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, 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.

Toward mandatory health insurance in low-income countries? An analysis of claims data in Tanzania

Many low-income countries are in the process of scaling up health insurance with the goal of achieving universal coverage. However, little is known about the usage and financial sustainability of mandatory health insurance. This study analyzes 26 million claims submitted to the Tanzanian National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), which covers two million public servants for whom public insurance is mandatory, to understand insurance usage patterns, cost drivers, and financial sustainability. We find that in 2016, half of policyholders used a health service within a single year, with an average annual cost of 33 US$ per policyholder. About 10% of the population was responsible for 80% of the health costs, and women, middle-age and middle-income groups had the highest costs. Out of 7390 health centers, only five health centers are responsible for 30% of total costs. Estimating the expected health expenditures for the entire population based on the NHIF cost structure, we find that for a sustainable national scale-up, policy makers will have to decide between reducing the health benefit package or increasing revenues. We also show that the cost structure of a mandatory insurance scheme in a low-income country differs substantially from high-income settings. Replication studies for other countries are warranted.

Cost-effectiveness of gasless laparoscopy as a means to increase provision of minimally invasive surgery for abdominal conditions in rural North-East India

Laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive technique to treat abdominal conditions, has been shown to produce equivalent safety and efficacy with quicker return to normal function compared to open surgery. As such, it is widely accepted as a cost-effective alternative to open surgery for many abdominal conditions. However, access to laparoscopic surgery in rural North-East India is limited, in part due to limited equipment, unreliable supplies of CO2 gas, lack of surgical expertise and a shortage of anaesthetists. We evaluate the cost-effectiveness of gasless laparoscopy as a means to increase provision of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for abdominal conditions in rural North-East India. A decision tree model was developed to compare costs, evaluated from a patient perspective, and health outcomes, disability adjusted life years (DALYs), associated with gasless laparoscopy, conventional laparoscopy or open abdominal surgery in rural North-East India. Results indicate that MIS (performed by conventional or gasless laparoscopy) is less costly and produces better outcomes, fewer DALYs, than open surgery. These results were consistent even when gasless laparoscopy was analysed using least favourable data from the literature. Scaling up provision of MIS through increased access to gasless laparoscopy would reduce the cost burden to patients and increase DALYs averted. Based on a sample of 12 facilities in the North-East region, if scale up was achieved so that all essential surgeries amenable to laparoscopic surgery were performed as such (using conventional or gasless laparoscopy), 64% of DALYS related to these surgeries could be averted, equating to an additional 454.8 DALYs averted in these facilities alone. The results indicate that gasless laparoscopy is likely to be a cost-effective alternative to open surgery for abdominal conditions in rural North-East India and provides a possible bridge to the adoption of full laparoscopic services.

Facilitators and barriers impacting in-hospital Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP) implementation: A scoping review on the implementation of TQIPs across income levels

Trauma describes physical injury along with the bodies associate reponse, and is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity globally, with low and middle income countries (LMICs) disproportionately affected. Understanding the implementation of in-hospital Trauma Quality Improvement Programs (TQIPs) and the factors determining success is critical to reduce the global trauma burden. The purpose of the review was to identify key facilitators and barriers to TQIP implementation across income levels by evaluating the range of literature on the topic.

We used information sources PubMed, Web of Science, and Global Index Medicus. The eligibility criteria was English language studies, of any design, published from June 2009 – January 2022. The Preferred Reporting Items of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses checklist extension for scoping reviews were used to carry out a three-stage screening process. Content analysis using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) identified facilitator and barrier themes for in-hospital TQIP implementation.

Twenty-eight studies met the eligibility criteria from 3923 studies. The main facilitators and barriers identified were the need to prioritise staff education and training, strengthen dialogue with stakeholders, and provide standardised best-practice guidelines. Data quality improvements were more apparent in LMICs while high-income countries (HICs) emphasised increased communication training.

Stakeholder prioritisation of in-hospital TQIPs, along with increased knowledge and consensus on trauma care best practice will further advance efforts to lower the global trauma burden. The focus of future in-hospital TQIPs in LMICs should primarily be concerned with improving data quality of registries, while interventions in HICs should focus on communication skills of healthcare professionals.

International Perspectives of Prehospital and Hospital Trauma Services: A Literature Review

Background: Evidence suggests that reductions in the incidence in trauma observed in some countries are related to interventions including legislation around road and vehicle safety measures, public behaviour change campaigns, and changes in trauma response systems. This study aims to briefly review recent refereed and grey literature about prehospital and hospital trauma care services in different regions around the world and describe similarities and differences in identified systems to demonstrate the diversity of characteristics present. Methods: Articles published between 2000 and 2020 were retrieved from MEDLINE and EMBASE. Since detailed comparable information was lacking in the published literature, prehospital emergency service providers’ annual performance reports from selected example countries or regions were reviewed to obtain additional information about the performance of prehospital care. Results: The review retained 34 studies from refereed literature related to trauma systems in different regions. In the U.S. and Canada, the trauma care facilities consisted of five different levels of trauma centres ranging from Level I to Level IV and Level I to Level V, respectively. Hospital care and organisation in Japan is different from the U.S. model, with no dedicated trauma centres; however, patients with severe injury are transported to university hospitals’ emergency departments. Other similarities and differences in regional examples were observed. Conclusions: The refereed literature was dominated by research from developed countries such as Australia, Canada, and the U.S., which all have organised trauma systems. Many European countries have implemented trauma systems between the 1990s and 2000s; however, some countries, such as France and Greece, are still forming an integrated system. This review aims to encourage countries with immature trauma systems to consider the similarities and differences in approaches of other countries to implementing a trauma system. View Full-Text