Treating Children With Advanced Rheumatic Heart Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa: The NGO EMERGENCY’s Project at the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan

Rheumatic heart disease is endemic in Sub-Saharan Africa and while efforts are under way to boost prophylaxis and early diagnosis, access to cardiac surgery is rarely affordable. In this article, we report on a humanitarian project by the NGO EMERGENCY, to build and run the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan. This hospital is a center of excellence offering free-of-charge, high-quality treatment to patients needing open-heart surgery for advanced rheumatic and congenital heart disease. Since it opened in 2007, more than 8,000 patients have undergone surgery there; most of them Sudanese, but ~20% were admitted from other countries, an example of inter-African cooperation. The program is not limited to surgical procedures. It guarantees long-term follow-up and anticoagulant treatment, where necessary. By way of example, we report clinical features and outcome data for the pediatric cohort: 1,318 children under the age of 15, operated on for advanced rheumatic heart disease between 2007 and 2019. The overall 5-year survival rate was 85.0% (95% CI 82.7–87.3). The outcomes for patients with mitral valves repaired and with mitral valves replaced are not statistically different. Nevertheless, observing the trend of patients undergoing valve repair, a better outcome for this category might be assumed. RHD in children is an indicator of poor socio-economic conditions and an inadequate health system, which clearly will not be cured by cardiac surgery alone. Nevertheless, the results achieved by EMERGENCY, with the crucial involvement and participation of the Sudanese government over the years, show that building a hospital, introducing free cardiac surgery, and offering long-term post-operative care may help spread belief in positive change in the future.

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

Taking Paediatrics Abroad: Working with low- and middle-income countries in a global pandemic

Children and young people around the world face challenges to their health and wellbeing. In particular, in low- and middle-income countries they experience a higher burden of disease, exacerbated by global inequity limiting access to quality health care. According to the inverse care law, the availability of quality health care varies inversely to the need of the population, and hardworking health-care professionals in under-resourced countries may face impediments to continued education or subspecialty training. In line with the Sustainable Development Goals, collaborations have been developed between high-income and low- and-middle-income countries to address global disparities in health. These collaborations face challenges of high financial costs, difficulties creating long-term sustainable change, and with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, border closures preventing fly-in volunteers. In this paper, we describe the development of an innovative, paediatric-specific model of care for training and support between high- and low-income countries – Taking Paediatrics Abroad Ltd. Taking Paediatrics Abroad supports the development of mutually beneficial relationships between Australian paediatric health-care professionals and paediatric health-care professionals in developing countries and remote, underserved Australian Aboriginal communities. Since May 2020, there have been over 100 sessions covering a vast array of paediatric specialties. This article explores Taking Paediatrics Abroad’s model of care, its implementation and challenges, and opportunities for the futur

Survival of Left-to-Right Shunt Repair in Children with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension at a Tertiary Hospital in a Low-to-Middle-Income Country

Background: In low-to-middle-income countries, repair of the left-to-right shunts congenital heart disease (CHD) are often done with existing pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Long-term outcomes data of this condition in either low-to-middle or high-income countries are limited. We conducted a study to evaluate the outcomes of children with PAH related to left-to-right shunt CHD who underwent surgical or transcatheter repair.

Methods: All cases of PAH related to left-to-right shunt CHD repairs from 2015–2018 were retrospectively reviewed with additional new patients who underwent repair within our study period (2019–2020). Cases with complex congenital heart disease and incomplete hemodynamic echocardiography or catheterization measurements were excluded. Kaplan-Meier curves, log-rank test, Cox regression with Firth’s correction and restricted mean survival time were used for survival analysis.

Results: Of the 118 patients, 103 patients were enrolled and 15 patients were excluded due to complex congenital heart disease and missing hemodynamic measurements prior to repair. Overall, median age at intervention was 44 months, mPAP mean was 43.17 ± 16.05 mmHg and Pulmonary Vascular Resistance index (PVRi) mean was 2.84 ± 2.09 (WU.m2). Nine patients died after repair. The survival rate for patients with PAH-CHD at 1 day, 30 days and 1400 days (4 years) was 96.1%, 92.1%, and 91.0% respectively. Patients with persisting PAH after correction had –476.1 days (95% confidence interval [CI]: –714.4, –237,8) shorter survival over 4 years of follow up compared to patients with reversed PAH. PVRi was found to be the influencing covariate of the difference of restricted mean survival time between these groups.

Conclusion: In low-to-middle income settings, with accurate PAH reversibility assessment prior to intervention, repair of left-to-right shunt CHD with existing PAH in children has a favourable outcome. Inferior survival is found in patients with persistence of PAH. PVRi at baseline predicts between-group survival difference.

Factors Associated with Congenital Heart Diseases Among Children in Uganda: A Case-Control Study at Mulago National Referral Hospital (Uganda Heart Institute)

Congenital Heart Diseases (CHD) are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality associated with congenital malformations among children. Not knowing the risk profile of CHD among children in Uganda impedes development of effective prevention interventions. In this hospital based unmatched case-control study we examined risk
factors for all types of CHD among 179 pair of case and control children aged 0-10 years old at Mulago National Referral Hospital. Odds ratios and their corresponding 95% confidence intervals were calculated using multivariate logistic regression. Low birth weight (adjusted OR: 3.15, 95% CI 1.48 – 6.69), high birth order ≥5th birth order (adjusted OR: 3.69 (1.10 – 12.54), maternal febrile illness during pregnancy, maternal and paternal alcohol consumption, and paternal socio-economic status were associated with CHD. Family history of CHD, maternal education level, maternal chronic illness, and paternal education level were not associated with CHD. The results suggest: low birth weight, high birth order, and maternal febrile illness during pregnancy, parental alcohol use and paternal socio-economic status as dominant risk factors for CHD among children. Rigorous implementation of public health policies and strategies targeting prevention of febrile illness during pregnancy, maternal malnutrition, parental alcohol consumption, delivery of high number of children per woman, might be important in reducing the burden of CHD among children in Uganda

Surgical site infection after gastrointestinal surgery in children: an international, multicentre, prospective cohort study

Introduction Surgical site infection (SSI) is one of the most common healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). However, there is a lack of data available about SSI in children worldwide, especially from low-income and middle-income countries. This study aimed to estimate the incidence of SSI in children and associations between SSI and morbidity across human development settings.

Methods A multicentre, international, prospective, validated cohort study of children aged under 16 years undergoing clean-contaminated, contaminated or dirty gastrointestinal surgery. Any hospital in the world providing paediatric surgery was eligible to contribute data between January and July 2016. The primary outcome was the incidence of SSI by 30 days. Relationships between explanatory variables and SSI were examined using multilevel logistic regression. Countries were stratified into high development, middle development and low development groups using the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI).

Results Of 1159 children across 181 hospitals in 51 countries, 523 (45·1%) children were from high HDI, 397 (34·2%) from middle HDI and 239 (20·6%) from low HDI countries. The 30-day SSI rate was 6.3% (33/523) in high HDI, 12·8% (51/397) in middle HDI and 24·7% (59/239) in low HDI countries. SSI was associated with higher incidence of 30-day mortality, intervention, organ-space infection and other HAIs, with the highest rates seen in low HDI countries. Median length of stay in patients who had an SSI was longer (7.0 days), compared with 3.0 days in patients who did not have an SSI. Use of laparoscopy was associated with significantly lower SSI rates, even after accounting for HDI.

Conclusion The odds of SSI in children is nearly four times greater in low HDI compared with high HDI countries. Policies to reduce SSI should be prioritised as part of the wider global agenda

Injured and broke: The impacts of the Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) on service delivery and catastrophic health expenditure among seriously injured children

Ghana implemented a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in 2003 as a step toward universal health coverage. We aimed to determine the effect of the NHIS on timeliness of care, mortality, and catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) among children with serious injuries at a trauma center in Ghana.

We performed a retrospective cohort study of injured children aged 0.10). Uninsured children were more likely to have a delay in care for financial reasons (17.3 vs 6.4%, p < 0.001) than insured children, and the families of uninsured children paid a median of 1.7 times more out-of-pocket costs than families with insured children (p < 0.001). Eighty-six percent of families of uninsured children experienced CHE compared to 54% of families of insured children (p < 0.001); however, 64% of all families experienced CHE. Insurance was protective against CHE (aOR 0.21, 95%CI 0.08–0.55). Conclusions NHIS did not improve timeliness of care, length of stay or mortality. Although NHIS did provide some financial risk protection for families, it did not eliminate out-of-pocket payments. The families of most seriously injured children experienced CHE, regardless of insurance status. NHIS and similar financial risk pooling schemes could be strengthened to better provide financial risk protection and promote quality of care for injured children.

Epidemiological characteristics of child injury in a tertiary paediatric surgical centre in Bangladesh

While high income countries (HICs) have reduced the mortality from child injury, it is increasing in the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, injury registry and reporting are inconsistent and not well developed in the LMICs. This study aims at describing the epidemiology of child injury in a tertiary paediatric surgical centre in Bangladesh. We retrospectively analysed all patients of injury between 0 and 12 years of age admitted in the Department of Paediatric Surgery, Chattogram Medical College Hospital during January 2017 to June 2020. Analysis was done for the hospital prevalence, age and sex distribution, seasonal variations, mechanism of injury, site of involvement, and mortality from injury. There were a total of 538 patients and male to female ratio was 2.01:1. Hospital prevalence was 6.71%. Mean age was 6.60 ± 3.32 years. School age children were affected more (51.7%); and “6-10 years” age group had the highest number injuries (251 patients, 46.65%). The most common mechanisms of injuries were road-traffic accident (RTA, 35.32%), followed by fall (26.39%) and „stab or cut injury‟ (20.63%). Males experienced more abdominal injuries and females had more perineal injuries (P=0.00). RTA was the commonest mechanism in males (37.05%) and falls were the commonest mechanism in females (32.96%). „Stab or cut injury‟ was the commonest mechanism in infants and toddlers, and RTA was commonest among pre-school and school age children. There were no significant seasonal variations (P=0.09). There were 5.76% intentional injuries. Mortality was 2.60% and major causes of mortality were RTA and animal assaults. Injuries were more prevalent during the mid-childhood with an overall increasing trend with age. Mechanism of injury and site of involvement were different among different age groups and between sexes.

Heineke-Mikulicz pyloroplasty for isolated pyloric stricture caused by corrosive ingestion in children

Corrosive ingestion in children is a common problem in low income countries. These agents cause injuries and later strictures of esophagus and stomach. Gastric outlet obstruction is known complication of acids and surgery is the mainstay of treatment. There are multitude of surgical options for these strictures depending on the involved segment of the stomach and experience of the surgeon. Here we present three cases of children who accidentally ingested acid stored in soda bottles and subsequently developed isolated pyloric strictures. These cases presented between August 2018 and April 2019 to our facility, a tertiary care hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. All three patients had an initial latent period of one to two weeks following corrosive ingestion, after which symptoms of gastric outlet obstruction appeared. Intraoperatively, all three had normal esophagus and antrum but scarred and strictured pylorus. Heineke-Mikulicz pyloroplasty was done in these cases without complications and the outcomes were satisfactory.

Surgical treatment of femoral diaphyseal fractures in children using elastic stable intramedullary nailing by open reduction at Yopougon Teaching Hospital.

Elastic stable intramedullary nailing (ESIN) has transformed children’s femoral shaft fracture treatment, but this technique requires an image intensifier. Without it, open reduction is used to check fracture reduction and pin passage. The aim of this study was to describe our techniques and to evaluate our results at the middle term.

The open reduction and ESIN technique provides satisfactory results with few major complications.

Patients and methods
This was a retrospective study that focused on femoral diaphyseal fractures treated in the pediatric surgery unit at Yopougon Teaching Hospital (Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire) between January 2007 and December 2013. Twenty children older than 6 years of age who underwent open reduction and ESIN without image intensifier assistance were included. Functional outcomes were assessed using Flynn’s criteria. Postoperative complications and sequelae were recorded.

At the 16-month follow-up, the results were excellent in 11 (55%) cases, good in eight (40%), and poor in one (5%) case. The mean duration of surgery was 71 min (range, 57–103 min). The mean time for bone healing was 11.6 weeks (range, 7–15 weeks) and the average time to nail removal was 6 months. Complications included wood infection (n = 3), skin irritation (n = 3), knee stiffness (n = 2), malunion (n = 3), scar (n = 5), and leg length discrepancy (n = 3).

Open reduction and ESIN yielded satisfactory results with few major complications. This method could be an alternative in low-income countries where the image intensifier is often unavailable.