A qualitative document analysis of policies influencing preeclampsia management by midwives in Ghana

Preeclampsia is a global issue that causes significant morbidity and mortality in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The care women with preeclampsia receive in LMICs is below the standard experienced by women in westernised countries due to multiple interacting factors. A review of policy factors influencing the management of preeclampsia in Ghana is needed.

This study focuses on the midwife’s role and scope of practice concerning preeclampsia management. The study aimed to explore the congruence between Ghanaian preeclampsia guidelines and international best practice recommendations for midwifery practice. The study also aimed to describe how recommendations are incorporated into Ghanaian guidelines.

This study was a qualitative document analysis of national and tertiary hospital policies related to midwives’ scope of practice in Ghana. Altheide’s five-step process (sampling, data collection, data coding and organisation, data analysis and report) was used to systematically source and analyse the content of written documents.

The findings illustrated several recommendation shortcomings in Ghanaian documents at the national and tertiary hospital levels. The content of Ghanaian preeclampsia management guidelines was not comprehensive, contained conflicting information, and was not backed by research evidence. The standards of practice for midwives were consistent at both the national and tertiary hospital levels. Midwives had limited roles in detection, management, stabilisation, and referral of women with preeclampsia.

Uniform guidelines incorporating international recommendations are urgently needed to improve multi-professional collaboration, solidify midwives’ roles, and optimise maternal and fetal outcomes.

Inequalities in prevalence of birth by caesarean section in Ghana from 1998-2014

Caesarean section (CS) is an intervention to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality, for complicated pregnancy and labour. We analysed trends in the prevalence of birth by CS in Ghana from 1998 to 2014.

Using the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health Equity Assessment Toolkit (HEAT) software, data from the 1998-2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Surveys (GDHS) were analysed with respect of inequality in birth by CS. First, we disaggregated birth by CS by four equity stratifiers: wealth index, education, residence, and region. Second, we measured inequality through simple unweighted measures (Difference (D) and Ratio (R)) and complex weighted measures (Population Attributable Risk (PAR) and Population Attributable Fraction (PAF)). A 95% confidence interval was constructed for point estimates to measure statistical significance.

The proportion of women who underwent CS increased significantly between 1998 (4.0%) and 2014 (12.8%). Throughout the 16-year period, the proportion of women who gave birth by CS was positively skewed towards women in the highest wealth quintile (i.e poorest vs richest: 1.5% vs 13.0% in 1998 and 4.0% vs 27.9% in 2014), those with secondary education (no education vs secondary education: 1.8% vs 6.5% in 1998 and 5.7% vs 17.2% in 2014) and women in urban areas (rural vs urban 2.5% vs 8.5% in 1998 and 7.9% vs 18.8% in 2014). These disparities were evident in both complex weighted measures of inequality (PAF, PAR) and simple unweighted measures (D and R), although some uneven trends were observed. There were also regional disparities in birth by CS to the advantage of women in the Greater Accra Region over the years (PAR 7.72; 95% CI 5.86 to 9.58 in 1998 and PAR 10.07; 95% CI 8.87 to 11.27 in 2014).

Ghana experienced disparities in the prevalence of births by CS, which increased over time between 1998 and 2014. Our findings indicate that more work needs to be done to ensure that all subpopulations that need medically necessary CS are given access to maternity care to reduce maternal and perinatal deaths. Nevertheless, given the potential complications with CS, we advocate that the intervention is only undertaken when medically indicated.

Experiences of women seeking care for abortion complications in health facilities: Secondary analysis of the WHO Multi-Country Survey on Abortion in 11 African countries

Despite evidence of acute and long-term consequences of suboptimal experiences of care, standardized measurements across countries remain limited, particularly for postabortion care. We aimed to determine the proportion of women reporting negative experiences of care for abortion complications, identify risk factors, and assess the potential association with complication severity.

Data were sourced from the WHO Multi-Country Survey on Abortion for women who received facility-based care for abortion complications in 11 African countries. We measured women’s experiences of care with eight questions from an audio computer-assisted self-interview related to respect, communication, and support. Multivariable generalized estimating equations were used for analysis.

There were 2918 women in the study sample and 1821 (62%) reported at least one negative experience of postabortion care. Participants who were aged under 30 years, single, of low socioeconomic status, and economically dependent had higher odds of negative experiences. Living in West or Central Africa, rather than East Africa, was also associated with reportedly worse care. The influence of complication severity on experience of care appeared significant, such that women with moderate and severe complications had 12% and 40% higher odds of reporting negative experiences, respectively.

There were widespread reports of negative experiences of care among women receiving treatment for abortion complications in health facilities. Our findings contribute to the scant understanding of the risk factors for negative experiences of postabortion care and highlight the need to address harmful provider biases and behaviors, alleviate health system constraints, and empower women in demanding better care.

Exploring the experiences of National Health Insurance Scheme subscribers and non-subscribers in accessing healthcare within the Accra Metropolitan Area

Maintaining the health and wellbeing of a nation largely depends on the state of health care policies and programs that guarantees citizens access to health care. Policies and social intervention programs such as the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) should create an enabling operational environment for health institutions. The study examines the experiences of subscribers and non-subscribers of the National Health Insurance Scheme in accessing health care in the Accra Metropolitan Area (AMA) in Ghana. It identifies the challenges in accessing health care, the resources available to individuals and the other strategies individuals employ in accessing health care. A combination of primary and secondary sources was used to collect data for the study. Using a qualitative research design, twelve participants were sampled using a stratified sampling technique. Interviews conducted revealed that many participants had negative experiences in accessing health care with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). Delays in registration processes, long queuing systems at health centres and delays in reimbursement of health centres by the government were some of the core challenges that led to these negative experiences in accessing health care. As a result, many people resort to alternative means to cater for their health needs. The study further revealed that some people utilized the formal health care facilities only in critical conditions due to past negative experiences and perceptions around accessing health care with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). However, the NHIS was seen or perceived as an important mechanism for removing financial barrier to achieving equitable access to health care for all citizens in Ghana. The results further showed that the NHIS has improved access and benefits to maternal and child health services. The study concluded by advocating for an improvement and a rebalance of efforts by decision makers to inculcate more health promotion approaches or concepts in making policies concerning public health.

Ghanaian views of short-term medical missions: The pros, the cons, and the possibilities for improvement

Various governments in Ghana have tried to improve healthcare in the country. Despite these efforts, meeting health care needs is a growing concern to government and their citizens. Short term medical missions from other countries are one of the responses to meet the challenges of healthcare delivery in Ghana. This research aimed to understand Ghanaian perceptions of short-term missions from the narratives of host country staff involved. The study from which this paper is developed used a qualitative design, which combined a case study approach and political economy analysis involving in-depth interviews with 28 participants.

Findings show short term medical mission programs in Ghana were largely undertaken in rural communities to address shortfalls in healthcare provision to these areas. The programs were often delivered free and were highly appreciated by communities and host institutions. While the contributions of STMM to health service provision have been noted, there were challenges associated with how they operated. The study found concerns over language and how volunteers effectively interacted with communities. Other identified challenges were the extent to which volunteers undermined local expertise, using fraudulent qualifications by some volunteers, and poor skills and lack of experience leading to wrong diagnoses sometimes. The study found a lack of awareness of rules requiring the registration of practitioners with national professional regulatory bodies, suggesting non enforcement of volunteers’ need for local certification.

Short Term Medical Missions appear to contribute to addressing some of the critical gaps in healthcare delivery. However, there is an urgent need to address the challenges of ineffective utilisation and lack of oversight of these programs to maximise their benefits

Incidence patterns, care continuum and impact of treatment on survival among women with breast cancer in Ghana and the United States

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women worldwide. Of the five breast cancer subtypes, triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most aggressive subtype. Black women in the US and Ghana are more likely to be diagnosed with TNBC, at young ages and advanced stages. Combining information from Ghana and the US, this project identified the breast cancer care continuum in Ghana, examined the breast cancer incidence patterns in Ghana and the US and assessed the optimal surgical treatment for TNBC. In the first manuscript, we examined how women in Ghana navigate the healthcare system and factors that influence their decisions and ability to seek and access breast cancer care. We interviewed thirty-one women diagnosed with breast cancer in Kumasi, Ghana. Based on the findings from the interviews, we presented a framework showing specific steps in the pathways and how women transition from one step to another. In the second manuscript, we assessed factors explaining the younger age at breast cancer diagnosis among Ghanaian women compared to women in the US. To achieve these aims we analyzed breast cancer data from the Kumasi Cancer Registry, the only population-based cancer registry in Ghana, and compared it to the US Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data. Population age structure, screening and cohort effects explain the younger age at breast cancer diagnosis among women in Ghana In the third manuscript, we examined whether the poor prognosis of TNBC warrants a more aggressive surgical approach and whether there is value in expanded use of radiation therapy among women with TNBC who receive mastectomy. We found that breast conserving surgery followed by radiotherapy is an effective treatment for women with early-stage TNBC. Findings from this dissertation are timely due to the rapidly rising burden of breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa and persistent disparities in the US.

Acute kidney injury among medical and surgical in-patients in the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital, Cape Coast, Ghana: a prospective cross-sectional study

Background: Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a syndrome associated with high morbidity, mortality and high hospital costs. Despite its adverse clinical and economic effects, only a few studies have reported reliable estimates on the incidence of AKI in sub-Sahara Africa. We assessed the incidence and associated factors of AKI among medical and surgical patients admitted to a tertiary hospital in Ghana.

Methods: A prospective cross-sectional study was conducted among one hundred and forty-five (145) consecutive patients admitted to the medical and the surgical wards at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital (CCTH), Cape Coast, Ghana from April 2017 to April 2018. Socio-demographic and clinical information were collected using structured questionnaires. AKI was diagnosed and staged with the KDIGO guideline, using admission serum creatinine as baseline kidney function.

Results: The mean age of the study participants was 46.6±17.7 years, whilst the male:female ratio was 68:77. The overall incidence of AKI among the participants was 15.9% (95% CI: 10.33 – 22.84%). Stage 1 AKI occurred in 56.5% of the participants, whilst stages 2 and 3 AKI respectively occurred among 4.1% and 2.8% of respondents. About 20% of the participants in the medical ward developed AKI (n= 15) whilst 12% of those in surgical ward developed AKI (n= 8). Among the participants admitted to the medical ward, 60.0%, 26.7% and 13.3% had stages 1, 2 and 3 AKI respectively. Whilst 50.0%, 25.0% and 25.0% respectively developed stages 1, 2 and 3 AKI in the surgical ward. Medical patients with AKI had hyper-tension (40%), followed by liver disease (33.3%); 37.5% of surgical inpatients had gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.

Conclusion: The incidence of AKI is high among medical and surgical patients in-patients in the CCTH, Ghana, with hypertension and liver disease as major comorbidities.

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

Background: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusion: 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.

Predictors of Rehabilitation Service Utilisation among Children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC): Findings from the Global LMIC CP Register

Background: We assessed the rehabilitation status and predictors of rehabilitation service utilisation among children with cerebral palsy (CP) in selected low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Methods: Data from the Global LMIC CP Register (GLM-CPR), a multi-country register of children with CP aged <18 years in selected countries, were used. Descriptive and inferential statistics (e.g., adjusted odds ratios) were reported. Results: Between January 2015 and December 2019, 3441 children were registered from Bangladesh (n = 2852), Indonesia (n = 130), Nepal (n = 182), and Ghana (n = 277). The proportion of children who never received rehabilitation was 49.8% (n = 1411) in Bangladesh, 45.8% (n = 82) in Nepal, 66.2% (n = 86) in Indonesia, and 26.7% (n = 74) in Ghana. The mean (Standard Deviation) age of commencing rehabilitation services was relatively delayed in Nepal (3.9 (3.1) year). Lack of awareness was the most frequently reported reason for not receiving rehabilitation in all four countries. Common predictors of not receiving rehabilitation were older age at assessment (i.e., age of children at the time of the data collection), low parental education and family income, mild functional limitation, and associated impairments (i.e., hearing and/or intellectual impairments). Additionally, gender of the children significantly influenced rehabilitation service utilisation in Bangladesh. Conclusions: Child’s age, functional limitation and associated impairments, and parental education and economic status influenced the rehabilitation utilisation among children with CP in LMICs. Policymakers and service providers could use these findings to increase access to rehabilitation and improve equity in rehabilitation service utilisation for better functional outcome of children with CP

Management of chronic non-communicable diseases in Ghana: a qualitative study using the chronic care model

While the burden and mortality from chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) have reached epidemic proportions in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), decision-makers and individuals still consider CNCDs to be infrequent and, therefore, do not pay the needed attention to their management. We, therefore, explored the practices and challenges associated with the management of CNCDs by patients and health professionals.

This was a qualitative study among 82 CNCD patients and 30 health professionals. Face-to-face in-depth interviews were used in collecting data from the participants. Data collected were analysed using thematic analysis.

Experiences of health professionals regarding CNCD management practices involved general assessments such as education of patients, and specific practices based on type and stage of CNCDs presented. Patients’ experiences mainly centred on self-management practices which comprised self-restrictions, exercise, and the use of anthropometric equipment to monitor health status at home. Inadequate logistics, work-related stress due to heavy workload, poor utility supply, and financial incapability of patients to afford the cost of managing their conditions were challenges that militated against the effective management of CNCDs.

A myriad of challenges inhibits the effective management of CNCDs. To accelerate progress towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goal 3 on reducing premature mortality from CNCDs, the Ghana Health Service and management of the respective hospitals should ensure improved utility supply, adequate staff motivation, and regular in-service training. A chronic care management policy should also be implemented in addition to the review of the country’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) by the Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Authority to cover the management of all CNCDs.