Role of Precision Oncology in Type II Endometrial and Prostate Cancers in the African Population: Global Cancer Genomics Disparities

Precision oncology can be defined as molecular profiling of tumors to identify targetable alterations. Emerging research reports the high mortality rates associated with type II endometrial cancer in black women and with prostate cancer in men of African ancestry. The lack of adequate genetic reference information from the African genome is one of the major obstacles in exploring the benefits of precision oncology in the African context. Whilst external factors such as the geography, environment, health-care access and socio-economic status may contribute greatly towards the disparities observed in type II endometrial and prostate cancers in black populations compared to Caucasians, the contribution of African ancestry to the contribution of genetics to the etiology of these cancers cannot be ignored. Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) continue to emerge as important regulators of gene expression and the key molecular pathways involved in tumorigenesis. Particular attention is focused on activated/repressed genes and associated pathways, while the redundant pathways (pathways that have the same outcome or activate the same downstream effectors) are often ignored. However, comprehensive evidence to understand the relationship between type II endometrial cancer, prostate cancer and African ancestry remains poorly understood. The sub-Saharan African (SSA) region has both the highest incidence and mortality of both type II endometrial and prostate cancers. Understanding how the entire transcriptomic landscape of these two reproductive cancers is regulated by ncRNAs in an African cohort may help elucidate the relationship between race and pathological disparities of these two diseases. This review focuses on global disparities in medicine, PCa and ECa. The role of precision oncology in PCa and ECa in the African population will also be discussed.

Strengthening the Health System as a Strategy to Achieving a Universal Health Coverage in Underprivileged Communities in Africa: A Scoping Review

Universal health coverage (UHC) is defined as people having access to quality healthcare services (e.g., treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care) they need, irrespective of their financial status. Access to quality healthcare services continues to be a challenge for many people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The aim of this study was to conduct a scoping review to map out the health system strengthening strategies that can be used to attain universal health coverage in Africa. We conducted a scoping review and qualitatively synthesized existing evidence from studies carried out in Africa. We included studies that reported interventions to strengthen the health system, e.g., financial support, increasing work force, improving leadership capacity in health facilities, and developing and upgrading infrastructure of primary healthcare facilities. Outcome measures included health facility infrastructures, access to medicines, and sources of financial support. A total of 34 studies conducted met our inclusion criteria. Health financing and developing health infrastructure were the most reported interventions toward achieving UHC. Our results suggest that strengthening the health system, namely, through health financing, developing, and improving the health infrastructure, can play an important role in reaching UHC in the African context.

Estimated incidence and case fatality rate of traumatic brain injury among children (0–18 years) in Sub-Saharan Africa. A systematic review and meta-analysis

Studies from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries have reported on the incidence and case fatality rate of children with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). However, there is lack of a general epidemiologic description of the phenomenon in this sub-region underpinning the need for an accurate and reliable estimate of incidence and outcome of children (0–18 years) with TBI. This study therefore, extensively reviewed data to reliably estimate incidence, case fatality rate of children with TBI and its mechanism of injury in SSA.

Electronic databases were systematically searched in English via Medline (PubMed), Google Scholar, and Africa Journal Online (AJOL). Two independent authors performed an initial screening of studies based on the details found in their titles and abstracts. Studies were assessed for quality/risk of bias using the modified Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS). The pooled case fatality rate and incidence were estimated using DerSimonian and Laird random-effects model (REM). A sub-group and sensitivity analyses were performed. Publication bias was checked by the funnel plot and Egger’s test. Furthermore, trim and fill analysis was used to adjust for publication bias using Duval and Tweedie’s method.

Thirteen (13) hospital-based articles involving a total of 40685 participants met the inclusion criteria. The pooled case fatality rate for all the included studies in SSA was 8.0%; [95% CI: 3.0%-13.0%], and the approximate case fatality rate was adjusted to 8.2%, [95% CI:3.4%-13.0%], after the trim-and-fill analysis was used to correct for publication bias. A sub-group analysis of sub-region revealed that case fatality rate was 8% [95% CI: 2.0%-13.0%] in East Africa, 1.0% [95% CI: 0.1% -3.0%] in Southern Africa and 18.0% [95% CI: 6.0%-29.0%] in west Africa. The pooled incidence proportion of TBI was 18% [95% CI: 2.0%-33.0%]. The current review showed that Road Traffic Accident (RTA) was the predominant cause of children’s TBI in SSA. It ranged from 19.1% in South Africa to 79.1% in Togo.

TBI affects 18% of children aged 0 to 18 years, with almost one-tenth dying in SSA. The most common causes of TBI among this population in SSA were RTA and falls. TBI incidence and case fatality rate of people aged 0–18 years could be significantly reduced if novel policies focusing on reducing RTA and falls are introduced and implemented in SSA.

A systematic review of randomized control trials of HPV self-collection studies among women in sub-Saharan Africa using the RE-AIM framework

Self-collection of samples for HPV testing may increase women’s access to cervical cancer screening in low- and middle-income settings. However, implementation remains poor in many regions. The purpose of this systematic review was to examine implementation data from randomized controlled trials evaluating human papillomavirus (HPV) self-collection testing among women in sub-Saharan Africa using the RE-AIM (Reach, Efficacy/Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance) framework.

We searched four electronic databases (PubMed, CINAHL, Web of Science, and Global Health) for pragmatic randomized controlled trials that promote HPV self-collection among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Study selection and data extraction were conducted according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses) checklist. Two researchers independently extracted information from each article using a RE-AIM data extraction tool. The reporting of RE-AIM dimensions was summarized and synthesized across included interventions.

We identified 2008 citations, and eight studies were included. These reported on five unique interventions. The five interventions were conducted in five countries: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda. Intervention reach (80%) was the most commonly reported RE-AIM dimension, followed by adoption (56%), efficacy/effectiveness (52%), implementation (47%), and maintenance (0%). All the interventions described increased uptake of HPV testing among study participants (effectiveness). However, the majority of the studies focused on reporting internal validity indicators such as inclusion criteria (100%) and exclusion criteria (100%), and few reported on external validity indicators such as participation rate (40%), intervention cost (40%), staff selection (20%), and cost of maintenance (0%).

Our review highlights the under-reporting of external validity indicators such as participation rate, intervention, and maintenance costs in studies of self-collection for HPV testing among women in SSA. Future research should focus on including factors that highlight internal validity factors and external validity factors to develop a greater understanding of ways to increase not only reach but also implementation and long-term maintenance of these interventions. Such data may advance the translation of HPV interventions into practice and reduce health disparities in SSA. Findings highlight the need for innovative tools such as participatory learning approaches or open challenges to expand knowledge and assessment of external validity indicators to ultimately increase the uptake of HPV testing among women in SSA.

Health system factors that influence diagnostic and treatment intervals in women with breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review

Breast cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa experience long time intervals between their first presentation to a health care facility and the start of cancer treatment. The role of the health system in the increasing treatment time intervals has not been widely investigated. This review aimed to identify existing information on health system factors that influence diagnostic and treatment intervals 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-Analyses (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 diagnostic and treatment intervals 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 diagnostic and treatment intervals among women with breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa are influenced by many related health system factors. Policy makers 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.

Addressing quality in surgical services in sub-Saharan Africa: hospital context and data standardisation matter

In low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs), there remain critical gaps in the quality of surgical care. Comparatively high rates of surgical adverse events occur and are likely highly preventable. There has been substantial focus on improving access to health services, including surgical care in LMICs, yet quality oversight and improvement practices remain limited in these settings.4 Over the past decade, surgical volume has doubled in the most resource-poor settings; between 2004 and 2012, the annual number of operations jumped from 234 million to 313 million, with the biggest growth occurring in countries with the lowest amount of healthcare spending.5 6 This signals a profound shift: whereas prior efforts were focused on infections and maternal health, non-communicable diseases such as cancers and trauma are an increasing priority for LMIC health systems. With the rapid growth in surgical delivery, the quality and safety of care are critically important. Poor outcomes and high morbidity breed mistrust, scepticism and fear among local populations, and thus hinder the mission of health systems to provide timely and essential services, especially risky ones like surgery.

Cerebral aneurysms in Africa: A scoping review

The epidemiology, management, and prognosis of cerebral aneurysms in Africa remain poorly understood. Most data to date has been from modeling studies. The authors aimed to describe the landscape of cerebral aneurysms in Africa based on published literature.

Articles on cerebral aneurysms in Africa from inception to June 9, 2020, were pulled from multiple databases (Medline, World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Library/Global Index Medicus African Journals Online, and Google Scholar). The search results were merged, uploaded into Rayyan. After deduplication, titles and abstracts were screened independently by four reviewers (FDT, USK, IN, NDAB) based on the pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. A full-text review was conducted, followed by data extraction of study, patient, neuroimaging, therapeutic, and prognostic characteristics.

Thirty-three articles were included in the full-text retrieval. These studies were published across 13 (24.0%) countries, notably in Morocco (30.3%, n = 10) and South Africa (15.2%, n = 5), and 14 (42.4%) of them were published on or after 2015. Together, the studies totaled 2289 patients; there was a female predominance in 18 (54.5%) study cohorts, and the most frequently cited aneurysms were located in the internal carotid (12.1%, n = 352) and anterior cerebral arteries (9.5%, n = 275). Open surgery (27.3%, n = 792) was the most widely used option in these studies ahead of coiling (3.2%, n = 94). The reported mortality rate following surgical intervention was 7.9%.

There are few peer-reviewed reports of aneurysm practice and variability in access to cerebral aneurysm care in Africa.

Access to care solutions in healthcare for obstetric care in Africa: A systematic review

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) systems exist to reduce death and disability from life-threatening medical emergencies. Less than 9% of the African population is serviced by an emergency medical services transportation system, and nearly two-thirds of African countries do not have any known EMS system in place. One of the leading reasons for EMS utilization in Africa is for obstetric emergencies. The purpose of this systematic review is to provide a qualitative description and summation of previously described interventions to improve access to care for patients with maternal obstetric emergencies in Africa with the intent of identifying interventions that can innovatively be translated to a broader emergency context.

The protocol was registered in the PROSPERO database (International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews) under the number CRD42018105371. We searched the following electronic databases for all abstracts up to 10/19/2020 in accordance to PRISMA guidelines: PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, Scopus and African Index Medicus. Articles were included if they were focused on a specific mode of transportation or an access-to-care solution for hospital or outpatient clinic care in Africa for maternal or traumatic emergency conditions. Exclusion criteria included in-hospital solutions intended to address a lack of access. Reference and citation analyses were performed, and a data quality assessment was conducted. Data analysis was performed using a qualitative metasynthesis approach.

A total of 6,457 references were imported for screening and 1,757 duplicates were removed. Of the 4,700 studies that were screened against title and abstract, 4,485 studies were excluded. Finally, 215 studies were assessed for full-text eligibility and 152 studies were excluded. A final count of 63 studies were included in the systematic review. In the 63 studies that were included, there was representation from 20 countries in Africa. The three most common interventions included specific transportation solutions (n = 39), community engagement (n = 28) and education or training initiatives (n = 27). Over half of the studies included more than one category of intervention.

Emergency care systems across Africa are understudied and interventions to improve access to care for obstetric emergencies provides important insight into existing solutions for other types of emergency conditions. Physical access to means of transportation, efforts to increase layperson knowledge and recognition of emergent conditions, and community engagement hold the most promise for future efforts at improving emergency access to care.

The role of health service delivery networks in achieving universal health coverage in Africa

Most countries in Africa are faced with health system problems that vary from one to the next. Countries with a low Human Development Index (HDI) seem to be more prone to challenges in health service delivery. To mark its 70th anniversary on World Health Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) selected the theme “Universal Health Coverage (UHC): Everyone, Everywhere” and the slogan “Health for All. ”UHC refers to ensuring that all people have access to needed health services (including prevention, promotion, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliation) of sufficient quality to be effective while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship. UHC is a WHO’s priority objective. Most governments have made it their major goal.

This paper provides a perspective on the challenges of achieving UHC in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It also endeavors to spotlight the successful models of Health Service Delivery Networks (HSDNs) that make significant strides in making progress towards achieving UHC. HSDNs propose models that facilitate the attainment of affordability and accessibility while maintaining quality in delivering health services. Additionally, it brings up to speed the challenges associated with setting up HSDNs in health systems in SSA. It then makes propositions of what measures and strategic approaches should be implemented to strengthen HSDNs in SSA. This paper further argues that UHC is not only technically feasible but it is also attainable if countries embrace HSDNs in SSA.

Neurosurgery in Sub-Saharan Africa – Historical Background and Development of Training Programs in East Africa.

Modern Neurosurgery in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has its roots in the 1960s when Neurosurgeons from Europe set up Units in West Africa and East Africa. While it would be unfair to give credit to some individuals, and inadvertently not naming others, Prof Abdeslam El Khamlichi (1) in his book, “Emerging Neurosurgery in Africa,” quoting Professor Adelola Adeloye (2), provided a valuable account: A French Neurosurgeon, Dr. Courson, set up the first neurosurgical unit in West Africa in Senegal in 1967. He was joined by two other French neurosurgeons, Dr. Claude Cournil and Dr. Alliez, in 1972 and 1975. They trained the first Senegalese Neurosurgeon, Dr. Mamadou Gueye, who joined as a trainee in 1977. Dr. Gueye was to become the first Senegalese Professor and Chairman of the Neurosurgery Department.


In Ivory Coast, the first unit was set up by Dr. Claude Cournil in Abidjan in 1976, having left Dakar. He joined the first Ivorian Neurosurgeon, Dr. Kanga, who set up practice in 1974 in Abidjan. In Ghana, the first Neurosurgical Unit was set up by Ghanaian Neurosurgeon Dr. Osman Mustaffah in 1969. In Nigeria, the first units were set up by Nigerian Neurosurgeon Dr. Latunde Odeku started the service in Ibadan in 1962. He was joined by two other pioneer neurosurgeons, Dr. Adelola Adeloye in 1967 and Dr. Adebayo Ajayi Olumide in 1974. A second department was set up in Lagos by Dr. de Silva and Dr. Nosiru Ojikutu; in 1968, Dr. Samuel C. Ohaegbulam started the third service in Enugu in 1974 (2). In East Africa, Neurosurgical procedures had been carried out by Dr. Peter Clifford, an ENT surgeon, in 1955 (3).
In Kenya, modern Neurosurgery was introduced by Dr. Renato Ruberti, an Italian Neurosurgeon from Napoli, who set up Private practice in the European hospital in Nairobi in 1967 part-time at the King George V Hospital, which served as the National Hospital. He was joined in 1972 by Dr. Jawahar Dar, from New Delhi. The Indian Dr. Jawahar Dar set up the First Neurosurgery Unit at the King George V hospital, renamed Kenyatta National Hospital while teaching at the University of Nairobi. They were joined by Dr. Gerishom Sande, the first Kenyan Neurosurgeon following his training in Belfast, in 1979 (3).
In Uganda, on advice and recommendation of the renowned British Neurosurgeon, Professor Valentine Logue of the Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square, London, was invited by the government in 1968 to advise the establishment of neurosurgery at Mulago Hospital, Dr. Ian Bailey moved to Uganda. He was instrumental in establishing the first neurosurgical unit in Uganda at Mulago Hospital in 1969, equipped with 54 beds for the department of neurosurgery and cardiothoracic surgery (4). He was joined by the first Ugandan Neurosurgeon, Dr. Jovan Kiryabirwe, in 1971, who became the first indigenous Ugandan Neurosurgeon and the first African Neurosurgeon in East and Central Africa. He attended medical school at Makerere University School of Medicine in Kampala and subsequently completed postgraduate training at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Scotland; he also trained at Queens Square with Professor Logue (5).
In Tanzania, the first step towards modern neurosurgery was the establishment of orthopedic and trauma services in 1971 at the
Muhimbili Medical Center (MMC) by Professor Philemon Sarangi (6). At the time, orthopedic surgeons treated most of the cranial and spinal trauma. Over the next few years, several foreign neurosurgeons from Cuba, China, and the Soviet Union spent short stints practicing neurosurgery at MMC. Dr. Reulen, Professor and Chairman of Neurosurgery at University Hospital in Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland, and later in Munich, Germany, provided the impetus for the establishment of a neurosurgery program at MMC teaching in hospital of the University of Dar-es-Salaam and creating a “sandwich” program with training split between national and international centers. He trained Dr. Simpert Kinunda, a plastic surgeon who later became the first Tanzanian with any neurosurgical training.
Peter Kadyanji was the first fully trained Tanzanian neurosurgeon, and he joined MMC in 1985 after completing his training in the Soviet Union. Yadon M. Kohi followed in Kadyanji’s footsteps, graduating from Makerere University and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Dar-es-Salaam. He obtained his FRCS in Ireland and Glasgow and later was appointed as the General Director of the National Commission for Science and Technology. Dr. Mlay was the third neurosurgeon to join MMC in 1989, with a specialty in pediatric neurosurgery. Professor Sarungi was essential to establish the Muhimbili Orthopedic Institute (MOI), which was opened in 1993 and later combined with MMC to become Muhimbili National Hospital, the national institute of neurosurgery, orthopedics, and traumatology.
Several neurosurgeons have practiced at MOI since its founding, including Dr. Abednego Kinasha and Dr. Joseph Kahamba. They, along with Professor Laurence Museru, the Medical Director of MOI, played a pivotal role in laying the foundation for training the current generation of neurosurgeons in Tanzania (6). Contemporary, locally trained neurosurgeons form the core of the specialized expertise in the country. They provide neurosurgical training and care at MOI at several healthcare institutions around the country. There are currently 20 neurosurgeons in the country, 18 of whom are in public service, one at a Mission hospital in Moshi, one in a private hospital (the Aga Khan University Hospital) Dar-es-salaam, and one at the Mnazi Mmoja/NED Institute in Zanzibar. No dedicated neuroscience nurses or beds are available in the country; however, currently, there are eight neurosurgical intensive care unit beds at MOI. An additional 14 at the new hospital within the Muhimbili hospital complex in Dar-es-Salaam opened in 2018. There are 5 CT scanners and 3 MRI scanners available across the country, mainly in Dar-es-Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania.
In Zimbabwe, Dr. Lawrence Frazer Levy, a British neurosurgeon, started in 1956 (Zimbabwe was called Rhodesia). He set up the Neurosurgery Department at the Central Hospital in Harare (Salisbury), becoming its first Professor and Chairman in 1971. He was joined by a young Scottish neurosurgeon, Dr. Carol Auchtertonie, responsible for starting the second unit at the European Hospital in Harare. The two served patients from Zimbabwe and neighboring Zambia, Malawi, and others for quite a long time (2). From these early beginnings, progress in neurosurgery remained slow, with only a handful of neurosurgeons available in SSA. In 1959, Professor Adelola Adeloye noted that there were only 20 neurosurgeons all across Africa, the majority practicing in South Africa (2). It is against this backdrop that the need to develop neurosurgical care in Sub-Saharan Africa came into focus.