The spectrum and burden of in-patient paediatric musculoskeletal diseases in Northern Tanzania

Musculoskeletal diseases (MSD) are a major contributor to the global burden of disease and disability, and disproportionally affect low- and middle-income countries; however, there is a dearth of epidemiological data. Affected children often face increased morbidity, social isolation and economic hardship.

To assess the spectrum and burden of paediatric MSD in children aged 5–18 years admitted to a major referral hospital in Tanzania.

This was a retrospective cohort study of children aged 5–18 years admitted to Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) whose initial diagnosis was recognised as a musculoskeletal condition by the International Classification of Diseases-10 between 1 January and 31 December 2017.

During 2017, 163 cases of confirmed paediatric MSD were admitted to KCMC, representing 21.2% of all admissions of children aged 5–18 years (n = 769). Bone disease was the most common diagnosis. They comprised 106 (65.0%) traumatic fractures, 31 (19.0%) osteo-articular infections, 9 (5.5%) malunions and 3 (1.8%) pathological fractures. Congenital defects and rheumatic disease were relatively uncommon, accounting for only 6 (3.7%) and 4 (2.5%) MSD admissions, respectively.

The majority of cases of MSD were related to fractures, followed by osteo-articular infections, while recognised cases of rheumatic disease were rare. The study, although small, identified the sizeable burden and spectrum of paediatric MSD admitted to a hospital in Tanzania over a 12-month period and highlights the need for larger studies to inform the optimal allocation of health resources.

A Journey Undertaken by Families to Access General Surgical Care for their Children at Muhimbili National Hospital, Tanzania; Prospective Observational Cohort Study

A majority of the 2 billion children lacking access to safe, timely and affordable surgical care reside in low-and middle-income countries. A barrier to tackling this issue is the paucity of information regarding children’s journey to surgical care. We aimed to explore children’s journeys and its implications on accessing general paediatric surgical care at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), a tertiary centre in Tanzania.

A prospective observational cohort study was undertaken at MNH, recruiting patients undergoing elective and emergency surgeries. Data on socio-demographic, clinical, symptoms onset and 30-days post-operative were collected. Descriptive statistics and Mann–Whitney, Kruskal–Wallis and Fisher’s exact tests were used for data analysis.

We recruited 154 children with a median age of 36 months. The majority were referred from regional hospitals due to a lack of paediatric surgery expertise. The time taken to seeking care was significantly greater in those who self-referred (p = 0.0186). Of these participants, 68.4 and 31.1% were able to reach a referring health facility and MNH, respectively, within 2 h of deciding to seek care. Overall insurance coverage was 75.32%. The median out of pocket expenditure for receiving care was $69.00. The incidence of surgical site infection was 10.2%, and only 2 patients died.

Although there have been significant efforts to improve access to safe, timely and affordable surgical care, there is still a need to strengthen children’s surgical care system. Investing in regional hospitals may be an effective approach to improve access to children surgical care.

An e-learning pediatric cardiology curriculum for Pediatric Postgraduate trainees in Rwanda: implementation and evaluation

Access to pediatric sub-specialty training is a critical unmet need in many resource-limited settings. In Rwanda, only two pediatric cardiologists are responsible for the country’s clinical care of a population of 12 million, along with the medical education of all pediatric trainees. To strengthen physician training opportunities, we developed an e-learning curriculum in pediatric cardiology. This curriculum aimed to “flip the classroom”, allowing residents to learn key pediatric cardiology concepts digitally before an in-person session with the specialist, thus efficiently utilizing the specialist for additional case based and bedside teaching.

We surveyed Rwandan and US faculty and residents using a modified Delphi approach to identify key topics in pediatric cardiology. Lead authors from Rwanda and the USA collaborated with OPENPediatrics™, a free digital knowledge-sharing platform, to produce ten core topics presented in structured videos spanning 4.5 h. A mixed methods evaluation was completed with Rwandan pediatric residents, including surveys assessing knowledge, utilization, and satisfaction. Qualitative analysis of structured interviews was conducted using NVivo.

Among the 43 residents who participated in the OPENPediatrics™ cardiology curriculum, 33 (77%) completed the curriculum assessment. Residents reported using the curriculum for a median of 8 h. Thirty-eight (88%) reported viewing the curriculum on their personal or hospital computer via pre-downloaded materials on a USB flash drive, with another seven (16%) reporting viewing it online. Twenty-seven residents viewed the course during core lecture time (63%). Commonly reported barriers to utilization included lack of time (70%), access to internet (40%) and language (24%). Scores on knowledge assessment improved from 66.2% to 76.7% upon completion of the curriculum (p < 0.001) across all levels of training, with most significant improvement in scores for PGY-1 and PGY-2 residents. Residents reported high satisfaction with the visuals, engaging presentation, and organization of the curriculum. Residents opined the need for expanded training material in cardiac electrocardiogram and echocardiogram and requested for slower narration by foreign presenters.

Video-based e-learning via OPENPediatrics™ in a resource-limited setting was effective in improving resident’s knowledge in pediatric cardiology with high levels of utilization and satisfaction. Expanding access to digital curriculums for other pediatric sub-specialties may be both an effective and efficient strategy for improving training in settings with limited access to subspecialist faculty.

Prospective, observational study of perioperative critical incidents, anaesthesia and mortality in elective paediatric surgical patients at a national referral hospital in Niger

Aims: To describe perioperative critical incidents, the conduct of anaesthesia and perioperative mortality in elective paediatric surgery patients in a national referral hospital in Niger.

Methods: This is a prospective, observational study conducted from January to March 2018. All paediatric patients 15 years an younger, who underwent elective surgery in the Niamey National Hospital were included. The following variables were studied: age, sex, type of surgery, American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status (ASA PS) classification, monitoring system, anaesthesia technique, critical incidents, blood transfusion, analgesia, qualification of the anaesthesia practitioner, postoperative destination and mortality. Data were analysed with Excel 2007 and Epi Info 6™ (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Atlanta, GA). The chi2 test was used for univariate associations with critical incidents. Statistical significance was considered if p < 0.05. Results: There were 231 (27.2%) paediatric patients of 849 surgical patients during the study period. Within the paediatric group, the mean age was 6 ± 4 years. The male:female sex ratio was 1.65. A full blood count was completed preoperatively in all patients. Three per cent of the patients received a preoperative blood transfusion. The most frequently performed surgery was abdominal (42.4%). Most patients were classified as ASA PS I (55%) and ASA PS II (45%). General anaesthesia was performed in 96.1% of cases and spinal anaesthesia in 3.9%. The median duration of general anaesthesia was 63 (interquartile range 45–90) minutes. There were 27 reported critical incidents (11.7%), ten of which occurred during induction (4.9%), five intraoperatively (2.2%) and 12 postoperatively (5.2%). Multimodal postoperative analgesia was used in 33.8% of these patients. One patient died in the postoperative period (0.43%). Conclusion: Perioperative critical incidents in paediatric surgical patients in Niger remain high. To improve this situation requires paediatric training of anaesthetic staff, and improved paediatric monitoring and the use of safer anaesthesia agents.

A mixed methods study to assess the impact of COVID-19 on maternal, newborn, child Health and nutrition in fragile and conflict-affected settings

Background: The impacts of COVID-19 are unprecedented globally. The pandemic is reversing decades of progress in maternal, newborn, child health and nutrition (MNCHN), including fragile and conflict-affected settings (FCAS) whose populations were already facing challenges in accessing basic health and nutrition services. This study aimed to investigate the collateral impact of COVID-19 on funding, services and MNCHN outcomes in FCAS, as well as adaptations used in the field to continue activities.

Methods: A scoping review of peer-reviewed and grey literature published between

1st March 2020 – 31st January 2021 was conducted and analysed using a narrative synthesis approach. 39 remote semi-structured key informant interviews with humanitarian actors and donor staff within 12 FCAS were conducted between October 2020 and February 2021. Thematic analysis was undertaken independently by two researchers on interview transcripts and supporting documents provided by key informants, and triangulated with literature review findings.

Results: Funding for MNCHN has been reduced or suspended with increase in cost of continuing the same activities, and diversion of MNCHN funding to COVID-19 activities. Disruption in supply and demand of interventions was reported across different settings which, despite data evidence still being missing, points towards likely increased maternal and child morbidity and mortality. Some positive adaptations including use of technology and decentralisation of services have been reported, however overall adaptation strategies have been insufficient to equitably meet additional challenges posed by the pandemic, and have not been evaluated for their effectiveness.

Conclusions: COVID-19 is further exacerbating negative women’s and children’s health outcomes in FCAS. Increased funding is urgently required to re-establish MNCHN activities which have been deprioritised or halted. Improved planning to sustain routine health services and enable surge planning for emergencies with focus on the community/service users throughout adaptations is vital for improved MNCHN outcomes in FCAS.

Epidemiological profile and clinico-pathological features of pediatric gynecological cancers at Moi Teaching & Referral Hospital, Kenya

The main pediatric (0–18 years) gynecologic cancers include stromal carcinomas (juvenile granulosa cell tumors and Sertoli-Leydig cell tumors), genital rhabdomyosarcomas and ovarian germ cell. Outcomes depend on time of diagnosis, stage, tumor type and treatment which can have long-term effects on the reproductive career of these patients. This study seeks to analyze the trends in clinical-pathologic presentation, treatment and outcomes in the cases seen at our facility. This is the first paper identifying these cancers published from sub-Saharan Africa.

Retrospective review of clinico-pathologic profiles and treatment outcomes of pediatric gynecologic oncology patients managed at MTRH between 2010 and 2020. Data was abstracted from gynecologic oncology database and medical charts.

Records of 40 patients were analyzed. Most, (92.5%, 37/40) of the patients were between 10 and 18 years. Ovarian germ cell tumors were the leading histological diagnosis in 72.5% (29/40) of the patients; with dysgerminomas being the commonest subtype seen in 12 of the 37 patients (32.4%). The patients received platinum-based chemotherapy in 70% of cases (28/40). There were 14 deaths among the 40 patients (35%)

Surgery remains the main stay of treatment and fertility-sparing surgery with or without adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy are the standard of care with excellent prognosis following early detection and treatment initiation. LMICs face several challenges in access to quality care and that affects survival of these patients. Due to its commonality, ovarian germ cell cancers warrant a high index of suspicion amongst primary care providers attending to adnexal masses in this age grou

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Pediatric Surgical Volume in Four Low- and Middle-Income Country Hospitals: Insights from an Interrupted Time Series Analysis

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on surgical care delivery in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) has been challenging to assess due to a lack of data. This study examines the impact of COVID-19 on pediatric surgical volumes at four LMIC hospitals.

Retrospective and prospective pediatric surgical data collected at hospitals in Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Nigeria, and Zambia were reviewed from January 2019 to April 2021. Changes in surgical volume were assessed using interrupted time series analysis.

6078 total operations were assessed. Before the pandemic, overall surgical volume increased by 21 cases/month (95% CI 14 to 28, p < 0.001). From March to April 2020, the total surgical volume dropped by 32%, or 110 cases (95% CI − 196 to − 24, p = 0.014). Patients during the pandemic were younger (2.7 vs. 3.3 years, p < 0.001) and healthier (ASA I 69% vs. 66%, p = 0.003). Additionally, they experienced lower rates of post-operative sepsis (0.3% vs 1.5%, p < 0.001), surgical site infections (1.3% vs 5.8%, p < 0.001), and mortality (1.6% vs 3.1%, p < 0.001).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, children’s surgery in LMIC saw a sharp decline in total surgical volume by a third in the month following March 2020, followed by a slow recovery afterward. Patients were healthier with better post-operative outcomes during the pandemic, implying a widening disparity gap in surgical access and exacerbating challenges in addressing the large unmet burden of pediatric surgical disease in LMICs with a need for immediate mitigation strategies.

Surviving the Struggle of COVID-19: Practical Recommendations for Pediatric/Adult Cardiology and Cardiac Surgical Programs in Resource-Limited Settings: a Review

Introduction: The primary aim of this systematic review is to provide perioperative strategies to help restore or preserve cardiovascular services under threat from financial and personnel constraints imposed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Methods: The Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online, Excerpta Medica dataBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials/CCTR, and Google Scholar were systematically searched using the search terms “(cardiac OR cardiology OR cardiothoracic OR surgery) AND (COVID-19 or coronavirus OR SARS-CoV-2 OR 2019-nCoV OR 2019 novel coronavirus OR pandemic)”. Additionally, the webpages of relevant medical
societies, including the World Federation Society of Anesthesiologists, the Cardiothoracic Surgery Network, and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, were screened for relevant information.
Results: Whereas cardiac surgery and cardiology practices were reduced by 50–75% during the pandemic, mortality of patients with COVID-19 increased significantly. Healthcare workers are among those at high risk of infection with COVID-19.
Conclusion: Hospitals must provide maximum protective equipment and training on how to use it to healthcare workers for their mutual protection. Triage management of patients — which accounts for patient’s clinical status and risk-factor profile relatable to which services are available during the COVID-19 pandemic — is recommended. A strict reorganization of the hospital resources including preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative detailed protective measures is necessary to reduce probability of vector contamination, to protect patients and the cardiovascular teams, and to permit safe resumption of cardiological and cardiac surgical activity.

Effects of Integrating Family Planning With Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Services on Uptake of Voluntary Modern Contraceptive Methods in Rural Pakistan: Protocol for a Quasi-experimental Study

The uptake of modern contraceptive methods (MCMs) remains low, with 25% of women reporting their use in Pakistan. The overarching interventions covering service delivery platforms at facility and community levels necessitate the integration of family planning (FP) with maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) services.

The main aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of an integrated FP-MNCH service delivery model to increase coverage of MCMs in rural Pakistan. Moreover, we aim to measure the level of effectiveness of interventions regarding the uptake of MCMs.

A quasi-experimental, sequential, mixed methods study design with pre- and postevaluation will be adopted to evaluate the impact of integration of FP with MNCH services. The interventions include the following: (1) capacity strengthening of health care providers, including technical trainings; training in counseling of women who attend immunization centers, antenatal care (ANC) clinics, and postnatal care (PNC) clinics; and provision of job aids; (2) counseling of women and girls attending ANC, PNC, and pediatric clinics; (3) ensuring sustained provision of supplies and commodities; (4) community engagement, including establishing adolescent-friendly spaces; and (5) use of District Health Information System data in decision-making. Descriptive statistics will be used to estimate prevalence (ie, proportions) and frequencies of outcome indicators. A univariate difference-in-difference analytical approach will be used to estimate the effect of the interventions. In addition, a Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition analysis will be conducted to identify and quantify determinants of the modern contraceptive prevalence rate.

The intervention phase began in July 2021 and will run until June 2022. The impact assessment will be conducted from July to September 2022.

This project will evaluate the impact of integrating FP with MNCH services. Furthermore, this study will identify the drivers and barriers in uptake of MCMs and will simultaneously help in modifying the interventional strategies that can be scaled up through existing service delivery platforms within the public and private sectors, according to the local sociocultural and health system context.

Clinical presentation and outcomes in children with retinoblastoma managed at the Uganda Cancer Institute

Background. The majority of patients with retinoblastoma, the most common intraocular cancer of childhood, are found in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), with leukocoria being the most common initial presenting sign and indication for referral. Findings from the current study serve to augment earlier findings on the clinical presentation and outcomes of children with retinoblastoma in Uganda. Methods. This was a retrospective study in which we reviewed records of children admitted with a diagnosis of retinoblastoma at the Uganda Cancer Institute from January 2009 to February 2020. From the electronic database, using admission numbers, files were retrieved. Patient information was recorded in a data extraction tool. Results. A total of 90 retinoblastoma patients were studied, with a mean age at the first Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) presentation of 36.7 months. There were more males (57.8%) than females, with a male to female ratio of 1.37 : 1. The majority (54.4%) had retinoblastoma treatment prior to UCI admission. The most common presenting symptoms were leukocoria (85.6%), eye reddening (64.4%), and eye swelling (63.3%). At 3 years of follow-up after index admission at UCI, 36.7% of the patients had died, 41.1% were alive, and 22.2% had been lost to follow-up. The median 3-year survival for children with retinoblastoma in our study was 2.18 years. Significant predictors of survival in the multivariate analysis were follow-up duration (), features of metastatic spread (), history of eye swelling (), and bilateral enucleation (). Conclusions. The majority of children who presented to the Uganda Cancer Institute were referred with advanced retinoblastoma, and there was a high mortality rate. Retinoblastoma management requires a multidisciplinary team that should include paediatric ophthalmologists, paediatric oncologists, ocular oncologists, radiation oncologists, and nurses.