Development and Implementation of an Antimicrobial Stewardship Checklist in Sub-saharan Africa: a Co-creation Consensus Approach

Background:

Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) initiatives promote the responsible use of antimicrobials in healthcare settings as a key measure to curb the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Defining the core elements of AMS is essential for developing and evaluating comprehensive AMS programmes. This project used co-creation and Delphi-consensus procedures to adapt and extend the existing published international AMS checklist. The overall objective was to arrive at a contextualised checklist of core AMS elements and key behaviours for use within healthcare settings in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as to implement the checklist in health institutions in four African countries.

Method:

The AMS checklist tool was developed using a modified Delphi approach to achieve local, expert consensus on items to be included on the checklist. Fourteen healthcare/public health professionals from Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, and Ghana were invited to review, score and comment on items from a published, global AMS checklist. Following their feedback, eight items were re-phrased and 25 new items added to the checklist. The final AMS checklist tool was deployed across 19 healthcare sites and used to assess AMS programmes before and after an AMS intervention in 14 of the 19 sites.

Findings:

The final tool comprised 54 items. Across the 14 sites, the checklist consistently showed improvements for all AMS components following the intervention. The greatest improvements observed were the presence of formal multidisciplinary AMS structures (79%) and the execution of a point-prevalence survey (72%). Elements with the least improvement were access to laboratory/imaging services (7%) and the presence of adequate financial support for AMS (14%). In addition to capturing quantitative and qualitative changes associated with the AMS intervention, project evaluation suggested that administering the AMS checklist made unique contributions to ongoing AMS activities. Furthermore, 29 additional AMS activities were reported as a direct result of the prompting checklist questions.

Conclusion:

Contextualised, co-created AMS tools are necessary for managing antimicrobial use across healthcare settings and increasing local AMS ownership and commitment. This study led to the development of a new AMS checklist which proved successful in capturing AMS improvements in Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, and Ghana. The tool also made unique contributions to furthering local AMS efforts. The study extends existing AMS materials for low and middle-income countries and provides empirical evidence for successful use in practice.

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Pediatric Surgical Volume in Four Low- and Middle-Income Country Hospitals: Insights from an Interrupted Time Series Analysis

Background
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on surgical care delivery in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) has been challenging to assess due to a lack of data. This study examines the impact of COVID-19 on pediatric surgical volumes at four LMIC hospitals.

Methods
Retrospective and prospective pediatric surgical data collected at hospitals in Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Nigeria, and Zambia were reviewed from January 2019 to April 2021. Changes in surgical volume were assessed using interrupted time series analysis.

Results
6078 total operations were assessed. Before the pandemic, overall surgical volume increased by 21 cases/month (95% CI 14 to 28, p < 0.001). From March to April 2020, the total surgical volume dropped by 32%, or 110 cases (95% CI − 196 to − 24, p = 0.014). Patients during the pandemic were younger (2.7 vs. 3.3 years, p < 0.001) and healthier (ASA I 69% vs. 66%, p = 0.003). Additionally, they experienced lower rates of post-operative sepsis (0.3% vs 1.5%, p < 0.001), surgical site infections (1.3% vs 5.8%, p < 0.001), and mortality (1.6% vs 3.1%, p < 0.001).

Conclusions
During the COVID-19 pandemic, children’s surgery in LMIC saw a sharp decline in total surgical volume by a third in the month following March 2020, followed by a slow recovery afterward. Patients were healthier with better post-operative outcomes during the pandemic, implying a widening disparity gap in surgical access and exacerbating challenges in addressing the large unmet burden of pediatric surgical disease in LMICs with a need for immediate mitigation strategies.

Rapid assessment of the civil registration and vital statistics performance of health facilities in the five districts of Zambia: A cross-sectional study

Background
Civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) are essential administrative tools for accurate statistical data on vital events. However, civil registration coverage is particularly poor in low- and middle-income countries. Currently, CRVS are attracting global attention, as their improvement is considered a priority. While health facility is one of the important actors involved in the management of quality CRVS, its function in CRVS remains unclear. Therefore, this work aims to investigate the CRVS performance of the health facility in Zambia, a low-income country, and identify the gaps for effective policy-making.

Methods
To assess the health facilities’ CRVS performance, a questionnaire was developed based on existing assessment tools for the whole CRVS; this comprised 21 multiple-choice questions in 10 areas with four choices awarded between 0 and 3 points according to performance. These questionnaire-based interviews were conducted by information officers in all health facilities per first, secondary, and tertiary-level in five target districts of Zambia, selected via socioeconomic and geographic features. The average points were calculated in each area by each level of healthcare system and summarized in a single chart.

Results
The results indicated low scores in the following areas: staff compliance with standard reporting procedures, infrastructure, capacity of coding based on International Classification of Diseases among health personnel, documentation of the cause of death in medical records, and absence of a system to identify the cause of death of brought-in-dead cases.

Conclusion
The tool developed in this work to evaluate the CRVS performance of health facilities was useful for identifying the gaps that need to be overcome to ensure the quality of CRVS in Zambia. However, its validity should be further investigated in other areas in Zambia as well as in other countries.

Gastrointestinal endoscopy capacity in Eastern Africa

Background and study aims Limited evidence suggests that endoscopy capacity in sub-Saharan Africa is insufficient to meet the levels of gastrointestinal disease. We aimed to quantify the human and material resources for endoscopy services in eastern African countries, and to identify barriers to expanding endoscopy capacity.

Patients and methods In partnership with national professional societies, digestive healthcare professionals in participating countries were invited to complete an online survey between August 2018 and August 2020.

Results Of 344 digestive healthcare professionals in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia, 87 (25.3 %) completed the survey, reporting data for 91 healthcare facilities and identifying 20 additional facilities. Most respondents (73.6 %) perform endoscopy and 59.8 % perform at least one therapeutic modality. Facilities have a median of two functioning gastroscopes and one functioning colonoscope each. Overall endoscopy capacity, adjusted for non-response and additional facilities, includes 0.12 endoscopists, 0.12 gastroscopes, and 0.09 colonoscopes per 100,000 population in the participating countries. Adjusted maximum upper gastrointestinal and lower gastrointestinal endoscopic capacity were 106 and 45 procedures per 100,000 persons per year, respectively. These values are 1 % to 10 % of those reported from resource-rich countries. Most respondents identified a lack of endoscopic equipment, lack of trained endoscopists and costs as barriers to provision of endoscopy services.

Conclusions Endoscopy capacity is severely limited in eastern sub-Saharan Africa, despite a high burden of gastrointestinal disease. Expanding capacity requires investment in additional human and material resources, and technological innovations that improve the cost and sustainability of endoscopic services.

Understanding patient health-seeking behaviour to optimise the uptake of cataract surgery in rural Kenya, Zambia and Uganda: findings from a multisite qualitative study

Background
Cataract is a major cause of visual impairment globally, affecting 15.2 million people who are blind, and another 78.8 million who have moderate or severe visual impairment. This study was designed to explore factors that influence the uptake of surgery offered to patients with operable cataract in a free-of-charge, community-based eye health programme.

Methods
Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were conducted with patients and healthcare providers in rural Zambia, Kenya and Uganda during 2018–2019. We identified participants using purposive sampling. Thematic analysis was conducted using a combination of an inductive and deductive team-based approach.

Results
Participants consisted of 131 healthcare providers and 294 patients. Two-thirds of patients had been operated on for cataract. Two major themes emerged: (1) surgery enablers, including a desire to regain control of their lives, the positive testimonies of others, family support, as well as free surgery, medication and food; and (2) barriers to surgery, including cultural and social factors, as well as the inadequacies of the healthcare delivery system.

Conclusions
Cultural, social and health system realities impact decisions made by patients about cataract surgery uptake. This study highlights the importance of demand segmentation and improving the quality of services, based on patients’ expectations and needs, as strategies for increasing cataract surgery uptake.

Reimagining Universal Health Coverage: Safe and Affordable Surgery

UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) and universal health coverage (UHC) are significant health goals the world needs to achieve. Despite concerted efforts to attain UHC, the world is still lagging. Compared to the sizable number of resources put into the treatment of well-known communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis, and malaria, surgery is relatively underutilized despite its potential. Scaling up surgical interventions, however, is crucial since it can save many people’s lives and help avert the economic losses incurred due to diseases. Moreover, increased surgical capacity in low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs) could prove useful in overcoming pandemics, such as COVID-19. To upgrade the surgical capacity of the LMICs, it is essential to incorporate National Surgical, Obstetric, and Anaesthesia Plans (NSOAPs) into their national health policies. In this paper, the illustrative cases of two countries that adopted NSOAPs with a different model. Zambia and Pakistan, are examined. We conclude by giving recommendations to countries that are yet to adopt NSOAPs

Dataset evaluating the treatment timeliness of cervical cancer in Zambia

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed among women globally. Effective screening routines and early detection are vital in reducing its disease burden and mortality. Several factors can influence the timely detection and treatment of cervical cancer, especially in low middle-income countries where the burden of this disease is highest. The data presented in this paper relates to the research article “Cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment delays in the developing world: Evidence from a hospital-based study in Zambia”. The raw and analysed data include the studied patients’ social demographic factors, clinical data concerning the stage and histological subtype of cancer, dates at which the various activities within the cancer treatment pathway occurred and delays to definitive treatment of cervical cancer at Zambia’s only cancer treatment facility. Detailing delays to the treatment of cervical cancer allows recognition of specific points in the cancer treatment pathway requiring intervention to effectively improve cancer care and reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with the disease.

Cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment delays in the developing world: Evidence from a hospital-based study in Zambia

Expedited diagnostic processes for all suspected cervical cancer cases remain essential in the effort to improve clinical outcomes of the disease. However, in some developing countries like Zambia, there is paucity of data that assesses factors influencing diagnostic and treatment turnaround time (TAT) and other metrics vital for quality cancer care. We conducted a retrospective hospital-based study at the Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) for cervical cancer cases presenting to the facility between January 2014 and December 2018. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize demographic characteristics while a generalized linear model of the negative binomial was used to assess determinants of overall TAT. Our study included 2121 patient case files. The median age was 49 years (IQR: ±17) and most patients (n=634, 31%) were aged between 41–50 years. The International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Cancer stage II (n =941, 48%) was the most prevalent while stage IV (n=103, 5.2%) was the least. The average diagnostic TAT in public laboratories was 1.48 (95%CI: 1.21–1.81) times longer than in private laboratories. Furthermore, referral delay was 55 days (IQR: 24–152) and the overall TAT (oTAT) was 110 days (IQR: 62–204). The age of the patient, HIV status, stage of cancer and histological subtype did not influence oTAT while marital status influenced oTAT. The observed longer oTAT may increase irreversible adverse health outcomes among cervical cancer patients. There is a need to improve cancer care in Zambia through improved health expenditure especially in public health facilities.

The role of Mitrofanoff appendicovesicostomy in the management of a pelvic fracture distraction defect in a 24- year-old man after multiple failed reconstruction attempts

Failed Pelvic Fracture Distraction Defect repairs present a considerable challenge for management. Re-do urethroplasties for failed repairs are associated with higher recurrence and morbidity rates. The case presented describes a male patient with a pelvic fracture urethral distraction defect (PFUDD) who had undergone multiple failed repairs. The Mitrofanoff appendicovesicostomy was successfully carried out and the patient remains continent to date. The Mitrofanoff appendicovesicostomy is not commonly employed in the management of adult urethral stricture disease. We present our experience with managing a pelvic fracture urethral disruption defect (PFUDD) after multiple failed urethroplasties using a continent catheterisable urinary diversion techniqu

User Experience With Low-Cost Virtual Reality Cancer Surgery Simulation in an African Setting

PURPOSE
Limited access to adequate cancer surgery training is one of the driving forces behind global inequities in surgical cancer care. Affordable virtual reality (VR) surgical training could enhance surgical skills in low- and middle-income settings, but most VR and augmented reality systems are too expensive and do not teach open surgical techniques commonly practiced in these contexts. New low-cost VR can offer skill development simulations relevant to these settings, but little is known about how knowledge is gained and applied by surgeons training and working in specific resource-constrained settings. This study addresses this gap, exploring gynecologic oncology trainee learning and user experience using a low-cost VR simulator to learn to perform an open radical abdominal hysterectomy in Lusaka, Zambia.

METHODS
Eleven surgical trainees rotating through the gynecologic oncology service were sequentially recruited from the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka to participate in a study evaluating a VR radical abdominal hysterectomy training designed to replicate the experience in a Zambian hospital. Six participated in semi-structured interviews following the training. Interviews were analyzed using open and axial coding, informed by grounded theory.

RESULTS
Simulator participation increased participants’ perception of their surgical knowledge, confidence, and skills. Participants believed their skills transferred to other related surgical procedures. Having clear goals and motivation to improve were described as factors that influenced success.

CONCLUSION
For cancer surgery trainees in lower-resourced settings learning medical and surgical skills, even for those with limited VR experience, low-cost VR simulators may enhance anatomical knowledge and confidence. The VR simulator reinforced anatomical and clinical knowledge acquired through other modalities. VR-enhanced learning may be particularly valuable when mentored learning opportunities are limited.