Health System Factors That Inuence Treatment Delay in Women With Breast Cancer in Sub-saharan Africa: A Systematic Review

Breast cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa experience long delays between their first presentation to a health care facility and the start of cancer treatment. The role of the health system in the increasing delay in treatment has not been widely investigated. This review aimed to identify existing information on health system factors that influence treatment delays in women with breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa to contribute to the reorientation of health policies in the region.
PubMed, ScienceDirect, African Journals Online, Mendeley, ResearchGate and Google Scholar were searched to identify relevant studies published between 2010 and July 2020. We performed a qualitative synthesis in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyse (PRISMA) statement. Related health system factors were extracted and classified according to the World Health Organization’s six health system building blocks. The quality of qualitative and quantitative studies was assessed by using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program quality-assessment tool and the National Institute of Health Quality Assessment Tool, respectively. In addition, we used the Confidence in the Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative Research tool to assess the evidence for each qualitative finding.
From 14,184 identified studies, this systematic review included 28 articles. We identified a total of 36 barriers and 8 facilitators that may influence treatment delay in women with breast cancer. The principal health system factors identified were mainly related to human resources and service delivery, particularly difficulty accessing health care, diagnostic errors, poor management, and treatment cost.
The present review shows that treatment delay among women with breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa is influenced by many related health system factors. Policymakers in sub-Saharan Africa need to tackle the financial accessibility to breast cancer treatment by adequate universal health coverage policies and reinforce the clinical competencies for health workers to ensure timely diagnosis and appropriate care for women with breast cancer in this region

Intimate partner violence against adolescent girls and young women and its association with miscarriages, stillbirths and induced abortions in sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from demographic and health surveys

Intimate partner violence has been associated with numerous consequences for women, including pregnancy termination. This study aimed to examine the association between intimate partner violence and pregnancy termination among adolescent girls and young women in 25 sub-Saharan African countries. Data for this study was obtained from the demographic and health surveys of 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, published between 2010 and 2019. A total of 60,563 adolescent girls and young women were included in this study. Binary logistic regression models were used in analyzing the data and the results were presented as crude odds ratios (CORs) and adjusted odds ratios (AORs) at 95% confidence interval (CI). The prevalence of intimate partner violence and pregnancy termination among adolescent girls and young women in the 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa were 19% and 10.1% respectively. In all these countries, the odds of pregnancy termination was higher among adolescent girls and young women who had ever experienced intimate partner violence, compared to those who had never experienced intimate partner violence [COR = 1.60, 95% CI = 1.51–1.71], and this persisted after controlling for confounders [AOR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.48–1.68]. However, across countries, intimate partner violence had significant association with pregnancy termination among adolescent girls and young women in Angola, Chad, Congo DR and Gabon (Central Africa); Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote D’lvoire, Gambia and Mali (West Africa); Comoros, Rwanda and Uganda (East Africa); and Malawi and Zambia (Southern Africa). The findings imply that reducing pregnancy termination among adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa depends on the elimination of intimate partner violence. Thus, policies and programmes aimed at reducing pregnancy termination among adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa, should pay particular attention to those who have history of intimate partner violence.

Neglected tropical diseases activities in Africa in the COVID-19 era: the need for a “hybrid” approach in COVID-endemic times

With the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic showing no signs of abating, resuming neglected tropical disease (NTD) activities, particularly mass drug administration (MDA), is vital. Failure to resume activities will not only enhance the risk of NTD transmission, but will fail to leverage behaviour change messaging on the importance of hand and face washing and improved sanitation—a common strategy for several NTDs that also reduces the risk of COVID-19 spread. This so-called “hybrid approach” will demonstrate best practices for mitigating the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by incorporating physical distancing, use of masks, and frequent hand-washing in the delivery of medicines to endemic communities and support action against the transmission of the virus through water, sanitation and hygiene interventions promoted by NTD programmes. Unless MDA and morbidity management activities resume, achievement of NTD targets as projected in the WHO/NTD Roadmap (2021–2030) will be deferred, the aspirational goal of NTD programmes to enhance universal health coverage jeopardised and the call to ‘leave no one behind’ a hollow one. We outline what implementing this hybrid approach, which aims to strengthen health systems, and facilitate integration and cross-sector collaboration, can achieve based on work undertaken in several African countries.

Organ Donation and Transplantation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Opportunities and Challenges

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), occupying about 80% of the African continent is a heterogeneous region with estimated population of 1.1 billion people in 47 countries. Most belong to the low resource countries (LRCs). The high prevalence of end-organ diseases of kidney, liver, lung and heart makes provision of organ donation and transplantation necessary. Although kidney and heart transplantations were performed in South Africa in the 1960s, transplant activity in SSA lags behind the developed world. Peculiar challenges militating against successful development of transplant programmes include high cost of treatment, low GDP of most countries, inadequate infrastructural and institutional support, absence of subsidy, poor knowledge of the disease condition, poor accessibility to health-care facilities, religious and trado-cultural practices. Many people in the region patronize alternative healthcare as first choice. Opportunities that if harnessed may alter the unfavorable landscape are: implementation of the 2007 WHO Regional Consultation recommendations for establishment of national legal framework and self-sufficient organ donation/transplantation in each country and adoption of their 2020 proposed actions for organ/transplantation for member states, national registries with sharing of data with GODT, prevention of transplant commercialization and tourism. Additionally, adapting some aspects of proven successful models in LRCs will improve transplantation programmes in SSA.

Neonatal Septicaemia in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Protocol for Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Background: The morbidity and mortality from neonatal septicaemia (NNS) in low-middle income country remain high at the background of strained health care delivery system.The burden, pooled risks and outcomes of NNS are largely unknown. We aimed to produce a protocol for synthesizing evidence from available data for neonatal septicaemia in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: We developed a search strategy using MeSH, text words and entry terms. Nine databases will be searched: PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, AJOL, Google Scholar, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, Research gate and Scopus. Only Observational studies retrievable in the English Language will be included. The primary measurable outcome is the proportion of neonatal with septicaemia while secondary outcomes include proportion of bacterial isolates and their antibiogram, risk factors for NNS, in hospital mortality, length of hospital stay, frequency of necrotizing enterocolitis and other sequel . All identified studies will be screened based on the inclusion criteria. Data will be deduplicated in Endnote version 9, before exporting to Rayyan QCRI for screening. Extractable data will include first author’s name and year of publication, the country and regions in sub-Saharan Africa, total neonatal admissions, number with sepsis, the sample size, bacterial isolates, antibiogram, in-hospital mortality, length of hospital stay and frequency of necrotizing enterocolitis.

All studies will be assessed for methodological, clinical and statistical heterogeneity. The NIH Quality assessment tool for observational studies and the Cochrane tool of risk of bias will be used to assess for the strength of evidence. Publication bias will be assessed using the funnel plot.

Discussion: Results will be presented as the prevalence, standard error and confidence interval of newborns with neonatal septicaemia in sub-Saharan Africa. Subgroup analysis using categorical data such as risk factors, bacterial isolates, antibiogram and outcomes of neonatal septicaemia will also be reported. A cumulative meta-analysis will be done to assess the time trend of the risk factors, pathogens and antibiogram.The CMA version 3 will be used for statistical analysis. Results will be presented in forest plots.

Delays Experienced by Patients With Pediatric Cancer During the Health Facility Referral Process: A Study in Northern Tanzania

It is estimated that 50%-80% of patients with pediatric cancer in sub-Saharan Africa present at an advanced stage. Delays can occur at any time during the care-seeking process from symptom onset to treatment initiation. Referral delay, the time from first presentation at a health facility to oncologist evaluation, is a key component of total delay that has not been evaluated in sub-Saharan Africa.

Over a 3-month period, caregivers of children diagnosed with cancer at a regional cancer center (Bugando Medical Centre [BMC]) in Tanzania were consecutively surveyed to determine the number and type of health facilities visited before presentation, interventions received, and transportation used to reach each facility.

Forty-nine caregivers were consented and included in the review. A total of 124 facilities were visited before BMC, with 31% of visits (n = 38) resulting in a referral. The median referral delay was 89 days (mean, 122 days), with a median of two facilities (mean, 2.5 facilities) visited before presentation to BMC. Visiting a traditional healer first significantly increased the time taken to reach BMC compared with starting at a health center/dispensary (103 v 236 days; P = .02). Facility visits in which a patient received a referral to a higher-level facility led to significantly decreased time to reach BMC (P < .0001). Only 36% of visits to district hospitals and 20.6% of visits to health centers/dispensaries yielded a referral, however.

The majority of patients were delayed during the referral process, but receipt of a referral to a higher-level facility significantly shortened delay time. Referral delay for pediatric patients with cancer could be decreased by raising awareness of cancer and strengthening the referral process from lower-level to higher-level facilities.

Otitis media with effusion in Africa‐prevalence and associated factors: A systematic review and meta‐analysis

To estimate the overall and subgroup prevalence of otitis media with effusion (OME) in Africa, and identify setting‐specific predictors in children and adults.

PubMed, African Journals Online, African Index Medicus, Afrolib, SciELO, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, The Cochrane Library, GreyLit and OpenGray were searched to identify relevant articles on OME in Africa, from inception to December 31st 2019. A random‐effects model was used to pool outcome estimates.

Overall, 38 studies were included, with 27 in meta‐analysis (40 331 participants). The overall prevalence of OME in Africa was 6% (95% CI: 5%‐7%; I2 = 97.5%, P < .001). The prevalence was 8% (95% CI: 7%‐9%) in children and 2% (95% CI: 0.1%‐3%) in adolescents/adults. North Africa had the highest prevalence (10%; 95% CI: 9%‐13%), followed by West and Southern Africa (9%; 95% CI: 7%‐10% and 9%; 95% CI: 6%‐12% respectively), Central Africa (7%; 95% CI: 5%‐10%) and East Africa (2%; 95% CI: 1%‐3%). There was no major variability in prevalence over the last four decades. Cleft palate was the strongest predictor (OR: 5.2; 95% CI: 1.4‐18.6, P = .02). Other significant associated factors were age, adenoid hypertrophy, allergic rhinitis in children, and type 2 diabetes mellitus, low CD4 count in adults.

OME prevalence was similar to that reported in other settings, notably high‐income temperate countries. Health care providers should consider age, presence of cleft palate, adenoid hypertrophy and allergic rhinitis when assessing OME in children and deciding on a management plan. More research is required to confirm risk factors and evaluate treatment options.

Functional Neurosurgery in Africa: A Scoping Review

Functional neurosurgery covers a set of neurosurgical techniques that aims at restoring functional neurologic disorders. In Africa, less data is available to map out this activity, though the increased prevalence of diseases such as epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease, which results in a high morbidity and mortality rate. However, functional neurosurgery remains very scarce and costly in these countries, hence difficult to implement. A scoping review will be performed to map functional neurosurgery activities in Africa. The Arksey and O’Malley’s scoping review methodology will be used to collect data, and a PRISMA chart used to follow-up data.

Is AJCC/UICC Staging Still Appropriate for Head and Neck Cancers in Developing Countries?

By 2030, 70% of cancers will occur in developing countries. Head and neck cancers are primarily a developing world disease. While anatomical location and the extent of cancers are central to defining prognosis and staging, the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC)/International Union Against Cancer (UICC) have incorporated nonanatomic factors that correlate with prognosis into staging (eg, p16 status of oropharyngeal cancers). However, 16 of 17 head and neck surgeons from 13 African countries cannot routinely test for p16 status and hence can no longer apply AJCC/UICC staging to oropharyngeal cancer. While the AJCC/UICC should continue to refine staging that best reflects treatment outcomes and prognosis by incorporating new nonanatomical factors, they should also retain and refine anatomically based staging to serve the needs of clinicians and their patients in resource-constrained settings. Not to do so would diminish their global relevance and in so doing also disadvantage most of the world’s cancer patients.

Barriers to surgery performed by non-physician clinicians in sub-Saharan Africa—a scoping review

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) faces the highest burden of disease amenable to surgery while having the lowest surgeon to population ratio in the world. Some 25 SSA countries use surgical task-shifting from physicians to non-physician clinicians (NPCs) as a strategy to increase access to surgery. While many studies have investigated barriers to access to surgical services, there is a dearth of studies that examine the barriers to shifting of surgical tasks to, and the delivery of safe essential surgical care by NPCs, especially in rural areas of SSA. This study aims to identify those barriers and how they vary between surgical disciplines as well as between countries.

We performed a scoping review of articles published between 2000 and 2018, listed in PubMed or Embase. Full-text articles were read by two reviewers to identify barriers to surgical task-shifting. Cited barriers were counted and categorized, partly based on the World Health Organization (WHO) health systems building blocks.

Sixty-two articles met the inclusion criteria, and 14 clusters of barriers were identified, which were assigned to four main categories: primary outcomes, NPC workforce, regulation, and environment and resources. Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Mozambique had the largest number of articles reporting barriers, with Uganda reporting the largest variety of barriers from empirical studies only. Obstetric and gynaecologic surgery had more articles and cited barriers than other specialties.

A multitude of factors hampers the provision of surgery by NPCs across SSA. The two main issues are surgical pre-requisites and the need for regulatory and professional frameworks to legitimate and control the surgical practice of NPCs.