Firearm injuries among children due to the Kivu conflict from 2017 to 2020: A hospital-based retrospective descriptive cohort study

Introduction
Firearm-related injuries are deadly but avoidable. The case of Kivu, a region in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is alarming. Decades of unresolved regional conflicts birthed armed groups that have massacred inhabitants and injured several children. This regional instability has also created barriers to seeking and obtaining timely care, decreasing the survival rate. This region’s lack of data on paediatric fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries (F&NFFIs) needs studying. Thus, we aim to determine the prevalence and evaluate the outcomes of paediatric F&NFFIs in Kivu.

Methods
We included all F&NFFI paediatric patients (≤18 years), admitted at our institution between 2017 and 2020. We extracted data from patient records. Next, we assessed the relationship between determinants of paediatric outcomes using the Chi-square test and the student’s t-test. Confounders were identified using cox regression.

Results
This study included 101 paediatric patients, mostly male (63.4%), with an average age of 15.9 years residing 164.4 km on average from the hospital. On average, they were admitted 2.9 days post-injury, with the most affected anatomical regions being lower limbs (53.5%) and upper limbs (18.8%). The mean length of stay was 52.9 days, and the mortality rate was 4.0%. Also, injury complications increased the mean length of stay and mortality rate. In addition, mortality was correlated with circulatory failure and anaemia.

Discussion
Paediatric F&NFFIs in Eastern DRC is a preventable tragedy. Mortality is increased by injury complications and correlates with some biological factors. Prevention strategies should be developed to protect children and appropriate measures should be established to improve rates of prehospital care and early hospital presentation to lower mortality and improve paediatric outcomes.

Fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: a hospital-based retrospective descriptive cohort study assessing correlates of adult mortality

Introduction
The Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been the battleground for multiple armed conflicts, resulting in many fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries (F&NFFIs). Chronic insecurity has stressed the health system’s resources and created barriers to seeking, reaching, and receiving timely care further increasing the F&NFFI burden. Our institution is the largest trauma center in the region and receives the bulk of F&NFFI cases. We aimed to identify correlates of mortality in Congolese F&NFFI patients.

Methods
We included all F&NFFI patients admitted to our institution between 2017 and 2020. We extracted data from patient charts and admission logs. We identified mortality correlates using the two-sample t-test, Chi-square test, and multivariable regression analysis. A P-value of less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results
This study included 814 adult patients, mostly male (86%) with an average age of 34.5 years and living 154.4 km away from the hospital on average. The most affected anatomical sites were the lower limbs (48.2%) and upper limbs (23.2%). The median length of stay was 34.0 days, and the in-hospital mortality rate was 3.6%. In addition, mortality was negatively correlated with diastolic blood pressure (P = 0.01), SaO2 (P < 0.001), and hemoglobin concentration (P = 0.002).

Conclusion
F&NFFIs cause an enormous burden in the region, and mortality is correlated with some clinical and biological variables. Thus, the study findings will inform F&NFFI referral, triage, and management in low-resource and mass casualty settings.

The mobile surgical outreach program for management of patients with genital fistula in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Objective
To describe components of the mobile surgical outreach (MSO) program as a model of care delivery for women with genital fistula; present program results; and discuss operational strengths and challenges.

Methods
A retrospective observational study of routinely collected health data from women treated via the MSO program (2013–2018). The program was developed at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo to meet the needs of women with fistula living in remote provinces, where travel is prohibited. It includes healthcare delivery, medico‐surgical training, and community sensitization components.

Results
The MSO team cared for 1517 women at 41 clinic sites across 18 provinces over the study period. Average age at presentation was 31 years (range, 1–81 years). Most women (n=1359, 89.6%) presented with vesicovaginal fistula. Most surgeries were successful, and few women reported residual incontinence postoperatively. Local teams were receptive and engaged in clinical skills training and public health education efforts.

Conclusion
The MSO program addresses the backlog of patients awaiting fistula surgery and provides a template for a national strategic plan to treat and ultimately end fistula in DRC. It offers a patient‐centered approach that brings medico‐surgical care and psychosocial support to women with fistula in their own communities.