Hands-On Training Courses for Cervical Cancer Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Procedures in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

In 2018, there were approximately 570,000 new cases of cervical cancer worldwide. More than 85% of cases occurred in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), primarily because of poor access to screening and a limited number of medical providers trained to diagnose and treat cervical precancerous lesions. Our objective was to provide locally arranged, hands-on training courses for medical providers in LMICs to learn to perform cervical cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment procedures. The courses included didactic lectures and hands-on training stations using low-cost simulation models developed by bioengineers and students at Rice University in Houston, TX, United States, and the Malawi Polytechnic in Blantyre, Malawi. The hands-on training stations included visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA), colposcopy, cervical biopsy, endocervical curettage, loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), and thermal ablation. Provider pre- and postcourse confidence levels in performing the procedures were evaluated. From February 2017 to January 2020, we arranged 15 hands-on training courses in seven cities across six countries (El Salvador, Mozambique, Trinidad and Tobago, Lesotho, Malawi, and Nepal). Overall, there were 506 participants. The average number of participants per course was 38 (range 19-92). The participants included doctors, nurses, and midwives. The course duration varied from 1 to 3 days. Increased confidence in performing VIA, colposcopy and cervical biopsy, ablation, and LEEP was reported by 69%, 71%, 61%, and 76% of participants, respectively. Our findings suggest that locally arranged, hands-on cervical cancer prevention training courses in LMICs can improve provider confidence in performing cervical cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment procedures. These courses are part of a larger strategy to build local capacity for delivering and improving cervical cancer prevention services in LMICs.

Knowledge, awareness, attitudes and screening practices towards breast and cervical cancer among women in Nepal: a scoping review

Aim
Breast and cervical cancers have emerged as major global health challenges and disproportionately affect women in low- and middle-income countries, including Nepal. This scoping review aimed to map the knowledge, attitudes and screening practices for these cancers among Nepali women to improve cancer outcomes and reduce inequality.

Methods
Five electronic databases (CINAHL, Embase, Global Health, PsycINFO and PubMed), grey literature, and reference and citation lists were searched for articles published in English up to June 2021. Articles were screened against inclusion/exclusion criteria, and data from eligible studies were extracted. Results were summarised narratively.

Results
The search yielded 615 articles, 38 of which were included in this scoping review (27 cervical cancer, 10 breast cancer, 1 both cancers). Levels of knowledge regarding breast and cervical varied widely. The main knowledge gaps were misconceptions about symptoms and risk factors, and poor understanding of screening behaviours. Screening practices were mostly inadequate due to socio-cultural, geographical or financial barriers. Positive attitudes towards cervical screening were associated with higher education and increased knowledge of screening modalities. Higher levels of knowledge, (health) literacy and participation in awareness campaigns facilitated breast cancer screening.

Conclusion
Knowledge and screening practices for breast and cervical cancer among Nepali women were poor and highlight the need for awareness and education programmes. Future research should explore community health worker-led awareness and screening interventions for cervical cancer, and programmes to increase the practice of breast self-examination and clinical breast examinations to support early diagnosis of breast cancer.

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

Introduction
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.

Methods
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.

Results
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%).

Conclusions
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.

Looking ahead in the COVID-19 pandemic: emerging lessons learned for sexual and reproductive health services in low- and middle-income countries

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread disruption to essential health service provision globally, including in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Recognising the criticality of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, we review the actual reported impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on SRH service provision and evidence of adaptations that have been implemented to date. Across LMICs, the available data suggests that there was a reduction in access to SRH services, including family planning (FP) counselling and contraception access, and safe abortion during the early phase of the pandemic, especially when movement restrictions were in place. However, services were quickly restored, or alternatives to service provision (adaptations) were explored in many LMICs. Cases of gender-based violence (GBV) increased, with one in two women reporting that they have or know a woman who has experienced violence since the beginning of the pandemic. As per available evidence, many adaptations that have been implemented to date have been digitised, focused on getting SRH services closer to women. Through the pandemic, several LMIC governments have provided guidelines to support SRH service delivery. In addition, non-governmental organisations working in SRH programming have played significant roles in ensuring SRH services have been sustained by implementing several interventions at different levels of scale and to varying success. Most adaptations have focused on FP, with limited attention placed on GBV. Many adaptations have been implemented based on guidance and best practices and, in many cases, leveraged evidence-based interventions. However, some adaptations appear to have simply been the sensible thing to do. Where evaluations have been carried out, many have highlighted increased outputs and efficiency following the implementation of various adaptations. However, there is limited published evidence on their effectiveness, cost, value for money, acceptability, feasibility, and sustainability. In addition, the pandemic has been viewed as a homogenous event without recognising its troughs and waves or disentangling effects of response measures such as lockdowns from the pandemic itself. As the pandemic continues, neglected SRH services like those targeting GBV need to be urgently scaled up, and those being implemented with any adaptations should be rigorously tested.

Prevalence and Factors Associated With Caesarean Delivery in Nepal: Evidence From a Nationally Representative Sample

Background
Caesarian sections (CS) are life-saving management for a pregnant mother and fetus subject to obstetric complications. The World Health Organization (WHO) expected CS rates not to exceed 10 to 15 per 100 live births in any country. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of CS and its associated factors from the 2016 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), building on previous studies mentioned in detail in the latter part of the paper.

Methods
This study analyzed the secondary data from the 2016 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), conducted from June 19, 2016, to January 31, 2017. The survey is undertaken every five years; consequently, the data capture the information in the previous five years from the data collection period. We used the 2016 NDHS, which is implemented by the new Enumeration Area (EA) under the support of the Ministry of Health (MOH) and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In the rural areas, the sample is stratified and selected in two stages. In the first stage, wards are selected as the primary sampling units (PSU), with households subsequently chosen from the PSUs. In the urban areas, the sample is nominated in three stages. In the first stage, wards are selected as PSUs; in the second stage, one EA is chosen from each PSU, and finally, households are selected from the EAs. Then data were collected from the women in the reproductive age group within the selected households.

Results
The prevalence of CS in Nepal conforms to the WHO standard with 7.8, 7.5, and 8.1 per 100 deliveries, or 9.8, 8.9, and 9.1 per women’s last births in the previous one, three, and five years, respectively. Older mothers of 30 years old or more, having high incomes, being overweight and obese, using the internet, ante-natal care (ANC) visits of more than four times, ANC by doctors, twin delivery, and having babies of 4 kg or more, had higher odds for a CS while having two or more children seemed to be protective towards CS.

Conclusion
These findings can be used to update health policies surrounding CS delivery to limit unnecessary CS and ensure better health as CS is not without complications

Exploring the lived experiences of pregnant women and community health care providers during the pandemic of COVID-19 in Bangladesh through a phenomenological analysis

Background
Like many countries, the government of Bangladesh also imposed stay-at-home orders to restrict the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (COVID-19) in March, 2020. Epidemiological studies were undertaken to estimate the early possible unforeseen effects on maternal mortality due to the disruption of services during the lockdown. Little is known about the constraints faced by the pregnant women and community health workers in accessing and providing basic obstetric services during the pandemic in the country. This study was conducted to explore the lived experience of pregnant women and community health care providers from two southern districts of Bangladesh during the pandemic of COVID-19.

Methods
The study participants were recruited through purposive sampling and non-structured in-depth interviews were conducted. Data was collected over the telephone from April to June, 2020. The data collected was analyzed through a phenomenological approach.

Results
Our analysis shows that community health care providers are working under tremendous strains of work load, fear of getting infected and physical and mental fatigue in a widely disrupted health system. Despite the fear of getting infected, the health workers are reluctant to wear personal protective suits because of gender norms. Similarly, the lived experience of pregnant women shows that they are feeling helpless; the joyful event of pregnancy has suddenly turned into a constant fear and stress. They are living in a limbo of hope and despair with a belief that only God could save their lives.

Conclusion
The results of the study present the vulnerability of pregnant women and health workers during the pandemic. It recognizes the challenges and constraints, emphasizing the crucial need for government and non-government organizations to improve maternal and newborn health services to protect the pregnant women and health workers as they face predicted waves of the pandemic in the futur

Experiences of women seeking care for abortion complications in health facilities: Secondary analysis of the WHO Multi-Country Survey on Abortion in 11 African countries

Objective
Despite evidence of acute and long-term consequences of suboptimal experiences of care, standardized measurements across countries remain limited, particularly for postabortion care. We aimed to determine the proportion of women reporting negative experiences of care for abortion complications, identify risk factors, and assess the potential association with complication severity.

Methods
Data were sourced from the WHO Multi-Country Survey on Abortion for women who received facility-based care for abortion complications in 11 African countries. We measured women’s experiences of care with eight questions from an audio computer-assisted self-interview related to respect, communication, and support. Multivariable generalized estimating equations were used for analysis.

Results
There were 2918 women in the study sample and 1821 (62%) reported at least one negative experience of postabortion care. Participants who were aged under 30 years, single, of low socioeconomic status, and economically dependent had higher odds of negative experiences. Living in West or Central Africa, rather than East Africa, was also associated with reportedly worse care. The influence of complication severity on experience of care appeared significant, such that women with moderate and severe complications had 12% and 40% higher odds of reporting negative experiences, respectively.

Conclusion
There were widespread reports of negative experiences of care among women receiving treatment for abortion complications in health facilities. Our findings contribute to the scant understanding of the risk factors for negative experiences of postabortion care and highlight the need to address harmful provider biases and behaviors, alleviate health system constraints, and empower women in demanding better care.

Individual and facility-level factors associated with women’s receipt of immediate postpartum family planning counseling in Ethiopia: results from national surveys of women and health facilities

Background
Immediate postpartum family planning (IPPFP) helps prevent unintended and closely spaced pregnancies. Despite Ethiopia’s rising facility-based delivery rate and supportive IPPFP policies, the prevalence of postpartum contraceptive use remains low, with little known about disparities in access to IPPFP counseling. We sought to understand if women’s receipt of IPPFP counseling varied by individual and facility characteristics.

Methods
We used weighted linked household and facility data from the national Performance Monitoring for Action Ethiopia (PMA-Ethiopia) study. Altogether, 936 women 5–9 weeks postpartum who delivered at a government facility were matched to the nearest facility offering labor and delivery care, corresponding to the facility type in which each woman reported delivering (n = 224 facilities). We explored women’s receipt of IPPFP counseling and individual and facility-level characteristics utilizing descriptive statistics. The relationship between women’s receipt of IPPFP counseling and individual and facility factors were assessed through multivariate, multilevel models.

Results
Approximately one-quarter of postpartum women received IPPFP counseling (27%) and most women delivered government health centers (59%). Nearly all facilities provided IPPFP services (94%); most had short- and long-acting methods available (71 and 87%, respectively) and no recent stockouts (60%). Multivariate analyses revealed significant disparities in IPPFP counseling with lower odds of counseling among primiparous women, those who delivered vaginally, and women who did not receive delivery care from a doctor or health officer (all p < 0.05). Having never used contraception was marginally associated with lower odds of receiving IPPFP counseling (p < 0.10). IPPFP counseling did not differ by age, residence, method availability, or facility type, after adjusting for other individual and facility factors.

Conclusion
Despite relatively widespread availability of IPPFP services in Ethiopia, receipt of IPPFP counseling remains low. Our results highlight important gaps in IPPFP care, particularly among first-time mothers, women who have never used contraception, women who delivered vaginally, and those who did not receive delivery care from a doctor or health officer. As facility births continue to rise in Ethiopia, health systems and providers must ensure that equitable, high-quality IPPFP services are offered to all women.

Operational research on the uptake of kangaroo mother care for small babies along the health facility-community continuum in a selected sub-district of northern Karnataka, India

Introduction: Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) scale-up is a proposed game changer for accelerating reduction in neonatal mortality rate. This operational research study aimed to identify determinants of KMC practice for small babies with birth weight less than 2000 gms (4weeks at home [30.2 (±8.4) days]. Early KMC initiation (≤3days of life), effective KMC (≥8hours skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breastfeeding) 24hours before discharge and ≥8hours KMC a week after discharge were observed for those hospitalised in public health facilities. Knowledge, attitude, and skills of HCWs were found to be key determinants of KMC practice. Support for KMC at the health facility was associated with early KMC initiation and ≥8 hours KMC before discharge. Conclusion: Findings from this study concluded that the support mothers received from HCWs who were competent are key determinants for KMC practice along the health facility-community continuum. Context specific implications for policy, practice, education, and further research have been identified as appropriate.

Surgical Capacity in Rural Southeast Nigeria: Barriers and New Opportunities

Background: Remarkable gains have been made in global health with respect to provision of essential and emergency surgical and anesthesia care. At the same time, little has been written about the state of surgical care, or the potential strategies for scale-up of surgical services in sub-Saharan Africa, southeast Nigeria inclusive.

Objective: The aim was to document the state of surgical care at district hospitals in southeast Nigeria.

Methods: We surveyed 13 district hospitals using the World Health Organization (WHO) tool for situational analysis developed by the “Lancet Commission on Global Surgery” initiative to assess surgical care in rural Southeast Nigeria. A systematic literature review of scientific literatures and policy documents was performed. Extraction was performed for all articles relating to the five National Surgical, Obstetric and Anesthesia Plans (NSOAPs) domains: infrastructure, service delivery, workforce, information management and financing.

Findings: Of the 13 facilities investigated, there were six private, four mission and three public hospitals. Though all the facilities were connected to the national power grid, all equally suffered electricity interruption ranging from 10–22 hours daily. Only 15.4% and 38.5% of the 13 hospitals had running water and blood bank services, respectively. Only two general surgeon and two orthopedic surgeons covered all the facilities. Though most of the general surgical procedures were performed in private and mission hospitals, the majority of the public hospitals had limited ability to do the same. Orthopedic procedures were practically non-existent in public hospitals. None of the facilities offered inhalational anesthetic technique. There was no designated record unit in 53.8% of facilities and 69.2% had no trained health record officer.

Conclusion: Important deficits were observed in infrastructure, service delivery, workforce and information management. There were indirect indices of gross inadequacies in financing as w