Organ Donation and Transplantation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Opportunities and Challenges

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), occupying about 80% of the African continent is a heterogeneous region with estimated population of 1.1 billion people in 47 countries. Most belong to the low resource countries (LRCs). The high prevalence of end-organ diseases of kidney, liver, lung and heart makes provision of organ donation and transplantation necessary. Although kidney and heart transplantations were performed in South Africa in the 1960s, transplant activity in SSA lags behind the developed world. Peculiar challenges militating against successful development of transplant programmes include high cost of treatment, low GDP of most countries, inadequate infrastructural and institutional support, absence of subsidy, poor knowledge of the disease condition, poor accessibility to health-care facilities, religious and trado-cultural practices. Many people in the region patronize alternative healthcare as first choice. Opportunities that if harnessed may alter the unfavorable landscape are: implementation of the 2007 WHO Regional Consultation recommendations for establishment of national legal framework and self-sufficient organ donation/transplantation in each country and adoption of their 2020 proposed actions for organ/transplantation for member states, national registries with sharing of data with GODT, prevention of transplant commercialization and tourism. Additionally, adapting some aspects of proven successful models in LRCs will improve transplantation programmes in SSA.

Challenges faced by cancer patients in Uganda: Implications for health systems strengthening in resource limited settings

Background
Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), the only comprehensive cancer treatment center in Uganda, registers about 4000 new cancer patients a year. However, many cancer patients in Uganda never receive treatment due to a variety of challenges. We therefore conducted a study to identify and assess the challenges faced by cancer patients in Uganda.

Methods
A cross-sectional study conducted in April-May 2017 among adult cancer patients. 359 participants participated in an interviewer-administered survey. We used stratified random sampling to select the study participants. Data was analyzed in SPSS Statistics 24.

Results
35 % of the patients delayed initiating cancer treatment and 41 % missed medical appointments along their care journey. Delayed and missed appointments were mainly due to lack of money for cancer medicines, transportation and accommodation. Patients also expressed challenges with side effects of cancer treatment: 52 % sought help from health workers when they experienced side effects; 14 % used alternative medicine; and 21 % did not inform anyone. In addition, 55 % of the participants had limited knowledge about their disease and treatment. Other challenges when at UCI included: being hungry and thirsty throughout the day, long waiting hours, not having a resting place, not understanding what comes next, and having their records lost by hospital staff.

Conclusion
Challenges faced by cancer patients in Uganda result in enormous delays in initiation and continuation of cancer treatment. These challenges are often a result of the poor social-economic status of the patients; inadequate infrastructure for cancer care; and inefficiencies in the health care system.

Policy Summary
To improve the experience of patients, the National Cancer Control Plan should consider establishing regional cancer centers; creating a reliable supply of cancer medicines; and integrating navigation programmes into cancer care. Strengthening the whole health system, in relation to cancer service delivery, should remain a top priority for Uganda and other resource limited settings.

Healthcare markets in post-conflict settings: Experiences of formal private-for-profit healthcare organisations in Gulu District, Northern Uganda

There is a paradox between the post-conflict setting and the healthcare market in Northern Uganda. While there is a strong missionary sector and apparent ongoing rehabilitation of the government facilities, the popularity of the formal private for-profit sector has steadily increased in Gulu municipality, northern Uganda, which has a high poverty-afflicted population. Therefore, there is need to understand why and how we can leverage the potential of the formal private for-profit providers (FPFPs) to accelerate Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goals. The study explored the experiences of the FPFPs based in Gulu municipality regarding the market in which they operated during and after the conflict. In particular, the study sought to understand the characteristics of and changes in FPFPs over time, as well as the challenges, coping strategies, opportunities, and linkages with others in the market. This was a case study using mixed methods with a quant-qual sequential approach. The methods included organisational survey, life-history interviews, key informant interviews and observation. This study utilised the New Institutional Economics (NIE) theory as an analytical lens. Data analysis was conducted using SPSS, ATLAS.ti ver. 7.0 and UCINET ver. 11.0 software. The findings suggest that FPFPs increased in number and experienced internal changes within individual businesses across the conflict periods. Conflict provides the context in which the FPFP businesses started and operate (d) and explains their survival patterns and the emergent regulatory context. The FPFPs were faced with diverse challenges embedded in the active conflict that further complicated operational costs and regulatory mechanisms. Notably, some of the coping strategies compromise the quality of the services provided. There is a dense relational network for FPFPs in Gulu municipality, and these numerous relational links have positive implications for the broader coverage of the goal for UHC, the reduction of transaction costs as well as their continued relevance in the market. FPFPs were continuously faced with a dilemma of balancing optimization of their incomes with their altruism objectives. In the period following conflict, FPFPs attempted to implement various mechanisms to ensure that the poor could access health care. The mechanisms were enabled by the managers’ ad hoc judgements as well as partnerships with the local government and NGOs in the area. These ranged from price exemptions and reductions to price discrimination and breaking down doses. The study concludes by noting that FPFPs play a critical role in service provision in post-conflict northern Uganda. However, they cannot be ‘exclusively’ pro-poor, given that they are formed with a profit maximization objective. Some coping strategies and some mechanisms to enable the poor to access services may compromise quality. Hence, the government needs to enforce regulations to control the number of FPFPs opening business as well as quality. There is evidence of partnerships between the government and FPFPs. This needs to be continuous and expanded to include more FPFPs if UHC goals are to be achieved.

Initial program evaluation of the Ponseti method in Nigeria.

The Ponseti method for correcting clubfoot is a safe, effective, and low-cost treatment that has recently been implemented in Nigeria. This study evaluates the initial impact of the Ponseti method and the unique challenges to its diffusion among practitioners and patients. Information was obtained by traveling to Ponseti clinics to interview or give questionnaires to the Ponseti method practitioners and the parents of children with clubfoot. The challenges identified among the practitioners were: 1) an inadequate amount of information; 2) inadequate resources; 3) insufficient training programs; and 4) a lack of funding. The challenges among parents were: 1) a deficit in knowledge about clubfoot and its treatment; 2) financial constraints; 3) culture and religious practices, and 4) difficulties with treatment compliance. Information from this study can be used to implement specific strategies to improve the dissemination and implementation of the Ponseti method for treating clubfoot in Nigeria and throughout West African nations that share cultural and socioeconomic commonalities.

Open heart surgery in Nigeria; a work in progress

BACKGROUND:
There has been limited success in establishing Open Heart Surgery programmes in Nigeria despite the high prevalence of structural heart disease and the large number of Nigerian patients that travel abroad for Open Heart Surgery. The challenges and constraints to the development of Open Heart Surgery in Nigeria need to be identified and overcome. The aim of this study is to review the experience with Open Heart Surgery at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and highlight the challenges encountered in developing this programme.

METHODS:
This is a retrospective study of patients that underwent Open Heart Surgery in our institution. The source of data was a prospectively maintained database. Extracted data included patient demographics, indication for surgery, euroscore, cardiopulmonary bypass time, cross clamp time, complications and patient outcome.

RESULTS:
51 Open Heart Surgery procedures were done between August 2004 and December 2011. There were 21 males and 30 females. Mean age was 29 ± 15.6 years. The mean euroscore was 3.8 ± 2.1. The procedures done were Mitral Valve Replacement in 15 patients (29.4%), Atrial Septal Defect Repair in 14 patients (27.5%), Ventricular Septal Defect Repair in 8 patients (15.7%), Aortic Valve Replacement in 5 patients (9.8%), excision of Left Atrial Myxoma in 2 patients (3.9%), Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting in 2 patients (3.9%), Bidirectional Glenn Shunts in 2 patients (3.9%), Tetralogy of Fallot repair in 2 patients (3.9%) and Mitral Valve Repair in 1 patient (2%). There were 9 mortalities (17.6%) in this series. Challenges encountered included the low volume of cases done, an unstable working environment, limited number of trained staff, difficulty in obtaining laboratory support, limited financial support and difficulty in moving away from the Cardiac Mission Model.

CONCLUSIONS:
The Open Heart Surgery program in our institution is still being developed but the identified challenges need to be overcome if this program is to be sustained. Similar challenges will need to be overcome by other cardiac stakeholders if other OHS programs are to be developed and sustained in Nigeria

Open heart surgery in Nigeria; a work in progress

BACKGROUND:
There has been limited success in establishing Open Heart Surgery programmes in Nigeria despite the high prevalence of structural heart disease and the large number of Nigerian patients that travel abroad for Open Heart Surgery. The challenges and constraints to the development of Open Heart Surgery in Nigeria need to be identified and overcome. The aim of this study is to review the experience with Open Heart Surgery at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and highlight the challenges encountered in developing this programme.

METHODS:
This is a retrospective study of patients that underwent Open Heart Surgery in our institution. The source of data was a prospectively maintained database. Extracted data included patient demographics, indication for surgery, euroscore, cardiopulmonary bypass time, cross clamp time, complications and patient outcome.

RESULTS:
51 Open Heart Surgery procedures were done between August 2004 and December 2011. There were 21 males and 30 females. Mean age was 29 ± 15.6 years. The mean euroscore was 3.8 ± 2.1. The procedures done were Mitral Valve Replacement in 15 patients (29.4%), Atrial Septal Defect Repair in 14 patients (27.5%), Ventricular Septal Defect Repair in 8 patients (15.7%), Aortic Valve Replacement in 5 patients (9.8%), excision of Left Atrial Myxoma in 2 patients (3.9%), Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting in 2 patients (3.9%), Bidirectional Glenn Shunts in 2 patients (3.9%), Tetralogy of Fallot repair in 2 patients (3.9%) and Mitral Valve Repair in 1 patient (2%). There were 9 mortalities (17.6%) in this series. Challenges encountered included the low volume of cases done, an unstable working environment, limited number of trained staff, difficulty in obtaining laboratory support, limited financial support and difficulty in moving away from the Cardiac Mission Model.

CONCLUSIONS:
The Open Heart Surgery program in our institution is still being developed but the identified challenges need to be overcome if this program is to be sustained. Similar challenges will need to be overcome by other cardiac stakeholders if other OHS programs are to be developed and sustained in Nigeria