Early initiation of breastfeeding is inversely associated with public and private c-sections in 73 lower- and middle-income countries

Although studies in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have examined the effects of c-sections on early initiation of breastfeeding (EIBF), the role of the place of birth has not yet been investigated. Therefore, we tested the association between EIBF and the type of delivery by place of birth. Data from 73 nationally representative surveys carried out in LMICs between 2010 and 2019 comprised 408,013 women aged 15 to 49 years. Type of delivery by place of birth was coded in four categories: home vaginal delivery, institutional vaginal delivery, c-section in public, and c-section in private health facilities. We calculated the weighted mean prevalence of place of birth and EIBF by World Bank country income groups. Adjusted Poisson regression (PR) was fitted taking institutional vaginal delivery as a reference. The overall prevalence of EIBF was significantly lower among c-section deliveries in public (PR = 38%; 95% CI 0.618–0.628) and private facilities (PR = 45%; 95% CI 0.54–0.566) compared to institutional vaginal deliveries. EIBF in c-sections in public facilities was slightly higher in lower-middle (PR = 0.650, 95% CI 0.635–0.665) compared to low (PR = 0.544, 95% CI 0.521–0.567) and upper-middle income countries (PR = 0.612, 95% CI 0.599–0.626). EIBF was inversely associated with c-section deliveries compared to institutional vaginal deliveries, especially in private facilities compared to public ones.

The Effect and Feasibility of mHealth-Supported Surgical Site Infection Diagnosis by Community Health Workers After Cesarean Section in Rural Rwanda: Randomized Controlled Trial

Background:
The development of a surgical site infection (SSI) after cesarean section (c-section) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in low- and middle-income countries, including Rwanda. Rwanda relies on a robust community health worker (CHW)–led, home-based paradigm for delivering follow-up care for women after childbirth. However, this program does not currently include postoperative care for women after c-section, such as SSI screenings.

Objective:
This trial assesses whether CHW’s use of a mobile health (mHealth)–facilitated checklist administered in person or via phone call improved rates of return to care among women who develop an SSI following c-section at a rural Rwandan district hospital. A secondary objective was to assess the feasibility of implementing the CHW-led mHealth intervention in this rural district.

Methods:
A total of 1025 women aged ≥18 years who underwent a c-section between November 2017 and September 2018 at Kirehe District Hospital were randomized into the three following postoperative care arms: (1) home visit intervention (n=335, 32.7%), (2) phone call intervention (n=334, 32.6%), and (3) standard of care (n=356, 34.7%). A CHW-led, mHealth-supported SSI diagnostic protocol was delivered in the two intervention arms, while patients in the standard of care arm were instructed to adhere to routine health center follow-up. We assessed intervention completion in each intervention arm and used logistic regression to assess the odds of returning to care.

Results:
The majority of women in Arm 1 (n=295, 88.1%) and Arm 2 (n=226, 67.7%) returned to care and were assessed for an SSI at their local health clinic. There were no significant differences in the rates of returning to clinic within 30 days (P=.21), with high rates found consistently across all three arms (Arm 1: 99.7%, Arm 2: 98.4%, and Arm 3: 99.7%, respectively).

Conclusions:
Home-based post–c-section follow-up is feasible in rural Africa when performed by mHealth-supported CHWs. In this study, we found no difference in return to care rates between the intervention arms and standard of care. However, given our previous study findings describing the significant patient-incurred financial burden posed by traveling to a health center, we believe this intervention has the potential to reduce this burden by limiting patient travel to the health center when an SSI is ruled out at home. Further studies are needed (1) to determine the acceptability of this intervention by CHWs and patients as a new standard of care after c-section and (2) to assess whether an app supplementing the mHealth screening checklist with image-based machine learning could improve CHW diagnostic accuracy.

The true costs of cesarean delivery for patients in rural Rwanda: Accounting for post-discharge expenses in estimated health expenditures

Introduction
While it is recognized that there are costs associated with postoperative patient follow-up, risk assessments of catastrophic health expenditures (CHEs) due to surgery in sub-Saharan Africa rarely include expenses after discharge. We describe patient-level costs for cesarean section (c-section) and follow-up care up to postoperative day (POD) 30 and evaluate the contribution of follow-up to CHEs in rural Rwanda.

Methods
We interviewed women who delivered via c-section at Kirehe District Hospital between September 2019 and February 2020. Expenditure details were captured on an adapted surgical indicator financial survey tool and extracted from the hospital billing system. CHE was defined as health expenditure of ≥ 10% of annual household expenditure. We report the cost of c-section up to 30 days after discharge, the rate of CHE among c-section patients stratified by in-hospital costs and post-discharge follow-up costs, and the main contributors to c-section follow-up costs. We performed a multivariate logistic regression using a backward stepwise process to determine independent predictors of CHE at POD30 at α ≤ 0.05.

Results
Of the 479 participants in this study, 90% were classified as impoverished before surgery and an additional 6.4% were impoverished by the c-section. The median out-of-pocket costs up to POD30 was US$122.16 (IQR: $102.94, $148.11); 63% of these expenditures were attributed to post-discharge expenses or lost opportunity costs (US$77.50; IQR: $67.70, $95.60). To afford c-section care, 64.4% borrowed money and 18.4% sold possessions. The CHE rate was 27% when only considering direct and indirect costs up to the time of discharge and 77% when including the reported expenses up to POD30. Transportation and lost household wages were the largest contributors to post-discharge costs. Further, CHE at POD30 was independently predicted by membership in community-based health insurance (aOR = 3.40, 95% CI: 1.21,9.60), being a farmer (aOR = 2.25, 95% CI:1.00,3.03), primary school education (aOR = 2.35, 95% CI:1.91,4.66), and small household sizes had 0.22 lower odds of experiencing CHE compared to large households (aOR = 0.78, 95% CI:0.66,0.91).

Conclusion
Costs associated with surgical follow-up are often neglected in financial risk calculations but contribute significantly to the risk of CHE in rural Rwanda. Insurance coverage for direct medical costs is insufficient to protect against CHE. Innovative follow-up solutions to reduce costs of patient transport and compensate for household lost wages need to be considered.

The True Costs of Cesarean Sections for Patients in Rural Rwanda: Accounting for Post-Discharge Expenses in Estimated Health Expenditures

Introduction: While it is recognized that there are costs associated with postoperative patient follow-up, risk assessments of catastrophic health expenditures (CHEs) due to surgery in sub-Saharan Africa rarely include expenses after discharge. We describe patient-level costs for cesarean section (c-section) and follow-up care up to postoperative day (POD) 30 and evaluate the contribution of follow-up to CHEs in rural Rwanda.

Methods: We interviewed women who delivered via c-section at Kirehe District Hospital between September 2019 and February 2020. Expenditure details were captured on an adapted surgical indicator financial survey tool and extracted from the hospital billing system. CHE was defined as health expenditure of ≥ 10% of annual household expenditure. We report the cost of c-section up to 30 days after discharge, the rate of CHE among c-section patients stratified by in-hospital costs and post-discharge follow-up costs, and the main contributors to c-section follow-up costs.

Results: Of the 479 participants in this study, 90% were classified as impoverished before surgery and an additional 6.4% were impoverished by the c-section. The median out-of-pocket costs up to POD30 was US$122.16 (IQR: $102.94, $148.11); 63% of these expenditures were attributed to post-discharge expenses or lost opportunity costs (US$77.50; IQR: $67.70, $95.60). To afford c-section care, 64.4% borrowed money and 18.4% sold possessions. The CHE rate was 27% when only considering direct and indirect costs up to the time of discharge and 77% when including the reported expenses up to POD30. Transportation and lost household wages were the largest contributors to post-discharge costs.

Conclusion: Costs associated with surgical follow-up are often neglected in financial risk calculations but contribute significantly to the risk of CHE in rural Rwanda. Insurance coverage for direct medical costs is insufficient to protect against CHE. Innovative follow-up solutions to reduce costs of patient transport and compensate for household lost wages need to be considered.

Functional recovery after cesarean delivery: a prospective cohort study in rural Rwanda

Background
Women who deliver via cesarean section (c-section) experience short- and long-term complications that may affect their physical health and their ability to function normally. While physical health outcomes are routinely assessed and monitored, postpartum functional outcomes are not well understood from a patient’s perspective or characterized by clinicians. In Rwanda, 11% of rural women deliver via c-section. This study explores the functional recovery of rural Rwandan women after c-section and assesses factors that predict poor functionality at postoperative day (POD) 30.

Methods
Data were collected prospectively on POD 3, 11, and 30 from women delivering at Kirehe District Hospital between October 2019 and March 2020. Functionality was measured by self-reported overall health, energy level, mobility, self-care ability, and ability to perform usual activities. We computed composite mean scores with a maximum score of 4.0 and scores ≤ 2.0 reflected poor functionality. We assessed functionality with descriptive statistics and logistic regression.

Results
Of 617 patients, 54.0%, 25.9%, and 26.8% reported poor functional status at POD3, POD11, and POD30, respectively. At POD30, the most self-reported poor functionality dimensions were poor or very poor overall health (48.1%), and inability to perform usual activities (15.6%). In the adjusted model, women whose surgery lasted 30–45 minutes had higher odds of poor functionality (aOR = 1.85, p = 0.01), as did women who experienced intraoperative complications (aOR = 4.12, p = 0.037). High income patients had incrementally lower significant odds of poor functionality (aOR = 0.62 for every US$100 increase in monthly income, p = 0.04).

Conclusion
We found a high proportion of poor functionality 30 days post-c-section and while surgery lasting > 30 minutes and experiencing intra-operative complications was associated with poor functionality, a reported higher income status was associated with lower odds of poor functionality. Functional status assessments, monitoring and support should be included in post-partum care for women who delivered via c-section. Effective risk mitigating intervention should be implemented to recover functionality after c-section, particularly among low-income women and those undergoing longer surgical procedures or those with intraoperative complications.