Prevalence and factors associated with the awareness of obstetric fistula among women of reproductive age in The Gambia: a multilevel fixed effects analysis

An obstetric fistula is an inappropriate connection between the vagina, rectum, or bladder that results in faecal or urine incontinence. Young women from rural areas with poor socioeconomic situations and education are the majority of victims, which restricts their access to high-quality healthcare. Obstetric fistulas can have devastating effects on the physical health of affected women if they are not promptly treated. Inadequate awareness of the symptoms delays recognition of the problem, prompt reporting, and treatment. Women with poor awareness of the disorder are also more likely to develop complications, including mental health issues. Using data from a nationally representative survey, this study investigated the prevalence and factors associated with the awareness of obstetric fistula among women of reproductive age in The Gambia.

This study used population-based cross-sectional data from the 2019–2020 Gambia Demographic and Health survey. A total of 11823 reproductive-aged women were sampled for this study. Stata software version 16.0 was used for all statistical analyses. Obstetric fistula awareness was the outcome variable. Multilevel logistic regression models were fitted, and the results were presented as adjusted odds ratios (aOR) with statistical significance set at p < 0.05.

The prevalence of obstetric fistula awareness was 12.81% (95%CI: 11.69, 14.12). Women aged 45–49 years (aOR = 2.17, 95%CI [1.54, 3.06]), married women (aOR = 1.39, 95%CI [1.04, 1.87]), those with higher education (aOR = 2.80, 95%CI [2.08, 3.79]), and women who worked as professionals or occupied managerial positions (aOR = 2.32, 95%CI [1.74, 3.10]) had higher odds of obstetric fistula awareness. Women who had ever terminated pregnancy (aOR = 1.224, 95%CI [1.06, 1.42]), those who listened to radio at least once a week (aOR = 1.20, 95%CI [1.02, 1.41]), ownership of a mobile phone (aOR = 1.20, 95%CI [1.01, 1.42]) and those who were within the richest wealth index (aOR = 1.39, 95%CI [1.03, 1.86]) had higher odds of obstetric fistula awareness.

Our findings have revealed inadequate awareness of obstetric fistula among women of reproductive-age in The Gambia. Obstetric fistulas can be mitigated by implementing well-planned public awareness initiatives at the institutional and community levels. We, therefore, recommend reproductive health education on obstetric fistula beyond the hospital setting to raise reproductive-age women's awareness.

Quality of emergency obstetric and newborn care services in Wolaita Zone, Southern Ethiopia

Globally, nearly 295,000 women die every year during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC) can avert 75% of maternal mortality if all mothers get quality healthcare. Improving maternal health needs identification and addressing of barriers that limit access to quality maternal health services. Hence, this study aimed to assess the quality of EmONC service and its predictors in Wolaita Zone, southern Ethiopia.

A facility-based cross-sectional study was conducted in 14 health facilities. A facility audit was conducted on 14 health facilities, and 423 women were randomly selected to participate in observation of care and exit interview. The Open Data Kit (ODK) platform and Stata version 17 were used for data entry and analysis, respectively. Frequencies and summary statistics were used to describe the study population. Simple and multiple linear regressions were done to identify candidate and predictor variables of service quality. Coefficients with 95% confidence intervals were used to declare the significance and strength of association. Input, process, and output quality indices were created by calculating the means of standard items available or actions performed by each category and were used to describe the quality of EmONC.

The mean input, process, and output EmONC services qualities were 74.2, 69.4, and 79.6%, respectively. Of the study participants, 59.2% received below 75% of the standard clinical actions (observed quality) of EmONC services. Women’s educational status (B = 5.35, 95% C.I: 0.56, 10.14), and (B = 8.38, 95% C.I: 2.92, 13.85), age (B = 3.86, 95% C.I: 0.39, 7.33), duration of stay at the facility (B = 3.58, 95% C.I: 2.66, 4.9), number of patients in the delivery room (B = − 4.14, 95% C.I: − 6.14, − 2.13), and care provider’s experience (B = 1.26, 95% C.I: 0.83, 1.69) were independent predictors of observed service quality.

The EmONC services quality was suboptimal in Wolaita Zone. Every three-in-five women received less than three-fourths of the standard clinical actions. The health system, care providers, and other stakeholders should emphasize improving the quality of care by availing medical infrastructure, adhering to standard procedures, enhancing human resources for health, and providing standard care regardless of women’s characteristics.

Digital health and telemedicine in Pakistan: Improving maternal healthcare

Pakistan has not benefited significantly from telemedicine, despite the promise that it could overcome many of the barriers impeding maternal healthcare delivery in emerging markets. Due to a lack of a regulatory framework and a lack of government interest, new companies in Pakistan have a hard time establishing healthcare projects that will be cost-effective and innovative. A review of telemedicine adoption in the past and present for improving maternal healthcare standards is presented in this article. Furthermore, a discussion of the challenges associated with digital health adoption is provided, as well as possible and feasible policies for making the use of digital health in maternal health more effective.

An analysis of overweight and obesity in South Africa: the case of women of childbearing age

This thesis used nationally representative data from the 2008 – 2017 National Income Dynamics Study, 1998 and 2016 South African Demographic and Health Surveys and 2005/06 and 2010/11 Income and Expenditure Surveys to examine prevalence, socioeconomic inequality, and determinants of overweight and obesity among non-pregnant women of childbearing age (15 to 49 years) (WCBA) in South Africa over time. It also assessed socioeconomic inequality in the intergenerational transmission of overweight and obesity from mothers to their offsprings among 10,735 mother-offspring pairs and decomposed socioeconomic inequality in household ultra-processed food (UPF) product spending in samples of 16,209 households in 2005/06 and 17,217 households in 2010/11. Overweight and obesity in WCBA in South Africa increased between 1998 and 2017 with factors including increased age, self-identifying with the Black African population group, higher educational attainment, residing in an urban area, and wealth contributing to the rise. Smoking had a protective effect on being overweight and obese. Overweight and obesity were also increasingly prevalent among wealthier than poorer WCBA in South Africa between 1998 and 2016. It was found that UPF expenditure increased between 2005/6 and 2010/11, accounting for a substantial share of poorer households’ expenditures than their wealthier counterparts over time. Although factors explaining socioeconomic inequality in the intergenerational transmission of overweight and obesity differed by offspring sex, intergenerational overweight and obesity occur more frequently among wealthier mother-offspring pairs than their poorer counterparts. Key factors explaining inequalities in intergenerational overweight and obesity include the mother’s socioeconomic status, education and exercise habits. This study improves the empirical understanding of the burgeoning overweight and obesity challenges among women, especially in South Africa, who are likely to transmit them to their offspring. Policy to address these issues should not only be about health services but also focus on the social determinants of health inequalities.

Abdominal Packing for Obstetric Surgical Uncontrollable Hemorrhage

Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), which makes up the bulk of the 14 million occurrences of obstetric hemorrhage that happen yearly, is the most prevalent type. Obstetric emergencies must be promptly identified and treated because most PPH-related deaths occur within four hours of delivery and even after hysterectomy. This literature study tries to elucidate abdominal packing in reducing obstetrical bleeding in greater detail. Pads or roller gauze (sterile pads bound by suture threads, wrapped in a sterile bag, or stacked gauze) and balloon pack (Foley catheter or Bakri balloon), and abdominal packs retrieved within 24-48 hours, are two categories of abdominal packing techniques for controlling bleeding after hysterectomy. Due to its ease of use, minimal risk of complications, and usefulness in environments with limited resources, abdominal packing continues to be a valuable technique in the arsenal of the modern obstetrician.

Cervical cancer prevention in countries with the highest HIV prevalence: a review of policies

Cervical cancer (CC) is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women in sub-Saharan Africa. It occurs most frequently in women living with HIV (WLHIV) and is classified as an AIDS-defining illness. Recent World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations provide guidance for CC prevention policies, with specifications for WLHIV. We systematically reviewed policies for CC prevention and control in sub-Saharan countries with the highest HIV prevalence.

We included countries with an HIV prevalence ≥ 10% in 2018 and policies published between January 1st 2010 and March 31st 2022. We searched Medline via PubMed, the international cancer control partnership website and national governmental websites of included countries for relevant policy documents. The online document search was supplemented with expert consultation for each included country. We synthesised aspects defined in policies for HPV vaccination, sex education, condom use, tobacco control, male circumcision,cervical screening, diagnosis and treatment of cervical pre-cancerous lesions and cancer, monitoring mechanisms and cost of services to women while highlighting specificities for WLHIV.

We reviewed 33 policy documents from nine countries. All included countries had policies on CC prevention and control either as a standalone policy (77.8%), or as part of a cancer or non-communicable diseases policy (22.2%) or both (66.7%). Aspects of HPV vaccination were reported in 7 (77.8%) of the 9 countries. All countries (100%) planned to develop or review Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials for CC prevention including condom use and tobacco control. Age at screening commencement and screening intervals for WLHIV varied across countries. The most common recommended screening and treatment methods were visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) (88.9%), Pap smear (77.8%); cryotherapy (100%) and loop electrosurgical procedure (LEEP) (88.9%) respectively. Global indicators disaggregated by HIV status for monitoring CC programs were rarely reported. CC prevention and care policies included service costs at various stages in three countries (33.3%).

Considerable progress has been made in policy development for CC prevention and control in sub Saharan Africa. However, in countries with a high HIV burden, there is need to tailor these policies to respond to the specific needs of WLHIV. Countries may consider updating policies using the recent WHO guidelines for CC prevention, while adapting them to context realities.

The state of surgery, obstetrics, trauma, and anaesthesia care in Ghana: a narrative review

Conditions amenable to surgical, obstetric, trauma, and anaesthesia (SOTA) care are a major contributor to death and disability in Ghana. SOTA care is an essential component of a well-functioning health system, and better understanding of the state of SOTA care in Ghana is necessary to design policies to address gaps in SOTA care delivery.

The aim of this study is to assess the current situation of SOTA care in Ghana.

A situation analysis was conducted as a narrative review of published scientific literature. Information was extracted from studies according to five health system domains related to SOTA care: service delivery, workforce, infrastructure, finance, and information management.

Ghanaians face numerous barriers to accessing quality SOTA care, primarily due to health system inadequacies. Over 77% of surgical operations performed in Ghana are essential procedures, most of which are performed at district-level hospitals that do not have consistent access to imaging and operative room fundamentals. Tertiary facilities have consistent access to these modalities but lack consistent access to oxygen and/or oxygen concentrators on-site as well as surgical supplies and anaesthetic medicines. Ghanaian patients cover up to 91% of direct SOTA costs out-of-pocket, while health insurance only covers up to 14% of the costs. The Ghanaian surgical system also faces severe workforce inadequacies especially in district-level facilities. Most specialty surgeons are concentrated in urban areas. Ghana’s health system lacks a solid information management foundation as it does not have centralized SOTA databases, leading to incomplete, poorly coded, and illegible patient information.

This review establishes that surgical services provided in Ghana are focused primarily on district-level facilities that lack adequate infrastructure and face workforce shortages, among other challenges. A comprehensive scale-up of Ghana’s surgical infrastructure, workforce, national insurance plan, and information systems is warranted to improve Ghana’s surgical system.

Socio-economic, physical and health-related determinants of causes of death among women in the Kintampo districts of Ghana

This study examined the socio-economic, physical and health-related determinants of causes of death among women of reproductive age (WRA) in the Kintampo North Municipality and Kintampo South District of Ghana. Longitudinal data from the Kintampo Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) was used. Causes of death data from 2005 to 2014 for 846 WRA aged 15–49 were categorized into three broad groups: maternal, infectious and non-communicable diseases. Three hierarchical multinomial logistic regression models were used to examine the determinants of causes of death, with the maternal causes of death as the reference category. Distal, intermediate and proximate factors were entered cumulatively one after the other in Models 1, 2 and 3, respectively, to account for their separate effects on the outcome variable. Across all three models, ever-married (RRR = 0.12; p < 0.001) WRA were significantly less likely to die from infectious or NCD than maternal causes compared to those who were never-married. At the adjusted level (Model 3), infectious causes of deaths differed from the maternal causes of deaths by age at death, marital status, land ownership, district of residence, year of death, season of death, place of death, admission in the last 12 months, surgical operation in the last 24 months and sudden death. Marital status is a key determinant of causes of death among WRA.

Pre-natal risk factors for postpartum haemorrhage in a district in Zimbabwe: A case-control study

Post-partum haemorrhage (PPH), a common complication of childbirth, is a global public health concern which is responsible for the majority of global maternal deaths. Causes of PPH include uterine atony, over-distended uterus, multiple pregnancies, infection and hypertension. Risk factors to develop PPH include a previous history of PPH, maternal age and anaemia. The risk factors for PPH have been studied extensively and the majority of these studies have been conducted in high income countries. The risk factors for PPH have not been extensively studied in Zimbabwe. This study aimed to determine the pre-natal risk factors for PPH for women who underwent vaginal delivery at Beitbridge District Hospital from January 2018 to December 2019.

Obstetric fistula in Bangladesh: estimates from a national survey with clinical validation correction

Obstetric fistula, which develops after a prolonged or obstructed labour, is preventable and treatable. However, many women are still afflicted with the condition and remain untreated in low-income and middle-income countries. Concerns have also been raised that an increasing trend of caesarean sections is increasing the risk and share of iatrogenic obstetric fistula in these countries. The true prevalence of this condition is not known, which makes it difficult for health planners and policy makers to develop appropriate national health strategies to address the problem. The estimation of obstetric fistula with surveys is difficult because self-reporting of incontinence symptoms is subject to misclassification bias. In this study, we aimed to estimate the prevalence and burden of obstetric fistula in Bangladesh.

For a valid estimation addressing misclassification bias, we implemented the study in two steps. First, we did the Maternal Morbidity Validation Study (MMVS) among a population of 65 740 women in Sylhet, Bangladesh, to assess the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive values (PPVs), and negative predictive values of the survey questions. This was done through confirmation of the diagnosis with clinical examinations of suspected cases by female physicians; a sample of women who screened positive for pelvic organ prolapse and other urinary incontinence symptoms were also examined and used as controls for clinical diagnosis confirmation. Second, we used the estimated diagnostic test values, after correcting for verification bias, to adjust the reported prevalence in the nationally representative Bangladesh Maternal Mortality and Health Care Survey 2016 for the unbiased estimation of obstetric fistula prevalence in Bangladesh.

The MMVS, done from Aug 3 to Dec 9, 2016, identified 67 potential cases of obstetric fistula; of them, 57 (85%) women completed the clinical examination, and 19 were confirmed as obstetric fistula cases. The adjusted sensitivity of the self-reports of obstetric fistula was 100% (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 99·8–100) and the observed specificity was 99·9% (95% UI 99·9–100) among women aged 15–49 years. However, the PPV was low, at 31·6% (95% UI 19·2–46·2), suggesting that almost two thirds of the self-reported cases were not true obstetric fistula cases. We estimated an adjusted obstetric fistula prevalence rate of 38 (90% UI 25–58) per 100 000 women aged 15–49 years in Bangladesh. Nationally, we estimated about 13 376 (90% UI 8686–20 112) women of reproductive age living with obstetric fistula. Additionally, we estimated 4081 (1773–8790) women aged 50–64 years to be living with obstetric fistula in Bangladesh; overall, we estimated that there are 17 457 (10 459–28 902) women aged 15–64 years in Bangladesh with obstetric fistula.

The burden of obstetric fistula is still high in Bangladesh. Prevention and provision of surgical treatment to so many women will need coordinated efforts, planning, allocation of resources, and training of surgeons.

US Agency for International Development, Government of Bangladesh, and UKAid.