Significant Improvement in Quality of Life Following Surgery for Hydrocoele Caused by Lymphatic Filariasis in Malawi: A Prospective Cohort Study

Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a mosquito-borne parasitic infection that causes significant disabling and disfiguring clinical manifestations. Hydrocoele (scrotal swelling) is the most common clinical condition, which affects an estimated 25 million men globally. The recommended strategy is surgical intervention, yet little is known about the impact of hydrocoele on men’s lives, and how it may change if they have access to surgery.
Methodology/principal findings
We prospectively recruited and followed-up men who underwent surgery for hydrocoele at six hospitals in an LF endemic area of Malawi in December 2015. Men were interviewed at hospitals pre-surgery and followed-up at 3-months and 6-months post-surgery. Data on demographic characteristics, clinical condition, barriers to surgery, post-surgery symptoms/complications and quality of life indicators were collected and analysed pre- and post-surgery, by age group and stage of disease (mild/moderate vs. severe), using chi-square tests and student’s t test (paired). 201 men were interviewed pre-surgery, 152 at 3-months and 137 at 6-months post-surgery. Most men had unilateral hydrocoeles (65.2%), mild/moderate stages (57.7%) with an average duration of 11.4 years. The most reported cause of hydrocoele was it being sexually transmitted (22.4%), and the main barrier to surgery was the cost (36.3%). Pre-surgery, a significant difference in the scrotum side affected was found by age group (X2 = 5.978, p = 0.05), and men with severe stage hydrocoele reported more problems with their quality of life than those with mild/moderate stage (t = 2.793; p = 0.0006). Post-surgery, around half of the men reported some pain/discomfort (55.9%), swelling (8.6%), bleeding (3.3%) and infection (5.9%), most of which had resolved at 3-months when the most significant improvements in their quality of life were found (t = 21.3902; p = 0.000). Post-surgery at 6 months all men reported no physical, social, psychological problems and took no time off work.
Surgery had a significant positive impact on many aspects of a patient’s life, and the expansion of this treatment to all those affected in LF endemic areas would greatly improve the quality of men’s and their families’ lives, and greatly contribute to the global goal of providing universal health care.

Economic benefits and costs of surgery for filarial hydrocele in Malawi

Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is endemic in 72 countries of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. An estimated 25 million men live with the disabling effects of filarial hydrocele. Hydrocele can be corrected with surgery with few complications. For most men, hydrocelectomy reduces or corrects filarial hydrocele and permits them to resume regular activities of daily living and gainful employment.

Methodology and principal findings
This study measures the economic loss due to filarial hydrocele and the benefits of hydrocelectomy and is based on pre- and post-operative surveys of patients in southern Malawi. We find the average number of days of work lost due to filarial hydrocele and daily earnings for men in rural Malawi. We calculate average annual lost earnings and find the present discounted value for all years from the time of surgery to the end of working life. We estimate the total costs of surgery. We compare the benefit of the work capacity restored to the costs of surgery to determine the benefit-cost ratio. For men younger than 65 years old, the average annual earnings loss attributed to hydrocele is US$126. The average discounted present value of lifetime earnings loss for those men is US$1684. The average budgetary cost of the hydrocelectomy is US$68. The ratio of the benefit of surgery to its costs is US$1684/US$68 or 24.8. Sensitivity analysis demonstrates that the results are robust to variations in cost of surgery and length of working life.

The lifetime benefits of hydrocelectomy–to the man, his family, and his community–far exceed the costs of repairing the hydrocele. Scaling up subsidies to hydrocelectomy campaigns should be a priority for governments and international aid organizations to prevent and alleviate disability and lost earnings that aggravate poverty among the many millions of men with filarial hydrocele.

The Burden of Urological Disease in Zomba, Malawi: A Needs Assessment in a sub-Saharan Tertiary Care Center

Introduction: A large part of the developing world continues to lack access to surgical care. Urology remains one of the least represented surgical subspecialties in global health. To begin understanding the burden of urological illness in sub-Saharan Africa, we sought to characterize all patients presenting to a tertiary care hospital in Malawi with a urological diagnosis or related complaint in the past year.

Methods: Retrospective review of the surgical clinic and surgical theater record books at Zomba Central Hospital (ZCH) was performed over a one-year time span. Patients presenting with urological diagnoses or undergoing a urological procedure under local or general anesthetic in the operating theater were identified and entered into a database.

Results: We reviewed 440 clinical patients. The most common clinical presentations were for urinary retention (34.7%) and lower urinary tract symptoms (15.5%). A total of 182 surgical cases were reviewed. The most common diagnoses for surgical patients were urethral stricture disease (22%), bladder masses (17%), and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms (14.8%). Urethral stricture-related procedures, including direct visual internal urethrotomy and urethral dilatation, were the most common (14.2% and 7.7%, respectively). BPH-related procedures, including simple prostatectomy and transurethral resection of the prostate were the second most common (6.7% and 8.2%, respectively).

Conclusions: Urethral stricture disease, BPH, and urinary retention represent the clinical diagnoses with the highest burden of visits. Despite these numbers, few definitive procedures are performed annually. Further focus on urological training in sub-Saharan Africa should focus on these conditions and their surgical management.

Availability, procurement, training, usage, maintenance and complications of electrosurgical units and laparoscopic equipment in 12 African countries

Background: Strategies are needed to increase the availability of surgical equipment in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This study was undertaken to explore the current availability, procurement, training, usage, maintenance and complications encountered during use of electrosurgical units (ESUs) and laparoscopic equipment.

Methods: A survey was conducted among surgeons attending the annual meeting of the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) in December 2017 and the annual meeting of the Surgical Society of Kenya (SSK) in March 2018. Biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) were surveyed and maintenance records collected in Kenya between February and March 2018.

Results: Among 80 participants, there were 59 surgeons from 12 African countries and 21 BMETs from Kenya. Thirty-six maintenance records were collected. ESUs were available for all COSECSA and SSK surgeons, but only 49 per cent (29 of 59) had access to working laparoscopic equipment. Reuse of disposable ESU accessories and difficulties obtaining carbon dioxide were identified. More than three-quarters of surgeons (79 per cent) indicated that maintenance of ESUs was available, but only 59 per cent (16 of 27) confirmed maintenance of laparoscopic equipment at their centre.

Conclusion: Despite the availability of surgical equipment, significant gaps in access to maintenance were apparent in these LMICs, limiting implementation of open and laparoscopic surgery.

Rosai‐Dorfman disease in Malawi

Rosai‐Dorfman Disease (RDD) is a rare lymphoproliferative disease with limited cases reported in sub‐Saharan Africa, potentially due to a lack of pathological services throughout the region. RDD diagnosis can be difficult, especially in resource‐limited setting, as symptoms can be nearly identical to more common causes of lymphadenopathy.

Complications after intramedullary nailing of femoral fractures in a low-income country.

Some surgeons believe that internal fixation of fractures carries too high a risk of infection in low-income countries (LICs) to merit its use there. However, there have been too few studies from LICs with sufficient follow-up to support this belief. We first wanted to determine whether complete follow-up could be achieved in an LIC, and secondly, we wanted to find the true microbial infection rate at our hospital and to examine the influence of HIV infection and lack of follow-up on outcomes.137 patients with 141 femoral fractures that were treated with intramedullary (IM) nailing were included. We compared outcomes in patients who returned for scheduled follow-up and patients who did not return but who could be contacted by phone or visited in their home village.79 patients returned for follow-up as scheduled; 29 of the remaining patients were reached by phone or outreach visits, giving a total follow-up rate of 79%. 7 patients (5%) had a deep postoperative infection. All of them returned for scheduled follow-up. There were no infections in patients who did not return for follow-up, as compared to 8 of 83 nails in the group that did return as scheduled (p = 0.1). 2 deaths occurred in HIV-positive patients (2/23), while no HIV-negative patients (0/105) died less than 30 days after surgery (p = 0.03).We found an acceptable infection rate. The risk of infection should not be used as an argument against IM nailing of femoral fractures in LICs. Many patients in Malawi did not return for follow-up because they had no complaints concerning the fracture. There was an increased postoperative mortality rate in HIV-positive patients.

Diagnosis and management of 365 ureteric injuries following obstetric and gynecologic surgery in resource-limited settings.

Ureteric injuries are among the most serious complications of pelvic surgery. The incidence in low-resource settings is not well documented.This retrospective review analyzes a cohort of 365 ureteric injuries with ureterovaginal fistulas in 353 women following obstetric and gynecologic operations in 11 countries in Africa and Asia, all low-resource settings. The patients with ureteric injury were stratified into three groups according to the initial surgery: (a) obstetric operations, (b) gynecologic operations, and (c) vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) repairs.The 365 ureteric injuries in this series comprise 246 (67.4%) after obstetric procedures, 65 (17.8%) after gynecologic procedures, and 54 (14.8%) after repair of obstetric fistulas. Demographic characteristics show clear differences between women with iatrogenic injuries and women with obstetric fistulas. The study describes abdominal ureter reimplantation and other treatment procedures. Overall surgical results were good: 92.9% of women were cured (326/351), 5.4% were healed with some residual incontinence (19/351), and six failed (1.7%).Ureteric injuries after obstetric and gynecologic operations are not uncommon. Unlike in high-resource contexts, in low-resource settings obstetric procedures are most often associated with urogenital fistula. Despite resource limitations, diagnosis and treatment of ureteric injuries is possible, with good success rates. Training must emphasize optimal surgical techniques and different approaches to assisted vaginal delivery.

Establishing a children’s orthopaedic hospital for Malawi: an assessment after 5 years.

Beit Cure International Hospital (BCIH) is a specialist orthopaedic hospital providing surgical services to the children of Malawi. The hospital started treating patients in late 2002, and this analysis represents an attempt to assess the impact of the hospital, and develop strategies for future partnerships and development. Analysis was made of all the 563 case files of new patients treated operatively in the fifth year of hospital services. Data recorded included district and region of origin of patient, diagnosis, age and sex. Patients were treated from all 3 regions, with almost 50% coming from Southern region. Club foot, burn contracture, and genu varus were the most common diagnoses. Half the children were infants up to 5 years of age, while 60% were male. The underlying reasons behind these findings are analysed and their implications in terms of future hospital strategy are discussed.

Linking household and health facility surveys to assess obstetric service availability, readiness and coverage: evidence from 17 low- and middle-income countries.

Improving access and quality of obstetric service has the potential to avert preventable maternal, neonatal and stillborn deaths, yet little is known about the quality of care received. This study sought to assess obstetric service availability, readiness and coverage within and between 17 low- and middle-income countries.We linked health facility data from the Service Provision Assessments and Service Availability and Readiness Assessments, with corresponding household survey data obtained from the Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. Based on performance of obstetric signal functions, we defined four levels of facility emergency obstetric care (EmOC) functionality: comprehensive (CEmOC), basic (BEmOC), BEmOC-2, and low/substandard. Facility readiness was evaluated based on the direct observation of 23 essential items; facilities “ready to provide obstetric services” had ?20 of 23 items available. Across countries, we used medians to characterize service availability and readiness, overall and by urban-rural location; analyses also adjusted for care-seeking patterns to estimate population-level coverage of obstetric services.Of the 111?500 health facilities surveyed, 7545 offered obstetric services and were included in the analysis. The median percentages of facilities offering EmOC and “ready to provide obstetric services” were 19% and 10%, respectively. There were considerable urban-rural differences, with absolute differences of 19% and 29% in the availability of facilities offering EmOC and “ready to provide obstetric services”, respectively. Adjusting for care-seeking patterns, results from the linking approach indicated that among women delivering in a facility, a median of 40% delivered in facilities offering EmOC, and 28% delivered in facilities “ready to provide obstetric services”. Relatively higher coverage of facility deliveries (?65%) and coverage of deliveries in facilities “ready to provide obstetric services” (?30% of facility deliveries) were only found in three countries.The low levels of availability, readiness and coverage of obstetric services documented represent substantial missed opportunities within health systems. Global and national efforts need to prioritize upgrading EmOC functionality and improving readiness to deliver obstetric service, particularly in rural areas. The approach of linking health facility and household surveys described here could facilitate the tracking of progress towards quality obstetric care.

Delayed access to care and unmet burden of pediatric surgical disease in resource-constrained African countries.

The purpose of this study was to estimate the unmet burden of surgically correctable congenital anomalies in African low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).We conducted a chart review of children operated for cryptorchidism, isolated cleft lip, hypospadias, bladder exstrophy and anorectal malformation at an Ethiopian referral hospital between January 2012 and July 2016 and a scoping review of the literature describing the management of congenital anomalies in African LMICs. Procedure numbers and age at surgery were collected to estimate mean surgical delays by country and extrapolate surgical backlog. The unmet surgical need was derived from incidence-based disease estimates, established disability weights, and actual surgical volumes.The chart review yielded 210 procedures in 207 patients from Ethiopia. The scoping review generated 42 data sets, extracted from 36 publications, encompassing: Benin, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Madagascar, Malawi, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The largest national surgical backlog was noted in Nigeria for cryptorchidism (209,260 cases) and cleft lip (4154 cases), and Ethiopia for hypospadias (20,188 cases), bladder exstrophy (575 cases) and anorectal malformation (1349 cases).These data support the need for upscaling pediatric surgical capacity in LMICs to address the significant surgical delay, surgical backlog, and unmet prevalent need.Retrospective study and review article LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III.