Functional recovery after cesarean delivery: a prospective cohort study in rural Rwanda

Background
Women who deliver via cesarean section (c-section) experience short- and long-term complications that may affect their physical health and their ability to function normally. While physical health outcomes are routinely assessed and monitored, postpartum functional outcomes are not well understood from a patient’s perspective or characterized by clinicians. In Rwanda, 11% of rural women deliver via c-section. This study explores the functional recovery of rural Rwandan women after c-section and assesses factors that predict poor functionality at postoperative day (POD) 30.

Methods
Data were collected prospectively on POD 3, 11, and 30 from women delivering at Kirehe District Hospital between October 2019 and March 2020. Functionality was measured by self-reported overall health, energy level, mobility, self-care ability, and ability to perform usual activities. We computed composite mean scores with a maximum score of 4.0 and scores ≤ 2.0 reflected poor functionality. We assessed functionality with descriptive statistics and logistic regression.

Results
Of 617 patients, 54.0%, 25.9%, and 26.8% reported poor functional status at POD3, POD11, and POD30, respectively. At POD30, the most self-reported poor functionality dimensions were poor or very poor overall health (48.1%), and inability to perform usual activities (15.6%). In the adjusted model, women whose surgery lasted 30–45 minutes had higher odds of poor functionality (aOR = 1.85, p = 0.01), as did women who experienced intraoperative complications (aOR = 4.12, p = 0.037). High income patients had incrementally lower significant odds of poor functionality (aOR = 0.62 for every US$100 increase in monthly income, p = 0.04).

Conclusion
We found a high proportion of poor functionality 30 days post-c-section and while surgery lasting > 30 minutes and experiencing intra-operative complications was associated with poor functionality, a reported higher income status was associated with lower odds of poor functionality. Functional status assessments, monitoring and support should be included in post-partum care for women who delivered via c-section. Effective risk mitigating intervention should be implemented to recover functionality after c-section, particularly among low-income women and those undergoing longer surgical procedures or those with intraoperative complications.

Training facilitated by inter-institutional collaboration and telemedicine: An alternative for improving results in the placenta accreta spectrum

Background
Placenta accreta spectrum (PAS) is a severe condition that requires trained interdisciplinary group participation. However, achieving that specific training is difficult without academic programs or hospitals dedicated to teaching PAS skills.

Objectives
We describe an interinstitutional collaboration process focused on improving PAS treatment and facilitated by telemedicine. Finally, we propose a replicable model for other centres

Study Design
This was a retrospective, descriptive study including PAS patients treated over 10-years in a low-middle income country (LMIC) hospital (local hospital [LH]). We evaluated the clinical results and impact of interinstitutional collaboration with a PAS expert group (EG) at another LMIC. Virtual strategies of continuous communication between the LH and EG were used, such as telemedicine, teleradiology and telepresence during surgeries.

Results
Eighty-nine PAS patients were included. We observed a progressive improvement in clinical results (intraoperative bleeding, transfusion frequency, postoperative length of stay and frequency of complications) as the LH fixed interdisciplinary group gained experience by treating more cases.

Conclusions
Interinstitutional collaboration (through telemedicine and remote supervision) and PAS team formation, were related to the best results in the most recent years of observation. Thus, ongoing PAS team training, facilitated by inter-institutional collaboration and telemedicine, is a valid strategy for improving clinical outcomes in PAS.

Harvard Medical School Department of Global Health and Social Medicine COVID-19 seminar series: COVID and surgical, anesthetic and obstetric care

On May 21, 2020, the Harvard Program in Global Surgery and Social Change (PGSSC) hosted a webinar as part of the Harvard Medical School Department of Global Health and Social Medicine’s COVID-19 webinar series. The goal of PGSSC’s virtual webinar was to share the experiences of surgical, anesthesia, and obstetric (SAO) providers on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic, from both high-income countries (HICs), such as the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Providers shared not only their experiences delivering SAO care during this global pandemic, but also solutions and innovations they and their colleagues developed to address these new challenges. Additionally, the seminar explored the relationship between surgery and health system strengthening and pandemic preparedness, and outlined the way forward, including a roadmap for prioritization and investment in surgical system strengthening. Throughout the discussion, other themes emerged as well, such as the definition of elective surgery and its implications during a persistent global pandemic, the safe and ethical reintroduction of surgical services, and the social inequities exposed by the stress placed on health systems by COVID-19. These proceedings document the perspectives shared by participants through their invited lectures as well as through the panel discussion at the end of the seminar.

Context Specific Realities and Experiences of Nurses and Midwives in Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care Services in Two District Hospitals in Rwanda

Background
In low and middle-income countries, nurses and midwives are the frontline healthcare workers in obstetric care. Insights into the experiences of these healthcare workers in managing obstetric care emergencies are critical for improving quality of care. This article presents such insights, from the nurses and midwives working in Rwandan district hospitals, who reflected on their experiences of managing the most common birth-related complications; postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) and newborn asphyxia. This is a qualitative part of a broader research about implementation of an mLearning and mHealth decision support tool (Safe Delivery Application), in basic emergency obstetric and newborn care services in Rwanda.

Methods
In this exploratory qualitative aspect of the research, the first author facilitated four focus group discussions with 26 nurses and midwives from two district hospitals in Rwanda. Each focus group discussion was made up of two parts. The first part focused on the participants’ reflections on the research results, while the second part explored their experiences of delivering obstetric care services in their respective district hospitals. The research results included: survey results reflecting their knowledge and skills of PPH management and of neonatal resuscitation (NR); and findings from a six-month record review of PPH management and NR outcomes, from the district hospitals under study. Data were analyzed using hybrid thematic analysis.

Results
Nurses and midwives felt that the presented findings were a true reflection of the reality and offered diverse explanations for the results. The participants’ narratives of lived experiences of providing BEmONC services are presented under two broad themes: (1) self-reflections on their current practices and (2) contextual factors influencing the delivery of BEmONC services.

Conclusion
The insights of nurses and midwives regarding the management of birth related complications revealed multi-faceted factors that influence the quality of their obstetric care. Even though the study was focused on their management of PPH and NR, the resulting recommendations to improve quality of care could benefit the broader field of maternal and child health particularly in low and middle income countries.

Effects of free maternal policies on quality and cost of care and outcomes: an integrative review

Aim:
We conducted an integrative review of the global-free maternity (FM) policies and evaluated the quality of care (QoC) and cost and cost implications to provide lessons for universal health coverage (UHC).

Methodology:
Using integrative review methods proposed by Whittemore and Knafl (2005), we searched through EBSCO Host, ArticleFirst, Cochrane Central Registry of Controlled Trials, Emerald Insight, JSTOR, PubMed, Springer Link, Electronic collections online, and Google Scholar databases guided by the preferred reporting item for systematic review and meta-analysis protocol (PRISMA) guideline. Only empirical studies that described FM policies with components of quality and cost were included. There were 43 papers included, and the data were analysed thematically.

Results:
Forty-three studies that met the criteria were all from developing countries and had implemented different approaches of FM policy. Review findings demonstrated that some of the quality issues hindering the policies were poor management of complications, worsened referral systems, overburdening of staff because of increased utilisation, lack of transport, and low supply of stock. There were some quality improvements on monitoring vital signs by nurses and some procedures met the recommended standards. Equally, mothers still bear the burden of some costs such as the purchase of drugs, transport, informal payments despite policies being ‘free’.

Conclusions:
FM policies can reduce the financial burden on the households if well implemented and sustainably funded. Besides, they may also contribute to a decline in inequity between the rich and poor though not independently. In order to achieve the SDG goal of UHC by 2030, there is a need to promote awareness of the policy to the poor and disadvantaged women in rural areas to help narrow the inequality gap on utilisation and provide a sustainable form of transport through collaboration with partners to help reduce impoverishment of households. Also, there is a need to address elements such as cultural barriers and the role of traditional birth attendants which hinder women from seeking skilled care even when they are freely availab

Clinical Profile and Predictors of Mortality in Neonates Born With Non-Immune Hydrops Fetalis: Experience From a Lower-Middle-Income Country

Introduction
Hydrops fetalis (HF) is a life-threatening condition in which a fetus has an abnormal collection of fluid in the tissue around the lungs, heart, abdomen, or under the skin. Based on its pathophysiology, it is classified into immune and non-immune types. With the widespread use of anti-D immunoglobulin, non-immune HF has become more common, with an incidence of one in 1,700-3,000 live births. A multitude of fetal diseases with various causes can lead to non-immune HF. Due to the recent advances in prenatal diagnostic and therapeutic interventions together with improved neonatal intensive care, the diagnosis and subsequent management of HF have been refined. However, HF is still associated with a high mortality rate. A recent assessment of the literature found that there is a lack of data on prognostic variables in neonates with HF from low- and middle-income countries. In light of this, we sought to establish the etiologic causes, predictors of mortality, and eventual fate of newborns born non-immune HF at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi during the 10-year period spanning January 2009-December 2019 in this retrospective analysis.

Methodology
For this study, we collected data from the computerized database and patient record files at the hospital on all infants with non-immune HF. Demographic data, postnatal interventions, clinical and laboratory findings, outcomes, and the results of comparison between HF patients who died and those who survived were analyzed.

Results
The incidence of non-immune HF at our hospital was 0.62/1,000 live births during the period under study, with 33 newborn babies diagnosed with non-immune HF from a total of 53,033 live-born deliveries. An etiologic factor was discovered in 17 (51.5%) neonates with non-immune HF while 16 (48.4%) were classified as those with unidentified etiology. The most common causes were cardiovascular and genetic syndromes, which resulted in 100% mortality. The overall mortality rate was 67%. The need for mechanical ventilation, surfactant therapy, and prolonged hospitalization were identified as independent risk factors of mortality.

Conclusion
Our study proves that the need for mechanical ventilation [moderate to severe hypoxic respiratory failure (HRF)] and prolonged hospitalization are strong predictors of poor outcomes in neonates with non-immune HF. Therefore, severe hydrops causing significant mortality can be anticipated based on the patients’ respiratory status and the need for escalated oxygen support.

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.

Mixed Methods Evaluation of Simulation-Based Training for Postpartum Hemorrhage Management in Guatemala

Background
To assess if simulation-based training (SBT) of B-lynch suture and uterine balloon tamponade (UBT) for the management of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) impacted provider attitudes, practice patterns, and patient management in Guatemala, using a mixed-methods approach.

Methods
We conducted an in-country SBT course on the management of PPH in a governmental teaching hospital in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Participants were OB/GYN providers (n = 39) who had or had not received SBT before. Surveys and qualitative interviews evaluated provider knowledge and experiences with B-lynch and UBT to treat PPH. In addition, a retrospective chart review was performed to evaluate management of PPH over a 2-year period before and after the introduction of SBT.

Results
Multiple-choice surveys indicated that providers who received SBT were more comfortable performing and teaching B-lynch compared to those who did not (p = 0.003 and 0.005). Qualitative interviews revealed increased provider comfort with B-lynch compared to UBT and identified multiple barriers to uterine balloon tamponade implementation. Chart review demonstrated an increased use of UBT after the introduction of simulation-based training, though not statistically significant (p = 0.06) in contrast to no change in B-lynch use.

Conclusions
Simulation-based training had a stronger impact on provider comfort with B-lynch compared to uterine balloon tamponade. Qualitative interviews provided insight into the challenges that hinder uptake of uterine balloon tamponade, namely resource limitations and decision-making hierarchies. Capturing data through a mixed-methods approach allowed for more comprehensive program evaluation in low and middle income countries (LMICs).

The effect of a new maternity unit on maternal outcomes in rural Haiti: an interrupted time series study

Background
In Haiti where there are high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality, efforts to reduce mortality and improve maternal newborn child health (MNCH) must be tracked and monitored to measure their success. At a rural Haitian hospital, local surveillance efforts allowed for the capture of MNCH indicators. In March 2018, a new stand-alone maternity unit was opened, with increased staff, personnel, and physical space. We aimed to determine if the new maternity unit brought about improvements in maternal and neonatal outcomes.

Methods
We conducted an interrupted time series analysis using data collected between July 2016 and October 2019 including 20 months before the opening of the maternity unit and 20 months after. We examined maternal-neonatal outcomes such as physiological (vaginal) births, caesarean birth, postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), maternal deaths, stillbirths and undesirable outcomes (eclampsia, PPH, perineal laceration, postpartum infection, maternal death or stillbirth).

Results
Immediately after the opening of the new maternity, the number of physiological births decreased by 7.0% (β = − 0.070; 95% CI: − 0.110 to − 0.029; p = 0.001) and there was an increase of 6.7% in caesarean births (β = 0.067; 95% CI: 0.026 to 0.107; p = 0.002). For all undesirable outcomes, preintervention there was an increasing trend of 1.8% (β = 0.018; 95% CI: 0.013 to 0.024; p < 0.001), an immediate 14.4% decrease after the intervention (β = − 0.144; 95% CI: − 0.255 to − 0.033; p = 0.012), and a decreasing trend of 1.8% through the postintervention period (β = − 0.018; 95% CI: − 0.026 to − 0.009; p < 0.001). No other significant level or trend changes were noted. Conclusions The new maternity unit led to an upward trend in caesarean births yet an overall reduction in all undesirable maternal and neonatal outcomes. The new maternity unit at this rural Haitian hospital positively impacted and improved maternal and neonatal outcomes.

Role of General Practitioners in transforming surgical care in rural Nepal – A descriptive study from eastern Nepal.

Introduction: Nepal is a low-to-middle-income country (LMIC) with a predominantly rural population. Almost 10-20% of patients presenting to hospital require surgical care. The availability of skilled human resources in managing surgical care in rural areas of Nepal has to expand to meet this need. The objective of this study is to describe and demonstrate how General Practitioners (GPs) can be upskilled to provide surgical care in rural district hospitals in Nepal.

Method: It is a retrospective review of all surgical procedures performed by GPs from 1st February 2016 to 31st January 2021 at Charikot hospital. Data was collected from a prospectively maintained Electronic Health Record (EHR) system (Bahmini). Details of data collected included name of the procedure and its respective specialty. GP Task shifting and targeted surgical training programs for common orthopedic procedures and pediatric herniotomy were described in detail.

Result: A wide range of surgical procedures were performed by GPs over 5 years. This included interventions for obstetric emergencies, trauma and orthopedics, gynecological issues, general surgery of adult and childhood. A total of 2037 surgeries were performed by GPs including: Cesarean section 25%, 19.7% were orthopedics surgeries followed by 13.5% of mesh repair for abdominal hernia, 9.3% eversion of sac for Hydrocele, 8.7% appendectomy, 5.2% hysterectomy, 3% of pediatric herniotomy and others.

Conclusion: GPs can be further trained to perform important common surgical procedures to improve access to surgical care for rural communities.