Implementation and evaluation of nonclinical interventions for appropriate use of cesarean section in low- and middle-income countries: protocol for a multisite hybrid effectiveness-implementation type III trial

Background: While cesarean sections (CSs) are a life-saving intervention, an increasing number are performed without medical reasons in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Unnecessary CS diverts scarce resources and thereby reduces access to healthcare for women in need. Argentina, Burkina Faso, Thailand, and Vietnam are committed to reducing unnecessary CS, but many individual and organizational factors in healthcare facilities obstruct this aim. Nonclinical interventions can overcome these barriers by helping providers improve their practices and supporting women’s decision-making regarding childbirth. Existing evidence has shown only a modest effect of single interventions on reducing CS rates, arguably because of the failure to design multifaceted interventions effectively tailored to the context. The aim of this study is to design, adapt, and test a multifaceted intervention for the appropriate use of CS in Argentina, Burkina Faso, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Methods: We designed an intervention (QUALIty DECision-making-QUALI-DEC) with four components: (1) opinion leaders at heathcare facilities to improve adherence to best practices among clinicians, (2) CS audits and feedback to help providers identify potentially avoidable CS, (3) a decision analysis tool to help women make an informed decision on the mode of birth, and (4) companionship to support women during labor. QUALI-DEC will be implemented and evaluated in 32 hospitals (8 sites per country) using a pragmatic hybrid effectiveness-implementation design to test our implementation strategy, and information regarding its impact on relevant maternal and perinatal outcomes will be gathered. The implementation strategy will involve the participation of women, healthcare professionals, and organizations and account for the local environment, needs, resources, and social factors in each country.

Discussion: There is urgent need for interventions and implementation strategies to optimize the use of CS while improving health outcomes and satisfaction in LMICs. This can only be achieved by engaging all stakeholders involved in the decision-making process surrounding birth and addressing their needs and concerns. The study will generate robust evidence about the effectiveness and the impact of this multifaceted intervention. It will also assess the acceptability and scalability of the intervention and the capacity for empowerment among women and providers alike.

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 challenge of safe anesthesia in developing countries: defining the problems in a medical center in Cambodia.

The International Standards for a Safe Practice of Anesthesia (ISSPA) were developed on behalf of the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists and the World Health Organization. It has been recommend as an assessment tool that allows anesthetic providers in developing countries to assess their compliance and needs. This study was performed to describe the anesthesia service in one main public hospital during an 8-month medical mission in Cambodia and evaluate its anesthetic safety issues according to the ISSPA. We conduct a retrospective study involving 1953 patients at the Preah Ket Mealea hospital. Patient demographics, anesthetic techniques, and complications were reviewed according to the registers of the anesthetic services and questionnaires. The inadequacies in personnel, facilities, equipment, medications, and conduct of anesthesia drugs were recorded using a checklist based on the ISSPA. A total of 1792 patients received general and regional anesthesia in the operating room, while 161 patients receiving sedation for gastroscopy. The patients’ mean age was 45.0 ± 16.6 years (range, 17-87 years). The three most common surgical procedures were abdominal (52.0%; confidence interval [CI], 49.3-54.7), orthopedic (27.6%; CI, 25.2-29.9), and urological surgery (14.7%; CI, 12.8-16.6). General anesthesia, spinal anesthesia, and brachial plexus block were performed in 54.3% (CI, 51.7-56.8), 28.2% (CI, 25.9-30.5), and 9.4% (CI, 7.9-10.9) of patients, respectively. One death occurred. Twenty-six items related to professional aspects, monitoring, and conduct of anesthesia did not meet the ISSPA-recommended standards. A lack of commonly used drugs and monitoring equipment was noted, posing major threats to the safety of anesthesia practice, especially in emergency situations. This study adds to the scarce literature on anesthesia practice in low- and middle-income countries such as Cambodia. Future medical assistance should help to strengthen these countries’ inadequacies, allowing for the adoption of international standards for the safe practice of anesthesia.

Risk factors associated with perforated acute appendicitis in geriatric emergency patients.

The aim of this study was to identify factors associated with perforated acute appendicitis in geriatric patients at the emergency department (ED).
The medical records of 223 consecutive patients aged >60 years with acute appendicitis between 2006 and 2017 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were grouped into those with perforated and non-perforated appendicitis. A comparison was made between the two groups in regard to baseline characteristics, clinical presentation, physical examination, time from onset of symptoms to ED arrival, time from ED arrival to operation, postoperative complications, hospital length of stay, and mortality. Significant factors associated with perforated appendicitis were examined using univariate and multivariate analyses by logistic regression.
A total of 78 (35%) patients had perforated appendicitis. Four significant factors associated with perforated appendicitis were as follows: 1) time duration from onset of symptoms to ED arrival >24 hours (OR 2.49, CI 1.33-4.68); 2) heart rate ≥90 beats/minute (OR 1.93, CI 1.04-3.59); 3) respiratory rate ≥20 breaths/minute (OR 2.54, CI 1.33-4.84); and 4) generalized guarding (OR 12.58, CI 1.43-110.85).
Time duration from onset of symptoms to ED arrival >24 hours, heart rate ≥90 beats/minute, respiratory rate ≥20 breaths/minute, and generalized guarding were the significant factors associated with perforated acute appendicitis in geriatric patients.

Incidence of unintended pregnancy among female sex workers in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

To determine the incidence of unintended pregnancy among female sex workers (FSWs) in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs).We searched MEDLINE, PsychInfo, Embase and Popline for papers published in English between January 2000 and January 2016, and Web of Science and Proquest for conference abstracts. Meta-analysis was performed on the primary outcomes using random effects models, with subgroup analysis used to explore heterogeneity.Eligible studies targeted FSWs aged 15-49 years living or working in an LMIC.Studies were eligible if they provided data on one of two primary outcomes: incidence of unintended pregnancy and incidence of pregnancy where intention is undefined. Secondary outcomes were also extracted when they were reported in included studies: incidence of induced abortion; incidence of birth; and correlates/predictors of pregnancy or unintended pregnancy.Twenty-five eligible studies were identified from 3866 articles. Methodological quality was low overall. Unintended pregnancy incidence showed high heterogeneity (I²>95%), ranging from 7.2 to 59.6 per 100 person-years across 10 studies. Study design and duration were found to account for heterogeneity. On subgroup analysis, the three cohort studies in which no intervention was introduced had a pooled incidence of 27.1 per 100 person-years (95% CI 24.4 to 29.8; I2=0%). Incidence of pregnancy (intention undefined) was also highly heterogeneous, ranging from 2.0 to 23.4 per 100 person-years (15 studies).Of the many studies examining FSWs’ sexual and reproductive health in LMICs, very few measured pregnancy and fewer assessed pregnancy intention. Incidence varied widely, likely due to differences in study design, duration and baseline population risk, but was high in most studies, representing a considerable concern for this key population. Evidence-based approaches that place greater importance on unintended pregnancy prevention need to be incorporated into existing sexual and reproductive health programmes for FSWs.CRD42016029185.

Epilepsy in Asia: Disease burden, management barriers, and challenges.

This article reviews the burden of epilepsy in Asia, the challenges faced by people with epilepsy, and the management of epilepsy. Comparison is made with other parts of the world. For this narrative review, data were collected using specified search criteria. Articles investigating the epidemiology of epilepsy, diagnosis, comorbidities and associated mortality, stigmatization, and treatment were included. Epilepsy is a global health care issue affecting up to 70 million people worldwide. Nearly 80% of people with epilepsy live in low- and middle-income countries with limited resources. People with epilepsy are prone to physical and psychological comorbidities, including anxiety and depression, which can negatively impact their quality of life. Furthermore, people with epilepsy are at higher risk of premature death than people without epilepsy. Discrimination or stigmatization of people with epilepsy is common in Asia and can affect their education, work, and marriage opportunities. Access to epilepsy treatment varies throughout Asia. Although highly advanced treatment is available in some countries, up to 90% of people with epilepsy are not adequately treated or are not treated with conventional antiepileptic therapy in resource-limited countries. People in remote areas often do not receive any epilepsy care. First-generation antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are available, but usually only in urban areas, and second-generation AEDs are not available in all countries. Newer AEDs tend to have more favorable safety profiles than first-generation AEDs and provide options to tailor therapy for individual patients, especially those with comorbidities. Active epilepsy surgery centers are present in some countries, although epilepsy surgery is often underutilized given the number of patients who could benefit. Further epidemiologic research is needed to provide accurate epilepsy data across the Asian region. Coordinated action is warranted to improve access to treatment and care.

Slipped capital femoral epiphysis in Ramathibodi Hospital.

Slipped capital femoral epiphysis is rare in Asiatic Indonesian-Malays. Seven cases (9 hips) of this condition in Ramathibodi Hospital including five boys (average age, 12.5 years) and two girls (average age, 13 years) were reviewed. Most of the cases (4 out of 7) were acute on chronic and mild slips. No endocrine disorder was observed in all cases. All of the patients had a body weight above the mean of the normal population, four of which were obese. For the treatment, a single screw fixation including one case with cancellous and six cases with cannulated type were used. In the follow-up of average 2.5 years, six cases had satisfactory results. Avascular necrosis occurred in one case with mild and chronic slips in which a cancellous screw was used. It is concluded that obesity is the important factor related to the etiology in this study and probably is the same in other developing countries. The effect of a cancellous screw causing avascular necrosis is still questionable.