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.

Assessment of Eustachian Tube Functioning Following Surgical Intervention of Oral Submucus Fibrosis by Using Tympanometry & Audiometry

Oral Submucus fibrosis has been reported to cause variation in hearing sensitivity & changes in middle ear function. This study was conducted to validate the influence of OSMF and its surgical correction on middle ear function and hearing sensitivity. In this study, 20 patients (40 ears) suffering from biopsy proven OSMF (Group 2 & 3) were tested for Middle ear dysfunction and hearing sensitivity using Tympanometry & Audiometry. On Tympanometry, Type A curve was obtained in 29 ears, Type B curve in 11 ears preoperatively. Immediate postoperatively TYPE A curve was obtained in 27 ears, TYPE B curve in 13 ears. After 1 month and 3 month Type B curve was not obtained in any ear. On Audiometry,28 ears showed normal hearing and 12 ears showed minimal conductive hearing loss preoperatively and Immediate postoperatively. Tests after 1 month and 3 months showed all 40 ears having normal hearing. Results were found statistically significant with p value 0.000 and F value of 11.331 in Tympanometry and 11.143 in Audiometry. Pearson correlation test revealed that results from both the test are highly co related (0.902). OSMF causes fibrotic changes in paratubal muscles which in addition with restricted mouth opening hampers proper Eustachian tube functioning in turn causing changes in Middle ear function. This feature is seldom/infrequently found in Group 2 and 3 and if encountered can be dealt effectively with surgical intervention.

Breast Cancer messaging in Vietnam: an online media content analysis

Background: Breast cancer incidence is increasing in Vietnam with studies indicating low levels of knowledge and awareness and late presentation. While there is a growing body of literature on challenges faced by women in accessing breast cancer services, and for delivering care, no studies have sought to analyse breast cancer messaging in the Vietnamese popular media. The aim of this study was to investigate and understand the content of messages concerning breast cancer in online Vietnamese newspapers in order to inform future health promotional content.

Methods: This study describes a mixed-methods media content analysis that counted and ranked frequencies for media content (article text, themes and images) related to breast cancer in six Vietnamese online news publications over a twelve month period.

Results: Media content (n = 129 articles & n = 237 images) sampled showed that although information is largely accurate, there is a marked lack of stories about Vietnamese women’s personal experiences. Such stories could help bridge the gap between what information about breast cancer is presented in the Vietnamese media, and what women in Vietnam understand about breast cancer risk factors, symptoms, screening and treatment.

Conclusions: Given findings from other studies indicating low levels of knowledge and women with breast cancer experiencing stigma and prejudice, more nuanced and in-depth narrative-focused messaging may be required.

General Thoracic Surgery Services Across Asia During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 posed an historic challenge to healthcare systems around the world. Besides mounting a massive response to the viral outbreak, healthcare systems needed to consider provision of clinical services to other patients in need. Surgical services for patients with thoracic disease were maintained to different degrees across various regions of Asia, ranging from significant reductions to near-normal service. Key determinants of robust thoracic surgery service provision included: preexisting plans for an epidemic response, aggressive early action to “flatten the curve”, ability to dedicate resources separately to COVID-19 and routine clinical services, prioritization of thoracic surgery, and the volume of COVID-19 cases in that region. The lessons learned can apply to other regions during this pandemic, and to the world, in preparation for the next one.

The Impact of Cleft Lip/Palate and Surgical Intervention on Adolescent Life Outcomes: Evidence from Operation Smile in India

Cleft Lip/Palate (CLP) is a congenital orofacial anomaly appearing in approximately one in 700 births worldwide. While in high-income countries CLP is normally addressed surgically during infancy, in developing countries CLP is often left unoperated, potentially impacting multiple dimensions of life quality. Previous research has frequently compared CLP outcomes to those of the general population. But because local environmental and genetic factors both contribute to the risk of CLP and also may influence life outcomes, such studies may present a downward bias in estimates of both CLP status and restorative surgery. Working with the non- profit organization Operation Smile, this research uses quasi-experimental causal methods on a novel data set of 1,118 Indian children to study the impact of CLP status and CLP correction on the physical, psychological, and social well-being of Indian teenagers. Our results indicate that adolescents with median-level CLP severity show statistically significant losses in indices of speech quality (-1.55), academic and cognitive ability (-0.43), physical well-being (-0.35), psychological well-being (-0.23), and social inclusion (-0.35). We find that CLP surgery improves speech if carried out at an early age, and that it significantly restores social inclusion.

Prevalence and Factors Associated With Caesarean Section in Four Hard-to-Reach Areas of Bangladesh: Findings From a Cross-Sectional Survey

Background: Caesarean section (C-section) is a major obstetric life-saving intervention for the prevention of pregnancy and childbirth related complications. Globally C-section is increasing, as well as in Bangladesh. This study identifies the prevalence of C-section and socio-economic and health care seeking related determinants of C-section among women living in hard-to-reach (HtR) areas in Bangladesh.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted using a structured questionnaire between August and December 2017 at four distinct types of HtR areas of Bangladesh, namely coastal, hilly, haor (wetland), and char areas (shallow land-mass rising out of a river). Total 2,768 women of 15-49 years of age and who had delivery within one year prior to data collection were interviewed. For the analysis of determinants of C- section, the explanatory variables were maternal age, educational status of women and their husbands, women’s religion, employment status and access to mobile phone, wealth index of the household, distance to the nearest health facility from the household, the number of ANC visits and presence of complications during pregnancy and the last childbirth. Logistic regression model was run among 850 women, who had facility delivery. Variables found significantly associated with the outcome (C-section) in bivariate analysis were included in the multivariable logistic model. A p-value <0.05 was considered as statistically significant in the analyses.

Results: Of the 2,768 women included in the study, 13% had C-sections. The mean (±SD) age of respondents was 25.4 (± 0.1) years. The adjusted prevalence of C-section was 13.1 times higher among women who had their delivery in private facilities than women who delivered in public facilities (Adjusted Odds Ratio, AOR: 13.1; 95% CI 8.6-19.9; p-value: <0.001). Women from haor area and coastal area had 4.7 times (AOR: 4.7; 95% CI 2.4-9.4; p value: <0.001) and 6.8 times (AOR: 6.8; 95% CI 3.6-12.8; p value: <0.001) more chance of having C-section, respectively, than women living in char area. Among women who reported complications during the last childbirth, the AOR of C-section was 3.6 times higher than those who did not report any complication (AOR: 3.6; 95% CI 2.4-5.4; p value: <0.001).

Conclusions: The study identifies that the prevalence of C-sections in four HtR areas of Bangladesh in substantially below the national average, although, the prevalence was higher in coastal areas than three other HtR regions. Both public and private health services for C-section should be made available and accessible in remote HtR areas for women with pregnancy complications. Establishment of an accreditation system for regulating private hospitals are needed to ensure rational use of the procedure.