Resuming elective surgeries in Corona pandemic from the perspective of a developing country

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare facilities have entered into a “crisis mode”. One of the measures used to allow hospitals to surge their capacity and serve the patient population with COVID-19 infection was the suspension of elective activity, most importantly elective surgery and other procedures. Now as the infection is fading, efforts are being made to resume elective surgical services keeping in mind the safety of the patient and health care workers. Resuming surgical services in developing countries is an uphill task.

Oral cancer: Clinicopathological features and associated risk factors in a high risk population presenting to a major tertiary care center in Pakistan

Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has the highest prevalence in head and neck cancers and is the first and second most common cancer in males and females of Pakistan respectively. Major risk factors include peculiar chewing habits like areca nut, betel quid, and tobacco. The majority of OSCC presents at an advanced stage with poor prognosis. On the face of such a high burden of this preventable cancer, there is a relative lack of recent robust data and its association with known risk factors from Pakistan. The aim of this study was to identify the socioeconomic factors and clinicopathological features that may contribute to the development of OSCC. A total of 186 patients diagnosed and treated at a tertiary care hospital, Karachi Pakistan were recruited. Clinicopathological and socioeconomic information was obtained on a structured questionnaire. Descriptive analysis was done for demographics and socioeconomic status (SES) while regression analysis was performed to evaluate the association between SES and chewing habits, tumor site, and tumor stage. The majority of patients were males and the mean age of OSCC patients was 47.62±12.18 years. Most of the patients belonged to low SES (68.3%) and 77.4% were habitual of chewing. Gender (male) and SES were significantly associated with chewing habits (p<0.05). Odds of developing buccal mucosa tumors in chewers (of any type of substance) and gutka users were 2 and 4 times higher than non-chewers respectively. Middle age, chewing habits, and occupation were significantly associated with late stage presentation of OSCC (p<0.05). In conclusion, male patients belonging to low SES in their forties who had chewing habits for years constituted the bulk of OSCC. Buccal mucosa was the most common site in chewers and the majority presented with late stage tumors.

Factors associated with patient payments exceeding National Health Insurance fees and out-of-pocket payments in Lao PDR

Attaining universal health coverage is a target in the Sustainable Development Goals. In Lao PDR, to achieve universal health coverage, the government is implementing a national insurance scheme, initially targeting the informal sector.

The purpose was to assess: i) the percentage of NHI patients who paid above the scheduled amount, based on individual billing payment; and ii) the factors related to overpayment.

Descriptive cross-sectional study based on a structured questionnaire administered at health facilities in face-to-face interviews with 1,850 patients in six provinces.

All 1,850 participants worked in the informal sector. Of these, 78.8% of respondents (77.9% of in-patients; 79.5% of out-patients) made co-payments or were exempted from. Factors associated with in-patients paying above the scheduled fee were living in the province and district (OR = 2.8; 95%CI 1.2 to 6.3); not having documents with them (OR = 21.2; 95%CI 5.6 to 80.3); or not having documents (OR: 7.8; 95% CI 2.1 to 28.6). Significant factors associated with additional costs for out-patients were level of facility used at the provincial hospital (OR:1.4; 95% CI 1.1 to 1.9); older age (OR = 2.2; 95%CI 1.5 to 3.1); living in the province and district (OR = 2.3; 95%CI 1.5 to 3.7); living more than 5 km from the facility (OR = 1.4; 95%CI 1.1 to 1.9); buying medicine or supplies outside of the health facility (OR: 5.6; 95% CI 3.1 to 10.2); not bringing documents (OR:9.1; 95% CI 6.1 to 13.5), not having the right documents (OR: 8.9; 95% CI 5.4 to 14.8).

A number of patients paid above scheduled fee rates, which may deter people from utilising services when needing them. There is a need for increased understanding of the benefits of the national insurance scheme among patients and healthcare staff.

Outcomes of trauma education workshop in Vietnam: improving diagnostic and surgical skills

Unintentional injuries have emerged as a significant public health issue in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), especially in Vietnam, where there is a poor quality of care for trauma. A scarcity of formal and informal training opportunities contributes to a lack of structure for treating trauma in Vietnam. A collaborative trauma education project by the JW LEE Center for Global Medicine in South Korea and the Military Hospital 175 in Vietnam was implemented to enhance trauma care capacity among medical staff across Ho Chi Minh City in 2018. We aimed to evaluate a part of the trauma education project, a one-day workshop that targeted improving diagnostic and surgical skills among the medical staff (physicians and nurses).

A one-day workshop was offered to medical staff across Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2018. The workshop was implemented to enhance the trauma care knowledge of providers and to provide practical and applicable diagnostic and surgical skills. To evaluate the workshop outcomes, we utilized a mixed-methods survey data. All participants (n = 27) voluntarily completed the post-workshop questionnaire. Quality of contents, satisfaction with teaching skills, and perceived benefit were used as outcomes of the workshop, measured by 5-point Likert scales (score: 1–5). Descriptive statistics were performed, and open-ended questions were analyzed by recurring themes.

The results from the post-workshop questionnaire demonstrated that the participants were highly satisfied with the quality of the workshop contents (mean = 4.32 standard deviation (SD) = 0.62). The mean score of the satisfaction regarding the teaching skills was 4.19 (SD = 0.61). The mean score of the perceived benefit from the workshop was 4.17 (SD = 0.63). The open-ended questions revealed that the program improved their knowledge in complex orthopedic surgeries neglected prior to training.

Positive learning experiences highlighted the need for the continuation of the international collaboration of skill development and capacity building for trauma care in Vietnam and other LMIC.

COVID-19’s Impact on Neurosurgical Training in Southeast Asia

Objective: Neurosurgery departments worldwide have been forced to restructure their training programs due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In this study, we describe the impact of COVID-19 on neurosurgical training in Southeast Asia.

Methods: We conducted an online survey among neurosurgery residents in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand from 22 to 31 May 2020 using Google Forms. The 33-item questionnaire collected data on elective and emergency neurosurgical operations, ongoing learning activities, and health worker safety.

Results: A total of 298 out of 470 neurosurgery residents completed the survey, equivalent to a 63% response rate. The decrease in elective neurosurgical operations in Indonesia and in the Philippines (median=100% for both) was significantly greater compared with other countries (p <.001). For emergency operations, trainees in Indonesia and Malaysia had a significantly greater reduction in their caseload (median=80% and 70%, respectively) compared with trainees in Singapore and Thailand (median=20% and 50%, respectively, p <.001). Neurosurgery residents were most concerned about the decrease in their hands-on surgical experience, uncertainty in their career advancement, and occupational safety in the workplace. Most of the residents (221, 74%) believed that the COVID-19 crisis will have a negative impact on their neurosurgical training overall.

Conclusions: An effective national strategy to control COVID-19 is crucial to sustain neurosurgical training and to provide essential neurosurgical services. Training programs in Southeast Asia should consider developing online learning modules and setting up simulation laboratories, to allow trainees to systematically acquire knowledge and develop practical skills during these challenging times.

The ratio of shock index to pulse oxygen saturation predicting mortality of emergency trauma patients

Objective: To test the following hypothesis: the ratio of shock index to pulse oxygen saturation can better predict the mortality of emergency trauma patients than shock index.

Methods: 1723 Patients of trauma admitted to the Emergency Department of the First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University from 1 November 2016 to 30 November 2019 were retrospectively evaluated. We defined SS as the ratio of SI to SPO2, and the mortality of trauma patients in the emergency department as end-point of outcome. We calculated the crude HR of SS and adjusted HR with the adjustment for risk factors including sex, age, revised trauma score (RTS) by Cox regression model. ROC curve analyses were performed to compare the area under the curve (AUC) of SS and SI.

Results: The crude HR of SS was: 4.31, 95%CI (2.89-6.42) and adjusted HR: 3.01, 95%CI(1.86-4.88); ROC curve analyses showed that AUC of SS was higher than that of shock index (SI), and the difference was statistically significant: 0.69, 95%CI(0.55-0.83) vs 0.65, 95%CI (0.51-0.79), P = 0.001.

Conclusion: The ratio of shock index to pulse oxygen saturation is good predictor for emergency trauma patients, which has a better prognostic value than shock index.

Systematic review of barriers to, and facilitators of, the provision of high‐quality midwifery services in India

The Indian government has committed to implementing high‐quality midwifery care to achieve universal health coverage and reduce the burden of maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity. There are multiple challenges, including introducing a new cadre of midwives educated to international standards and integrating midwifery into the health system with a defined scope of practice. The objective of this review was to examine the facilitators and barriers to providing high‐quality midwifery care in India.

We searched 15 databases for studies relevant to the provision of midwifery care in India. The findings were mapped to two global quality frameworks to identify barriers and facilitators to providing high‐quality midwifery care in India.

Thirty‐two studies were included. Key barriers were lack of competence of maternity care providers, lack of legislation recognizing midwives as autonomous professionals and limited scope of practice, social and economic barriers to women accessing services, and lack of basic health system infrastructure. Facilitators included providing more hands‐on experience during training, monitoring and supervision of staff, utilizing midwives to their full scope of practice with good referral systems, improving women’s experiences of maternity care, and improving health system infrastructure.

The findings can be used to inform policy and practice. Overcoming the identified barriers will be critical to achieving the Government of India’s plans to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality through the introduction of a new cadre of midwives. This is unlikely to be effective until the facilitators described are in place.

Cost-effectiveness of inhaled oxytocin for prevention of postpartum haemorrhage: a modelling study applied to two high burden settings

Background: Access to oxytocin for prevention of postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) in resource-poor settings is limited by the requirement for a consistent cold chain and for a skilled attendant to administer the injection. To overcome these barriers, heat-stable, non-injectable formulations of oxytocin are under development, including oxytocin for inhalation. This study modelled the cost-effectiveness of an inhaled oxytocin product (IHO) in Bangladesh and Ethiopia.

Methods: A decision analytic model was developed to assess the cost-effectiveness of IHO for the prevention of PPH compared to the standard of care in Bangladesh and Ethiopia. In Bangladesh, introduction of IHO was modelled in all public facilities and home deliveries with or without a skilled attendant. In Ethiopia, IHO was modelled in all public facilities and home deliveries with health extension workers. Costs (costs of introduction, PPH prevention and PPH treatment) and effects (PPH cases averted, deaths averted) were modelled over a 12-month program. Life years gained were modelled over a lifetime horizon (discounted at 3%). Cost of maintaining the cold chain or effects of compromised oxytocin quality (in the absence of a cold chain) were not modelled.

Results: In Bangladesh, IHO was estimated to avert 18,644 cases of PPH, 76 maternal deaths and 1954 maternal life years lost. This also yielded a cost-saving, with the majority of gains occurring among home deliveries where IHO would replace misoprostol. In Ethiopia, IHO averted 3111 PPH cases, 30 maternal deaths and 767 maternal life years lost. The full IHO introduction program bears an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of between 2 and 3 times the per-capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($1880 USD per maternal life year lost) and thus is unlikely to be considered cost-effective in Ethiopia. However, the ICER of routine IHO administration considering recurring cost alone falls under 25% of per-capita GDP ($175 USD per maternal life-year saved).

Conclusions: IHO has the potential to expand access to uterotonics and reduce PPH-associated morbidity and mortality in high burden settings. This can facilitate reduced spending on PPH management, making the product highly cost-effective in settings where coverage of institutional delivery is lagging.

Toward a complete estimate of physical and psychosocial morbidity from prolonged obstructed labour: a modelling study based on clinician survey

Introduction: Prolonged obstructed labour often results from lack of access to timely obstetrical care and affects millions of women. Current burden of disease estimates do not include all the physical and psychosocial sequelae from prolonged obstructed labour. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of the full spectrum of maternal and newborn comorbidities, and create a more comprehensive burden of disease model.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional survey of clinicians and epidemiological modelling of the burden of disease. A survey to estimate prevalence of prolonged obstructed labour comorbidities was developed for prevalence estimates of 27 comorbidities across seven categories associated with prolonged obstructed labour. The survey was electronically distributed to clinicians caring for women who have suffered from prolonged obstructed labour in Asia and Africa. Prevalence estimates of the sequelae were used to calculate years lost to disability for reproductive age women (15 to 49 years) in 54 low- and middle-income countries that report any prevalence of obstetric fistula.

Results: Prevalence estimates were obtained from 132 participants. The median prevalence of reported sequelae within each category were: fistula (6.67% to 23.98%), pelvic floor (6.53% to 8.60%), genitourinary (5.74% to 9.57%), musculoskeletal (6.04% to 11.28%), infectious/inflammatory (5.33% to 9.62%), psychological (7.25% to 24.10%), neonatal (13.63% to 66.41%) and social (38.54% to 59.88%). The expanded methodology calculated a burden of morbidity associated with prolonged obstructed labour among women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years old) in 2017 that is 38% more than the previous estimates.

Conclusions: This analysis provides estimates on the prevalence of physical and psychosocial consequences of prolonged obstructed labour. Our study suggests that the burden of disease resulting from prolonged obstructed labour is currently underestimated. Notably, women who suffer from prolonged obstructed labour have a high prevalence of psychosocial sequelae but these are often not included in burden of disease estimates. In addition to preventative and public health measures, high quality surgical and anaesthesia care are urgently needed to prevent prolonged obstructed labour and its sequelae.

Doctor-patient Communication in Surgical Practice During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

COVID‐19 is a new respiratory disease that has become a pandemic, involving whole world. Hospitals are now a hub for this disease and patients are advised to avoid hospitals as far as possible. Many healthcare workers are infected with SARS‐CoV‐2. This virus can spread from an infected doctor to patients or colleagues and does not respect any boundaries. Moreover, immunocompromized patients are at a greater risk of this potentially life‐threatening contagious disease. Recommendations of social distancing and home isolation to limit the spread of coronavirus are major factors limiting patients’ communication with doctors regarding their disease.