Application of the research electronic data capture (REDCap) system in a low- and middle income country– experiences, lessons, and challenges

The challenges of reliably collecting, storing, organizing, and analyzing research data are critical in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa where several healthcare and biomedical research organizations have limited data infrastructure. The Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) System has been widely used by many institutions and hospitals in the USA for data collection, entry, and management and could help solve this problem. This study reports on the experiences, challenges, and lessons learned from establishing and applying REDCap for a large US-Nigeria research partnership that includes two sites in Nigeria, (the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos (CMUL) and Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH)) and Northwestern University (NU) in Chicago, Illinois in the United States. The largest challenges to this implementation were significant technical obstacles: the lack of REDCap-trained personnel, transient electrical power supply, and slow/ intermittent internet connectivity. However, asynchronous communication and on-site hands-on collaboration between the Nigerian sites and NU led to the successful installation and configuration of REDCap to meet the needs of the Nigerian sites. An example of one lesson learned is the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) as a solution to poor internet connectivity at one of the sites, and its adoption is underway at the other. Virtual Private Servers (VPS) or shared online hosting were also evaluated and offer alternative solutions. Installing and using REDCap in LMIC institutions for research data management is feasible; however, planning for trained personnel and addressing electrical and internet infrastructural requirements are essential to optimize its use. Building this fundamental research capacity within LMICs across Africa could substantially enhance the potential for more cross-institutional and cross-country collaboration in future research endeavors.

Misconceptions About Traumatic Brain Injuries in Five Sub-Saharan African Countries

Background
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) remains a significant problem in certain regions of the world but receives little attention despite its enormous burden. This discrepancy could consequently lead to various misconceptions among the general public. This study evaluated misconceptions about TBI in five African countries.

Methods
Data for this cross-sectional study were collected using the Common Misconception about Traumatic Brain Injury (CM-TBI) questionnaire, which was electronically disseminated from January 16 to February 6, 2021. Associations between the percentage of correct answers and independent variables (i.e., sociodemographic characteristics and experience with TBI) were evaluated with the ANOVA test. Additionally, answers to the question items were compared against independent variables using the Chi-Square test. A P-value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results
A total of 817 adults, 50.2% female (n=410), aged 24.3 ± 4.3 years, and majoritarily urban dwellers (94.6%, n=773) responded to the survey. They had received tertiary education (79.2%, n=647) and were from Nigeria (77.7%, n=635). Respondents had few misconceptions (mean correct answers=71.7%, 95% CI=71.0-72.4%) and the amnesia domain had the highest level of misconception (39.3%, 95% CI=37.7-40.8%). Surveyees whose friends had TBI were more knowledgeable about TBI (mean score difference=4.1%, 95% CI=1.2-6.9, P=0.01). Additionally, surveyees whose family members had experienced TBI had a better understanding of brain damage (mean score difference=5.7%, 95% CI=2.1-9.2%, P=0.002) and recovery (mean score difference=4.3%, 95% CI=0.40-8.2%, P=0.03).

Conclusion
This study identified some misconceptions about TBI among young adult Africans. This at-risk population should benefit from targeted education strategies to prevent TBI and reduce TBI patients' stigmatization in Africa.

Improving knowledge about breast cancer and breast self examination in female Nigerian adolescents using peer education: a pre-post interventional study

Background
Prevention of BC of which the cornerstone is creating awareness and early detection is important in adolescents and young women because of their worse outcomes. Early detection strategies such as mammography are currently beyond the reach of most women in sub-Saharan Africa.. Lack of awareness and late presentation contribute to the poor outcomes. Awareness creation among adolescents may result in modification of some risk factors for BC with adoption of healthy life styles including accessing early detection activities. This study determined the effect of peer education as a strategy to create awareness on BC and breast self examination (BSE) among in-school female adolescents in Benin City.

Methods
This was a pre-post interventional study carried out in October –December 2016 on female students of four secondary schools in Benin City. Pre-peer training, using a pre-tested self-administered questionnaire, knowledge about BC and BSE was assessed in about 30% of each school population. This was followed by training of 124 students selected from the schools (one student per class) as peer trainers. The peer trainers provided training on BC and BSE (the intervention) for their classmates. Within two weeks of peer training knowledge about BC and BSE was reassessed in 30% of each school population. Selection of students for assessment pre and post intervention was by systematic sampling. Correct knowledge was scored and presented as percentages. Chi square test, student t test and ANOVA were used to assess associations and test differences with level of significance set at p < 0.05.

Results
There were 1337 and 1201 students who responded to the pre and post-training questionnaires respectively. The mean BC knowledge score (20.61 ± 13.4) prior to training was low and it statistically significantly improved to 55.93 ± 10.86 following training p < 0.0001 Following peer training, statistically significant improvement (p 0.037- < 0.001) occurred in most knowledge domains apart from symptomatology. Pre-peer training 906(67.8%) students knew about BSE but only 67(4.8%). Significantly more students 1134(94.7%) knew about BSE following peer training.

Conclusions
Peer education strategy can be used to improve BC and BSE knowledge in adolescents. This strategy is low cost and could be very useful in low resource settings.

Qualitative exploration of health system response to COVID-19 pandemic applying the WHO health systems framework: Case study of a Nigerian state

Pandemics can result in significantly high rates of morbidity and mortality with higher impact in Lower- and Middle-Income Countries like Nigeria. Health systems have an important role in a multi-sector response to pandemics, as there are already concerns that COVID-19 will significantly divert limited health care resources. This study appraised the readiness and resilience of the Nigerian health system to the COVID-19 pandemic, using Oyo State, southwest Nigeria, as a case study. This study was a cross-sectional qualitative study involving key informant and in-depth interviews. Purposive sampling was used in recruiting participants who were members of the Task Force on COVID-19 in the state and Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) members (physicians, nurses, laboratory scientists, “contact tracers”, logistic managers) and other partners. The state’s health system response to COVID 19 was assessed using the WHO health systems framework. Audio recordings of the interviews done in English were transcribed and thematic analysis of these transcripts was carried out using NVIVO software. Results show that the state government responded promptly by putting in place measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the response was not adequate owing to the fact that the health system has already been weakened by various challenges like poor funding of the health system, shortage of human resources and inadequate infrastructure. These contributed to the health system’s sub-optimal response to the pandemic. In order to arm the health system for adequate and appropriate response during major health disasters like pandemics, fundamental pillars of the health system-finance, human resources, information and technology, medical equipment and leadership – need to be addressed in order to have a resilient health system.

Medical Brain Drain and its Effect on the Nigerian Healthcare Sector

Nigeria suffers from a huge brain drain issue across different sectors, particularly in the healthcare sector. The WHO assessed that there is a current shortage of 2.8 million physicians in the world A heuristic phenomenological method was used in this study to explore the lived experiences of 12 Nigerian healthcare practitioners that migrated to the United States. The push-pull theory served as the theoretical framework that grounded this study. The central research questions for this study focused primarily on the reasons healthcare practitioners are leaving Nigeria and what the impact of those decisions have on the Nigerian healthcare sector. Qualitative data were collected and analyzed identified three emerging themes: (a) challenges of living in Nigeria; (b) lack of government support; and (c) reality of knowledge gap. The participants were selected by using a purposive and snowball sampling method, and a semi-structure interview was used to collect data from the participants. The study used Moustakas’s heuristic phenomenological approach, which allowed the use of thematic analysis to record and identify passages of the text that fell into categories. The finding from the research puts the brain drain phenomenon on the Nigerian government and its lack of support in rebuilding the healthcare system. Recommendations were made based on the emergent themes on how the government can work with Nigerians in the diaspora to help strengthen the Nigerian healthcare sector and to create worthwhile policies/laws/regulations that will help build the country. Implication for positive social change include the creation of jobs for young Nigerians and creating proper policies and wage scale so that they can be on par with their counterpart

From the breast to the upper jaw: A rare case of metastatic breast cancer

Breast cancer is the commonest malignancy in women globally. Metastases of advanced breast carcinoma to bones, lungs and liver are well known but spread to maxillary bone presenting as maxillary sinus and palatal swelling is rare. We present a case of advanced breast carcinoma in a female Nigerian with clinical, radiological and histopathological features of lung and right maxillary bone metastases. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of metastatic breast cancer to the lungs and maxilla in Nigeria. The debilitating sequelae of advanced untreated breast carcinoma in a resource limited setting with suboptimal comprehensive cancer care are highlighted.

Opportunities For Improvement in The Administration of Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy For T4 Breast Cancer: A Comparison of The United States and Nigeria

BACKGROUND
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) is an integral component of T4 breast cancer (BCa) treatment. We compared response to NAC for T4 BCa in the U.S. and Nigeria to direct future interventions.

MATERIALS AND METHODS
Cross‐sectional retrospective analysis included all non‐metastatic T4 BCa patients treated from 2010‐2016 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York, U.S.) and Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex (Ile Ife, Nigeria). Pathologic complete response (pCR) and survival were compared and factors contributing to disparities evaluated.

RESULTS
308 patients met inclusion criteria: 157 (51%) in the U.S. and 151 (49%) in Nigeria. All U.S. patients received NAC and surgery compared with 93 (62%) Nigerian patients. 56/93 (60%) Nigerian patients completed their prescribed course of NAC. In Nigeria, older age and higher socioeconomic status were associated with treatment receipt.

Fewer patients in Nigeria had immunohistochemistry performed (100% U.S. vs. 18% Nigeria). Of those with available receptor subtype, 18% (28/157) of U.S. patients were triple negative vs. 39% (9/23) of Nigerian patients. Overall pCR was seen in 27% (42/155) of U.S. patients and 5% (4/76) of Nigerian patients. Five‐year survival was significantly shorter in Nigeria vs. the U.S. (61% vs. 72%). However, among the subset of patients who received multimodality therapy, including NAC and surgery with curative intent, 5‐year survival (67% vs. 72%) and 5‐year recurrence‐free survival (48% vs. 61%) did not significantly differ between countries.

CONCLUSION
Addressing health system, socioeconomic, and psychosocial barriers is necessary for administration of complete NAC to improve BCa outcomes in Nigeria.

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

1 INTRODUCTION
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.

2 | REGIONS BEGINS

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.

Measuring barriers to fistula care: investigating composite measures for targeted fistula programming in Nigeria and Uganda

Background
Accessing surgical repair poses challenges to women living with female genital fistula who experience intersectional vulnerabilities including poverty, gender, stigma and geography. Barriers to fistula care have been described qualitatively in several low- and middle-income countries, but limited effort has been made to quantify these factors. This study aimed to develop and validate composite measures to assess barriers to accessing fistula repair in Nigeria and Uganda.

Methods
This quantitative study built on qualitative findings to content validate composite measures and investigates post-repair client surveys conducted at tertiary hospitals in Northern and Southern Nigeria and Central Uganda asking women about the degree to which a range of barriers affected their access. An iterative scale development approach included exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses of two samples (n = 315 and n = 142, respectively) using STATA 13 software. Reliability, goodness-of-fit, and convergent and predictive validity were assessed.

Results
A preliminary 43-item list demonstrated face and content validity, triangulated with qualitative data collected prior to and concurrently with survey data. The iterative item reduction approach resulted in the validation of a set of composite measures, including two indices and three sub-scales. These include a Financial/Transport Inaccessibility Index (6 items) and a multidimensional Barriers to Fistula Care Index of 17 items comprised of three latent sub-scales: Limited awareness (4 items), Social abandonment (6 items), and Internalized stigma (7 items). Factor analyses resulted in favorable psychometric properties and good reliability across measures (ordinal thetas: 0.70–0.91). Higher levels of barriers to fistula care are associated with a woman living with fistula for longer periods of time, with age and geographic settings as potential confounders.

Conclusions
This set of composite measures that quantitatively captures barriers to fistula care can be used separately or together in research and programming in low- and middle-income countries.

Perception and Attitude of Surgical Trainees in Nigeria to Trauma Care

Background. Trauma is still the leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 1 and 44 years. Establishment of good trauma centres and systems has been shown to have a significant positive impact on outcomes. Surgical specialties, particularly trauma, are becoming less attractive in different parts of the world for a variety of reasons. Aim.  The aim of this study is to ascertain the perception and attitude of future surgeons towards trauma care in Nigeria. Materials and methods. This is a cross-sectional study using a pretested, structured, paper-based questionnaire which was administered to consecutive surgical trainees at the annual revision course of West African College of Surgeons. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 12, and results are presented in tables and figures. Results. One hundred and fifty-seven questionnaires were adequately completed with a male-to-female ratio of 18 : 1 and median age of 30 years. There is a general agreement among the respondents that trauma incidence in Nigeria is high or very high. While about 70% of the respondents believe that the Nigerian trauma system is poorly planned, about 19% think it is nonexistent. 81 (53.7%) agree or strongly agree that managing trauma patients is too stressful. A good number, 116 (74.4%), strongly agree that having a separate dedicated trauma unit will improve care and outcome. While 82% of the surgical trainees support post fellowship training in trauma, only 62.2% will like to have the training. There is no significant difference between the proportion of males and females who would like to have the training. Conclusion. Surgical trainees in Nigeria have good perception and positive attitude towards trauma care. Primary prevention measures must be emphasized during surgical trainees’ training in trauma.