Feasibility and diagnostic accuracy of Telephone Administration of an adapted wound heaLing QuestiONnaire for assessment for surgical site infection following abdominal surgery in low and middle-income countries (TALON): protocol for a study within a trial (SWAT)

Surgical site infection is the most common complication of abdominal surgery, with a global impact on patients and health systems. There are no tools to identify wound infection that are validated for use in the global setting. The overall aim of the study described in this protocol is to evaluate the feasibility and validity of a remote, digital pathway for wound assessment after hospital discharge for patients in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

A multi-centre, international, mixed-methods study within a trial, conducted in two stages (TALON-1 and TALON-2). TALON-1 will adapt and translate a universal reporter outcome measurement tool (Bluebelle Wound Healing Questionnaire, WHQ) for use in global surgical research (SWAT store registration: 126) that can be delivered over the telephone. TALON-2 will evaluate a remote wound assessment pathway (including trial retention) and validate the diagnostic accuracy of this adapted WHQ through a prospective cohort study embedded within two global surgery trials. Embedded community engagement and involvement activities will be used to optimise delivery and ensure culturally attuned conduct. TALON-1 and TALON-2 are designed and will be reported in accordance with best practice guidelines for adaptation and validation of outcome measures, and diagnostic test accuracy studies.

Methods to identify surgical site infection after surgery for patients after hospital discharge have the potential to improve patient safety, trial retention, and research efficiency. TALON represents a large, pragmatic, international study co-designed and delivered with LMIC researchers and patients to address an important research gap in global surgery trial methodology.

Level of knowledge and practice of female healthcare providers about early detection methods of breast cancer at Debre Tabor Comprehensive Specialised Hospital: a cross-sectional study

Background: Despite the higher mortality rate of breast cancer in low and middle-income countries, the practice of early detection methods is low and the majority of the patients presenting at an advanced stage of the disease need palliative care with low survival rates. Although healthcare providers are the key for practicing early detection methods of breast cancer for themselves and their clients, little is known about their knowledge and practice of early detection methods of breast cancer in Northcentral Ethiopia.

Methods: An institution-based cross-sectional study was conducted among female healthcare providers at Debre Tabor Comprehensive Specialised Hospital. Data were collected using a structured self-administered questionnaire. The data were analysed using SPSS version 23. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the socio-demographic information of participants. Binary and multivariable logistic regression with adjusted odds ratio (AOR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) was used to identify factors associated with the outcome variable. Statistical significance was declared at p 2 years (AOR = 3.2; 95% CI: 1.72, 5.29), history of any breast problem (AOR = 1.4; 95% CI: 1.02, 2.37), family history of breast cancer (AOR = 4.0; 95% CI: 2.58, 15.84), having good knowledge (AOR = 2.9; 95% CI: 1.3, 6.52) and history of comorbidities (AOR = 1.09; 95% CI: 1.09, 3.59) were the factors associated with the practice of breast self-examination.

Conclusion: Our study found that the knowledge and practice of breast cancer early detection methods was low in the study setting. Only less than half of female healthcare providers practiced regular breast self-examination, which suggests the need to provide training for healthcare providers to fill the gap and to promote early detection of breast cancer cases.

Prevalence and Mortality of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer in West Africa: Biologic and Sociocultural Factors

Key Objective
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a malignant breast cancer, lacking targeted therapy, which would benefit from further research to understand its nature and the observed variation in its malignancy between women of differing ancestries. This large-scale systematic literature review examines the current and emerging biologic and nonbiologic factors, which have been shown to influence TNBC disease outcomes among indigenous West African (WA) females while discussing some prospective steps that could be adopted by health care systems for the reduction of this burden.

Knowledge Generated
WA women are the most burdened populations in relation to TNBC. Biologic and economic factors have been shown to significantly influence the TNBC disease outcomes. Women’s education initiatives, specialist training, and accessible health care are needed in WA countries.

The determination of WA-specific biologic, cultural, and socioeconomic TNBC factors could align efforts in developing treatment options and physician recommendations to cancer-burdened women.

Global head and neck surgery research during the COVID pandemic: A bibliometric analysis

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, access to otolaryngology and head-and-neck surgery was limited in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The pandemic has increased the burden on LMIC health systems by causing unanticipated expenses, delayed care, and changes in research activity. We aimed to assess the landscape of global ENT research during the pandemic.

Materials and methods
The authors developed a search strategy composed of the following keywords: “otolaryngology,” “head and neck surgery,” and “low- and middle-income countries.” Then, they searched eleven citation databases via the Web of Science from January 01, 2020, to May 03, 2021. They imported the result as metadata into VosViewer and ran bibliometric analyses to identify the most influential institutions, countries, and themes.

During the study period, 3077 articles were published. Two hundred eighty-nine articles (9%) mentioned COVID-19 explicitly. The second most common theme was pediatric ENT (223 articles, 7%). The United States had the most publications [1616 articles, 12,033 citations, and 2986 total link strength (TLS)], followed by China (336 articles, 10,981 citations, and 571 TLS). South Africa, the first African country, was fourth (302 articles, 699 citations, and 908 TLS), while Brazil, the first South American country, was seventh (158 articles, 582 citations, and 376 TLS). The most prolific institution was the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (186 articles, 1110 citations, and 674 TLS).

COVID-19 was the most common research theme during the pandemic, surpassing pediatric ENT.

Health system factors that influence diagnostic and treatment intervals in women with breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review

Breast cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa experience long time intervals between their first presentation to a health care facility and the start of cancer treatment. The role of the health system in the increasing treatment time intervals has not been widely investigated. This review aimed to identify existing information on health system factors that influence diagnostic and treatment intervals in women with breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa to contribute to the reorientation of health policies in the region.

PubMed, ScienceDirect, African Journals Online, Mendeley, ResearchGate and Google Scholar were searched to identify relevant studies published between 2010 and July 2020. We performed a qualitative synthesis in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement. Related health system factors were extracted and classified according to the World Health Organization’s six health system building blocks. The quality of qualitative and quantitative studies was assessed by using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program Quality-Assessment Tool and the National Institute of Health Quality Assessment Tool, respectively. In addition, we used the Confidence in the Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative Research tool to assess the evidence for each qualitative finding.

From 14,184 identified studies, this systematic review included 28 articles. We identified a total of 36 barriers and 8 facilitators that may influence diagnostic and treatment intervals in women with breast cancer. The principal health system factors identified were mainly related to human resources and service delivery, particularly difficulty accessing health care, diagnostic errors, poor management, and treatment cost.

The present review shows that diagnostic and treatment intervals among women with breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa are influenced by many related health system factors. Policy makers in sub-Saharan Africa need to tackle the financial accessibility to breast cancer treatment by adequate universal health coverage policies and reinforce the clinical competencies for health workers to ensure timely diagnosis and appropriate care for women with breast cancer in this region.

Community engagement and involvement in Ghana: conversations with community stakeholders to inform surgical research

Involving patients and communities with health research in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) contributes to increasing the likelihood that research is relevant in local context and caters to the needs of the population, including vulnerable and marginalised groups. When done right, it can also support empowerment of wider communities in taking ownership of their own health, lead to increased access and uptake of health services and generally improve the wellbeing of individuals. However, the evidence base of how to undertake successful community engagement and involvement (CEI) activities in LMICs is sparse. This paper aims to add to the available literature and describes how the Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery’s (GSU) team in Ghana worked collaboratively with the Unit’s team in the UK and a UK-based Public Advisory Group to involve community stakeholders in rural Ghana with surgical research. The aim was to explore ways of reaching out to patients and community leaders in rural Ghana to have conversations that inform the relevance, acceptability, and feasibility of a clinical trial, called TIGER.

As this kind of larger scale involvement of community stakeholders with research was a novel way of working for the team in Ghana, a reflective approach was taken to outline step-by-step how the GSU team planned and undertook these involvement activities with 31 hernia patients, two Chiefs (community leaders), a community finance officer and a local politician in various locations in Ghana. The barriers that were experienced and the benefits of involving community stakeholders are highlighted with the aim to add to the evidence base of CEI in LMICs.

GSU members from the UK and Ghana planned and organised successful involvement activities that focused on establishing the best way to talk to patients and other community stakeholders about their experiences of living with hernias and undergoing hernia repairs, and their perceptions of the impact of hernias on the wider community. The Ghanaian team suggested 1:1 conversations in easily accessible locations for rural patient contributors, creating a welcoming environment and addressing contributors in their local dialects. A UK-based Public Advisory Group helped in the initial stages of planning these conversations by highlighting potential barriers when approaching rural communities and advising on how to phrase questions around personal experiences. Conversations mainly focused on understanding the needs of hernia patients in rural Ghana to then incorporate these in the design of the TIGER trial to ensure its relevance, acceptability and feasibility. When talking to patient contributors, the GSU teams found that they were more likely to open up when they knew members of the team and the opportunity to speak to local leaders only arose because of the Ghanaian team members being well-respected amongst communities. The experiences of the patient and community contributors led to changes in the study protocol, such as including women in the patient cohort for the trial, and allowed the GSU teams to confirm the relevance and acceptability of this trial. These conversations also taught the team a lot about perceptions of health in rural communities, allowed the Ghanaian team to establish relationships with community leaders that can be utilised when future studies need input from the public, and has changed the minds of the Ghanaian research team about the importance of involving patients with research.

This paper contributes to the evidence base on successful CEI activities in LMICs by providing an example of how CEI can be planned and organised, and the benefits this provides. The conversations the teams had with patient contributors in Ghana are an example of successful patient consultations. Even though there are certain limitations to the extent of these involvement activities, a solid foundation has been built for researchers and community stakeholders to establish relationships for ongoing involvement.

Macrovascular Complications in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus: Incidence and Impact on Survival in Kazakhstan

Background and aim: Diabetic patients are at an increased risk for the development of macrovascular complications such as acute myocardial infarction (AMI), stroke and lower-limb amputations (LLA). This study aimed to explore a. the incidence of hospital admission for macrovascular complications (AMI, stroke, and LLA); b. to assess the impact of hospital admission on survival in a large population with diabetes mellitus living in Kazakhstan.

Materials and methods: Retrospective observational study using a nationwide anonymized electronic database of 98.469 hospitalized diabetic patients from Kazakhstan between November 2013 and December 2019. The incidence of hospital admissions for AMI, stroke and LLA were obtained to calculate their all-time cumulative incidence, and survival rate at follow-up.

Results: The all-time cumulative incidence of hospital admissions was 1.30% for AMI, 1.94% for stroke and 2.94% for LLA. The incidence of macrovascular complications was statistically significantly higher in males compared to females (p-value<0.05). 29.03% of diabetic patients with AMI, 25.16% with stroke and 29.80% with LLA died during the follow-up period. Individuals with AMI had 3.58 (95% CI 3.20; 4.01) times, with stroke 3.86 (95% CI 3.52; 4.24) times and with LLA 3.63 (95% CI 3.38; 3.88) times higher hazard of 6-year death compared to diabetic patients free of these complications. The stratified survival analysis by sex indicated the lower survival in women than in men, and the lower survival in older age groups.

Conclusion: The results from this study shows that cumulative incidence of AMI and stroke among diabetic patients admitted in the hospitals in Kazakhstan between 2013-2019 years was similar to the estimates from other countries, but the incidence of LLA was significantly higher in Kazakhstan. Patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) in Kazakhstan are at high risk of excess mortality if they suffer from macro-vascular complications. More research is required to explore the reasons for the high incidence of those complications, in order to propose systematic solutions for lowering the incidence and improve survival.

Survival of south african women with breast cancer receiving anti-retroviral therapy for HIV

Breast cancer outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa is reported to be poor, with an estimated five-year survival of 50% when compared to almost 90% in high-income countries. Although several studies have looked at the effect of HIV in breast cancer survival, the effect of ARTs has not been well elucidated.

All females newly diagnosed with invasive breast cancer from May 2015–September 2017 at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic and Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital were enrolled. We analysed overall survival and disease-free survival, comparing HIV positive and negative patients. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were generated with p-values calculated using a log-rank test of equality while hazard ratios and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using Cox regression models.

Of 1019 patients enrolled, 22% were HIV positive. The overall survival (95% CI) was 53.5% (50.1–56.7%) with a disease-free survival of 55.8% (52.1–59.3) after 4 years of follow up. HIV infection was associated with worse overall survival (HR (95% CI): 1.50 (1.22–1.85), p < 0.001) and disease-free survival (OR (95% CI):2.63 (1.71–4.03), p < 0.001), especially among those not on ART at the time of breast cancer diagnosis. Advanced stage of the disease and hormone-receptor negative breast cancer subtypes were also associated with poor survival. Conclusion HIV infection was associated with worse overall and disease-free survival. HIV patients on ARTs had favourable overall and disease-free survival and with ARTs now being made accessible to all the outcome of women with HIV and breast cancer is expected to improve.

Short-term general, gynecologic, orthopedic, and pediatric surgical mission trips in Nicaragua: A cost-effectiveness analysis

Background Short-term surgical missions facilitated by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may be a possible platform for cost-effective international global surgical efforts. The objective of this study is to determine if short-term surgical mission trips provided by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Esperança to Nicaragua from 2016 to 2020 are cost-effective.
Methods Using a provider perspective, the costs of implementing the surgical trips were collected via Esperança’s previous trip reports. The reports and patient data were analyzed to determine disability-adjusted life years averted from each surgical procedure provided in Nicaragua from 2016-2020. Average cost-effectiveness ratios for each surgical trip specialty were calculated to determine the average cost of averting one disability adjusted life year.
Results Esperança’s surgical missions’ program in Nicaragua from 2016 to 2020 was found to be cost-effective, with pediatric and gynecology surgical specialties being highly cost-effective and general and orthopedic surgical specialties being moderately cost-effective. These results were echoed in both scenarios of the sensitivity analysis, except for the orthopedic specialty which was found to not be cost-effective when testing an increased discount rate.
Conclusions The cost-effectiveness of short-term surgical missions provided by NGOs can be cost-effective, but limitations include inconsistent data from a societal perspective and lack of an appropriate counterfactual. Future studies should examine the capacity for NGOs to collect adequate data and conduct rigorous economic evaluations

Economic Evaluations of Breast Cancer Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Scoping Review

Understanding the cost of delivering breast cancer (BC) care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is critical to guide effective care delivery strategies. This scoping review summarizes the scope of literature on the costs of BC care in LMICs and characterizes the methodological approaches of these economic evaluations.

Materials and Methods
A systematic literature search was performed in five databases and gray literature up to March 2020. Studies were screened to identify original articles that included a cost outcome for BC diagnosis or treatment in an LMIC. Two independent reviewers assessed articles for eligibility. Data related to study characteristics and methodology were extracted. Study quality was assessed using the Drummond et al. checklist.

Ninety-one articles across 38 countries were included. The majority (73%) of studies were published between 2013 and 2020. Low-income countries (2%) and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (9%) were grossly underrepresented. The majority of studies (60%) used a health care system perspective. Time horizon was not reported in 30 studies (33%). Of the 33 studies that estimated the cost of multiple steps in the BC care pathway, the majority (73%) were of high quality, but studies varied in their inclusion of nonmedical direct and indirect costs.

There has been substantial growth in the number of BC economic evaluations in LMICs in the past decade, but there remain limited data from low-income countries, especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa. BC economic evaluations should be prioritized in these countries. Use of existing frameworks for economic evaluations may help achieve comparable, transparent costing analyses.