Patterns, travel to care and factors influencing obstetric referral: Evidence from Nigeria’s most urbanised state

The criticality of referral makes it imperative to study its patterns and factors influencing it at a health systems level. This study of referral in Lagos, Nigeria is based on health records of 4181 pregnant women who presented with obstetric emergencies at one of the 24 comprehensive emergency obstetric care (EmOC) facilities in the state between November 2018 and October 2019 complemented with distance and time data extracted from Google Maps. Univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analyses were conducted. About a quarter of pregnant women who presented with obstetric emergencies were referred. Most referrals were from primary health centres (41.9 %), private (23.5 %) and public (16.2 %) hospitals. Apart from the expected low-level to high-level referral pattern, there were other patterns observed including non-formal, multiple, and post-delivery referrals. Travel time and distance to facilities that could provide needed care increased two-fold on account of referrals compared to scenarios of going directly to the final facility, mostly travelling to these facilities by private cars/taxis (72.8 %). Prolonged/obstructed labour was the commonest obstetric indication for referral, with majority of referred pregnant women delivered via caesarean section (52.9 %). After adjustment, being married, not being registered for antenatal care at facility of care, presenting at night or with a foetus in distress increased the odds of referral. However, parity, presentation in the months following the commissioning of a new comprehensive EmOC facility or with abortion reduced the likelihood of being referred. Our findings underscore the need for health systems strengthening interventions that support women during referral and the importance of antenatal care and early booking to aid identification of potential pregnancy complications whilst establishing robust birth preparedness plans that can minimise the need for referral in the event of emergencies. Indeed, there are context-specific influences that need to be addressed if effective referral systems are to be designed.

Integration of mHealth Information and Communication Technologies Into the Clinical Settings of Hospitals in Sub-Saharan Africa: Qualitative Study

There is a rapid uptake of mobile-enabled technologies in lower- and upper-middle–income countries because of its portability, ability to reduce mobility, and facilitation of communication. However, there is limited empirical evidence on the usefulness of mobile health (mHealth) information and communication technologies (ICTs) to address constraints associated with the work activities of health care professionals at points of care in hospital settings.

This study aims to explore opportunities for integrating mHealth ICTs into the work activities of health care professionals at points of care in clinical settings of hospitals in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, the research question is, “How can mHealth ICTs be integrated into the work activities of health care professionals at points of care in hospital settings?”

A qualitative approach was adopted to understand the work activities and points at which mHealth ICTs could be integrated to support health care professionals. The techniques of inquiry were semistructured interviews and co-design activities. These techniques were used to ensure the participation of frontline end users and determine how mHealth ICTs could be integrated into the point of care in hospital settings. Purposive and snowball sampling techniques were used to select tertiary hospitals and participants for this study from South Africa and Nigeria. A total of 19 participants, including physicians, nurses, and hospital managers, were engaged in the study. Ethical clearance was granted by the University research committee and the respective hospitals. The data collected were sorted and interpreted using thematic analysis and Activity Analysis and Development model.

The findings show that mHealth ICTs are suitable at points where health care professionals consult with patients in the hospital clinics, remote communication is needed, and management of referrals and report writing are required. It was inferred that mHealth ICTs could be negatively disruptive, and some participants perceived the use of mobile devices while engaging with patients as unprofessional. These findings were informed by the outcomes of the interplay between human attributes and technology capabilities during the transformation of the motives of work activity into the intended goal, which is enhanced service delivery.

The opportunities to integrate mHealth ICTs into clinical settings depend on the inefficiencies of interaction moments experienced by health care professionals at points of care during patient consultation, remote communication, referrals, and report writing. Thus, the timeliness of mHealth ICTs to address constraints experienced by health care professionals during work activities should take into consideration the type of work activity and the contextual factors that may result in contradictions in relation to technology features. This study contributes toward the design of mHealth ICTs by industry vendors and its usability evaluation for the work activity outcomes of health care professionals.

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

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.

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.

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).

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.