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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Cost of hospital care of women with postpartum haemorrhage in India, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda: a financial case for improved prevention

Access to quality, effective lifesaving uterotonics in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) remains a major barrier to reducing maternal deaths from postpartum haemorrhage (PPH). Our objective was to assess the costs of care for women who receive different preventative uterotonics, and with PPH and no-PPH so that the differences, if significant, can inform better resource allocation for maternal health care.

The costs of direct hospital care of women who received oxytocin or heat-stable carbetocin for prevention of PPH in selected tertiary care facilities in India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda were assessed. We collected data from all women who had PPH, as well as a random sample of women without PPH. Cost data was collected for the cost of stay, PPH interventions, transfusions and medications for 2966 women. We analyzed the difference in cost of care at a facility level between women who experienced a PPH event and those who did not.

Key findings

The mean cost of care of a woman experiencing PPH in the study sites in India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda exceeded the cost of care of a woman who did not experience PPH by between 21% and 309%. There was a large variation in cost across hospitals within a country and across countries.

Our results quantify the increased cost of PPH of up to 4.1 times that for a birth without PPH. PPH cost information can help countries to evaluate options across different conditions and in the formulation of appropriate guidelines for intrapartum care, including rational selection of quality-assured, effective medicines. This information can be applied to national assessment and adaptation of international recommendations such as the World Health Organization’s recommendations on uterotonics for the prevention of PPH or other interventions used to treat PPH.

Correlation of prostate volume with severity of lower urinary tract symptoms as measured by international prostate symptoms score and maximum urine flow rate among patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia

The aim of the study is to find the correlation between the prostate volume and severity of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) as measured by international prostate symptoms score and maximum urine flow rate among patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

The study was a prospective correlational study conducted between June 2016 and November 2017. A total of 290 patients who presented with LUTS suggestive of BPH and satisfied the inclusion criteria were consecutively recruited. Clinical evaluation including digital rectal examination of the prostate was done. Symptoms severity was assessed using the self-administered international prostate symptoms score (IPSS) questionnaire. Prostate volume was determined by transrectal ultrasound scan, and the urine flow rate was measured using uroflowmeter. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 20.0, and p value < 0.05 was taken to be statistically significant.

The mean age of the patients was 64.22 ± 9.04 years with a range of 40 to 95 years. Most of the patients had moderate symptoms (55%) on IPSS with the mean IPSS value of 16.41 ± 7.43. The mean Qmax value was 16.55 ± 7.41 ml/s, and the median prostate volume (IQR) was 45.05 (35, 59). There was a positive significant correlation between prostate volume and IPSS (r = 0.179, p = 0.002) and a negative significant correlation between prostate volume and Qmax (r = − 0.176, p = 0.003).

This study showed a significant correlation between the prostate volume and IPSS, and also between prostate volume and maximum flow rate (Qmax).

Postoperative acute multiple organ failure after hepatectomy in a Nigerian male with sickle cell trait: a case report

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a monogenic disease characterized by sickle hemoglobin (HbS). Patients homozygous for HbS experience symptoms resulting from sickled erythrocytes no later than adolescence. However, heterozygous HbS carriers, or those with the so-called sickle cell trait (SCT), may undergo surgery without their hemoglobinopathy being known.

Case presentation
A 53-year-old Nigerian male with hepatitis C infection underwent radiofrequency ablation therapy for multiple hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) 17 months prior. Follow-up computed tomography (CT) revealed a solitary tumor (3.2 cm) in the medial section of the cirrhotic liver. The Child–Pugh score was five, and the indocyanine green retention rate at 15 min was 17.4%. The nontumorous liver of the medial section accounted for 10% of the total liver volume according to CT volumetry. With the diagnosis of recurrent HCC, left medial sectionectomy was performed under intermittent blood flow occlusion by Pringle’s maneuver. Intraoperative ultrasonography confirmed that hepatic blood flow had been preserved after hepatectomy. However, laboratory tests on postoperative day (POD) 1 revealed severe liver damage: aspartate aminotransferase 9250 IU/L, alanine aminotransferase 6120 IU/L, total bilirubin 2.8 mg/dL, and prothrombin time% 20.9%. The patient’s renal and respiratory functions also deteriorated; therefore, continuous hemodiafiltration and plasma exchange were initiated under mechanical ventilation. Whole-body contrast-enhanced CT showed no apparent ischemia of the remnant liver, but diffuse cerebral infarction was detected. Despite intensive treatments, he died of multiple organ failure on POD 20. The pathological examination of the resected specimen revealed that the intrahepatic peripheral vessels were occluded by sickled erythrocytes. Additionally, chromatographic analysis of hemoglobin detected the presence of abnormal hemoglobin, although microscopic examination of the peripheral blood erythrocytes did not show morphological abnormalities. Based on these findings, we determined that he had SCT and developed vaso-occlusive crisis involving multiple organs just after hepatectomy.

SCD is a rare disease in eastern Asia, but its prevalence is increasing globally. Surgeons should pay increased attention to this disease, especially when performing hepatectomy under blood flow occlusion.

The influence of travel time to health facilities on stillbirths: A geospatial case-control analysis of facility-based data in Gombe, Nigeria

Access to quality emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC); having a skilled attendant at birth (SBA); adequate antenatal care; and efficient referral systems are considered the most effective interventions in preventing stillbirths. We determined the influence of travel time from mother’s area of residence to a tertiary health facility where women sought care on the likelihood of delivering a stillbirth. We carried out a prospective matched case-control study between 1st January 2019 and 31st December 2019 at the Federal Teaching Hospital Gombe (FTHG), Nigeria. All women who experienced a stillbirth after hospital admission during the study period were included as cases while controls were consecutive age-matched (ratio 1:1) women who experienced a live birth. We modelled travel time to health facilities. To determine how travel time to the nearest health facility and the FTHG were predictive of the likelihood of stillbirths, we fitted a conditional logistic regression model. A total of 318 women, including 159 who had stillborn babies (cases) and 159 age-matched women who had live births (controls) were included. We did not observe any significant difference in the mean travel time to the nearest government health facility for women who had experienced a stillbirth compared to those who had a live birth [9.3 mins (SD 7.3, 11.2) vs 6.9 mins (SD 5.1, 8.7) respectively, p = 0.077]. However, women who experienced a stillbirth had twice the mean travel time of women who had a live birth (26.3 vs 14.5 mins) when measured from their area of residence to the FTHG where deliveries occurred. Women who lived farther than 60 minutes were 12 times more likely of having a stillborn [OR = 12 (1.8, 24.3), p = 0.011] compared to those who lived within 15 minutes travel time to the FTHG. We have shown for the first time, the influence of travel time to a major tertiary referral health facility on the occurrence of stillbirths in an urban city in, northeast Nigeria

Maintaining paediatric cardiac services during the COVID-19 pandemic in a developing country in sub-Saharan Africa: guidelines for a “scale up” in the face of a global “scale down”

The COVID-19 pandemic is currently ravaging the globe and the African continent is not left out. While the direct effects of the pandemic in regard to morbidity and mortality appear to be more significant in the developed world, the indirect harmful effects on already insufficient healthcare infrastructure on the African continent would in the long term be more detrimental to the populace. Women and children form a significant vulnerable population in underserved areas such as the sub-Saharan region, and expectedly will experience the disadvantages of limited healthcare coverage which is a major fall out of the pandemic. Paediatric cardiac services that are already sparse in various sub-Saharan countries are not left out of this downsizing. Restrictions on international travel for patients out of the continent to seek medical care and for international experts into the continent for regular mission programmes leave few options for children with cardiac defects to get the much-needed care.

There is a need for a region-adapted guideline to scale-up services to cater for more children with congenital heart disease (CHD) while providing a safe environment for healthcare workers, patients, and their caregivers. This article outlines measures adapted to maintain paediatric cardiac care in a sub-Saharan tertiary centre in Nigeria during the COVID-19 pandemic and will serve as a guide for other institutions in the region who will inadvertently need to provide these services as the demand increases.

Feasibility and Safety of Prosthetic Implants forInguinal Hernia Repair in a Nigerian Tertiary Hospital

Background: Worldwide, inguinal hernia repair is the commonest surgical procedure in general surgery, but the optimal repair technique for inguinal hernia has not been defined and accepted in most parts of Africa and other developing nations. The aim of this study was to determine the epidemiology of inguinal hernias and feasibility of mesh implants in our centre.

Methodology: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study of consecutive adult patients with uncomplicated inguinal hernias who received polypropylene mesh for repair of their inguinal hernias. Selection criteria included inguinoscrotal/inguinolabial hernia, recurrent or bilateral hernia or bubunoceles with wide defects. Descriptive statistics and tests of significance were done.

Results: Inguinal hernia represented 77.3% of all abdominal wall hernias encountered during the study. However, only 27.8% (100 patients) of the 360 patients that satisfied the inclusion criteria received mesh implants. Of the 100 patients studied, 31% had recurrent hernias, 48% harbored complete inguinoscrotal/inguinolabial hernia while 13% had incomplete inguinoscrotal hernia. Majority (86%) had unilateral hernia.The annual repair rates using mesh implants increased progressively from 4% in 2013 to 40% in 2017. A quarter (25%) had comorbidities. Majority (60%) of repairs were under general anesthesia. The overall postoperative complication rate was 14%. Wound infection rate was 3.5%. There was statistically significant difference in the rates of wound-related events between recurrent and primary inguinal hernias (p=0.000). There was no mortality or recurrence recorded in this study.

Conclusion: The uptake of mesh implants for inguinal hernia repair in our environment is low, though the trend is changing with higher proportions of patients accepting mesh implants in recent time. Elective inguinal hernia surgery with polypropylene mesh is feasible, safe, effective and reproducible in our setting.

Implementing oncology clinical trials in Nigeria: a model for capacity building

Background: There is both higher mortality and morbidity from cancer in low and medium income countries (LMICs) compared with high income countries (HICs). Clinical trial activities and development of more effective and less toxic therapies have led to significant improvements in morbidity and mortality from cancer in HICs. Unfortunately, clinical trials remain low in LMICs due to poor infrastructure and paucity of experienced personnel to execute clinical trials. There is an urgent need to build local capacity for evidence-based treatment for cancer patients in LMICs.

Methods: We conducted a survey at facilities in four Teaching Hospitals in South West Nigeria using a checklist of information on various aspects of clinical trial activities. The gaps identified were addressed using resources sourced in partnership with investigators at HIC institutions.

Results: Deficits in infrastructure were in areas of patient care such as availability of oncology pharmacists, standard laboratories and diagnostic facilities, clinical equipment maintenance and regular calibrations, trained personnel for clinical trial activities, investigational products handling and disposals and lack of standard operating procedures for clinical activities. There were two GCP trained personnel, two study coordinators and one research pharmacist across the four sites. Interventions were instituted to address the observed deficits in all four sites which are now well positioned to undertake clinical trials in oncology. Training on all aspects of clinical trial was also provided.

Conclusions: Partnerships with institutions in HICs can successfully identify, address, and improve deficits in infrastructure for clinical trial in LMICs. The HICs should lead in providing funds, mentorship, and training for LMIC institutions to improve and expand clinical trials in LMIC countries.

Inverted flap technique with air tamponade and one day face down positioning for posttraumatic macular hole surgery in a young male patient in sub-Saharan Africa

Introduction: Surgery has been the mainstay of macular hole treatment since the first description of its success. Different techniques are, however, described. Our case report looks into the use of the inverted flap technique for managing patients with posttraumatic full thickness macular holes with a single day supervised face down positioning and air tamponade.

Case Report: A 32-year-old young man sustained blunt ocular trauma to his left eye while under training seven months prior to presentation with reduced central vision and metamorphopsia. On examination visual acuities were best corrected 6/6 in the right and 6/60 in the left, anterior segments were normal. Fundoscopy revealed flat retinae, and extensive linear chorioretina scars in the posterior pole suggestive of healed choroidal ruptures and a posttraumatic stage 4 full thickness macular hole (FTMH) in the left. The FTMH measured 877 μm on optical coherence tomography (OCT). The patient had a macular hole surgery using the inverted flap technique with one-day face down positioning and air tamponade. Significant hole closure was seen in the first postoperative week and by six weeks after surgery, the macular hole was fully closed and vision improved to 6/6 best corrected. The inverted flap technique with air tamponade and one day face down positioning can offer another option to retina surgeons treating complex macular holes. Early visual recovery and ability to undertake air travel immediately after surgery is an additional advantage.

Conclusion: Using the inverted flap technique for surgery provides surgeons with another option for repair of complex FTMHs, like those secondary to trauma that have been known to respond poorly to initial standard repair.