertiary teaching hospital in Nigeria

Proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) is a widely used medication class globally. Because of its good safety profile, there is a huge likelihood of inappropriate use.

To determine the prevalence of PPI use and indications, describe its pattern of usage, and identify factors associated with inappropriate prescriptions at a federal tertiary teaching hospital in Maiduguri, Nigeria.

PPI prescriptions were retrospectively assessed in the General Outpatients’ Department (GOPD) and Gastroenterology Unit (GITU) of a teaching hospital. Relevant data for the study were extracted from the patients’ medical records. Chi-square or Fisher’s exact tests where appropriate were used to identify factors associated with inappropriate PPI prescriptions. A p < 0.05 was considered to be significant.

PPIs were prescribed to 73.3% (220/300) of patients, while inappropriate prescriptions were noted in 91.4% (201/220) of these patients. Epigastric pain (49.5%) was the most common PPI indication, while omeprazole was the highest prescribed (53.4%). Nearly all inpatients (98.2%), those with epigastric pain (95.7%), and patients who were prescribed intravenous PPIs had more inappropriate PPI prescriptions compared to others.

This study revealed a high prevalence of PPI use and inappropriate prescriptions at the study hospital. As a result, these findings highlight the importance PPI-based stewardship program at the study hospital.

Profile of patients seen at Pietersburg and Mankweng breast cancer clinics in Limpopo

Background. Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among women worldwide. It is the most prevalent cancer and leading cause of death among South African (SA) women. The increasing incidence of breast cancer is a major health concern. Until now, the distribution of breast cancer demography, stage at first presentation, and histological characterisation have not been studied in Limpopo Province, SA.

Objectives. To record the demographic profile of breast cancer patients, to report the stage at the time of presentation and to characterise the pattern of malignant disease in Limpopo, SA.

Methods. We conducted a retrospective descriptive review of the records of patients managed at Pietersburg Hospital oncology and Mankweng Hospital breast cancer clinics during the period 1 March 2015 – 28 February 2017. Stata was used to analyse data.

Results. A total of 248 patients with a mean age of 55 years were included for analysis, 7 males (3%) and 241 females (97%). Capricorn and Vhembe districts constituted 32% and 27% respectively. The majority (69%) of patients were diagnosed with disease stage III or IV. The most common histological type was invasive ductal cell carcinoma (IDC) (87%).

Conclusions. More than one-third of patients were younger than 50 years. The majority (69%) had an advanced breast cancer (stage III or IV). We recommend provision of mammography services in regional hospitals

Surgical Capacity in Rural Southeast Nigeria: Barriers and New Opportunities

Background: Remarkable gains have been made in global health with respect to provision of essential and emergency surgical and anesthesia care. At the same time, little has been written about the state of surgical care, or the potential strategies for scale-up of surgical services in sub-Saharan Africa, southeast Nigeria inclusive.

Objective: The aim was to document the state of surgical care at district hospitals in southeast Nigeria.

Methods: We surveyed 13 district hospitals using the World Health Organization (WHO) tool for situational analysis developed by the “Lancet Commission on Global Surgery” initiative to assess surgical care in rural Southeast Nigeria. A systematic literature review of scientific literatures and policy documents was performed. Extraction was performed for all articles relating to the five National Surgical, Obstetric and Anesthesia Plans (NSOAPs) domains: infrastructure, service delivery, workforce, information management and financing.

Findings: Of the 13 facilities investigated, there were six private, four mission and three public hospitals. Though all the facilities were connected to the national power grid, all equally suffered electricity interruption ranging from 10–22 hours daily. Only 15.4% and 38.5% of the 13 hospitals had running water and blood bank services, respectively. Only two general surgeon and two orthopedic surgeons covered all the facilities. Though most of the general surgical procedures were performed in private and mission hospitals, the majority of the public hospitals had limited ability to do the same. Orthopedic procedures were practically non-existent in public hospitals. None of the facilities offered inhalational anesthetic technique. There was no designated record unit in 53.8% of facilities and 69.2% had no trained health record officer.

Conclusion: Important deficits were observed in infrastructure, service delivery, workforce and information management. There were indirect indices of gross inadequacies in financing as w

Breast Conservative Surgery for Breast Cancer: Indian Surgeon’s Preferences and Factors Influencing Them

Background: It is well established that disease-free survival and overall survival after breast conservation surgery (BCS) followed by radiotherapy are equivalent to that after mastectomy. However, in Asian countries, the rate of BCS continues to remain low. The cause may be multifactorial including the patient’s choice, availability and accessibility of infrastructure and surgeon’s choice. We aimed to elucidate the Indian surgeons’ perspective while choosing between BCS and mastectomy, in women oncologically eligible for BCS.

Methods: We conducted a survey-based cross-sectional study over 3 weeks between January-February 2021. Indian surgeons with general surgical or specialised onco-surgical training, who consented to participate were included in the study. Multinomial logistic regression was performed to assess the effect of study variables on offering mastectomy or BCS to an eligible patient.

Results: A total of 347 responses were included. The mean age of the participants was 43(11) years. 63% of the surgeons were in the 25-44 years age group with the majority (80%) being males. 66.4% of surgeons ‘almost always’ offered BCS to oncologically eligible patients. Surgeons who had undergone specialised training in oncosurgery or breast conservation surgery were 35 times more likely to offer BCS (p<0.01). Surgeons working in hospitals with in-house radiation oncology facilities were 9 times more likely to offer BCS (p<0.05). Surgeons’ years of practice, age, sex and hospital setting did not influence the surgery offered.

Conclusion: Our study found that two-thirds of Indian surgeons preferred BCS over mastectomy. Lack of radiotherapy facilities and specialised surgical training were deterrents to offering BCS to eligible women.

Gastrointestinal endoscopy capacity in Eastern Africa

Background and study aims Limited evidence suggests that endoscopy capacity in sub-Saharan Africa is insufficient to meet the levels of gastrointestinal disease. We aimed to quantify the human and material resources for endoscopy services in eastern African countries, and to identify barriers to expanding endoscopy capacity.

Patients and methods In partnership with national professional societies, digestive healthcare professionals in participating countries were invited to complete an online survey between August 2018 and August 2020.

Results Of 344 digestive healthcare professionals in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia, 87 (25.3 %) completed the survey, reporting data for 91 healthcare facilities and identifying 20 additional facilities. Most respondents (73.6 %) perform endoscopy and 59.8 % perform at least one therapeutic modality. Facilities have a median of two functioning gastroscopes and one functioning colonoscope each. Overall endoscopy capacity, adjusted for non-response and additional facilities, includes 0.12 endoscopists, 0.12 gastroscopes, and 0.09 colonoscopes per 100,000 population in the participating countries. Adjusted maximum upper gastrointestinal and lower gastrointestinal endoscopic capacity were 106 and 45 procedures per 100,000 persons per year, respectively. These values are 1 % to 10 % of those reported from resource-rich countries. Most respondents identified a lack of endoscopic equipment, lack of trained endoscopists and costs as barriers to provision of endoscopy services.

Conclusions Endoscopy capacity is severely limited in eastern sub-Saharan Africa, despite a high burden of gastrointestinal disease. Expanding capacity requires investment in additional human and material resources, and technological innovations that improve the cost and sustainability of endoscopic services.

WSES/GAIS/SIS-E/WSIS/AAST global clinical pathways for patients with intra-abdominal infections

Intra-abdominal infections (IAIs) are common surgical emergencies and have been reported as major contributors to non-trauma deaths in hospitals worldwide. The cornerstones of effective treatment of IAIs include early recognition, adequate source control, appropriate antimicrobial therapy, and prompt physiologic stabilization using a critical care environment, combined with an optimal surgical approach. Together, the World Society of Emergency Surgery (WSES), the Global Alliance for Infections in Surgery (GAIS), the Surgical Infection Society-Europe (SIS-E), the World Surgical Infection Society (WSIS), and the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) have jointly completed an international multi-society document in order to facilitate clinical management of patients with IAIs worldwide building evidence-based clinical pathways for the most common IAIs. An extensive non-systematic review was conducted using the PubMed and MEDLINE databases, limited to the English language.
The resulting information was shared by an international task force from 46 countries with different clinical backgrounds. The aim of the document is to promote global standards of care in IAIs providing guidance to clinicians by describing reasonable approaches to the management of IAIs

Aetiology and outcomes of operatively managed acute abdomen in adults, at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital

Background: Acute abdomen is responsible for up to 50% of surgical emergencies. Its aetiological patterns are thought to be changing in Africa. Despite its frequent occurrence, the aetiology and outcomes of operatively managed acute abdomen, in adults, is yet to be described at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH). This description of will be informative to clinical practitioners and improve care of patients Objective: To determine the aetiology and outcomes of operatively managed acute abdominal conditions, in adults at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital MTRH. Methods: A prospective descriptive study was carried out in the general surgical and gynaecology wards. Fischer‟s statistical formula was used to determine sample size, and consecutive sampling was done until the sample size was achieved. A sample of 203 adult patients, 18 years and older, operated on for an acute abdomen between 29th March 2018 to 29th March 2019, were studied. Patients with abdominal trauma causing acute abdomen were excluded. A data sheet was used to record the aetiology and outcomes (early complications, mortality and duration of stay). Descriptive statistical analysis such as frequencies and percentages were used for categorical variables. Measures of central tendency such as mean and interquartile ranges were used for continuous variables. Univariate analysis was used to assess association between the outcome and the aetiology. Results: 203 patients with a median age of 29 years (IQR 23, 35.5) were studied. One hundred and twenty-one (59.6%) were female and eighty-two (40.4%) were male. The most common causes of operative acute abdomen included: ectopic pregnancy 72(35.5%), intestinal obstruction 46(22.7%) and appendicitis 37(18. 7%). Three (1.5%) patients died. Postoperative complication rate was 20.7%. Wound dehiscence (8.4%), surgical site infection (7.9%), pneumonia (3.4%), then sepsis (2.5%) were the most encountered complications. A majority of patients 124(63.5%) were discharged within a week of admission. Aetiology was found to be associated with likelihood of developing wound dehiscence (p 0.003) and surgical site infection (p 0.004) postoperatively. Conclusion: Ectopic pregnancy is the most frequently encountered cause of operative acute abdomen at MTRH. It is followed by intestinal obstruction, appendicitis, then bowel perforations in that order. Wound complications, pneumonia then sepsis are the commonly encountered complications. Recommendation: A 5-10 yearly review of acute abdominal aetiology should be carried out at MTRH to allow us to monitor for any future changes. Studies should be carried out on perioperative factors affecting wound dehiscence with the aim of reducing its occurrence.

Epidemiology of surgery in a protracted humanitarian setting: a 20-year retrospective study of Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Kigoma, Western Tanzania

There are 80 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, 26.3 million of whom are refugees. Many refugees live in camps and have complex health needs, including a high burden of non-communicable disease. It is estimated that 3 million procedures are needed for refugees worldwide, yet very few studies exist on surgery in refugee camps, particularly protracted refugee settings. This study utilizes a 20-year dataset, the longest dataset of surgery in a refugee setting to be published to date, to assess surgical output in a setting of protracted displacement.

A retrospective review of surgeries performed in Nyarugusu Camp was conducted using paper logbooks containing entries between November 2000 and September 2020 inclusive. Abstracted data were digitized into standard electronic form and included date, patient nationality, sex, age, indication, procedure performed, and anesthesia used. A second reviewer checked 10% of entries for accuracy. Entries illegible to both reviewers were excluded. Demographics, indication for surgery, procedures performed, and type of anesthesia were standardized for descriptive analysis, which was performed in STATA.

There were 10,799 operations performed over the 20-year period. Tanzanians underwent a quarter of the operations while refugees underwent the remaining 75%. Ninety percent of patients were female and 88% were 18 years of age or older. Caesarean sections were the most common performed procedure followed by herniorrhaphies, tubal ligations, exploratory laparotomies, hysterectomies, appendectomies, and repairs. The most common indications for laparotomy procedures were ectopic pregnancy, uterine rupture, and acute abdomen. Spinal anesthesia was the most common anesthesia type used. Although there was a consistent increase in procedural volume over the study period, this is largely explained by an increase in overall camp population and an increase in caesarean sections rather than increases in other, specific surgical procedures.

There is significant surgical volume in Nyarugusu Camp, performed by staff physicians and visiting surgeons. Both refugees and the host population utilize these surgical services. This work provides context to the surgical training these settings require, but further study is needed to assess the burden of surgical disease and the extent to which it is met in this setting and others.

Chronic wounds in Sierra Leone: Searching for Buruli ulcer, a NTD caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, at Masanga Hospital

Chronic wounds pose a significant healthcare burden in low- and middle-income countries. Buruli ulcer (BU), caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans infection, causes wounds with high morbidity and financial burden. Although highly endemic in West and Central Africa, the presence of BU in Sierra Leone is not well described. This study aimed to confirm or exclude BU in suspected cases of chronic wounds presenting to Masanga Hospital, Sierra Leone.

Demographics, baseline clinical data, and quality of life scores were collected from patients with wounds suspected to be BU. Wound tissue samples were acquired and transported to the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Switzerland, for analysis to detect Mycobacterium ulcerans using qPCR, microscopic smear examination, and histopathology, as per World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

Twenty-one participants with wounds suspected to be BU were enrolled over 4-weeks (Feb-March 2019). Participants were predominantly young working males (62% male, 38% female, mean 35yrs, 90% employed in an occupation or as a student) with large, single, ulcerating wounds (mean diameter 9.4cm, 86% single wound) exclusively of the lower limbs (60% foot, 40% lower leg) present for a mean 15 months. The majority reported frequent exposure to water outdoors (76%). Self-reports of over-the-counter antibiotic use prior to presentation was high (81%), as was history of trauma (38%) and surgical interventions prior to enrolment (48%). Regarding laboratory investigation, all samples were negative for BU by microscopy, histopathology, and qPCR. Histopathology analysis revealed heavy bacterial load in many of the samples. The study had excellent participant recruitment, however follow-up proved difficult.

BU was not confirmed as a cause of chronic ulceration in our cohort of suspected cases, as judged by laboratory analysis according to WHO standards. This does not exclude the presence of BU in the region, and the definitive cause of these treatment-resistance chronic wounds is uncertain.

Author summary
Chronic wounds constitute a significant surgical burden to low- and middle-income countries; however, their aetiology often remains poorly understood. This study improves our understanding of wound aetiology through tissue analysis of chronic leg wounds suspected to be caused by Buruli ulcer (BU). BU is a neglected tropical disease caused by infection with Mycobacterium ulcerans, and remains severely under-researched. There is a lack of testing facilities in regions surrounding endemic countries which makes prevalence difficult to determine, with a particular paucity of data from Sierra Leone (SL). This study identified twenty-one patients with wounds suspected to be caused by BU who presented to Masanga Hospital (Tonkonili District, Sierra Leone) between February and March 2019. Tissue samples were acquired from the wounds and transported to a European tropical health laboratory for analysis. Significant bacterial loads were demonstrated in the samples. However, the gold-standard molecular tests recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed no cases of BU. These results suggest that BU is not a major cause of chronic wounds in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. Our conclusions cannot necessarily be generalised to other regions of Sierra Leone, therefore further studies in other geographical districts are required.