PREvalence Study on Surgical COnditions (PRESSCO) 2020: A Population-Based Cross-Sectional Countrywide Survey on Surgical Conditions in Post-Ebola Outbreak Sierra Leone

Understanding the burden of diseases requiring surgical care at national levels is essential to advance universal health coverage. The PREvalence Study on Surgical COnditions (PRESSCO) 2020 is a cross-sectional household survey to estimate the prevalence of physical conditions needing surgical consultation, to investigate healthcare-seeking behavior, and to assess changes from before the West African Ebola epidemic.

This study (ISRCTN: 12353489) was built upon the Surgeons Overseas Surgical Needs Assessment (SOSAS) tool, including expansions. Seventy-five enumeration areas from 9671 nationwide clusters were sampled proportional to population size. In each cluster, 25 households were randomly assigned and visited. Need for surgical consultations was based on verbal responses and physical examination of selected household members.

A total of 3,618 individuals from 1,854 households were surveyed. Compared to 2012, the prevalence of individuals reporting one or more relevant physical conditions was reduced from 25 to 6.2% (95% CI 5.4–7.0%) of the population. One-in-five conditions rendered respondents unemployed, disabled, or stigmatized. Adult males were predominantly prone to untreated surgical conditions (9.7 vs. 5.9% women; p < 0.001). Financial constraints were the predominant reason for not seeking care. Among those seeking professional health care, 86.7% underwent surgery.

PRESSCO 2020 is the first surgical needs household survey which compares against earlier study data. Despite the 2013–2016 Ebola outbreak, which profoundly disrupted the national healthcare system, a substantial reduction in reported surgical conditions was observed. Compared to one-time measurements, repeated household surveys yield finer granular data on the characteristics and situations of populations in need of surgical treatment.

Telesurgery’s potential role in improving surgical access in Africa

An estimated five billion people worldwide lack access to surgical care, while LMICs including African nations require an additional 143 million life-saving surgical procedures each year.African hospitals are under-resourced and understaffed, causing global attention to be focused on improving surgical access in the continent. The African continent saw its first telesurgery application when the United States Army Special Operations Forces in Somalia used augmented reality to stabilize lifethreatening injuries.Various studies have been conducted since the first telesurgery implementation in 2001 to further optimize its application.In context of a relative shortage of healthcare resources and personnel telesurgery can considerably improve quality and access to surgical services in Africa.telesurgery can provide remote African regions with access to knowledge and tools that were previously unavailable, driving innovative research and professional growth of surgeons in the region.At the same time, telesurgery allows less trained surgeons in remote areas with lower social determinants of health, such as access, to achieve better health outcomes. However, lack of stable internet access, expensive equipment costs combined with low expenditure on healthcare limits expansive utilization of telesurgery in Africa. Regional and international policies aimed at overcoming these obstacles can improve access, optimize surgical care and thereby reduce disease burden associated with surgical conditions in Africa.

Appropriateness of surgical antimicrobial prophylaxis in a teaching hospital in Ghana : findings and implications

Background: Surgical site infections (SSIs) are among the most common infections seen in hospitalized patients in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), accounting for up to 60% of hospital-acquired infections. Surgical antimicrobial prophylaxis (SAP) has shown to be an effective intervention for reducing SSIs and their impact. There are concerns of inappropriate use of SAP in Ghana and therefore our audit in this teaching hospital. Method: A retrospective cross sectional clinical audit of medical records of patients undergoing surgery over a 5-month duration from January to May 2021 in Ho Teaching Hospital. Data collection form was designed to collect key information including the age and gender of patient, type and duration of surgery, choice and duration of SAP. Data collected were assessed for the proportion of SAP compliance with Ghana standard treatment guidelines (STG) and its association with various patient, surgical wound and drug characteristics. Results: Of the 597 medical records assessed, the mean age of patients was 35.6± 12.2 years with 86.8% (n=518) female. Overall SAP compliance with the STG was 2.5% (n=15). SAP compliance due to appropriate choice of antimicrobials was 67.0% (n=400) and duration at 8.7% (n=52). SAP compliance was predicted by duration of SAP (pConclusion: SAP compliance rate was suboptimal, principally due to a longer duration of prescription. Quality improvement measures such as education and training of front-line staff on guideline compliance, coupled with clinical audit and regular updates, are urgently needed to combat inappropriate prescribing and rising resistance rates.

Cervical cancer prevention in countries with the highest HIV prevalence: a review of policies

Cervical cancer (CC) is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women in sub-Saharan Africa. It occurs most frequently in women living with HIV (WLHIV) and is classified as an AIDS-defining illness. Recent World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations provide guidance for CC prevention policies, with specifications for WLHIV. We systematically reviewed policies for CC prevention and control in sub-Saharan countries with the highest HIV prevalence.

We included countries with an HIV prevalence ≥ 10% in 2018 and policies published between January 1st 2010 and March 31st 2022. We searched Medline via PubMed, the international cancer control partnership website and national governmental websites of included countries for relevant policy documents. The online document search was supplemented with expert consultation for each included country. We synthesised aspects defined in policies for HPV vaccination, sex education, condom use, tobacco control, male circumcision,cervical screening, diagnosis and treatment of cervical pre-cancerous lesions and cancer, monitoring mechanisms and cost of services to women while highlighting specificities for WLHIV.

We reviewed 33 policy documents from nine countries. All included countries had policies on CC prevention and control either as a standalone policy (77.8%), or as part of a cancer or non-communicable diseases policy (22.2%) or both (66.7%). Aspects of HPV vaccination were reported in 7 (77.8%) of the 9 countries. All countries (100%) planned to develop or review Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials for CC prevention including condom use and tobacco control. Age at screening commencement and screening intervals for WLHIV varied across countries. The most common recommended screening and treatment methods were visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) (88.9%), Pap smear (77.8%); cryotherapy (100%) and loop electrosurgical procedure (LEEP) (88.9%) respectively. Global indicators disaggregated by HIV status for monitoring CC programs were rarely reported. CC prevention and care policies included service costs at various stages in three countries (33.3%).

Considerable progress has been made in policy development for CC prevention and control in sub Saharan Africa. However, in countries with a high HIV burden, there is need to tailor these policies to respond to the specific needs of WLHIV. Countries may consider updating policies using the recent WHO guidelines for CC prevention, while adapting them to context realities.

The state of surgery, obstetrics, trauma, and anaesthesia care in Ghana: a narrative review

Conditions amenable to surgical, obstetric, trauma, and anaesthesia (SOTA) care are a major contributor to death and disability in Ghana. SOTA care is an essential component of a well-functioning health system, and better understanding of the state of SOTA care in Ghana is necessary to design policies to address gaps in SOTA care delivery.

The aim of this study is to assess the current situation of SOTA care in Ghana.

A situation analysis was conducted as a narrative review of published scientific literature. Information was extracted from studies according to five health system domains related to SOTA care: service delivery, workforce, infrastructure, finance, and information management.

Ghanaians face numerous barriers to accessing quality SOTA care, primarily due to health system inadequacies. Over 77% of surgical operations performed in Ghana are essential procedures, most of which are performed at district-level hospitals that do not have consistent access to imaging and operative room fundamentals. Tertiary facilities have consistent access to these modalities but lack consistent access to oxygen and/or oxygen concentrators on-site as well as surgical supplies and anaesthetic medicines. Ghanaian patients cover up to 91% of direct SOTA costs out-of-pocket, while health insurance only covers up to 14% of the costs. The Ghanaian surgical system also faces severe workforce inadequacies especially in district-level facilities. Most specialty surgeons are concentrated in urban areas. Ghana’s health system lacks a solid information management foundation as it does not have centralized SOTA databases, leading to incomplete, poorly coded, and illegible patient information.

This review establishes that surgical services provided in Ghana are focused primarily on district-level facilities that lack adequate infrastructure and face workforce shortages, among other challenges. A comprehensive scale-up of Ghana’s surgical infrastructure, workforce, national insurance plan, and information systems is warranted to improve Ghana’s surgical system.

Socio-economic, physical and health-related determinants of causes of death among women in the Kintampo districts of Ghana

This study examined the socio-economic, physical and health-related determinants of causes of death among women of reproductive age (WRA) in the Kintampo North Municipality and Kintampo South District of Ghana. Longitudinal data from the Kintampo Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) was used. Causes of death data from 2005 to 2014 for 846 WRA aged 15–49 were categorized into three broad groups: maternal, infectious and non-communicable diseases. Three hierarchical multinomial logistic regression models were used to examine the determinants of causes of death, with the maternal causes of death as the reference category. Distal, intermediate and proximate factors were entered cumulatively one after the other in Models 1, 2 and 3, respectively, to account for their separate effects on the outcome variable. Across all three models, ever-married (RRR = 0.12; p < 0.001) WRA were significantly less likely to die from infectious or NCD than maternal causes compared to those who were never-married. At the adjusted level (Model 3), infectious causes of deaths differed from the maternal causes of deaths by age at death, marital status, land ownership, district of residence, year of death, season of death, place of death, admission in the last 12 months, surgical operation in the last 24 months and sudden death. Marital status is a key determinant of causes of death among WRA.

Exploring the Use of Antibiotics for Dental Patients in a Middle-Income Country: Interviews with Clinicians in Two Ghanaian Hospitals

Background: Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem driven by the overuse of antibiotics. Dentists are responsible for about 10% of antibiotics usage across healthcare worldwide. Factors influencing dental antibiotic prescribing are numerous, with some differences in low- and middle-income countries compared with high-income countries. This study aimed to explore the antibiotic prescribing behaviour and knowledge of teams treating dental patients in two Ghanaian hospitals. Methods: Qualitative interviews were undertaken with dentists, pharmacists, and other healthcare team members at two hospitals in urban and rural locations. Thematic and behaviour analyses using the Actor, Action, Context, Target, Time framework were undertaken. Results: Knowledge about ‘antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic stewardship’ and ‘people and places’ were identified themes. Influences on dental prescribing decisions related to the organisational context (such as the hierarchical influence of colleagues and availability of specific antibiotics in the hospital setting), clinical issues (such as therapeutic versus prophylactic indications and availability of sterile dental instruments), and patient issues such as hygiene in the home environment, delays in seeking professional help, ability to access antibiotics in the community without a prescription and patient’s ability to pay for the complete prescription. Conclusions: This work provides new evidence on behavioural factors influencing dental antibiotic prescribing, including resource constraints which affect the availability of certain antibiotics and diagnostic tests. Further research is required to fully understand their influence and inform the development of new approaches to optimising antibiotic use by dentists in Ghana and potentially other low- and middle-income countries.

‘An Appraisal of the Contextual Drivers of Successful Antimicrobial Stewardship Implementation in Nigerian Healthcare Facilities.

: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a consequence of inappropriate actions, including irrational antimicrobial prescribing and use. AMR remains an emergent and significant public health threat, particularly in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), including Nigeria. Optimizing antimicrobial (AM) use through functional hospital antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) programs is one of the strategies to control the spread of AMR. Literature is replete with evidence, but few studies examined the contextual factors limiting AMS functionality at the facility levels. This study explored the intrinsic contextual factors shaping AMS practice at the three-tiered levels of care.

: This was a qualitative case study with a purposeful sample size of 30 participants drawn from two primary, two secondary, and two tertiary health facilities in Nigeria. Data were coded and categorized for thematic analysis.

: Emergent themes include lack of AMS programs, inadequate guidelines, lack of modern equipment and incorrect diagnosis, absence of continuous medical education, imbalance of power among professionals, and pervasive external influence of pharmaceutical marketing companies. These finding demonstrate that the AMS program is lacking or poorly implemented at the three-tiered level of care.

: We recommended that health facilities establish AMS programs in line with World Health Organization’s stepwise approach. These challenges, if addressed, will promote the successful performance of the AMS program, contributing to rational AM use at all levels of care. Since primary health centres constitute 85.4% of all health facilities, customizing the AMS core elements at this level will contribute to achieving the goals of universal health care.

Improvements in Child Cancer Diagnostics and Treatment in Africa

In Africa, more than 50% of cases of childhood cancer go undiagnosed. Africa accounts for 146,000 of the projected 397,000 new cases globally per year (including both diagnosed and undiagnosed cases) (Ward et al, 2019a). Of the diagnosed cases, only 11.6% of children in Africa survive (Ward et al, 2019b). Based on the above modeling exercise, we estimate that only about one-third of those who are diagnosed actually receive treatment; no hard data are available. Increasing access to treatment will increase survival, although to reach survival rates comparable to high income countries, investments will also be needed to decrease treatment abandonment and improve quality of treatment (Ward et al, 2019b).We recommend investing to expand treatment of five key cancers that are both treatable and affordable. These five cancers together account
for 40% of the burden of childhood cancer in Africa. Studies of cost per child treated in subSaharan Africa for three of the conditions (Burkitt lymphoma, nephroblastoma and earlystage retinoblastoma) were $1248, $1976 and $2202 USD respectively in various low- and lower-middle income countries in Africa. More conservatively, costs of a comprehensive cancer centre in one African country which achieved a projected 5-year survival rate of 35% for a cohort of children with multiple cancer types, were around $10,000 per child in 2018 USD, or around 6.5 times per capita GNI (see text below for all study references).
Benefit:cost ratios were estimated as 9.1 to 19.3 for the three diseases for which studies were available, and a more conservative 5.2:1 for a comprehensive centre which treats not only the priority diseases, but also provides treatment for other less-treatable conditions and palliative care to children for whom cure is not possible. Ratios would be a little lower (4.6:1) but still very attractive if indirect costs to families were included in treatment costs, and higher if non-profit organizations took the lead in small investments to reduce treatment abandonment rates, as has been done successfully in a number of low- and middleincome country (LMIC) contexts.
Expanding care from the estimated one-third of those diagnosed to all those currently diagnosed would cost $407m using the comprehensive cancer centre model. This amount would double, if 90% coverage of were attained (i.e. if 80% of all undiagnosed children could be diagnosed and linked to treatment). The value of the benefits would however be an estimated 5.2 times the costs, or $2116m. There are other potential unquantifiable benefits, such as helping to show that cancer is indeed curable and helping reduce the stigma associated with cancer in Africa, potentially leading adults with cancer to seek care earlier and improve their survival. In addition, improving capabilities to treat childhood cancers has the potential to strengthen health systems more broadly, by developing radiologic and pathologic services, medicines procurement and supply management, surgical facilities, health human resource training and retention, and supportive care capacities.

Burn Admissions Across Low- and Middle-income Countries: A Repeated Cross-sectional Survey

Burn injuries have decreased markedly in high-income countries while the incidence of burns remains high in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) where more than 90% of burns are thought to occur. However, the cause of burns in LMIC is poorly documented. The aim was to document the causes of severe burns and the changes over time. A cross-sectional survey was completed for 2014 and 2019 in eight burn centers across Africa, Asia, and Latin America: Cairo, Nairobi, Ibadan, Johannesburg, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Sao Paulo, and Guadalajara. The information summarised included demographics of burn patients, location, cause, and outcomes of burns. In total, 15,344 patients were admitted across all centers, 37% of burns were women and 36% of burns were children. Burns occurred mostly in household settings (43–79%). In Dhaka and Kathmandu, occupational burns were also common (32 and 43%, respectively). Hot liquid and flame burns were most common while electric burns were also common in Dhaka and Sao Paulo. The type of flame burns varies by center and year, in Dhaka, 77% resulted from solid fuel in 2014 while 74% of burns resulted from Liquefied Petroleum Gas in 2019. In Nairobi, a large proportion (32%) of burns were intentional self-harm or assault. The average length of stay in hospitals decreased from 2014 to 2019. The percentage of deaths ranged from 5% to 24%. Our data provide important information on the causes of severe burns which can provide guidance in how to approach the development of burn injury prevention programs in LMIC.