Demographics, clinical presentation and risk factors of ocular surface squamous neoplasia at a tertiary hospital, South Africa

Aims
The aim of this study is to describe the demographic, presenting features and associated risk factors of ocular surface squamous neoplasia (OSSN) at a tertiary eye hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Methods
An interventional prospective study of patients presenting with conjunctival masses was conducted. An electronic questionnaire was completed to document demographic data, presenting history, and associated risk factors. A slit lamp examination and photos were used to document and describe the clinical features at presentation. Cases (OSSN) and controls (benign lesions) were determined by histology.

Results
There were 130 cases and 45 controls. Median age was 44 years (IQR: 35–51) with an equal gender distribution in cases. The prevalence of HIV in cases was 74% and was strongly associated with OSSN (p < 0.001). Vascularisation, leukoplakia and pigmentation were clinical features that distinguished cases from controls. A fibrovascular morphology was strongly associated with a benign histology (p < 0.001), whereas leukoplakic and gelatinous morphologies were associated with OSSN. Conjunctival intra-epithelial neoplasia made up 82% of cases.

Conclusion
Our study describes a sample of OSSN that is young and has no gender predisposition. The majority of cases presented with CIN lesions, rather than SCC reported in other African countries. HIV was the most significant risk factor in this study population.

Incidence, risk and impact of unplanned ICU readmission on patient outcomes and resource utilisation in tertiary level ICUs in Nepal: A cohort study

Background: Unplanned readmissions to Intensive Care Units (ICUs) result in increased morbidity, mortality, and ICU resource utilisation (e.g. prolonged mechanical ventilation), and as such, is a widely utilised metric of quality of critical care. Most of the evidence on incidence, characteristics, associated risk factors and attributable outcomes of unplanned readmission to ICU are from studies performed in high-income countries This study explores the determinants of risk attributable to unplanned ICU readmission in four ICUs in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Methods: The registry-embedded eCRF reported data on case mix, severity of illness, in-ICU interventions (including organ support), ICU outcome, and readmission characteristics. Data were captured in all adult patients admitted between September 2019 and February 2021. Population and ICU encounter characteristics were compared between those with and without readmission. Independent risk factors for readmission were assessed using univariate analysis.
Results: In total 2948 patients were included in the study. Absolute unplanned ICU readmission rate was 5.60 % (n=165) for all four ICUs. Median time from ICU discharge to readmission was 3 days (IQR=8,1). Of those readmitted, 29.7% (n=49) were discharged at night following their index admission. ICU mortality was higher following readmission to ICU(p=0.016) and mortality was increased further in patients whose primary index discharge was at night(p= 0.019). Primary diagnosis, age, and use of organ support in the first 24hrs of index admission were all independently attributable risk factors for readmission.
Conclusions: Unplanned ICU readmission rates were adversely associated with significantly poorer outcomes, increased ICU resource utilisation. Clinical and organisational characteristics influenced risk of readmission and outcom

Healthcare Services for the Physically Challenged Persons in Africa: Challenges and Way Forward

This chapter is based on persons with physical disabilities in Africa, their challenges, and how it affects their health-seeking behaviors. We noticed that physical challenge has a substantial long-term adverse effect on one’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Both the causes and the consequences of physical disability vary throughout the world, especially in Africa. Environmental, technical, and attitudinal barriers and consequent social exclusion reduce the opportunities for physically challenged persons to contribute productively to the household and the community and further increase the risk of falling into poverty and poor healthcare services. The inability of the physically challenged persons to perceive the lack of points of interest of government has intensified to make significant recommendations and possible solutions. This is appalling because the rate to which a community provides and funds restoration is a way of grading how much interest it has, and importance it connects to the quality of life of its citizens. We advocate and recommend swift actions and disability inclusiveness to accommodate persons with physical disabilities in Africa for them to have a good perception of life.

Postoperative outcomes associated with surgical care for women in Africa: an international risk-adjusted analysis of prospective observational cohorts

Background
Improving women’s health is a critical component of the sustainable development goals. Although obstetric outcomes in Africa have received significant focus, non-obstetric surgical outcomes for women in Africa remain under-examined.

Methods
We did a secondary analysis of the African Surgical Outcomes Study (ASOS) and International Surgical Outcomes Study (ISOS), two 7-day prospective observational cohort studies of outcomes after adult inpatient surgery. This sub-study focuses specifically on the analysis of the female, elective, non-obstetric, non-gynaecological surgical data collected during these two large multicentre studies. The African data from both cohorts are compared with international (non-African) outcomes in a risk-adjusted logistic regression analysis using a generalised linear mixed-effects model. The primary outcome was severe postoperative complications including in-hospital mortality in Africa compared with non-African outcomes.

Results
A total of 1698 African participants and 18 449 international participants met the inclusion criteria. The African cohort were younger than the international cohort with a lower preoperative risk profile. Severe complications occurred in 48 (2.9%) of 1671, and 431 (2.3%) of 18 449 patients in the African and international cohorts, respectively, with in-hospital mortality after severe complications of 23/48 (47.9%) in Africa and 78/431 (18.1%) internationally. Women in Africa had an adjusted odds ratio of 2.06 (95% confidence interval, 1.17–3.62; P=0.012) of developing a severe postoperative complication after elective non-obstetric, non-gynaecological surgery, compared with the international cohort.

Conclusions
Women in Africa have double the risk adjusted odds of severe postoperative complications (including in-hospital mortality) after elective non-obstetric, non-gynaecological surgery compared with the international incidence.

The epidemiology and outcomes of prolonged trauma care (EpiC) study: methodology of a prospective multicenter observational study in the Western Cape of South Africa

Background
Deaths due to injuries exceed 4.4 million annually, with over 90% occurring in low-and middle-income countries. A key contributor to high trauma mortality is prolonged trauma-to-treatment time. Earlier receipt of medical care following an injury is critical to better patient outcomes. Trauma epidemiological studies can identify gaps and opportunities to help strengthen emergency care systems globally, especially in lower income countries, and among military personnel wounded in combat. This paper describes the methodology of the “Epidemiology and Outcomes of Prolonged Trauma Care (EpiC)” study, which aims to investigate how the delivery of resuscitative interventions and their timeliness impacts the morbidity and mortality outcomes of patients with critical injuries in South Africa.

Methods
The EpiC study is a prospective, multicenter cohort study that will be implemented over a 6-year period in the Western Cape, South Africa. Data collected will link pre- and in-hospital care with mortuary reports through standardized clinical chart abstraction and will provide longitudinal documentation of the patient’s clinical course after injury. The study will enroll an anticipated sample of 14,400 injured adults. Survival and regression analysis will be used to assess the effects of critical early resuscitative interventions (airway, breathing, circulatory, and neurologic) and trauma-to-treatment time on the primary 7-day mortality outcome and secondary mortality (24-h, 30-day) and morbidity outcomes (need for operative interventions, secondary infections, and organ failure).

Discussion
This study is the first effort in the Western Cape of South Africa to build a standardized, high-quality, multicenter epidemiologic trauma dataset that links pre- and in-hospital care with mortuary data. In high-income countries and the U.S. military, the introduction of trauma databases and registries has led to interventions that significantly reduce post-injury death and disability. The EpiC study will describe epidemiology trends over time, and it will enable assessments of how trauma care and system processes directly impact trauma outcomes to ultimately improve the overall emergency care system.

Trial Registration: Not applicable as this study is not a clinical trial.

Identification of risk factors for postoperative pulmonary complications in general surgery patients in a low-middle income country

Background
Postoperative pulmonary complications (PPCs) are an important cause of perioperative morbidity and mortality. Although risk factors for PPCs have been identified in high-income countries, less is known about PPCs and their risk factors in low- and middle-income countries, such as South Africa. This study examined the incidence of PPCs and their associated risk factors among general surgery patients in a public hospital in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa to inform future quality improvement initiatives to decrease PPCs in this clinical population.

Methods
A retrospective secondary analysis of adult patients with general surgery admissions from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2017 was conducted using data from the health system’s Hybrid Electronic Medical Registry. The sample was comprised of 5352 general surgery hospitalizations. PPCs included pneumonia, atelectasis, acute respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolism, prolonged ventilation, hemothorax, pneumothorax, and other respiratory morbidity which encompassed empyema, aspiration, pleural effusion, bronchopleural fistula, and lower respiratory tract infection. Risk factors examined were age, tobacco use, number and type of pre-existing comorbidities, emergency surgery, and number and type of surgeries. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression models were conducted to identify risk factors for developing a PPC.

Results
The PPC rate was 7.8%. Of the 418 hospitalizations in which a patient developed a PPC, the most common type of PPC was pneumonia (52.4%) and the mortality rate related to the PPC was 11.7%. Significant risk factors for a PPC were increasing age, greater number of comorbidities, emergency surgery, greater number of general surgeries, and abdominal surgery.

Conclusions
PPCs are common in general surgery patients in low- and middle-income countries, with similar rates observed in high-income countries. These complications worsen patient outcomes and increase mortality. Quality improvement initiatives that employ resource-conscious methods are needed to reduce PPCs in low- and middle-income countries.

State of African neurosurgical education: a protocol for an analysis of publicly available curricula

Background
Africa bears >15% of the global burden of neurosurgical disease. Yet to date, Africa still has the lowest neurosurgical workforce density globally, and efforts to fill this gap by 2030 need to be multiplied. Although the past decade has seen an increase in neurosurgery residency programs in the continent, it is unclear how these residency programs are similar or viable. This study aims to highlight the current status of neurosurgical training in Africa as well as the differences within departments, countries or African regions.

Methods
A literature search using keywords related to ‘neurosurgery’, ‘training’, and ‘Africa’ and relevant names of African countries will be performed on PubMed and Google Scholar. If unavailable online, the authors will contact local neurosurgeons at identified training programmes for their curricula. The residency curricula collected will be analysed against a standardized and validated medical education curriculum viability tool.

Results
The primary aim will be the description of African neurosurgical curricula. In addition, the authors will perform a comparative analysis of the identified African neurosurgical curricula using a standardized and validated medical education curriculum viability tool.

Discussion
This study will be the first to evaluate the current landscape of neurosurgery training in Africa and will highlight pertinent themes that may be used to guide further research. The findings will inform health system strengthening efforts by local training programme directors, governments, policymakers and stakeholders.Background
Africa bears >15% of the global burden of neurosurgical disease. Yet to date, Africa still has the lowest neurosurgical workforce density globally, and efforts to fill this gap by 2030 need to be multiplied. Although the past decade has seen an increase in neurosurgery residency programs in the continent, it is unclear how these residency programs are similar or viable. This study aims to highlight the current status of neurosurgical training in Africa as well as the differences within departments, countries or African regions.

Methods
A literature search using keywords related to ‘neurosurgery’, ‘training’, and ‘Africa’ and relevant names of African countries will be performed on PubMed and Google Scholar. If unavailable online, the authors will contact local neurosurgeons at identified training programmes for their curricula. The residency curricula collected will be analysed against a standardized and validated medical education curriculum viability tool.

Results
The primary aim will be the description of African neurosurgical curricula. In addition, the authors will perform a comparative analysis of the identified African neurosurgical curricula using a standardized and validated medical education curriculum viability tool.

Discussion
This study will be the first to evaluate the current landscape of neurosurgery training in Africa and will highlight pertinent themes that may be used to guide further research. The findings will inform health system strengthening efforts by local training programme directors, governments, policymakers and stakeholders.

Inspirational Women in Surgery: Professor Kokila Lakhoo, South Africa

“Imagine growing up in apartheid South Africa as a woman of color, wanting to do academic surgery.” This was the world in which Kokila Lakhoo began her surgical journey in pre-Mandela South Africa in the 1980’s during a time when the government was not supportive of the educational ambitions of black and brown communities. Now, as Professor of Pediatric Surgery at Oxford University, Prof Lakhoo remembers her own fight for social justice and remains one of the world’s strongest advocates for children and surgical health care providers in low-and-middle-income-countries (LMICs). She owes her early interest in medicine and social justice to her grandmother who was a community health care advocate in the hamlet (Bethal, South Africa) where there were no affordable facilities for people of color. She inculcated a strong sense of right and wrong in the young Kokila Lakhoo, who would go on to fight for the same rights for billions of people around the world as a global surgery advocate.

She completed medical school at the University of Natal in 1982 and discovered a burgeoning love for surgery as an intern. There was an immediate backlash to her nascent ambitions. She recalls, “Everybody thought I was mad… they would say ‘You have no chance… This is suicide… they won’t let you do it.” Professor Lakhoo remained resolute and pushed her case, without mentors, and with nothing but a quiet determination and her trademark resourcefulness to keep her going. This continued during her move to her first position at one of the segregated “apartheid hospitals.” She continued to face discouraging resistance to her career ambitions and was alone in her surgical aspirations. When against the odds, and contrary to expectations she fulfilled the academic criteria for admission by excelling in the part 1 exams, she again encountered resistance. During her first position as senior house officer in surgery at Baragwanath hospital (tertiary center for black and brown communities) there was a movement to reduce the number of doctors. She found herself in the line of fire. She was the only one in her cohort with the intent of becoming a surgeon and had passed part 1 of the surgical exams. It was then that her trademark tenacity shone through. She defied the insistence that she should give up her dreams and refused to leave the medical director’s office for 6 hours. She proclaimed “I’m not leaving–I want my job, because I have passed the exams and I want to be a surgeon, you have to give me the job.” Her insistence paid off when she was allowed to enter surgical training.

Her perseverance to educate herself did not stop. During her post-graduate studies, she traveled 35 km to attend lectures daily, attended extra surgical lectures at neighboring hospitals and pursued her PhD simultaneously with the grueling residency. “I did my experiments at night and weekends and took call in the morning.” After successfully completing her surgical training and PhD, she completed advanced training in pediatric surgery at Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, and then in Great Ormond Street in London. She completed her adult surgical training in 1989 and pediatric surgery in 1992. At the time of her completion of pediatric surgery training in 1992, she was the first qualified female pediatric surgeon and the first qualified female pediatric surgeon of color in South Africa.

Professor Lakhoo’s most impactful contribution to global health has been her role in developing pediatric surgery in Tanzania with little to no funding. She used her own funds and annual leave to help set the rudimentary building blocks of what would eventually become a longstanding partnership with Tanzanian surgeons [1]. She worked closely with the surgical team there to develop academic tools such as various aspects of scholarship and leadership. She also fostered clinical advances as well as career development alongside the local team [2, 3].

She is also a co-founder and past President of the Global Initiative in Children’s Surgery (GICS) and has been a strong advocate uplifting the voices of children and providers of surgery in LMICs [4]. She has led global efforts through the British Association of Pediatric Surgeons and provided leadership and support to the Pan-African Association of Pediatric Surgeons (PAPSA) and served as lead pediatric surgery external examiner for the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa (COSECSA) [5]. Professor Lakhoo believes the one of the most significant problems in the surgical community that needs to be addressed are the pervasive inequalities in the field with need for leadership, mentorship, role models, and advocacy.

In her spare time, she finds joy in making miniatures that she often gifts to her trainees.

Throughout her career, Professor Lakhoo has maintained a preserving outlook—“There are no failures in life, there are only setbacks. I hope more women and people from challenging backgrounds can be encouraged to take up surgical careers. Challenges in acknowledgement of the pioneering advances by women, especially those of color, still persist even up to now. The field still lacks sufficient workforce diversity in South Africa. I found I was able to have greater impact and career growth outside the country I trained and that remains the case for many other women globally as well.” She grounds herself in being able to separate her home (her husband and two children) and professional life, and she encourages trainees to strive for their dreams, never accept “no” and not be afraid to make mistakes along the way.

Rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries in sub-Saharan Africa: a multivariate non-linear decomposition modelling of Demographic and Health Survey data

Introduction
Globally, the rate of caesarean deliveries increased from approximately 16.0 million in 2000 to 29.7 million in 2015. In this study, we decomposed the rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods
Data for the study were extracted from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys of twenty-eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa. We included 160,502 women who had delivered in health facilities within the five years preceding the survey. A multivariate non-linear decomposition model was employed to decompose the rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries. The results were presented using coefficients and percentages.

Results
The pooled prevalence of caesarean deliveries in the 28 countries considered in the study was 6.04% (95% CI = 5.21–6.88). Caesarean deliveries’ prevalence was highest in Namibia (16.05%; 95% CI = 14.06–18.04) and lowest in Chad (1.32%; 95% CI = 0.91–1.73). For rural-urban disparities in caesarean delivery, the pooled prevalence of caesarean delivery was higher in urban areas (10.37%; 95% CI = 8.99–11.75) than rural areas (3.78%; 95% CI = 3.17-4.39) across the 28 countries. Approximately 81% of the rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries were attributable to the differences in child and maternal characteristics. Hence, if the child and maternal characteristics were levelled, more than half of the rural–urban inequality in caesarean deliveries would be reduced. Wealth index (39.2%), antenatal care attendance (13.4%), parity (12.8%), mother’s educational level (3.5%), and health insurance subscription (3.1%) explained approximately 72% of the rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries.

Conclusion
This study shows significant rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries, with the disparities being attributable to the differences in child and maternal characteristics: wealth index, parity, antenatal care attendance, mother’s educational level, and health insurance subscription. Policymakers in the included countries could focus and work on improving the socioeconomic status of rural-dwelling women as well as encouraging antenatal care attendance, women’s education, health insurance subscription, and family planning, particularly in rural areas.

Tools for self-management of obstetric fistula in low- and middle-income countries: a qualitative study exploring pre-implementation barriers and facilitators among global stakeholders

Background: Obstetric fistula, a debilitating maternal morbidity, occurs in contexts with poor access to and quality of emergency obstetric care, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa. As many as two million women and girls suffer from fistula, which results in urinary incontinence, vulnerability to stigma for women and families, and economic consequences for the household and the healthcare system. Surgical repair, the gold standard for treatment, remains inaccessible to many and success is not guaranteed. Non-surgical, user-controlled fistula management options are not readily accessible, although some technologies, like insertable devices, have been found to have some level of feasibility and acceptability and provide short-term control over incontinence. As evidence for the effectiveness of tools to support self-management grows, the determinants of their implementation within various contexts remain unknown. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore with key stakeholders, prior to implementation, those factors that could influence successful implementation of an innovation for self-management of obstetric fistula in a LMIC.

Methods: Stakeholders were purposefully identified from sectors that address the needs of women with obstetric fistula in sub-Saharan Africa: clinical care, academia, international health organizations, civil society, and government. Twenty-one key stakeholders were interviewed about their perceptions of innovations for fistula self-management and their implementation. The Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) guided data collection and analysis of transcripts from recorded interviews. Analyses were carried out within Nvivo v.12. Deductive coding focused on constructs within the CFIR, then inductive coding identified additional constructs relevant for implementation.

Results: Potential facilitators to implementation included a clear tension for change for low-cost, accessible innovations for self-management and a relative advantage over existing tools. The development of partnerships and identification of champions could also support implementation. Barriers included the lack of evidence identifying the optimal beneficiary and the need for educational strategies that encourage acceptability among clinical providers. Inductive coding revealed an additional relevant construct of sustainability.

Conclusions: Effectiveness and implementation of non-surgical tools for fistula self-management should be further examined in LMICs. Future research could inform comprehensive fistula care to reduce vulnerability to stigma and improve quality of life.