Ethical Considerations in Global Surgery: A Scoping Review

Introduction: An unmet burden of surgical disease exists worldwide and is disproportionately shouldered by low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). As the field of global surgery grows to meet this need, ethical considerations need to be addressed. Currently, there are no formal guidelines to help inform relevant stakeholders of the ethical challenges and considerations facing global surgical collaborations. The aim of this scoping review is to synthesise the existing literature on ethics in global surgery and identify gaps in the current knowledge.

Methods: A scoping review of relevant databases to identify the literature pertaining to ethics in global surgery was performed. Eligible articles addressed at least one ethical consideration in global surgery. A grounded theory approach to content analysis was used to identify themes in the included literature and guide the identification of gaps in existing literature.

Results: Four major ethical domains were identified in the literature: clinical care and delivery; education and exchange of trainees; research, monitoring and evaluation; and engagement in collaborations and partnerships. The majority of published literature related to issues of clinical care and delivery of the individual patient. Most of the published literature was published exclusively by authors in high-income countries (HICs) (80%), and the majority of articles were in the form of editorials or commentaries (69.1%). Only 12.7% of articles published were original research studies.

Conclusion: The literature on ethics in global surgery remains sparse, with most publications coming from HICs, and focusing on clinical care and short-term surgical missions. Given that LMICs are frequently the recipients of global surgical initiatives, the relative absence of literature from their perspective needs to be addressed. Furthermore, there is a need for more literature focusing on the ethics surrounding sustainable collaborations and partnerships.

Cross-sectional study of surgical quality with a novel evidence-based tool for low-resource settings

Background Adverse events from surgical care are a major cause of death and disability, particularly in low-and-middle-income countries. Metrics for quality of surgical care developed in high-income settings are resource-intensive and inappropriate in most lower resource settings. The purpose of this study was to apply and assess the feasibility of a new tool to measure surgical quality in resource-constrained settings.

Methods This is a cross-sectional study of surgical quality using a novel evidence-based tool for quality measurement in low-resource settings. The tool was adapted for use at a tertiary hospital in Amazonas, Brazil resulting in 14 metrics of quality of care. Nine metrics were collected prospectively during a 4-week period, while five were collected retrospectively from the hospital administrative data and operating room logbooks.

Results 183 surgeries were observed, 125 patient questionnaires were administered and patient charts for 1 year were reviewed. All metrics were successfully collected. The study site met the proposed targets for timely process (7 hours from admission to surgery) and effective outcome (3% readmission rate). Other indicators results were equitable structure (1.1 median patient income to catchment population) and equitable outcome (2.5% at risk of catastrophic expenditure), safe outcome (2.6% perioperative mortality rate) and effective structure (fully qualified surgeon present 98% of cases).

Conclusion It is feasible to apply a novel surgical quality measurement tool in resource-limited settings. Prospective collection of all metrics integrated within existing hospital structures is recommended. Further applications of the tool will allow the metrics and targets to be refined and weighted to better guide surgical quality improvement measures.

Effective Hand Preparation for Surgical Procedures in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Background: The burden of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) is greatest in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); surgical site infections (SSIs) are the most common HAI in LMICs. Hand hygiene is the single most effective strategy for reducing HAIs and the transmission of antimicrobial drug-resistant pathogens. Similarly, effective surgical hand preparation is a critical step in the prevention of SSIs in the surgical patient. Methods: Surgical hand preparation (SHP) is a seemingly simple activity that is easily overlooked. Performed properly, however, along with other measures, it has the potential to reduce SSIs in LMICs. The article reviews the current state of surgical hand preparation in LMICs. Results: Alcohol-based handrubs (ABHRs) have received wide acceptance by healthcare workers for both hand hygiene and SHP; when mixed with emollients, ABHRs retain efficacy against microorganisms and gain skin tolerability and user acceptability. Healthcare institutions in many LMICs face difficulties obtaining the products needed to ensure effective SHP using ABHRs. Conclusion: The ABHRs are the most efficacious surgical hand preparation products available today. They are cost-effective and can safely be prepared locally in hospitals, even in LMICs. The challenge of access to ABHRs should be addressed by national and local governments, through advocacy by healthcare workers coupled with continued lobbying and campaigns by the World Health Organization. Effective surgical hand preparation, like hand hygiene, saves lives.

Barriers to Women Entering Surgical Careers: A Global Study into Medical Student Perceptions

Background: Barriers to female surgeons entering the field are well documented in Australia, the USA and the UK, but how generalizable these problems are to other regions remains unknown.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was developed by the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA)’s Global Surgery Working Group assessing medical students’ desire to pursue a surgical career at different stages of their medical degree. The questionnaire also included questions on students’ perceptions of their education, resources and professional life. The survey was distributed via IFMSA mailing lists, conferences and social media. Univariate analysis was performed, and statistically significant exposures were added to a multivariate model. This model was then tested in male and female medical students, before a further subset analysis by country World Bank income strata.

Results: 639 medical students from 75 countries completed the survey. Mentorship [OR 3.42 (CI 2.29-5.12) p = 0.00], the acute element of the surgical specialties [OR 2.22 (CI 1.49-3.29) p = 0.00], academic competitiveness [OR 1.61 (CI 1.07-2.42) p = 0.02] and being from a high or upper-middle-income country (HIC and UMIC) [OR 1.56 (CI 1.021-2.369) p = 0.04] all increased likelihood to be considering a surgical career, whereas perceived access to postgraduate training [OR 0.63 (CI 0.417-0.943) p = 0.03], increased year of study [OR 0.68 (CI 0.57-0.81) p = 0.00] and perceived heavy workload [OR 0.47 (CI 0.31-0.73) p = 0.00] all decreased likelihood to consider a surgical career. Perceived quality of surgical teaching and quality of surgical services in country overall did not affect students’ decision to pursue surgery. On subset analysis, perceived poor access to postgraduate training made women 60% less likely to consider a surgical career [OR 0.381 (CI 0.217-0.671) p = 0.00], whilst not showing an effect in the men [OR 1.13 (CI 0.61-2.12) p = 0.70. Concerns about high cost of training halve the likelihood of students from low and low-middle-income countries (LICs and LMICs) considering a surgical career [OR 0.45 (CI 0.25-0.82) p = 0.00] whilst not demonstrating a significant relationship in HIC or UMIC countries. Women from LICs and LMICs were 40% less likely to consider surgical careers than men, when controlling for other factors [OR 0.59 CI (0.342-1.01 p = 0.053].

Conclusion: Perceived poor access to postgraduate training and heavy workload dissuade students worldwide from considering surgical careers. Postgraduate training in particular appears to be most significant for women and cost of training an additional factor in both women and men from LMICs and LICs. Mentorship remains an important and modifiable factor in influencing student’s decision to pursue surgery. Quality of surgical education showed no effect on student decision-making.

Cross-sectional study of surgical quality with a novel evidence-based tool for low-resource settings

Background: Adverse events from surgical care are a major cause of death and disability, particularly in low-and-middle-income countries. Metrics for quality of surgical care developed in high-income settings are resource-intensive and inappropriate in most lower resource settings. The purpose of this study was to apply and assess the feasibility of a new tool to measure surgical quality in resource-constrained settings.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional study of surgical quality using a novel evidence-based tool for quality measurement in low-resource settings. The tool was adapted for use at a tertiary hospital in Amazonas, Brazil resulting in 14 metrics of quality of care. Nine metrics were collected prospectively during a 4-week period, while five were collected retrospectively from the hospital administrative data and operating room logbooks.

Results; 183 surgeries were observed, 125 patient questionnaires were administered and patient charts for 1 year were reviewed. All metrics were successfully collected. The study site met the proposed targets for timely process (7 hours from admission to surgery) and effective outcome (3% readmission rate). Other indicators results were equitable structure (1.1 median patient income to catchment population) and equitable outcome (2.5% at risk of catastrophic expenditure), safe outcome (2.6% perioperative mortality rate) and effective structure (fully qualified surgeon present 98% of cases).

Conclusion: It is feasible to apply a novel surgical quality measurement tool in resource-limited settings. Prospective collection of all metrics integrated within existing hospital structures is recommended. Further applications of the tool will allow the metrics and targets to be refined and weighted to better guide surgical quality improvement measures.

Decentralization and Regionalization of Surgical Care as a Critical Scale-up Strategy in Low- and Middle-Income Countries; Comment on “Decentralization and Regionalization of Surgical Care: A Review of Evidence for the Optimal Distribution of Surgical Services in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

As global attention to improve the quality, safety and access to surgical care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) increases, the need for evidence-based strategies to reliably scale-up the quality and quantity of surgical services becomes ever more pertinent. Iversen et al discuss the optimal distribution of surgical services, whether through decentralization or regionalization, and propose a strategy that utilizes the dimensions of acuity, complexity and prevalence of surgical conditions to inform national priorities. Proposed expansion of this strategy to encompass levels of scale-up prioritization is discussed in this commentary. The decentralization of emergency obstetric services in LMICs shows promising results and should be further explored. The dearth of evidence of regionalization in LMICs, on the other hand, limits extrapolation of lessons learned. Nevertheless, principles from the successful regionalization of certain services such as trauma care in high-income countries (HICs) can be adapted to LMIC settings and can provide the backbone for innovation in service delivery and safety.

Exploring the knowledge and attitudes of Cameroonian medical students towards global surgery: A web-based survey

Introduction
Global surgery is a growing field studying the determinants of safe and affordable surgical care and advocating to gain the global health community’s attention. In Cameroon, little is known about the level of knowledge and attitudes of students. Our survey aimed to describe the knowledge and attitudes of Cameroonian medical students towards global surgery.

Materials and methods
We performed an anonymous online survey of final-year Cameroonian medical students. Mann-Whitney U test and Spearman correlation analysis were used for bivariate analysis, and the alpha value was set at 0.05. Odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals were calculated.

Results
204 respondents with a mean age of 24.7 years (±2.0) participated in this study. 58.3% were male, 41.6% had previously heard or read about global surgery, 36.3% had taken part in a global surgery study, and 10.8% had attended a global surgery event. Mercy Ships was well known (46.5%), and most students believed that surgical interventions were more costly than medical treatments (75.0%). The mean score of the global surgery evaluation was 47.4% (±29.6%), and being able to recognize more global surgery organizations was correlated with having assumed multiple roles during global surgery studies (p = 0.008) and identifying more global surgery indicators (p = 0.04). Workforce, infrastructure, and funding were highlighted as the top priorities for the development of global surgery in Cameroon.

Conclusion
Medical students are conscious of the importance of surgical care. They lack the opportunities to nurture their interest and should be taught global surgery concepts and skills

The Psychology of Patients Infected with COVID 19 in Tunisia during the Treatment Period

The COVID-19 still causes anxiety and apprehension among many patients today, which can lead to a refusal of care or difficult
working conditions. It, therefore, appears prerequisite to set up conditioning and relaxation methods for patients and caregivers to
optimize care and working conditions. In this regard, we assess the psychological levels of patients in their forties to detect the factors in order to facilitate the treatment.

Does insurance protect individuals from catastrophic payments for surgical care? An analysis of Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme at Korle-Bu teaching Hospital

Background
According to the World Health Organization, essential surgery should be recognized as an essential component of universal health coverage. In Ghana, insurance is associated with a reduction in maternal mortality and improved access to essential medications, but whether it eliminates financial barriers to surgery is unknown. This study tested the hypothesis that insurance protects surgical patients against financial catastrophe.

Methods
We interviewed patients admitted to the general surgery wards of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) between February 1, 2017 – October 1, 2017 to obtain demographic data, income, occupation, household expenditures, and insurance status. Surgical diagnoses and procedures, procedural fees, and anesthesia fees incurred were collected through chart review. The data were collected on a Qualtrics platform and analyzed in STATA version 14.1. Fisher exact and Student T-tests were used to compare the insured and uninsured groups. Threshold for financial catastrophe was defined as health costs that exceeded 10% of household expenditures, 40% of non-food expenditures, or 20% of the individual’s income.

Results
Among 196 enrolled patients, insured patients were slightly older [mean 49 years vs 40 years P < 0.05] and more of them were female [65% vs 41% p < 0.05]. Laparotomy (22.2%) was the most common surgical procedure for both groups. Depending on the definition, 58–87% of insured patients would face financial catastrophe, versus 83–98% of uninsured patients (all comparisons by definition were significant, p < .05).

Conclusion
This study—the first to evaluate the impact of insurance on financial risk protection for surgical patients in Ghana—found that although insured patients were less likely than uninsured to face financial catastrophe as a result of their surgery, more than half of insured surgical patients treated at KBTH were not protected from financial catastrophe under the Ghana’s national health insurance scheme due to out-of-pocket payments. Government-specific strategies to increase the proportion of cost covered and to enroll the uninsured is crucial to achieving universal health coverage inclusive of surgical care.

Care Bundle Approach to Reduce Surgical Site Infections in Acute Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Cairo, Egypt

Introduction
Surgical site infections (SSIs) are one of the most frequently reported hospital acquired infections associated with significant spread of antibiotic resistance.

Purpose
We aimed to evaluate a bundle-based approach in reducing SSI at acute surgical intensive care unit of the Emergency Hospital of Cairo University.

Patients and Methods
Our prospective study ran from March 2018 to February 2019 and used risk assessment. The study was divided into three phases. Phase I: (pre-bundle phase) for 5 months; data collection, active surveillance of the SSIs, screening for OXA-48 producing Enterobacteriaceae and multidrug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii colonizers using Chrom agars were carried out. Phase II: (bundle-implementation) a 6-S bundle approach included education, training and postoperative bathing with Chlorhexidine Gluconate in collaboration with the infection control team. Finally, Phase III: (post-implementation) for estimation of compliance, rates of colonization, and infection.

Results
Phase I encompassed 177 patients, while Phase III included 93 patients. A significant reduction of colonization from 24% to 15% (p<0.001) was observed. Similarly, a decrease of SSI from 27% to 15% (p=0.02) was noticed. A logistic regression was performed to adjust for confounding in the implementation of the bundle and we found a 70% reduction of SSI odd’s ratio (OR’s ratio = 0.3) confidence interval (95% CI 0.14–0.6) with significant Apache II (p=0.04), type of wound; type II (p=0.002), type III (p=0.001) and duration of surgery (p=0.04) as independent risk factors for SSI. Klebsiella pneumoniae was the most prevalent organism during phase I (34.7%). On the other hand, A. baumannii was the commonest organism to be isolated during phase III with (38.5%) preceding K. pneumoniae (30%).

Conclusion
Our study demonstrated that the implementation of a multidisciplinary bundle containing evidence-based interventions was associated with a significant reduction of colonization and SSIs and was met with staff approval and acceptable compliance.