eHealth for service delivery in conflict: a narrative review of the application of eHealth technologies in contemporary conflict settings

The role of eHealth in conflict settings is increasingly important to address geographic, epidemiologic and clinical disparities. This study categorizes various forms of eHealth usage in conflict and aims to identify gaps in evidence to make recommendations for further research and practice. The analysis was carried out via a narrative hermeneutic review methodology. Articles that fulfilled the following screening criteria were reviewed: (1) describing an eHealth intervention in active conflict or ongoing insurgency, (2) an eHealth intervention targeting a conflict-affected population, (3) an e-learning platform for delivery in conflict settings and (4) non-interventional descriptive reviews relating to eHealth in conflict. Of the 489 papers eligible for screening, 46 merited final inclusion. Conflict settings described include Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Chechnya, Gaza and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thirty-six studies described specific eHealth initiatives, while the remainder were more generic review papers exploring general principles. Analysis resulted in the elucidation of three final categories of current eHealth activity in conflict-affected settings: (1) eHealth for clinical management, (2) e-learning for healthcare in conflict and (3) eHealth for information management in conflict. Obvious disparities in the distribution of technological dividends from eHealth in conflict are demonstrated by this review. Conflict-affected populations are predominantly subject to ad hoc and voluntary initiatives delivered by diaspora and civil society organizations. While the deployment of eHealth technologies in conflict settings is increasingly normalized, there is a need for further clarification of global norms relating to practice in this context.

Perceptions of Non-Communicable Disease and War Injury Management in the Palestinian Health System: A Qualitative Study of Healthcare Providers Perspectives

Background: Palestine, like other low-income countries, is confronting an increasing epidemic of non-communicable disease (NCD) and trend of war injury. The management of health problems often presents a critical challenge to the Palestinian health system (PHS). Understanding the perceptions of healthcare providers is essential in exploring the gaps in the health system to develop an effective healthcare intervention. Unfortunately, health research on management of NCD and war injury has largely been neglected and received little attention. Therefore, the study aimed to explore the perspectives of healthcare providers regarding NCD and war injury management in the PHS in the Gaza Strip.
Methods: A qualitative study approach was used, based on four focus group discussions (FGDs) involving a purposive sampling strategy of 30 healthcare providers from three main public hospitals in Gaza Strip. A semi-structured topic guide was used, and the focus group interviews data were analyzed using manifest content analysis. The study was approved by the Palestinian Health Research Council (PHRC) for ethics approval.
Results: From the healthcare providers perspective, four main themes and several sub-themes have emerged from the descriptive manifest content analysis: functioning of healthcare system; system-related challenges; patients-related challenges; strategies and actions to navigating the challenges and improving care. Informants frequently discussed that despite some positive aspects in the system, fundamental changes and significant improvements are needed. Some expressed serious concerns that the healthcare system needs complete rebuilding to facilitate the management of NCD and war-related injury. They perceived important barriers to effective management of NCD and war injury such as poor hospital infrastructure and logistics, shortage of micro and sub-specialities and essential resources. Participants also expressed a dilemma and troubles in communication and interactions, especially during emergencies or crises. The informants stressed the unused of updated clinical management guidelines. There was a consensus regarding poor shared-care/task sharing, partnership, and cooperation among healthcare facilities.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that fundamental changes and significant reforms are needed in the health system to make healthcare services more effective, timely, and efficient. The study disclosed the non-use of clinical guidelines as well as suboptimal sectorial task-sharing among different stakeholders and healthcare providers. A clear and comprehensive healthcare policy considering the gaps in the system must be adopted for the improvement and development of care in the PHS.

Determinants of surgeons’ adherence to preventive intraoperative measures of surgical site infection in Gaza Strip hospitals: a multi-centre cross-sectional study

Surgical site infection (SSI) is one of the most common hospital-acquired infections and is associated with serious impact on the rates of morbidity, mortality as well as healthcare costs. This study examined factors influencing the application of several intraoperative preventive measures of SSI by surgeons and surgical residents in the Gaza Strip.

A cross-sectional study was conducted from December 2016 to February 2017 at the operation rooms of the three major hospitals located in the Gaza-Strip, Palestine. Inclusion criteria for patients were being adult (aged ≥18 years), no history of wound infection at time of operation and surgical procedure under general anaesthesia with endotracheal intubation. The association between different patient- and procedure-related SSI risk factors and adherence to several intraoperative SSI preventive measures was tested.

In total, 281 operations were observed. The mean patient age ± standard deviation (SD) was 38.4 ± 14.6 years and the mean duration of surgery ± SD was 58.2 ± 32.1 minutes. A hundred-thirty-two patients (47.0%) were male. Location and time of the operation were found to have significant associations with adherence to all SSI preventive measures except for antibiotic prophylaxis. Type of operation had a significant association with performing all measures except changing surgical instruments. Patient age did not have a statistically significant association with adherence to any measure.

The results suggest that the surgeon could be a major factor that can lead to a better outcome of surgical procedures by reducing postoperative complications of SSI. Operating department professionals would benefit from clinical guidance and continuous training, highlighting the importance of persistent implementation of SSI preventive measures in everyday practice to improve the quality of care provided to surgical patients.