On prioritising global health’s triple crisis of sepsis, COVID-19 and antimicrobial resistance: a mixed-methods study from Malawi

Sepsis causes 20% of global deaths, particularly among children and vulnerable populations living in developing countries. This study investigated how sepsis is prioritised in Malawi’s health system to inform health policy. In this mixed-methods study, twenty multisectoral stakeholders were qualitatively interviewed and asked to quantitatively rate the likelihood of sepsis-related medium-term policy outcomes being realised. Respondents indicated that sepsis is not prioritised in Malawi due to a lack of local sepsis-related evidence and policies. However, they highlighted strong linkages between sepsis and maternal health, antimicrobial resistance and COVID-19, which are already existing national priorities, and offers opportunities for sepsis researchers as policy entrepreneurs. To address the burden of sepsis, we recommend that funding should be channelled to the generation of local evidence, evidence uptake, procurement of resources and treatment of sepsis cases, development of appropriate indicators for sepsis, adherence to infection prevention and control measures, and antimicrobial stewardship.

The role of non-governmental organizations in strengthening healthcare systems in low- and middle-income countries: Lessons from Santé Diabète in Mali

Non-governmental organizations play a vital part in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals as defined by the United Nations. These Goals also include targets related to noncommunicable diseases. However, non-governmental organizations have played a limited role in this area despite such diseases causing the bulk of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Through their activities, non-governmental organizations should aim to strengthen health systems, yet they often only support these for a single disease. Mali, like many other low- and middle-income countries, is facing an increasing burden of diabetes and a health system not adapted to address this challenge. Santé Diabète, a non-governmental organization based in Mali since 2003, has been working specifically on diabetes, and has developed a wide range of activities to improve the national health system. This paper describes changes in the diabetes environment in Mali between 2004 and 2018 based on two health system assessments carried out using a Rapid Assessment Protocol. Over this period, the health system was strengthened with regard to financing and access to medical products. Leadership and governance, service delivery and health workforce were all improved but still partially rely on sustained support from Santé Diabète. The key lesson from this study is that to be effective in changing the management of noncommunicable diseases in a low- and middle-income country, non-governmental organizations need to play a variety of roles, many of which may change over time.

Quality of health care services and performance in public hospitals in Africa: A protocol for systematic review

Background: The delivery of high-quality health care services and performance is the main aim of all health care systems globally. This review objective is to determine the quality of health care services and performance in public hospitals in Africa through a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing studies.

Methods: The search will be conducted in pre-determined databases (e.g., PubMed), for eligible studies between 2000 and 2020, to identify studies published in English, which applied the service quality gap (SERVIQUAL) model to determine the quality of health care services and performance in public hospitals in Africa. The search will also include a review of reference lists of included studies for other eligible studies. Eligible studies will include experimental and observational studies. Two authors will independently screen the search output, select studies and extract data, resolve discrepancies by consensus and discussions. Two authors will use Cochrane risk of bias tools for experimental studies, and Hoy for observational studies. The review will also assess study quality and risk of bias using standardized tools. The review aims to provide comprehensive information on the quality of health care services and performance in public hospitals in Africa.

Discussion: Understanding patients’ or clients’ expectations and perceptions on the quality of health care services provided in the health care systems are very crucial in the improvement of the health status of the general population. The SERVIQUAL model is a standardized tool used to assess the quality gap of patients/clients perspectives on health care services in hospitals globally. The findings from this review will provide information on the quality gap of health care provided in public hospitals in SSA. Also, we anticipate that the findings will inform policymakers in health care systems on how to improve and maintain the quality of health care services in public hospitals in different African settings.

Systematic review registration number: PROSPERO CRD 420212264100 dated 25/07/2021

Equitable access to quality trauma systems in Low and Middle Income Countries

Injuries in low-income and middle-income countries are prevalent and their number is expected to increase. Death and disability after injury can be reduced if people reach healthcare facilities in a timely manner. Knowledge of barriers to access to quality injury care is necessary to intervene to improve outcomes. We combined a four-delay framework with WHO Building Blocks and Institution of Medicine Quality Outcomes Frameworks to describe barriers to trauma care in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Ghana, South Africa and Rwanda. We used a parallel convergent mixed-methods research design, integrating the results to enable a holistic analysis of the barriers to access to quality injury care. Data were collected using surveys of patient experiences of injury care, interviews and focus group discussions with patients and community leaders, and a survey of policy-makers and healthcare leaders on the governance context for injury care. We identified 121 barriers across all three countries. Of these, 31 (25.6%) were shared across countries. More than half (18/31, 58%) were predominantly related to delay 3 (‘Delays to receiving quality care’). The majority of the barriers were captured using just one of the multiple methods, emphasising the need to use multiple methods to identify all barriers. Given there are many barriers to access to quality care for peoplewho have been injured in Rwanda, Ghana and South Africa, but few of these are shared across countries, solutions to overcome these barriers may also be contextually dependent. This suggests the need for rigorous assessments of contexts using multiple data collection methods before developing interventions to improve access to quality car

The true costs of cesarean delivery for patients in rural Rwanda: Accounting for post-discharge expenses in estimated health expenditures

Introduction
While it is recognized that there are costs associated with postoperative patient follow-up, risk assessments of catastrophic health expenditures (CHEs) due to surgery in sub-Saharan Africa rarely include expenses after discharge. We describe patient-level costs for cesarean section (c-section) and follow-up care up to postoperative day (POD) 30 and evaluate the contribution of follow-up to CHEs in rural Rwanda.

Methods
We interviewed women who delivered via c-section at Kirehe District Hospital between September 2019 and February 2020. Expenditure details were captured on an adapted surgical indicator financial survey tool and extracted from the hospital billing system. CHE was defined as health expenditure of ≥ 10% of annual household expenditure. We report the cost of c-section up to 30 days after discharge, the rate of CHE among c-section patients stratified by in-hospital costs and post-discharge follow-up costs, and the main contributors to c-section follow-up costs. We performed a multivariate logistic regression using a backward stepwise process to determine independent predictors of CHE at POD30 at α ≤ 0.05.

Results
Of the 479 participants in this study, 90% were classified as impoverished before surgery and an additional 6.4% were impoverished by the c-section. The median out-of-pocket costs up to POD30 was US$122.16 (IQR: $102.94, $148.11); 63% of these expenditures were attributed to post-discharge expenses or lost opportunity costs (US$77.50; IQR: $67.70, $95.60). To afford c-section care, 64.4% borrowed money and 18.4% sold possessions. The CHE rate was 27% when only considering direct and indirect costs up to the time of discharge and 77% when including the reported expenses up to POD30. Transportation and lost household wages were the largest contributors to post-discharge costs. Further, CHE at POD30 was independently predicted by membership in community-based health insurance (aOR = 3.40, 95% CI: 1.21,9.60), being a farmer (aOR = 2.25, 95% CI:1.00,3.03), primary school education (aOR = 2.35, 95% CI:1.91,4.66), and small household sizes had 0.22 lower odds of experiencing CHE compared to large households (aOR = 0.78, 95% CI:0.66,0.91).

Conclusion
Costs associated with surgical follow-up are often neglected in financial risk calculations but contribute significantly to the risk of CHE in rural Rwanda. Insurance coverage for direct medical costs is insufficient to protect against CHE. Innovative follow-up solutions to reduce costs of patient transport and compensate for household lost wages need to be considered.

The environment under the knife: A review of current Eco-surgical strategies and recommendations for Pakistan

The healthcare sector at its core is based on the fundamentals belief to do no harm and bring about betterment in the lives of the people. Paradoxically, hospitals are one of the leading contributors to pollution, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and toxic waste material worldwide. Surgical care delivery is quite resource intensive, consuming significant amount of energy and equipment as well as producing large quantities of waste. With climate change being a global priority, it is crucial that hospitals re-evaluate the environmental impact of such practices. The current review was planned to identify areas of improvement in surgical care in terms of sustainability, as well as describe efficient and innovative strategies for hospitals in Pakistan to lessen their impact
on the environment.

The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education of healthcare professionals, especially in low- and middle-income countries

The COVID-19 disaster has appreciably increased morbidity and mortality, as well as the delivery of healthcare, across countries exacerbated by the contagious nature of the virus.[1-4] Numerous public health measures were instigated across countries at the start of the pandemic to try and limit its spread without effective medicines and vaccines.[5,6] Introduced measures included lockdown activities, social distancing instructions, quarantining measures, wearing of personal protective equipment (PPEs), handwashing and sanitizers as well as the closure of borders.[5-8] Instigated measures also included the closure of universities appreciably affecting the education of healthcare professionals (HCPs), including physicians and pharmacists, across countries.[9-11] The extent of lockdown and other activities instigated during the early stages of the virus varied appreciably across countries leading to differences in observed morbidity and mortality rates.[12-15] For instance, comprehensive measures introduced early among several Asian countries including Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam as well as among several African countries including Ghana, Malawi and Namibia, limited the number of deaths certainly when compared with Western European countries including Italy, Spain and the UK

A granular analysis of service delivery for surgical system strengthening: Application of the Lancet indicators for policy development in Colombia

Background
The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery (LCoGS) surgical indicators have given the surgical community metrics for objectively characterizing the disparity in access to surgical healthcare. However, aggregate national statistics lack sufficient specificity to inform strengthening plans at the community level. We performed a second-stage analysis of Colombian surgical system service delivery to inform the development of resource- and context-sensitive interventions to inform a revision of the Decennial Public Health Plan for access inequity resolution.

Methods
Data from the year 2016 to inform total operative volume (TOV) and 30-day non-risk adjusted peri-operative mortality (POMR) were collected from the Colombian national health information system. TOV and POMR were sub-characterized by demographics, urgency, service line, disease pathology and facility location.

Findings
In 2016, aggregate national mortality was 0·87%, while mortality attributable to elective and emergency surgery was 0·73% and 1·30%, respectively. The elderly experienced a 5·6-fold higher mortality, with 4·2% undergoing an operation within 30 days of dying. Individuals undergoing hepatobiliary, thoracic, cardiac, and neurosurgical operations experienced the highest mortality rates while obstetrics, general surgery, orthopaedics, and urology performed the largest procedure volume. Finally, analysis of operation and service line specific POMR reveals opportunities for improvement.

Interpretation
This granular second-stage analysis provides actionable data which is fundamental to the development of resource and context-sensitive interventions to address gaps and inequities in surgical system service delivery. Furthermore, this analysis validates the modeling underlying development of the LCoGS indicators. These data will inform the assessment of implementation priorities and revision of the Colombian Decennial Public Health Plan

Evaluating Shifts in Perception After a Pilot Trauma Quality Improvement Training Course in Cameroon

Introduction
Trauma is a major contributor to the global burden of disease, with low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) being disproportionately affected. Trauma Quality Improvement (QI) initiatives could potentially save an estimated two million lives each year. Successful trauma QI initiatives rely on adequate training and a culture of quality among hospital staff. This study evaluated the effect of a pilot trauma QI training course on participants’ perceptions on leadership, medical errors, and the QI process in Cameroon.

Methods
Study participants took part in a three-day, eight-module course training on trauma QI methods and applications. Perceptions on leadership, medical errors, and QI were assessed pre and post-course using a 15-item survey measured on a five-point Likert scale. Median pre- and post-course scores were compared using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Knowledge retention and course satisfaction were also evaluated in a post-course survey and evaluation.

Results
A majority of the 25 course participants completed pre-course (92%) and post-course (80%) surveys. Participants’ perceptions of safety and comfort discussing medical errors at work significantly increased post-course (pre-median = 5, IQR [4-5]; post-median = 5, IQR [5-5]; P = 0.046). The belief that individuals responsible for medical error should be held accountable significantly decreased after the course (pre-median = 3, IQR [2-4]; post-median = 1, IQR [1-2]; P < 0.001). Overall satisfaction with the course was high with median scores ≥4. Conclusions These initial results suggest that targeted trauma QI training effectively influences attitudes about QI. Further investigation of the effect of the trauma QI training on hospital staff in larger courses is warranted to assess reproducibility of these findings.

Development and Implementation of an Antimicrobial Stewardship Checklist in Sub-saharan Africa: a Co-creation Consensus Approach

Background:

Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) initiatives promote the responsible use of antimicrobials in healthcare settings as a key measure to curb the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Defining the core elements of AMS is essential for developing and evaluating comprehensive AMS programmes. This project used co-creation and Delphi-consensus procedures to adapt and extend the existing published international AMS checklist. The overall objective was to arrive at a contextualised checklist of core AMS elements and key behaviours for use within healthcare settings in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as to implement the checklist in health institutions in four African countries.

Method:

The AMS checklist tool was developed using a modified Delphi approach to achieve local, expert consensus on items to be included on the checklist. Fourteen healthcare/public health professionals from Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, and Ghana were invited to review, score and comment on items from a published, global AMS checklist. Following their feedback, eight items were re-phrased and 25 new items added to the checklist. The final AMS checklist tool was deployed across 19 healthcare sites and used to assess AMS programmes before and after an AMS intervention in 14 of the 19 sites.

Findings:

The final tool comprised 54 items. Across the 14 sites, the checklist consistently showed improvements for all AMS components following the intervention. The greatest improvements observed were the presence of formal multidisciplinary AMS structures (79%) and the execution of a point-prevalence survey (72%). Elements with the least improvement were access to laboratory/imaging services (7%) and the presence of adequate financial support for AMS (14%). In addition to capturing quantitative and qualitative changes associated with the AMS intervention, project evaluation suggested that administering the AMS checklist made unique contributions to ongoing AMS activities. Furthermore, 29 additional AMS activities were reported as a direct result of the prompting checklist questions.

Conclusion:

Contextualised, co-created AMS tools are necessary for managing antimicrobial use across healthcare settings and increasing local AMS ownership and commitment. This study led to the development of a new AMS checklist which proved successful in capturing AMS improvements in Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, and Ghana. The tool also made unique contributions to furthering local AMS efforts. The study extends existing AMS materials for low and middle-income countries and provides empirical evidence for successful use in practice.