Assessing equity of access and affordability of care among South Sudanese refugees and host communities in two districts in Uganda: a cross-sectional survey

The vast majority of refugees are hosted in low and middle income countries (LMICs), which are already struggling to finance and achieve universal health coverage for their own populations. While there is mounting evidence of barriers to health care access facing refugees, there is more limited evidence on equity in access to and affordability of care across refugee and host populations. The objective of this study was to examine equity in terms of health needs, service utilisation, and health care payments both within and between South Sudanese refugees and hosts communities (Ugandan nationals), in two districts of Uganda.

Participants were recruited from host and refugee villages from Arua and Kiryandongo districts. Twenty host villages and 20 refugee villages were randomly selected from each district, and 30 households were sampled from each village, with a target sample size of 2400 households. The survey measured condition incidence, health care seeking and health care expenditure outcomes related to acute and chronic illness and maternal care. Equity was assessed descriptively in relation to household consumption expenditure quintiles, and using concentration indices and Kakwani indices (for expenditure outcomes). We also measured the incidence of catastrophic health expenditure- payments for healthcare and impoverishment effects of expenditure across wealth quintiles.

There was higher health need for acute and chronic conditions in wealthier groups, while maternal care need was greater among poorer groups for refugees and hosts. Service coverage for acute, chronic and antenatal care was similar among hosts and refugee communities. However, lower levels of delivery care access for hosts remain. Although maternal care services are now largely affordable in Uganda among the studied communities, and service access is generally pro-poor, the costs of acute and chronic care can be substantial and regressive and are largely responsible for catastrophic expenditures, with service access benefiting wealthier groups.

Efforts are needed to enhance access among the poorest for acute and chronic care and reduce associated out-of-pocket payments and their impoverishing effects. Further research examining cost drivers and potential financing arrangements to offset these will be important.

PREvalence Study on Surgical COnditions (PRESSCO) 2020: A Population-Based Cross-Sectional Countrywide Survey on Surgical Conditions in Post-Ebola Outbreak Sierra Leone

Understanding the burden of diseases requiring surgical care at national levels is essential to advance universal health coverage. The PREvalence Study on Surgical COnditions (PRESSCO) 2020 is a cross-sectional household survey to estimate the prevalence of physical conditions needing surgical consultation, to investigate healthcare-seeking behavior, and to assess changes from before the West African Ebola epidemic.

This study (ISRCTN: 12353489) was built upon the Surgeons Overseas Surgical Needs Assessment (SOSAS) tool, including expansions. Seventy-five enumeration areas from 9671 nationwide clusters were sampled proportional to population size. In each cluster, 25 households were randomly assigned and visited. Need for surgical consultations was based on verbal responses and physical examination of selected household members.

A total of 3,618 individuals from 1,854 households were surveyed. Compared to 2012, the prevalence of individuals reporting one or more relevant physical conditions was reduced from 25 to 6.2% (95% CI 5.4–7.0%) of the population. One-in-five conditions rendered respondents unemployed, disabled, or stigmatized. Adult males were predominantly prone to untreated surgical conditions (9.7 vs. 5.9% women; p < 0.001). Financial constraints were the predominant reason for not seeking care. Among those seeking professional health care, 86.7% underwent surgery.

PRESSCO 2020 is the first surgical needs household survey which compares against earlier study data. Despite the 2013–2016 Ebola outbreak, which profoundly disrupted the national healthcare system, a substantial reduction in reported surgical conditions was observed. Compared to one-time measurements, repeated household surveys yield finer granular data on the characteristics and situations of populations in need of surgical treatment.

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.

What Are Barriers and Contributing Factors Limiting Healthcare Access in Southern Africa?

Introduction: Equitable access to timely and basic health care is an intrinsic component of overall equity in health and lack of it may be both an indicator and “contributory cause” of a population’s health inequalities, especially in developing countries.1 Therefore it is important to find the root causes that are causing the barriers and those contributing to people not being able to access healthcare when they need it and in a timely manner. Purpose: The purpose of the study is to review barriers and contributing factors that are limiting access to healthcare in Southern Africa.

Methods: A comprehensive literature review was conducted using MEDLINE, Google Scholar, PubMed, and the Lindell Library using the search terms healthcare access in southern Africa/Africa, barriers to healthcare in Southern Africa/Africa. Inclusion criteria were studies from 2015 to present and exclusion criteria were studies that were older than 2015.

Conclusions: In Southern Africa, socioeconomic factors, stigma, disabilities and transport, all pose barriers to timely access of healthcare.

The Connection between Climate Change, Surgical Care and Neglected Tropical Diseases

The surgical burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) is set to rise alongside average temperatures and drought. NTDs with surgical indications, including trachoma and lymphatic filariasis, predominantly affect people in low- and middle-income countries where the gravest effects of climate change are likely to be felt. Vectors sensitive to temperature and rainfall will likely expand their reach to previously nonendemic regions, while drought may exacerbate NTD burden in already resource-strained settings. Current NTD mitigation strategies, including mass drug administrations, were interrupted by COVID-19, demonstrating the vulnerability of NTD progress to global events. Without NTD programming that meshes with surgical systems strengthening, climate change may outpace current strategies to reduce the burden of these diseases.

Academic Output in Global Surgery after the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery: A Scoping Review

The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery (LCoGS) published its seminal report in 2015, carving a niche for global surgery academia. Six years after the LCoGS, a scoping review was conducted to see how the term ‘global surgery’ is characterized by the literature and how it relates to LCoGS and its domains.

PubMed was searched for publications between January 2015 and February 2021 that used the term ‘global surgery’ in the title, abstract, or key words or cited the LCoGS. Variables extracted included LCoGS domains, authorship metrics, geographic scope, and clinical specialty.

The search captured 938 articles that qualified for data extraction. Nearly 80% of first and last authors had high-income country affiliations. Africa was the most frequently investigated region, though many countries within the region were under-represented. The World Journal of Surgery was the most frequent journal, publishing 13.9% of all articles. General surgery, pediatric surgery, and neurosurgery were the most represented specialties. Of the LCoGS domains, healthcare delivery and management were the most studied, while economics and financing were the least studied.

A lack of consensus on the definition of global surgery remains. Additional research is needed in economics and financing, while obstetrics and trauma are under-represented in literature using the term ‘global surgery’. Efforts in academic global surgery must give a voice to those carrying the global surgery agenda forward on the frontlines. Focusing on research capacity-building and encouraging contribution by local partners will lead to a stronger, more cohesive global surgery community.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Psychological Well-Being of Surgeons in Pakistan: A Multicenter Cross-Sectional Study

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic left a profound and pervasive impact on the healthcare infrastructure on a global scale. Since its onset, the pattern of reported cases and its associated mortality had shown variability with intermittent peaks causing a significant effect on the psychological well-being of the surgeons of Pakistan. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental well-being of surgeons in Pakistan.

This multicenter cross-sectional study was carried out to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the psychological well-being of surgeons in Pakistan. The validated Self-Reporting Questionnaire-20 (SRQ-20) tool was circulated electronically via Google Forms (Google, Inc., Mountain View, CA, USA) in the practicing surgical fraternity across all five regions of Pakistan, i.e., Sindh, Punjab, Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

This study showed that the female gender, having fewer years of working experience, non-satisfaction with the available personal protective equipment (PPE), and working in the public sector were the factors affecting the psychological well-being of surgeons during the pandemic.

Considering the continuous rise in new cases during the ongoing pandemic, the mental health of surgeons working in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) such as Pakistan has been significantly affected. There is an undeniable need to pay close attention to their psychological well-being. Measures need to be undertaken to ensure their physical and mental health and wellness.

Psychoeducation for psychological issues and birth preparedness in LMICs: A systematic review

Psychological issues usually accompany the pregnancy of first-time mothers and psychoeducational interventions might be effective in addressing these concerns and preparing first-time mothers for childbirth and the postnatal period. This study aimed to identify, analyse and synthesise the components as well as determine the effectiveness of psychoeducational interventions that are used for managing psychological issues and enhancing birth preparedness among primigravid women or couples in LMICs.

A systematic search of 12 databases (APA PsycINFO, Emcare, Embase, MEDLINE(R), Ovid Nursing, British Nursing Index, Health and Medical Collection, ProQuest, CINAHL, Cochrane, Hinari and PubMed) was conducted to identify relevant studies published between 1946 and October 2021. Quality of the included studies was appraised by the JBI critical appraisal tool and a narrative synthesis was conducted to analyse data extracted from included articles. The systematic review protocol is registered with PROSPERO (CRD42021237896).

The initial search yielded 8,658 articles. Sixteen articles including seven randomised controlled trials and nine non-randomised trials met the inclusion criteria and were selected and reviewed for quality. Thirty-nine outcomes were measured in the studies including psychological outcomes, birth preparedness outcomes and other outcomes. The design of the interventions included antenatal education that was delivered through lectures, role plays, trainings, and antenatal counselling. All the psychoeducational interventions had a significant effect (p <. 05; Cohen's d or Hedge’ g = 0.2 to 1.9) on certain psychological outcomes including childbirth attitude, fear of childbirth, depression, fear, and anxiety and birth preparedness outcomes.

Although first-time mothers experience a range of psychological issues during pregnancy, psychoeducational interventions were beneficial in addressing their psychological concerns. It would appear that these interventions are less expensive and could be easily implemented in LMICs. However, rigorous research like RCTs are hereby warranted to standardise the interventions and outcome assessment tools.

Strategies to Improve Women’s Leadership Preparation for Early Career Global Health Professionals: Suggestions from Two Working Groups

Background: Despite advances in gender equality, women still experience inequitable gaps in global health leadership, and barriers to women’s advancement as leaders in global health have been well described in the literature. In 2021, the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health conducted two virtual working groups for emerging women leaders to share challenges and suggest solutions to advance women’s leadership in global health. In this paper, we present emerging themes from the working groups, provide a framework for the results, and discuss strategies for advancing women’s leadership in global health.

Objectives: The objective of this paper is to synthesize and share the themes of the two working group sessions to provide strategies for improving women’s leadership training and opportunities in the field of global health.

Methods: Approximately 182 women in the global health field participated in two virtual working group sessions hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health using the Zoom platform. Participants were divided into virtual breakout rooms and discussed pre-assigned topics related to women’s leadership in global health. The participants then returned to share their ideas in a plenary session. Notes from the breakout rooms and transcripts from the plenary session were analyzed through a participatory and iterative thematic analysis approach.

Findings: We found that the working group participants identified two overarching themes that were critical for emerging women leaders to find success in global health leadership. First, the acquisition of individual essential skills is necessary to advance in their careers. Second, the institutional environments should be setup to encourage and enable women to enter and succeed in leadership roles. The participants also shared suggestions for improving women’s leadership opportunities such as including the use of virtual technologies to increase training and networking opportunities, intersectionality in mentorship and sponsorship, combatting impostor syndrome, and the importance of work-life balance.

Conclusions: Investing in women and their leadership potential has the promise to improve health and wealth at the individual, institutional, and community levels. This manuscript offers lessons and proposes solutions for increasing women’s leadership through improving individual level essential skills and fostering environments in which women leaders can emerge and thrive.

Context and Priorities for Health Systems Strengthening for Pain and Disability in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Secondary Qualitative Study and Content Analysis of Health Policies

Musculoskeletal (MSK) health impairments contribute substantially to the pain and disability burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), yet health systems strengthening (HSS) responses are nascent. We aimed to explore the contemporary context, framed as challenges and opportunities, for improving population-level prevention and management of MSK health in LMICs using secondary qualitative data from a previous study exploring HSS priorities for MSK health globally; and (2) to contextualize these findings through an analysis of health policies for integrated management of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in select LMICs. Part 1: 12 transcripts of interviews with LMIC-based key informants (KIs) were inductively analysed. Part 2: systematic content analysis of health policies for integrated care of NCDs where KIs were resident (Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Philippines, South Africa). A thematic framework of LMIC-relevant challenges and opportunities was empirically-derived, organized around 5 meta-themes: (1) MSK health is a low priority; (2) social determinants adversely affect MSK health; (3) healthcare system issues de-prioritize MSK health; (4) economic constraints restrict system capacity to direct and mobilize resources to MSK health; (5) build research capacity. Twelve policy documents were included, describing explicit foci on cardiovascular disease (100%), diabetes (100%), respiratory conditions (100%) and cancer (89%); none explicitly focussed on MSK health. Policy strategies were coded into three categories: (1) general principles for people-centred NCD care; (2) service delivery; (3) system strengthening. Four policies described strategies to address MSK health in some way, mostly related to injury care. Priorities and opportunities for HSS for MSK health identified by KIs aligned with broader strategies targeting NCDs identified in the policies. MSK health is not currently prioritized in NCD health policies among selected LMICs. However, opportunities to address the MSK-attributed disability burden exist through integrating MSK-specific HSS initiatives with initiatives targeting NCDs generally and injury and trauma care.