Hospitalized for poverty: orthopaedic discharge delays due to financial hardship in a tertiary hospital in Northern Tanzania

Background
Musculoskeletal injury contributes significantly to the burden of disease in Tanzania and other LMICs. For hospitals to cope financially with this burden, they often mandate that patients pay their entire hospital bill before leaving the hospital. This creates a phenomenon of patients who remain hospitalized solely due to financial hardship. This study aims to characterize the impact of this policy on patients and hospital systems in resource-limited settings.

Methods
A mixed-methods study using retrospective medical record review and semi-structured interviews was conducted at a tertiary hospital in Moshi, Tanzania. Information regarding patient demographics, injury type, days spent in the ward after medical clearance for discharge, and hospital invoices were collected and analyzed for orthopaedic patients treated from November 2016 to June 2017.

Results
346 of the 867 orthopaedic patients (39.9%) treated during this time period were found to have spent additional days in the hospital due to their inability to pay their hospital bill. Of these patients, 72 patient charts were analyzed. These 72 patients spent an average of 9 additional days in the hospital due to financial hardship (range: 1–64 days; interquartile range: 2–10.5 days). They spent an average of 112,958 Tanzanian Shillings (TSH) to pay for services received following medical clearance for discharge, representing 12.3% of the average total bill (916,840 TSH). 646 hospital bed-days were spent on these 72 patients when they no longer clinically required hospitalization. 7 (9.7%) patients eloped from the hospital without paying and 24 (33.3%) received financial assistance from the hospital’s social welfare office.

Conclusions
Many patients do not have the financial capacity to pay hospital fees prior to discharge. This reality has added significantly to these patients’ overall financial hardship and has taken hundreds of bed-days from other critically ill patients. This single-institution, cross-sectional study provides a deeper understanding of this phenomenon and highlights the need for changes in the healthcare payment structure in Tanzania and other comparable settings.

PREvalence Study on Surgical COnditions (PRESSCO) 2020: A Population-Based Cross-Sectional Countrywide Survey on Surgical Conditions in Post-Ebola Outbreak Sierra Leone

Background
Understanding the burden of diseases requiring surgical care at national levels is essential to advance universal health coverage. The PREvalence Study on Surgical COnditions (PRESSCO) 2020 is a cross-sectional household survey to estimate the prevalence of physical conditions needing surgical consultation, to investigate healthcare-seeking behavior, and to assess changes from before the West African Ebola epidemic.

Methods
This study (ISRCTN: 12353489) was built upon the Surgeons Overseas Surgical Needs Assessment (SOSAS) tool, including expansions. Seventy-five enumeration areas from 9671 nationwide clusters were sampled proportional to population size. In each cluster, 25 households were randomly assigned and visited. Need for surgical consultations was based on verbal responses and physical examination of selected household members.

Results
A total of 3,618 individuals from 1,854 households were surveyed. Compared to 2012, the prevalence of individuals reporting one or more relevant physical conditions was reduced from 25 to 6.2% (95% CI 5.4–7.0%) of the population. One-in-five conditions rendered respondents unemployed, disabled, or stigmatized. Adult males were predominantly prone to untreated surgical conditions (9.7 vs. 5.9% women; p < 0.001). Financial constraints were the predominant reason for not seeking care. Among those seeking professional health care, 86.7% underwent surgery.

Conclusion
PRESSCO 2020 is the first surgical needs household survey which compares against earlier study data. Despite the 2013–2016 Ebola outbreak, which profoundly disrupted the national healthcare system, a substantial reduction in reported surgical conditions was observed. Compared to one-time measurements, repeated household surveys yield finer granular data on the characteristics and situations of populations in need of surgical treatment.

Role of Primary Caregivers Regarding Unintentional Injury Prevention Among Preschool Children: A Cross-Sectional Survey in Low- and Middle-Income Country

Importance
Unintentional childhood injuries significantly strain healthcare resources, and their preventable measures can significantly reduce morbidity and mortality.

Objectives
To investigate the role of primary caregivers in preventing unintentional injuries and to identify the groups that require special health intervention programs to reduce the burden of this public health concern.

Methodology
A cross-sectional survey was conducted at three hospitals in Karachi, Pakistan. Parents of preschool children who visited pediatric clinics were invited to participate in the study by completing a self-administered questionnaire comprising questions about knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards preventing unintentional injuries among children.

Results
With an 80% response rate, the overall mean knowledge, attitude, and practices (KAP) score was 27.40 ± 3.48. Only 14.3% of the participants had a high KAP score, while 83.6% and 2.1% of the respondents had moderate and low KAP scores, respectively. People of lower socioeconomic status, unemployed, less educated, and families with more than one preschool child were less knowledgeable and non-adherent to unintentional preventive injury. It was found that 21% of the children had suffered from an unintentional severe injury in the past, and the internet was the most frequent source of gaining knowledge among parents.

Conclusion
Parental knowledge, attitude, practices, and adherence to child safety measures are sub-optimal in our cohort of studied participants. Raising awareness and providing the counseling are essential in reducing the burden of unintentional injuries.

Cost of open access publishing in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery

Objective
Open access (OA) publishing makes research more accessible but is associated with steep article processing charges (APCs). The study objective was to characterize the APCs of OA publishing in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery (OHNS) journals.

Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of published policies of 110 OHNS journals collated from three databases. The primary outcomes were the publishing model, APC for original research, and APC waiver policy.

Results
We identified 110 OHNS journals (57 fully OA, 47 hybrid, 2 subscription-only, 4 unknown model). After excluding 12 journals (2 subscription-only, 4 unknown model, 5 OA with unspecified APCs, and 1 OA that accepts publications only from society members), we analyzed 98 journals, 23 of which did not charge APCs. Among 75 journals with nonzero APCs, the mean and median APCs were $2452 and $2900 (interquartile range: $1082–3520). Twenty-five journals (33.3%) offered APC subsidies for authors in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and/or on a case-by-case basis. Eighty-five and 25 journals were based in high-income countries (HICs) and LMICs, respectively. The mean APC was higher among HIC journals than LMIC journals ($2606 vs. $958, p < 0.001).

Conclusion
APCs range from tens to thousands of dollars with limited waivers for authors in LMICs.

Decolonizing Global Surgery

By bringing health professionals across a variety of disciplines together, we are able to share strategies and create solutions for improving surgical care to these under-serviced regions. The Bethune Round Table 2022 took place virtually, June 16 – 19 and was hosted by BGSC,in co-operation with the Canadian Network for International Surgery. The theme for the BRT 2022 was “Decolonizing Global Surgery”.

The conference program consisted of 28 panelists and speakers and 98 abstracts (46 podium presentations and 52 posters) touching upon diverse aspects of global surgery including women in surgery, indigenous health, and sustainability in global partnerships. All sessions were recorded, including abstracts. All the abstracts presented are contained within this document.

Socio-economic, physical and health-related determinants of causes of death among women in the Kintampo districts of Ghana

This study examined the socio-economic, physical and health-related determinants of causes of death among women of reproductive age (WRA) in the Kintampo North Municipality and Kintampo South District of Ghana. Longitudinal data from the Kintampo Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) was used. Causes of death data from 2005 to 2014 for 846 WRA aged 15–49 were categorized into three broad groups: maternal, infectious and non-communicable diseases. Three hierarchical multinomial logistic regression models were used to examine the determinants of causes of death, with the maternal causes of death as the reference category. Distal, intermediate and proximate factors were entered cumulatively one after the other in Models 1, 2 and 3, respectively, to account for their separate effects on the outcome variable. Across all three models, ever-married (RRR = 0.12; p < 0.001) WRA were significantly less likely to die from infectious or NCD than maternal causes compared to those who were never-married. At the adjusted level (Model 3), infectious causes of deaths differed from the maternal causes of deaths by age at death, marital status, land ownership, district of residence, year of death, season of death, place of death, admission in the last 12 months, surgical operation in the last 24 months and sudden death. Marital status is a key determinant of causes of death among WRA.

A New Dawn for Brazilian Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Is on the Way — Issues Around and Outside the Operating Room

In some developing countries, congenital heart disease still stands out among the leading causes of death in the first year of life. Therefore, there is a great need to develop programs designed to improve outcomes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of congenital heart disease in these nations, where children have always been and still are severely underserved.
The Brazilian Public Health Care System demands universal access to treatment as a constitutional right. Therefore, an underfunded Pediatric Cardiac Surgery program is unacceptable since it will cost lives and increase the infant mortality rate. Additionally, poor funding decreases providers’ interest, impedes technological advances and multidisciplinary engagement, and reduces access to comprehensive care.
Unfortunately, in most developing countries, Pediatric Cardiac Surgery progress is still the result of isolated personal efforts, dedication, and individual resilience. This article aims to present the current state of Brazilian pediatric cardiac surgery and discuss the structural and human limitations in developing a quality care system for children with congenital heart disease. Considering such constraints, quality improvement programs via International collaboration with centers of excellence, based on proper data collection and outcomes analysis, have been introduced in the country. Such initiatives should bring a new dawn to Brazilian Pediatric Cardiac Surgery

What Are Barriers and Contributing Factors Limiting Healthcare Access in Southern Africa?

Introduction: Equitable access to timely and basic health care is an intrinsic component of overall equity in health and lack of it may be both an indicator and “contributory cause” of a population’s health inequalities, especially in developing countries.1 Therefore it is important to find the root causes that are causing the barriers and those contributing to people not being able to access healthcare when they need it and in a timely manner. Purpose: The purpose of the study is to review barriers and contributing factors that are limiting access to healthcare in Southern Africa.

Methods: A comprehensive literature review was conducted using MEDLINE, Google Scholar, PubMed, and the Lindell Library using the search terms healthcare access in southern Africa/Africa, barriers to healthcare in Southern Africa/Africa. Inclusion criteria were studies from 2015 to present and exclusion criteria were studies that were older than 2015.

Conclusions: In Southern Africa, socioeconomic factors, stigma, disabilities and transport, all pose barriers to timely access of healthcare.

The Connection between Climate Change, Surgical Care and Neglected Tropical Diseases

The surgical burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) is set to rise alongside average temperatures and drought. NTDs with surgical indications, including trachoma and lymphatic filariasis, predominantly affect people in low- and middle-income countries where the gravest effects of climate change are likely to be felt. Vectors sensitive to temperature and rainfall will likely expand their reach to previously nonendemic regions, while drought may exacerbate NTD burden in already resource-strained settings. Current NTD mitigation strategies, including mass drug administrations, were interrupted by COVID-19, demonstrating the vulnerability of NTD progress to global events. Without NTD programming that meshes with surgical systems strengthening, climate change may outpace current strategies to reduce the burden of these diseases.

Building power-ful health systems: the impacts of electrification on health outcomes in LMICs

Critical disparities threaten health care in developing countries and hinder progress towards global development commitments. Almost a billion people and thousands of public services are not yet connected to electricity – a majority in sub-Saharan Africa. In economically fragile settings, clinics and health services struggle to gain and maintain their access to the most basic energy infrastructure. Less than 30% of health facilities in LMICs report access to reliable energy sources, truncating health outcomes and endangering patients in critical conditions. While ‘universal health coverage’ and ‘sustainable energy for all’ are two distinct SDGs with their respective targets, this review challenges their disconnect and inspects their interdependence in LMICs. To evaluate the impact of electrification on healthcare facilities in LMICs, this systematic review analysed relevant publications up to March 2021, using MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, CENTRAL, clinicaltrials.gov and CINAHL. Outcomes captured were in accordance with the WHO HHFA modules. A total of 5083 studies were identified, 12 fulfilled the inclusion criteria of this review – most were from Africa, with the exception of two studies from India and one from Fiji. Electrification was associated with improvements in the quality of antenatal care services, vaccination rates, emergency capabilities and primary health services; with many facilities reporting high-quality, reliable and continuous oxygen supplies, refrigeration and enhanced medical supply chains. Renewable energy sources were considered in six of the included studies, most highlighting their suitability for rural health facilities. Notably, solar-powered oxygen delivery systems reduced childhood mortality and length of hospital stay. Unavailable and unreliable electricity is a bottleneck to health service delivery in LMICs. Electrification was associated with increased service availability, readiness and quality of care – especially for women, children and those under critical care. This study indicates that stable and clean electrification allows new heights in achieving SDG 3 and SDG7 in LMICs.