Evaluation of postoperative refractive error correction after cataract surgery

Suboptimal cataract surgery outcomes remain a challenge in most developing countries. In Ghana, about 2 million people have been reported to be blind due to cataract with about 20% new cases being recorded yearly. The aim of this study was to evaluate postoperative correction of refractive errors after cataract surgery in a selected eye hospital in Ashanti Region, Ghana. This was a retrospective study where medical records of patients (aged 40–100) who reported to an eye hospital in Ghana from 2013–2018 were reviewed. Included in the study were patients aged ≥40 years and patients with complete records. Data on patient demographics, type of surgery, intra-ocular lens (PCIOL) power, availability of biometry, postoperative refraction outcomes, pre- and postoperative visual acuity were analyzed. Data of two hundred and thirteen eyes of 190 patients who met the inclusion criteria were analyzed. Descriptive analysis and Chi-square test were carried out to determine the mean, median, standard deviation and relevant associations. The mean ± SD age was 67.21±12.2 years (51.2% were females). Small Incision Cataract Surgery (99.5%) with 100% IOL implants was the main cataract surgery procedure in this study. Pre-operative biometry was performed for 38.9% of all patients on their first eye surgery and 41.5% for second eye surgeries. About 71% eyes in this study were blind (presenting VA<3/60) before surgery; 40.4% had post-operative VA <3/60. Pre-existing ocular comorbidities discovered post- surgery, attributed to suboptimal visual outcomes. More than half (55.3%) of patients did not undergo postoperative refraction due to loss to follow-up. Year of surgery (p = .017), follow up visits< 2months (p < .0001) and discovered comorbidity post-surgery (p = .035) were the factors significantly associated with postoperative refraction. Myopia and compound myopic astigmatism were the dominant refractive error outcomes. The timing of post-operative refraction had a significant effect on postoperative refraction done. These findings indicate a clinically meaningful significance between completion of postoperative care and postoperative refraction done. Consequently, with settings in most developing countries, where less biometry is done, it is appropriate that post-operative refractive services are encouraged and done earlier to enhance the patients’ expectations while increasing cataract surgery patronage.

Economic Evaluations of Breast Cancer Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Scoping Review

Understanding the cost of delivering breast cancer (BC) care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is critical to guide effective care delivery strategies. This scoping review summarizes the scope of literature on the costs of BC care in LMICs and characterizes the methodological approaches of these economic evaluations.

Materials and Methods
A systematic literature search was performed in five databases and gray literature up to March 2020. Studies were screened to identify original articles that included a cost outcome for BC diagnosis or treatment in an LMIC. Two independent reviewers assessed articles for eligibility. Data related to study characteristics and methodology were extracted. Study quality was assessed using the Drummond et al. checklist.

Ninety-one articles across 38 countries were included. The majority (73%) of studies were published between 2013 and 2020. Low-income countries (2%) and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (9%) were grossly underrepresented. The majority of studies (60%) used a health care system perspective. Time horizon was not reported in 30 studies (33%). Of the 33 studies that estimated the cost of multiple steps in the BC care pathway, the majority (73%) were of high quality, but studies varied in their inclusion of nonmedical direct and indirect costs.

There has been substantial growth in the number of BC economic evaluations in LMICs in the past decade, but there remain limited data from low-income countries, especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa. BC economic evaluations should be prioritized in these countries. Use of existing frameworks for economic evaluations may help achieve comparable, transparent costing analyses.

Moral Distress and Resilience Associated with Cancer Care Priority Setting in a Resource Limited Context

Moral distress and burnout are highly prevalent among oncology clinicians. Research is needed to better understand how resource constraints and systemic inequalities contribute to moral distress in order to develop effective mitigation strategies. Oncology providers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are well positioned to provide insight into the moral experience of cancer care priority setting and expertise to guide solutions.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 22 oncology physicians, nurses, program leaders, and clinical advisors at a cancer center in Rwanda. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using the framework method.

Participants identified sources of moral distress at three levels of engagement with resource prioritization: witnessing program-level resource constraints drive cancer disparities, implementing priority setting decisions into care of individual patients, and communicating with patients directly about resource prioritization implications. They recommended individual and organizational level interventions to foster resilience, such as communication skills training and mental health support for clinicians, interdisciplinary team-building, fair procedures for priority setting, and collective advocacy for resource expansion and equity.

This study adds to the current literature an in-depth examination of the impact of resource constraints and inequities on clinicians in a low resource setting. Effective interventions are urgently needed to address moral distress, reduce clinician burnout, and promote well-being among a critical but strained oncology workforce. Collective advocacy is concomitantly needed to address the structural forces that constrain resources unevenly and perpetuate disparities in cancer care and outcomes.

Assessing barriers to quality trauma care in low and middle-income countries

Most deaths from injury occur in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) with one third potentially avoidable with better health system access. This study aimed to establish consensus on the most important barriers, within a Three Delays framework, to accessing injury care in LMICs that should be considered when evaluating a health system.
A three round electronic Delphi study was conducted with experts in LMIC health systems or injury care. In round one, participants proposed important barriers. These were synthesized into a three delays framework. In round 2 participants scored four components for each barrier. Components measured whether barriers were feasible to assess, likely to delay care for a significant proportion of injured persons, likely to cause avoidable death or disability, and potentially readily changed to improve care. In round 3 participants re-scored each barrier following review of feedback from round 2. Consensus was defined for each component as ≥70% agreement or disagreement.
There were 37 eligible responses in round 1, 30 in round 2, and 27 in round 3, with 21 countries represented in all rounds. Of the twenty conceptual barriers identified, consensus was reached on all four components for 11 barriers. This included 2 barriers to seeking care, 5 barriers to reaching care and 4 barriers to receiving care. The ability to modify a barrier most frequently failed to achieve consensus.
11 barriers were agreed to be feasible to assess, delay care for many, cause avoidable death or disability, and be readily modifiable. We recommend these barriers are considered in assessments of LMIC trauma systems.

The ethical development and sustainability of trauma registries in low- and middle-income countries

Trauma registries are an anonymized, systematic, prospective data banks for trauma patients that may include details on demographics, injury details, hospital processes, and outcomes. They are an important component of trauma care systems and a tool for improving outcomes in trauma. Given the high rates of morbidity and mortality from trauma in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the implementation of trauma registries in LMICs is a growing area of interest; however, while many pilot trauma registries have been demonstrated to be feasible in LMICs, very few are sustainable in the long term. In this thesis, a trauma registry established in 2017 in Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH), Uganda is examined. Since the establishment of this registry, data for over 3000 trauma patients has been collected, however, the registry faces questions of how to achieve long-term viability without the financial support of external partnerships. The aim of this thesis is therefore to evaluate several aspects of sustainability of trauma registries for low-income settings. First, the ethical importance of sustainability in global surgery was established through a scoping review on the literature on the ethics of global surgery. A grounded theory content analysis was completed to identify themes and gaps in the existing literature. Four major ethical domains in global surgery were identified: clinical care and delivery; education and exchange of trainees; research, monitoring, and evaluation; and engagement in collaborations and partnerships. While the literature on ethics in global surgery was sparse, mostly in the form of commentaries or editorials, and largely published by authors in high-income countries (HICs), the importance of including LMIC authors in the conversation on ethics in global surgery and the value of building sustainable collaborations and partnerships were key findings of this scoping review. Next, a literature review of considerations for the implementation of ethical and sustainable trauma registries in LMICs was completed. A number of practical challenges were identified for the development of trauma registries in LMICs and included funding sources, personnel requirements, technology access, and quality assurance mechanisms. Ethical considerations for trauma registry development were also identified, and included concerns of patient confidentiality, informed consent, and sustaining the registry. Strategies for these ethical and practical considerations for trauma registry development in LMICs are discussed, and opportunities for future research opportunities are explored. The widespread nature and accessibility of mobile phones in most low- and middle-income countries, including Uganda, makes the use of mobile phone technology in health a potential avenue for inexpensive health care innovation. A mobile application trauma registry was designed and implemented to minimize workload and contribute to sustainability of the registry. Healthcare workers involved in trauma then completed a validated questionnaire known as the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) for evaluating the usability of the mobile application trauma registry and predicting future use behaviours. Healthcare workers scored the mobile application highly, indicating a high potential for ongoing use. The UTAUT was also identified as a method for other trauma registries to predict future use and opportunities for sustainability. Finally, a potential means of financial self-sustainability for trauma registries in low-income countries was evaluated. In many public hospitals in low-income settings, government funding for patients seen is dependent on documentation of those patients. This study evaluated the improvements to patient documentation following the implementation of a trauma registry and concurrent patient registration system at MRRH. A significant improvement in patient documentation was found, with a 20-fold increase in trauma patients documented following the implementation of patient registration and a trauma registry. This more accurate documentation could then be used to apply for increased government funding for trauma patients and for sustaining the trauma registry in the long-term. The concurrent implementation of a patient registration system with a trauma registry therefore could be an avenue for financial viability for other trauma registries in low-income contexts. Taken together, these studies represent a compelling picture for the ethical imperative to develop sustainable trauma registries in LMICs and some of the strategies that may be undertaken to achieve this. By combining these techniques, we hope to achieve a sustainable, long-term trauma registry at MRRH that can serve as a model for other trauma registries in LMICs going forward.

Self-reported confidence and perceived training needs of surgical interns at a regional hospital in Ghana: a questionnaire survey

Due to disparities in their regional distribution of the surgical specialists, those who have finished “housemanship,” which is the equivalent of an internship, are serving as main surgical care providers in rural areas in Ghana. However, the quantitative volume of postgraduate surgical training experience and the level of self-reported confidence after formal training have not been investigated in detail in sub-Saharan Africa.

The quality-assessment data of the Department of surgery at a regional hospital in Ghana was obtained from the convenience samples of house officers (HOs) who had their surgical rotation before July 2019. A self-reported questionnaire with 5-point Likert-type scale and open-ended responses regarding the 35 topics listed as learning objectives by the Medical and Dental Council of Ghana were retrospectively reviewed to investigate the volume of surgical experience, self-reported confidence, and perceived training needs.

Among 52 respondents, the median self-reported number of patients experienced for each condition was less than 11 cases. More than 40% of HOs reported that they had never experienced cases of liver tumor (n = 21, 40.4%), portal hypertension (n = 23, 44.2%), or cancer chemotherapy/cancer therapy (n = 26, 50.0%). The median self-confidence score was 3.69 (interquartile range, 3.04 ~ 4.08). More than 50% of HOs scored ≤2 points on the self-confidence scale of gastric cancer (n = 28, 53.8%), colorectal cancer (n = 31, 59.6%), liver tumors (n = 32, 61.5%), and cancer chemotherapy/cancer therapy (n = 38, 73.1%). The top 3 reasons for not feeling confident were the limited number of patients (n = 42, 80.8%), resources and infrastructure (n = 21, 40.4%), and amount of supervision (n = 18, 34.6%). Eighteen HOs (34.6%) rated their confidence in their surgical skills as ≤2 points. Of all respondents, 76.9% (n = 40) were satisfied with their surgical rotation and 84.6% (n = 44) perceived the surgical rotation as relevant to their future work. Improved basic surgical skills training (n = 27, 51.9%) and improved supervision (n = 18, 34.6%) were suggested as a means to improve surgical rotation.

Surgical rotation during housemanship (internship) should be improved in terms of cancer treatment, surgical skills, and supervision to improve the quality of training, which is closely related to the quality of surgical care in rural areas.

Patterns of neurosurgical conditions at a major government hospital in Cambodia

Background: Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have a growing and largely unaddressed neurosurgical burden. Cambodia has been an understudied country regarding the neurosurgical pathologies and case volume. Rapid infrastructure development with noncompliance of safety regulations has led to increased numbers of traumatic injuries. This study examines the neurosurgical caseload and pathologies of a single government institution implementing the first residency program in an effort to understand the neurosurgical needs of this population. Methods: This is a longitudinal descriptive study of all neurosurgical admissions at the Department of Neurosurgery at Preah Kossamak Hospital (PKH), a major government hospital, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, between September 2013 and June 2018. Results: 5490 patients were admitted to PKH requiring neurosurgical evaluation and care. Most of these admissions were cranial injuries related to road traffic accidents primarily involving young men compared to women by approximately 4:1 ratio. Spinal pathologies were more evenly distributed in age and gender, with younger demographics more commonly presenting with traumatic injuries, while the older with degenerative conditions. Conclusions: Despite increased attention and efforts over the past decade, Cambodia’s neurosurgical burden mirrors that of other LMICs, with trauma affecting most patients either on the road or at the workplace. Currently, Cambodia has 34 neurosurgeons to address the growing burden of a country of 15 million with an increasing life expectancy of 69 years of age, stressing the importance of better public health policies and urgency for building capacity for safe and affordable neurosurgical care.

Management of cervical cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: a challenge for developing countries

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health services worldwide are going through important adaptations to assist patients infected with COVID-19, at the same time as continuing to provide assistance to other potentially life-threatening diseases. Although patients with cancer may be at increased risk for severe events related to COVID-19 infection, their oncologic treatments frequently cannot be delayed for long periods without jeopardising oncologic outcomes. Considering this, a careful consideration for treatment management of different malignancies is required.

Cervical cancer is concentrated mainly in low-middle income countries (LMICs), which face particular challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the scarcity of health resources in many places. Although cervical cancer is the fourth cause of cancer death among women, it receives little attention from international Oncology societies and scientific research studies. In this review paper, we discuss the cervical cancer landscape and provide specialists recommendations for its management during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly focused on LMICs’ reality.

Astrocytic Tumors in Mexico: An Overview of Characteristics and Prognosis in an Open Reference Center for Low-Income Population.

The authors aimed to analyze the current epidemiology of high- and low-grade gliomas, follow-up strategies, and prognosis in a national reference center of a developing country.

Materials and Methods:
Medical records of patients diagnosed with intracranial gliomas from January 2012 to January 2016 were reviewed. Data were classified by age, symptoms, Karnofsky functional scale (KFS), tumor location, extent of resection (EOR), histopathology, hospital stay, Glasgow outcome scale (GOS), adjuvant treatments, overall survival (OS), and mortality.

Astrocytomas accounted for 28.2% of the intracranial tumors and 53.5% were male. Headache was the most common symptom, while sensory disturbance was the least frequent. The right cerebral hemisphere was involved in 56.5% of cases and frontal lobe in 31.3%. Gross total resection (GTR) was achieved in 18.1% cases, 35.3% subtotal resection, and 46.4% biopsy. Regarding the astrocytomas, 43.3% were low grade and 56.4% high grade. Low-grade tumors had the highest frequency in the fourth decade of life, while Grade III and IV in the fifth and seventh decades of life, respectively. In high-grade lesions, there was a slight male predominance (~1.4:1). The initial KFS was regularly 80 for low-grade gliomas and 60 for high-grade. By 1-month postdischarge, the score decreased by 10 points. About half of the patients (47.5%) received adjuvant therapy after surgery. From the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS), the majority had a form of disability and 30-month OS was above 88% for Grade I-II and 0% for Grade III and IV.

Astrocytic tumors were the most frequently noted intra-axial tumors. Age, histological grade, and EOR are important prognostic factors. These results are similar to other reports; however, increased variability was noted when treatment-related factors were considered. Additional studies are necessary to identify the factors related to these treatment results.

Epidemiology of severe traumatic brain injury.

About 5.48 million people are estimated to suffer from severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year (73 cases per 100,000 people). The WHO estimates that almost 90% of deaths due to injuries occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where the 85% of population live. Of these trauma-related deaths TBI is the main cause of one-third to one-half and represents the greatest cause of death and disability globally among all trauma-related injuries. The primary causes of TBI vary by age, socioeconomic factors, and geographic region, so any planned interventions must take in account this variability. The road traffic injuries (RTI) scenario is still strictly connected to the analysis of the global incidence of TBI, and to the reason why the LMICs experience nearly 3 times as many cases of TBI proportionally than high-income countries (HICs). The proportion of TBIs resulting from road traffic collisions was greatest in Africa and Southeast Asia (both 56%) and lowest in North America (25%). In HICs, falls and RTIs were reported most frequently as cause of TBI, but the traumas attributable to RTIs dropped from 39% in 2003 to 24% in 2012, while those attributable to falls increased from 43% to 54% respectively, with an increase TBI in the elderly (>65 years) due to falls. Differently from HICs, the population with the peak of TBI incidence is younger in LMICs, with an age between 28.8 and 33.1, as extensively reported. The burden of disease is significant; between 1,730,000 and 1,965,000 lives could be saved if global trauma care were improved in LMICs. Clinical practice recommendation should be developed and created in environments where the severe TBI mainly occurs. The applicability of high-income-country clinical research standards in LMICs is an important topic for future international research.