The potential use of digital health technologies in the African context: a systematic review of evidence from Ethiopia

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently put forth a Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020–2025 with several countries having already achieved key milestones. We aimed to understand whether and how digital health technologies (DHTs) are absorbed in Africa, tracking Ethiopia as a key node. We conducted a systematic review, searching PubMed-MEDLINE, Embase, ScienceDirect, African Journals Online, Cochrane Central Registry of Controlled Trials,, and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform databases from inception to 02 February 2021 for studies of any design that investigated the potential of DHTs in clinical or public health practices in Ethiopia. This review was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42021240645) and it was designed to inform our ongoing DHT-enabled randomized controlled trial (RCT) ( ID: NCT04216420). We found 27,493 potentially relevant citations, among which 52 studies met the inclusion criteria, comprising a total of 596,128 patients, healthy individuals, and healthcare professionals. The studies involved six DHTs: mHealth (29 studies, 574,649 participants); electronic health records (13 studies, 4534 participants); telemedicine (4 studies, 465 participants); cloud-based application (2 studies, 2382 participants); information communication technology (3 studies, 681 participants), and artificial intelligence (1 study, 13,417 participants). The studies targeted six health conditions: maternal and child health (15), infectious diseases (14), non-communicable diseases (3), dermatitis (1), surgery (4), and general health conditions (15). The outcomes of interest were feasibility, usability, willingness or readiness, effectiveness, quality improvement, and knowledge or attitude toward DHTs. Five studies involved RCTs. The analysis showed that although DHTs are a relatively recent phenomenon in Ethiopia, their potential harnessing clinical and public health practices are highly visible. Their adoption and implementation in full capacity require more training, access to better devices such as smartphones, and infrastructure. DHTs hold much promise tackling major clinical and public health backlogs and strengthening the healthcare ecosystem in Ethiopia. More RCTs are needed on emerging DHTs including artificial intelligence, big data, cloud, cybersecurity, telemedicine, and wearable devices to provide robust evidence of their potential use in such settings and to materialize the WHO’s Global Strategy on Digital Health.

Data on histological characteristics, survival patterns and determinants of mortality among colorectal, esophageal and prostate cancer patients in Ethiopia

This article describes data collected retrospectively on a cohort of esophageal, colorectal and prostate cancer patients registered in the patient log book of Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital, Ethiopia, from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2017. The key variables studied include histological characteristics of each type of cancer, clinical and TNM stages, baseline laboratory results (Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) for colorectal cancer, Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) for prostate cancer, hemoglobin level, etc.), clinical characteristics including sign and symptoms, family history of cancer, diagnostic and treatment modalities a patient received for each type of cancer. The event status (death) was also collected using death certificates (whenever available) and supplemented by telephone interviews with the patient or attendant. Furthermore, lifestyle characteristics of patients including tobacco use, alcohol consumption, khat (‘Catha edulis’) chewing, etc. and socioeconomic characteristics including age, sex, region of residence, marital status, and educational level were also collected. The aim that led to conduct the study that generated these data was to describe clinical presentation, histological characteristics, survival pattern, and to identify determinants of mortality among cancer patients in Ethiopia. Thus, independent survival analyzes were performed using Kaplan-Meier estimates and life table analysis. Furthermore, Cox’s proportional hazards regression was developed to investigate the survival pattern and determinants of cancer specific mortality among colorectal, esophageal and prostate cancer patients.

Evaluating the effect of interventions for strengthening non-physician anesthetists’ education in Ethiopia: a pre- and post-evaluation study

Access to safe surgery has been recognized as an indispensable component of universal health coverage. A competent anesthesia workforce is a prerequisite for safe surgical care. In Ethiopia, non-physician anesthetists are the main anesthesia service providers. The Government of Ethiopia implemented a program intervention to improve the quality of non-physician anesthetists’ education, which included faculty development, curricula strengthening, student support, educational resources, improved infrastructure and upgraded regulations. This study aimed to assess changes following the implementation of this program.

A pre-and post-evaluation design was employed to evaluate improvement in the quality of non-physician anesthetists’ education. A 10-station objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) was administered to graduating class anesthetists of 2016 (n = 104) to assess changes in competence from a baseline study performed in 2013 (n = 122). Moreover, a self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data on students’ perceptions of the learning environment.

The overall competence score of 2016 graduates was significantly higher than the 2013 class (65.7% vs. 61.5%, mean score difference = 4.2, 95% CI = 1.24–7.22, p < 0.05). Although we found increases in competence scores for 6 out of 10 stations, the improvement was statistically significant for three tasks only (pre-operative assessment, postoperative complication, and anesthesia machine check). Moreover, the competence score in neonatal resuscitation declined significantly from baseline (from 74.4 to 68.9%, mean score difference = − 5.5, 95% CI = -10.5 to − 0.5, p  0.05 in favor of females), and female students scored better in some stations. Student perceptions of the learning environment improved significantly for almost all items, with the largest percentage point increase in the availability of instructors from 38.5 to 70.2% (OR = 3.76, 95% CI = 2.15–6.55, p < 0.05).

The results suggest that the quality of non-physician anesthetists’ education has improved. Stagnation in competence scores of some stations and student perceptions of the simulated learning environment require specific attention.

Magnitude of undernutrition and associated factors among children with cardiac disease at University of Gondar hospital, Ethiopia

Undernutrition and cardiac disease are interconnected in a vicious cycle. Little is known about the effect of undernutrition on cardiac disease among children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This study aimed to assess magnitude of undernutrition and associated factors among children with cardiac disease at University of Gondar hospital, northwest Ethiopia.

This hospital-based cross-sectional study included children with cardiac disease presenting to the pediatric outpatient clinic at University of Gondar Hospital, Ethiopia. A self-administered questionnaire was administered to participating families, and medical records were reviewed. All participants who fulfill the inclusion criteria were included. Anthropometric measurements were made and the presence of malnutrition was diagnosed according to the WHO criteria. Associated factors of undernutrition analyzed by using binary logistic regression model. Variables with p-value ≤0.2 in bivariate analysis were fitted to the final multivariable analysis and those variables with p-value ≤0.05 were considered as having statistically significant association to the outcome variable. AOR and 95% confidence interval was calculated to assess the strength of association between the variables.

A total of 269 patients participated in the study. 177 (65.7%) were undernourished, of whom 96 (54.5%) were underweight, 70 (39.7%) were stunted, and 95 (53.9%) were wasted. Pulmonary hypertension (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 3.82, 95%CI 1.80–8.10), NYHA/modified Ross class III and IV heart failure (AOR = 4.64, 1.69–12.72) and cardiac chamber enlargement (AOR = 2.91, 1.45–5.66) were associated with undernutrition.

Undernutrition is common among children with cardiac disease in northern Ethiopia. Children with pulmonary hypertension, high-grade heart failure, and cardiac chamber enlargement may warrant close follow-up for malnutrition.

Level of knowledge and practice of female healthcare providers about early detection methods of breast cancer at Debre Tabor Comprehensive Specialised Hospital: a cross-sectional study

Background: Despite the higher mortality rate of breast cancer in low and middle-income countries, the practice of early detection methods is low and the majority of the patients presenting at an advanced stage of the disease need palliative care with low survival rates. Although healthcare providers are the key for practicing early detection methods of breast cancer for themselves and their clients, little is known about their knowledge and practice of early detection methods of breast cancer in Northcentral Ethiopia.

Methods: An institution-based cross-sectional study was conducted among female healthcare providers at Debre Tabor Comprehensive Specialised Hospital. Data were collected using a structured self-administered questionnaire. The data were analysed using SPSS version 23. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the socio-demographic information of participants. Binary and multivariable logistic regression with adjusted odds ratio (AOR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) was used to identify factors associated with the outcome variable. Statistical significance was declared at p 2 years (AOR = 3.2; 95% CI: 1.72, 5.29), history of any breast problem (AOR = 1.4; 95% CI: 1.02, 2.37), family history of breast cancer (AOR = 4.0; 95% CI: 2.58, 15.84), having good knowledge (AOR = 2.9; 95% CI: 1.3, 6.52) and history of comorbidities (AOR = 1.09; 95% CI: 1.09, 3.59) were the factors associated with the practice of breast self-examination.

Conclusion: Our study found that the knowledge and practice of breast cancer early detection methods was low in the study setting. Only less than half of female healthcare providers practiced regular breast self-examination, which suggests the need to provide training for healthcare providers to fill the gap and to promote early detection of breast cancer cases.

Awake prone positioning for COVID-19 patients at Eka Kotebe General Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: A prospective cohort study

The objectives of the study were to evaluate the benefit of awake prone positioning in COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Eka Kotebe General Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Consecutive patients with COVID-19 who require supplemental oxygen to maintain oxygen saturation of ≥90% during the month of October 2020 were enrolled. Structured questionnaires were employed to collect data. Admission oxygen saturation was recorded for each patient before and after their first proning session. Analysis of descriptive and comparison statistics was done using SPSS version 25.

A total of 61 patients were included in the study. The mean age (+SD) for the cohort was 55.4 (+16.9) years. The average duration of proning was 5+2.5 h/session and 8+6 h/day. The average oxygen saturation before proning was 89% (SD 5.2) and 93% (SD 2.8) 1 h after proning (P < 0.001); supplemental oxygen requirements significantly decreased with prone ventilation, before proning: FiO2 0.33 (+0.14) versus 1 h after prone ventilation: FiO2 0.31 (+0.13) (P < 0.001). Oxygen improvement with prone ventilation was not associated with duration of illness or total prone position hours. When assessed at 28 days after admission, 55.7% (n = 34) had been discharged home, 1.6% (n = 1) had died, and 42.6 (n = 26) were still hospitalized. CONCLUSION: Awake prone positioning demonstrated improved oxygen saturation in our oxygen requiring COVID-19 patients. Even though further studies are needed to support causality and determine the effect of proning on disease severity and mortality, early institution of prone ventilation in appropriate oxygen requiring COVID-19 patients should be encouraged.

Quality improvement training for burn care in low-and middle-income countries: A pilot course for nurses

There is an urgent need to empower practitioners to undertake quality improvement (QI) projects in burn services in low-middle income countries (LMICs). We piloted a course aimed to equip nurses working in these environments with the knowledge and skills to undertake such projects.

Eight nurses from five burns services across Malawi and Ethiopia took part in this pilot course, which was evaluated using a range of methods, including interviews and focus group discussions.

Course evaluations reported that interactive activities were successful in supporting participants to devise QI projects. Appropriate online platforms were integral to creating a community of practice and maintaining engagement. Facilitators to a successful QI project were active individuals, supportive leadership, collaboration, effective knowledge sharing and demonstrable advantages of any proposed change. Barriers included: staff attitudes, poor leadership, negative culture towards training, resource limitations, staff rotation and poor access to information to guide practice.

The course demonstrated that by bringing nurses together, through interactive teaching and online forums, a supportive community of practice can be created. Future work will include investigating ways to scale up access to the course so staff can be supported to initiate and lead quality improvement in LMIC burn services.

Time to recovery from cataract and its predictors among eye cataract patients treated with cataract surgery: A retrospective cohort study in Ethiopia

Cataracts is the major global causes of blindness and a vision-affecting disease of the eye. Cataract surgery is a curative and cost-effective intervention. The number of people who undergo cataract surgery has increased rapidly. Hence, this study was aimed to determine predictors and the time of recovery of cataract patients after cataract surgery by using Simi parametric models of survival analysis.

A retrospective cohort study was conducted from January/01/2015 and January/30/2019. STATA version14.0 statistical software was used for analysis. The Kaplan-Meier survival method and log-rank test curves were applied. Weibull regression was used and adjusted hazard ratio 95% CI with a value of p less than 0.05 was used to identify a significant association.

Two hundred twenty three cataract patients were recovered from cataract, 72.6% (95% CI 69.8%–75.9%). The overall median survival time was 23 weeks (IQR = 16 to 35) with (95% CI, 21%–25%). aged between 16 and 30year (AHR = 1.20 CI; 1.07–2.36), age 31 to 45 (AHR = 1.24 CI; 1.08–1.54), urban dwellers (AHR = 1.59; 95% CI, 1.18–2.14), medium visual acuity (AHR = 4.14 CI; 2.57–6.67), high visual acuity (AHR = 5.23 CI; 3.06–8.93), Secondary cataract (AHR = 2.59 CI; 1.01–3.02), traumatic cataract (AHR = 1.75 CI; 1.01–3.02), extra capsular cataract extraction surgery (AHR = 1.43 CI; 1.07–1.94),and diabetes mellitus (AHR = 0.75, CI; 0.41–0.96) were notably associated with time to recovery.

Time to recovery in the study area was slightly higher as compared with the global cut of time. Cataract patients with comorbidity of DM had lower recovery tim

The availability and utilization of psychosocial services for breast cancer 2 patients in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: a mixed method study

Background: Provision of psychosocial services has substantial impact in cancer care by reducing emotional distress and improving both the quality of life and survival of patients, but the availability and utilization of the services have been not well-studied in developing countries, particularly in Ethiopia. The aim of this study was to explore the types of psychosocial services available for breast cancer patients and utilization in selected health facilities in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Methods: A mixed method study was conducted using a cross-sectional survey involving a sample of 428 patients with breast cancer, followed by a qualitative study in seven health facilities in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A total of nine in-depth interviews (IDIs) were conducted with purposefully selected four breast cancer patients and five key informants using two separate interview guides. Descriptive statistics were calculated using SPSS software, and both bivariate and multivariate logistic regressions were done to identify factors associated with provision of psychosocial services. Thematic analysis was used for the qualitative data using NVivo 12 plus software.
Result: Only 47 (11.1%) patients received psychosocial services, either in the form of counseling, emotional support or provision of information. Addis Ababa residency, severity of pain and longer duration since diagnosis were factors associated with provision of psychosocial services. Health professionals reportedly provided such services along with their routine activities, and patients predominantly received social/emotional support from family members, friends and colleagues. There was no well-structured counseling service, emotional support or group discussion sessions for breast cancer patients in these health facilities. The main reasons reported by health professionals for not providing these services were high patient flow/workload, inadequate space, lack of training and not having qualified professionals to organize and deliver psychosocial services in those hospitals in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Conclusion: This study revealed that very few breast cancer patients received psychosocial services from health professionals, and the services were not integrated and delivered in a structured way. Therefore, integrating and implementing psychosocial services in cancer care is recommended both in private and government health facilities in Ethiopia

Magnitude, Pattern and Management Outcome of Intestinal Obstruction among Non-Traumatic Acute Abdomen Surgical Admissions in Arba Minch General Hospital, Southern Ethiopia

Background: Intestinal obstruction is defined as a blockage or partial blockage of the passage of the intestinal contents. It is a potentially risky surgical emergency associated with high morbidity and mortality. Its pattern differs from country to country and even from place to place within a country. Therefore, this study aimed to find out the magnitude, pattern and management outcome of intestinal obstruction in Arba Minch General Hospital.

Methods: A retrospective Cross-Sectional study was conducted in Arba Minch General hospital from January 09, 2015, to November 09, 2018. The data collection period was from December 15, 2018, to February 09, 2019. Simple random technique was applied to select 801 study participants. Then, the required data entered into Epi Info version and exported to the statistical package for the social sciences software package version 20 for analysis.

Result: This study revealed that the overall magnitude of intestinal obstruction was 40.60% with 95% CI (34.95 – 45.95). The magnitude of unfavorable management outcomes and deaths during the study period were 22.3% with 95% CI (18.00-27.00) and 7.1 % with 95% CI (4.00-10.00) respectively. Small bowel volvulus, sigmoid volvulus and adhesion (bands) accounted for 45.30%, 21.35% and 11.97% of all patterns of intestinal obstructions respectively. Dehydration (p<0.001), persistent tachycardia (p<0.001) and perforated bowl (p<0.001) were highly significantly associated with the management outcome of intestinal obstruction.

Conclusion and recommendation: Intestinal obstruction was the most common among all acute abdomen cases and its management outcome highly associated with dehydration. Early resuscitation is recommended to decrease unfavorable management outcomes.