Role of General Practitioners in transforming surgical care in rural Nepal – A descriptive study from eastern Nepal.

Introduction: Nepal is a low-to-middle-income country (LMIC) with a predominantly rural population. Almost 10-20% of patients presenting to hospital require surgical care. The availability of skilled human resources in managing surgical care in rural areas of Nepal has to expand to meet this need. The objective of this study is to describe and demonstrate how General Practitioners (GPs) can be upskilled to provide surgical care in rural district hospitals in Nepal.

Method: It is a retrospective review of all surgical procedures performed by GPs from 1st February 2016 to 31st January 2021 at Charikot hospital. Data was collected from a prospectively maintained Electronic Health Record (EHR) system (Bahmini). Details of data collected included name of the procedure and its respective specialty. GP Task shifting and targeted surgical training programs for common orthopedic procedures and pediatric herniotomy were described in detail.

Result: A wide range of surgical procedures were performed by GPs over 5 years. This included interventions for obstetric emergencies, trauma and orthopedics, gynecological issues, general surgery of adult and childhood. A total of 2037 surgeries were performed by GPs including: Cesarean section 25%, 19.7% were orthopedics surgeries followed by 13.5% of mesh repair for abdominal hernia, 9.3% eversion of sac for Hydrocele, 8.7% appendectomy, 5.2% hysterectomy, 3% of pediatric herniotomy and others.

Conclusion: GPs can be further trained to perform important common surgical procedures to improve access to surgical care for rural communities.

Epidemiology of fractures and their treatment in Malawi: Results of a multicentre prospective registry study to guide orthopaedic care planning

Injuries cause 30% more deaths than HIV, TB and malaria combined, and a prospective fracture care registry was established to investigate the fracture burden and treatment in Malawi to inform evidence-based improvements.

To use the analysis of prospectively-collected fracture data to develop evidence-based strategies to improve fracture care in Malawi and other similar settings.

Multicentre prospective registry study.

Two large referral centres and two district hospitals in Malawi.

All patients with a fracture (confirmed by radiographs)—including patients with multiple fractures—were eligible to be included in the registry.

All fractures that presented to two urban central and two rural district hospitals in Malawi over a 3.5-year period (September 2016 to March 2020).

Main outcome(s) and measure(s)
Demographics, characteristics of injuries, and treatment outcomes were collected on all eligible participants.

Between September 2016 and March 2020, 23,734 patients were enrolled with a median age of 15 years (interquartile range: 10–35 years); 68.7% were male. The most common injuries were radius/ulna fractures (n = 8,682, 36.8%), tibia/fibula fractures (n = 4,036, 17.0%), humerus fractures (n = 3,527, 14.9%) and femoral fractures (n = 2,355, 9.9%). The majority of fractures (n = 21,729, 91.6%) were treated by orthopaedic clinical officers; 88% (20,885/2,849) of fractures were treated non-operatively, and 62.7% were treated and sent home on the same day. Open fractures (OR:53.19, CI:39.68–72.09), distal femoral fractures (OR:2.59, CI:1.78–3.78), patella (OR:10.31, CI:7.04–15.07), supracondylar humeral fractures (OR:3.10, CI:2.38–4.05), ankle fractures (OR:2.97, CI:2.26–3.92) and tibial plateau fractures (OR:2.08, CI:1.47–2.95) were more likely to be treated operatively compared to distal radius fractures.

Conclusions and relevance
The current model of fracture care in Malawi is such that trained orthopaedic surgeons manage fractures operatively in urban referral centres whereas orthopaedic clinical officers mainly manage fractures non-operatively in both district and referral centres. We recommend that orthopaedic surgeons should supervise orthopaedic clinical officers to manage non operative injuries in central and district hospitals. There is need for further studies to assess the clinical and patient reported outcomes of these fracture cases, managed both operatively and non-operatively.

Direct Cost of Illness for Spinal Cord Injury: A Systematic Review

Study Design:
Systematic review.

Providing a comprehensive review of spinal cord injury cost of illness studies to assist health-service planning.

We conducted a systematic review of the literature published from Jan. 1990 to Nov. 2020 via Pubmed, EMBASE, and NHS Economic Evaluation Database. Our primary outcomes were overall direct health care costs of SCI during acute care, inpatient rehabilitation, within the first year post-injury, and in the ensuing years.

Through a 2-phase screening process by independent reviewers, 30 articles out of 6177 identified citations were included. Cost of care varied widely with the mean cost of acute care ranging from $290 to $612,590; inpatient rehabilitation from $19,360 to $443,040; the first year after injury from $32,240 to $1,156,400; and the ensuing years from $4,490 to $251,450. Variations in reported costs were primarily due to neurological level of injury, study location, methodological heterogeneities, cost definitions, study populations, and timeframes. A cervical level of the injury, ASIA grade A and B, concomitant injuries, and in-hospital complications were associated with the greatest incremental effect in cost burden.

The economic burden of SCI is generally high and cost figures are broadly higher for developed countries. As studies were only available in few countries, the generalizability of the cost estimates to a regional or global level is only limited to countries with similar economic status and health systems. Further investigations with standardized methodologies are required to fill the knowledge gaps in the healthcare economics of SCI.

Identifying the epidemiology of traumatic injury in Benghazi, Libya through the implementation of an electronic trauma registry

Traumatic injury is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally, and there is little data in the literature for low middle-income countries (LMIC), although it is slowly growing. Libya has been suffering from low resources that are further strained by an ongoing civil war. Benghazi Medical Centre (BMC) is the only operating trauma public hospital in the country’s eastern region and trauma is on the rise. Currently, there is no system in place to identify the trends of traumatic injuries nor any formal surveillance. The objective of this thesis is to describe the epidemiology of traumatic injuries and identify gaps in the trauma system.Methods: This is a prospective study conducted at BMC’s emergency room through the implementation of an electronic trauma registry, iTrauma application. Data collection occurred during January of 2017 over a 10-day trial period. Upon the traumatic patient’s arrival to the emergency department twenty-five data points were collected and entered into iTrauma. Data points included patient demographics, mechanism of injury and clinical outcomes. Results: A total of 231 patients were evaluated and included into the TR. Males were at higher risk for traumatic injury making up 68% of injured patients. The average age was 31 years old, however, the majority of were in the 0-10 and 31-40 age groups. Falls were the most common cause of injury at 31%, followed closely by motor vehicle collisions at 30%. None of the patients injured in a car collision wore a seatbelt, and half of motorbike collision patients dawned helmets. The most common type of injury was bone fractures at 13% and the most common anatomical region was extremity injuries. The vast majority of trauma patients arrived by private vehicle (57%), whereas 20% arrived by ambulance. In terms of clinical outcome, 36% of patients were either treated and discharged in the ER or discharged by the 2 weeks follow up. However, there was a mortality rate of at least 11%. Conclusion: Traumatic injuries lead to a high mortality rate and carry a large burden to the individual clinically and economically. The implementation of a simple TR was shown to be feasible and has a tremendous value in identifying the epidemiology of traumatic injury, most notably falls and motor vehicle collisions. Advocating for programs that address preventative measures can have remarkable benefits in reducing morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, continued support for TR can evolve with the institution and provide ongoing improvement to quality of car

Fixation of intertrochanteric femur fractures using the SIGN intramedullary nail augmented by a lateral plate in a resource-limited setting without intraoperative fluoroscopy: assessment of functional outcomes at one-year follow-up at Juba Teaching Hospital

The incidence of hip fracture is high and increasing globally due to an aging population. Morbidity and mortality from these injuries are high at baseline and worse without prompt surgical treatment to facilitate early mobilization. Due to resource constraints, surgeons in low-income countries often must adapt available materials to meet these surgical needs. The objective of this study is to assess functional outcomes after surgical fixation of intertrochanteric femur fractures with the Surgical Implant Generation Network (SIGN) intramedullary nail augmented by a lateral SIGN plate.

Prospective case series

Juba Teaching Hospital, Tertiary Referral Hospital for South Sudan

Adult patients with intertrochanteric hip fractures

SIGN nail augmented by a lateral plate

Main Outcome Measurements:
Primary outcome was hip function as measured by a modified Harris Hip Score (mHHS) at 1-year after surgery. Secondary endpoints were the occurrence of reoperation or infection at 1-year after surgery.

Thirty patients were included, 16 (53%) men and 14 (47%) women, with a mean age of 62 years. Fractures were classified as AO/OTA Type 31A1 in 12 (40%) patients, 31A2 in 15 (50%) patients, and 31A3 in 3 (10%) patients. Mean mHHS at 1-year was 75.10 ± 21.2 with 76% categorized as excellent or good scores. There was 1 (3%) infection and 2 (7%) reoperations.

The SIGN nail augmented by a lateral plate achieved good or excellent hip function in the majority of patients with intertrochanteric hip fractures. This may be a suitable alternative to conventional implants for hip fracture patients in low-resource settings to allow mobilization.

The need for adaptable global guidance in health systems strengthening for musculoskeletal health: a qualitative study of international key informants

Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, MSK pain and MSK injury/trauma are the largest contributors to the global burden of disability, yet global guidance to arrest the rising disability burden is lacking. We aimed to explore contemporary context, challenges and opportunities at a global level and relevant to health systems strengthening for MSK health, as identified by international key informants (KIs) to inform a global MSK health strategic response.

An in-depth qualitative study was undertaken with international KIs, purposively sampled across high-income and low and middle-income countries (LMICs). KIs identified as representatives of peak global and international organisations (clinical/professional, advocacy, national government and the World Health Organization), thought leaders, and people with lived experience in advocacy roles. Verbatim transcripts of individual semi-structured interviews were analysed inductively using a grounded theory method. Data were organised into categories describing 1) contemporary context; 2) goals; 3) guiding principles; 4) accelerators for action; and 5) strategic priority areas (pillars), to build a data-driven logic model. Here, we report on categories 1–4 of the logic model.

Thirty-one KIs from 20 countries (40% LMICs) affiliated with 25 organisations participated. Six themes described contemporary context (category 1): 1) MSK health is afforded relatively lower priority status compared with other health conditions and is poorly legitimised; 2) improving MSK health is more than just healthcare; 3) global guidance for country-level system strengthening is needed; 4) impact of COVID-19 on MSK health; 5) multiple inequities associated with MSK health; and 6) complexity in health service delivery for MSK health. Five guiding principles (category 3) focussed on adaptability; inclusiveness through co-design; prevention and reducing disability; a lifecourse approach; and equity and value-based care. Goals (category 2) and seven accelerators for action (category 4) were also derived.

KIs strongly supported the creation of an adaptable global strategy to catalyse and steward country-level health systems strengthening responses for MSK health. The data-driven logic model provides a blueprint for global agencies and countries to initiate appropriate whole-of-health system reforms to improve population-level prevention and management of MSK health. Contextual considerations about MSK health and accelerators for action should be considered in reform activities.

Predictors of Rehabilitation Service Utilisation among Children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC): Findings from the Global LMIC CP Register

Background: We assessed the rehabilitation status and predictors of rehabilitation service utilisation among children with cerebral palsy (CP) in selected low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Methods: Data from the Global LMIC CP Register (GLM-CPR), a multi-country register of children with CP aged <18 years in selected countries, were used. Descriptive and inferential statistics (e.g., adjusted odds ratios) were reported. Results: Between January 2015 and December 2019, 3441 children were registered from Bangladesh (n = 2852), Indonesia (n = 130), Nepal (n = 182), and Ghana (n = 277). The proportion of children who never received rehabilitation was 49.8% (n = 1411) in Bangladesh, 45.8% (n = 82) in Nepal, 66.2% (n = 86) in Indonesia, and 26.7% (n = 74) in Ghana. The mean (Standard Deviation) age of commencing rehabilitation services was relatively delayed in Nepal (3.9 (3.1) year). Lack of awareness was the most frequently reported reason for not receiving rehabilitation in all four countries. Common predictors of not receiving rehabilitation were older age at assessment (i.e., age of children at the time of the data collection), low parental education and family income, mild functional limitation, and associated impairments (i.e., hearing and/or intellectual impairments). Additionally, gender of the children significantly influenced rehabilitation service utilisation in Bangladesh. Conclusions: Child’s age, functional limitation and associated impairments, and parental education and economic status influenced the rehabilitation utilisation among children with CP in LMICs. Policymakers and service providers could use these findings to increase access to rehabilitation and improve equity in rehabilitation service utilisation for better functional outcome of children with CP

Evaluation of a surgical treatment algorithm for neglected clubfoot in low-resource settings

Idiopathic clubfoot affects approximately 1/1000 alive-born infants, of whom 80–91% are born in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs). This retrospective study aimed to evaluate the morphological, functional, and social outcomes in patients with neglected clubfoot in rural Bangladesh, after receiving surgical treatment.

Patients received a posteromedial release (PMR) with or without an additional soft tissue intervention (group 1), a PMR with an additional bony intervention (group 2), or a triple arthrodesis (group 3) according to our surgical algorithm. Patients were followed until two year post-intervention. Evaluation was done using a modified International Clubfoot Study Group Outcome evaluation score and the Laaveg-Ponseti score.

Twenty-two patients with 32 neglected clubfeet (ages 2–24 years) received surgical treatment. Nineteen patients with 29 clubfeet attended follow-up. At two year follow-up an excellent, good, or fair Laaveg-Ponseti score was obtained in 81% (group 1), 80% (group 2), and 0% (group 3) of the patients (p value 0.0038). Age at intervention is inversely correlated with the Laaveg-Ponseti score at two year follow-up (p < 0.0001). All patients attended school or work and were able to wear normal shoes.

Our treatment algorithm is in line with other surgical algorithms used in LMICs. Our data reconfirms that excellent results can be obtained with a PMR regardless of age. Our algorithm follows a pragmatic approach that takes into account the reality on the ground in many LMICs. Good functional outcomes can be achieved with PMR for neglected clubfoot. Further research is needed to investigate the possible role of triple arthrodesis.

Short-term general, gynecologic, orthopedic, and pediatric surgical mission trips in Nicaragua: A cost-effectiveness analysis

Background Short-term surgical missions facilitated by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may be a possible platform for cost-effective international global surgical efforts. The objective of this study is to determine if short-term surgical mission trips provided by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Esperança to Nicaragua from 2016 to 2020 are cost-effective.
Methods Using a provider perspective, the costs of implementing the surgical trips were collected via Esperança’s previous trip reports. The reports and patient data were analyzed to determine disability-adjusted life years averted from each surgical procedure provided in Nicaragua from 2016-2020. Average cost-effectiveness ratios for each surgical trip specialty were calculated to determine the average cost of averting one disability adjusted life year.
Results Esperança’s surgical missions’ program in Nicaragua from 2016 to 2020 was found to be cost-effective, with pediatric and gynecology surgical specialties being highly cost-effective and general and orthopedic surgical specialties being moderately cost-effective. These results were echoed in both scenarios of the sensitivity analysis, except for the orthopedic specialty which was found to not be cost-effective when testing an increased discount rate.
Conclusions The cost-effectiveness of short-term surgical missions provided by NGOs can be cost-effective, but limitations include inconsistent data from a societal perspective and lack of an appropriate counterfactual. Future studies should examine the capacity for NGOs to collect adequate data and conduct rigorous economic evaluations

Respiratory morbidity and mortality of traumatic cervical spinal cord injury at a level I trauma center in India

Study design
Descriptive retrospective.

To evaluate the burden of respiratory morbidity in terms of ventilator dependence (VD) days and length of stay in neurotrauma ICU (NICU) and hospital, and to determine mortality in patients with traumatic cervical spinal cord injury (CSCI) in a low middle-income country (LMIC).

Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Center (JPNATC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India.

A total of 135 patients admitted with CSCI in the NICU between January 2017 to December 2018 were screened. Information regarding age, gender, American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) impairment scale (AIS), level of injury, duration of VD, length of NICU, hospital stay, and outcome in terms of mortality or discharge from the hospital were obtained from the medical records.

A total of 106 CSCI patients were analyzed. The mean (SD) age of patients was 40 (±16) years and male: female ratio was 5:1. The duration of VD, duration of NICU, and hospital stay was a median of 8 days (IQR 1127), 6 days (IQR 1118), and 15 days (IQR 3127) respectively. Mortality was 19% (20/106). The mortality was significantly associated with poorer AIS score, VD, and duration of ICU and hospital stay. All patients were discharged to home only after they became ventilator-free.

The ventilator burden, hospital stay, and mortality are high in patients with CSCI in LMICs. Poor AIS scores, prolonged VD, ICU and hospital stay are associated with mortality. There is a need for comprehensive CSCI rehabilitation programs in LMICs to improve outcome.