Global surgery and global health: One size does not fit all

Global surgery is interpreted differently and may lack an in-depth understanding which is complicated by socio-economy and culture. Global surgery and global health have become part of health care service following the report of the Lancet Commission. Sustainability, ethical principles, and decolonization are some important ongoing issues for recipient societies. Incorporating societal dimensions, socio-cultural values, patients’ needs, and affordability requires a tailored approach and not blindly pursuing the best technology. The recent COVID-19 has exposed the unethical and inequity in terms of equitable healthcare, vaccine rollout and its access, and unprecedented high mortality observed in some societies. Surgery has been a neglected stepchild of global health and in addition global surgery must not be a slave of technology for the promotion of the ‘gold standard’, especially corporate-led commercialized services because a sustainable and effective surgical service at a reduced cost is desirable for all, be resource-rich or poor. Global surgery and global health include health security and universal health coverage. Stakeholders of global surgery need to be aware that ‘one size does not fit all’ and are required to consider the diverse conditions.

Cost-effectiveness of childhood cancer treatment in Egypt: Lessons to promote high-value care in a resource-limited setting based on real-world evidence

Childhood cancer in low-and middle-income countries is a global health priority, however, the perception that treatment is unaffordable has potentially led to scarce investment in resources, contributing to inferior survival. In this study, we analysed real-world data about the cost-effectiveness of treating 8886 children with cancer at a large resource-limited paediatric oncology setting in Egypt, between 2013 and 2017, stratified by cancer type, stage/risk, and disease status.

Childhood cancer costs (USD 2019) were calculated from a health-system perspective, and 5-year overall survival was used to represent clinical effectiveness. We estimated cost-effectiveness as the cost per disability-adjusted life-year (cost/DALY) averted, adjusted for utility decrement for late-effect morbidity and mortality.

For all cancers combined, cost/DALY averted was $1384 (0.5 × GDP/capita), which is very cost-effective according to WHO–CHOICE thresholds. Ratio of cost/DALY averted to GDP/capita varied by cancer type/sub-type and disease severity (range: 0.1–1.6), where it was lowest for Hodgkin lymphoma, and retinoblastoma, and highest for high-risk acute leukaemia, and high-risk neuroblastoma. Treatment was cost-effective (ratio <3 × GDP/capita) for all cancer types/subtypes and risk/stage groups, except for relapsed/refractory acute leukaemia, and relapsed/progressive patients with brain tumours, hepatoblastoma, Ewing sarcoma, and neuroblastoma. Treatment cost-effectiveness was affected by the high costs and inferior survival of advanced-stage/high-risk and relapsed/progressive cancers.

Childhood cancer treatment is cost-effective in a resource-limited setting in Egypt, except for some relapsed/progressive cancer groups. We present evidence-based recommendations and lessons to promote high-value in care delivery, with implications on practice and policy.

Egypt Cancer Network; NIHR School for Primary Care Research; ALSAC.

The epidemiology and outcomes of prolonged trauma care (EpiC) study: methodology of a prospective multicenter observational study in the Western Cape of South Africa

Deaths due to injuries exceed 4.4 million annually, with over 90% occurring in low-and middle-income countries. A key contributor to high trauma mortality is prolonged trauma-to-treatment time. Earlier receipt of medical care following an injury is critical to better patient outcomes. Trauma epidemiological studies can identify gaps and opportunities to help strengthen emergency care systems globally, especially in lower income countries, and among military personnel wounded in combat. This paper describes the methodology of the “Epidemiology and Outcomes of Prolonged Trauma Care (EpiC)” study, which aims to investigate how the delivery of resuscitative interventions and their timeliness impacts the morbidity and mortality outcomes of patients with critical injuries in South Africa.

The EpiC study is a prospective, multicenter cohort study that will be implemented over a 6-year period in the Western Cape, South Africa. Data collected will link pre- and in-hospital care with mortuary reports through standardized clinical chart abstraction and will provide longitudinal documentation of the patient’s clinical course after injury. The study will enroll an anticipated sample of 14,400 injured adults. Survival and regression analysis will be used to assess the effects of critical early resuscitative interventions (airway, breathing, circulatory, and neurologic) and trauma-to-treatment time on the primary 7-day mortality outcome and secondary mortality (24-h, 30-day) and morbidity outcomes (need for operative interventions, secondary infections, and organ failure).

This study is the first effort in the Western Cape of South Africa to build a standardized, high-quality, multicenter epidemiologic trauma dataset that links pre- and in-hospital care with mortuary data. In high-income countries and the U.S. military, the introduction of trauma databases and registries has led to interventions that significantly reduce post-injury death and disability. The EpiC study will describe epidemiology trends over time, and it will enable assessments of how trauma care and system processes directly impact trauma outcomes to ultimately improve the overall emergency care system.

Trial Registration: Not applicable as this study is not a clinical trial.

Managing the Unpredictable: Recommendations to Improve Trainee Safety During Global Health Away Electives

Background: For institutions offering global health programs, the safety of trainees during clinical rotations at international sites is paramount. Current guidelines for global health electives recommend pre-departure training and safety-net resources, yet their advice on managing unanticipated problems is limited.

Objective: This report illustrates critical safety considerations requiring additional guidance for programs and students and highlights approaches that may improve trainee safety while abroad.

Methods: We present a series of five cases adapted from the experiences of students traveling to and from the Yale School of Medicine between the years of 2011–2021. These cases include instances of personal injury, mental health challenges following trauma, sexual harassment, political instability, and natural disaster. For each case, we recommend ways in which programs and their participants may approach the challenges and we highlight issues requiring additional analysis.

Findings: We categorized the types of trainee safety issues into three groups: personal health emergencies, individual-level stressors, and large-scale crises.

Conclusion: Ultimately, we recommend that rather than solely emphasizing a universal policy, programs and trainees should also be educated on the tools and resources available for addressing unexpected emergencies.

The Role and Duty of Global Surgery in Increasing Sustainability and Improving Patient Care in Low and Middle-Income Countries

Global health is one of the most pressing issues facing the 21st century. Surgery is a resource and energy-intensive healthcare activity which produces overwhelming quantities of waste. Using the 5Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink, and Research) provides the global surgical community with the pillars of sustainability to develop strategies that are scalable and transferable in both low and middle-income countries and their high-income counterparts.

Reducing energy consumption is necessary to achieving net zero emissions in the provision of essential healthcare. Simple, easily transferrable, high-income country (HIC) technologies can greatly reduce energy demands in low-income countries. Reusing appropriately sterilized equipment and reprocessing surgical devices leads to a reduction of costs and a significant reduction of unnecessary potentially hazardous waste. Recycling through official government-facilitated means reduces ‘informal recycling’ schemes, and the spread of communicable diseases whilst expectantly reducing the release of carcinogens and atmospheric greenhouse gases. Rethinking local surgical innovation and providing an ecosystem that is both ethical and sustainable, is not only beneficial from a medical perspective but allows local financial investment and feeds back into local economies. Finally, research output from low-income countries is minimal compared to the global academic output. Research from low and middle-income countries must equal research from high-income countries, thereby producing fruitful partnerships. With adequate international collaboration and awareness of the lack of necessary surgical interventions in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), global surgery has the potential to reduce the impact of surgical practice on the environment, without compromising patient safety or quality of care.

Rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries in sub-Saharan Africa: a multivariate non-linear decomposition modelling of Demographic and Health Survey data

Globally, the rate of caesarean deliveries increased from approximately 16.0 million in 2000 to 29.7 million in 2015. In this study, we decomposed the rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Data for the study were extracted from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys of twenty-eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa. We included 160,502 women who had delivered in health facilities within the five years preceding the survey. A multivariate non-linear decomposition model was employed to decompose the rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries. The results were presented using coefficients and percentages.

The pooled prevalence of caesarean deliveries in the 28 countries considered in the study was 6.04% (95% CI = 5.21–6.88). Caesarean deliveries’ prevalence was highest in Namibia (16.05%; 95% CI = 14.06–18.04) and lowest in Chad (1.32%; 95% CI = 0.91–1.73). For rural-urban disparities in caesarean delivery, the pooled prevalence of caesarean delivery was higher in urban areas (10.37%; 95% CI = 8.99–11.75) than rural areas (3.78%; 95% CI = 3.17-4.39) across the 28 countries. Approximately 81% of the rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries were attributable to the differences in child and maternal characteristics. Hence, if the child and maternal characteristics were levelled, more than half of the rural–urban inequality in caesarean deliveries would be reduced. Wealth index (39.2%), antenatal care attendance (13.4%), parity (12.8%), mother’s educational level (3.5%), and health insurance subscription (3.1%) explained approximately 72% of the rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries.

This study shows significant rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries, with the disparities being attributable to the differences in child and maternal characteristics: wealth index, parity, antenatal care attendance, mother’s educational level, and health insurance subscription. Policymakers in the included countries could focus and work on improving the socioeconomic status of rural-dwelling women as well as encouraging antenatal care attendance, women’s education, health insurance subscription, and family planning, particularly in rural areas.

International pediatric surgery partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa: a scoping literature review

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) faces a critical shortage of pediatric surgical providers. International partnerships can play an important role in pediatric surgical capacity building but must be ethical and sustainable.

The purpose of this study is to perform a scoping literature review of international pediatric surgery partnerships in SSA from 2009 to 2019. We aim to categorize and critically assess past partnerships to aid in future capacity-building efforts.

We performed a scoping literature review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) guidelines. We searched the PubMed and Embase databases for articles published from 2009 to 2019 using 24 keywords. Articles were selected according to inclusion criteria and assessed by two readers. Descriptive analyses of the data collected were conducted in Excel.

A total of 2376 articles were identified. After duplicates were removed, 405 articles were screened. In total, 83 articles were assessed for eligibility, and 62 were included in the review. The most common partnership category was short-term surgical trip (28 articles, 45%). A total of 35 articles (56%) included education of host country providers as part of the partnership. Only 45% of partnerships included follow-up care, and 50% included postoperative outcomes when applicable.

To increase sustainability, more partnerships must include education of local health-care providers, and short-term surgical trips must be integrated into long-term partnerships. More partnerships need to report postoperative outcomes and ensure follow-up care. Educating peri-operative providers, training general surgeons in common pediatric procedures, and increasing telehealth use are other goals for future partnerships.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Utilization in Zimbabwe: Retrospective Review of Harare Ambulance System Reports

Background: Emergency medical services (EMS) are a critical but often overlooked component of essential public health care delivery in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Few countries in Africa have established EMS and there is scant literature to provide guidance for EMS growth.

Objective: This study aimed to characterize EMS utilization in Harare, Zimbabwe in order to guide system strengthening efforts.

Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review of patient care reports (PCR) generated by the City of Harare ambulance system for patients transported and/or treated in the prehospital setting over a 14-month period (February 2018 – March 2019).

Findings: A total of 875 PCRs were reviewed representing approximately 8% of the calls to EMS. The majority of patients were age 15 to 49 (76%) and 61% were female patients. In general, trauma and pregnancy were the most common chief complaints, comprising 56% of all transports. More than half (51%) of transports were for inter-facility transfers (IFTs) and 52% of these IFTs were maternity-related. Transports for trauma were mostly for male patients (63%), and 75% of the trauma patients were age 15–49. EMTs assessed and documented pulse and blood pressure for 72% of patients.

Conclusion: In this study, EMS cared primarily for obstetric and trauma emergencies, which mirrors the leading causes of premature death in LMICs. The predominance of requests for maternity-related IFTs emphasizes the role for EMS as an integral player in peripartum maternal health care. Targeted public health efforts and chief complaint-specific training for EMTs in these priority areas could improve quality of care and patient outcomes. Moreover, a focus on strengthening prehospital data collection and research is critical to advancing EMS development in Zimbabwe and the region through quality improvement and epidemiologic surveillance.

Strategies to Improve Women’s Leadership Preparation for Early Career Global Health Professionals: Suggestions from Two Working Groups

Background: Despite advances in gender equality, women still experience inequitable gaps in global health leadership, and barriers to women’s advancement as leaders in global health have been well described in the literature. In 2021, the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health conducted two virtual working groups for emerging women leaders to share challenges and suggest solutions to advance women’s leadership in global health. In this paper, we present emerging themes from the working groups, provide a framework for the results, and discuss strategies for advancing women’s leadership in global health.

Objectives: The objective of this paper is to synthesize and share the themes of the two working group sessions to provide strategies for improving women’s leadership training and opportunities in the field of global health.

Methods: Approximately 182 women in the global health field participated in two virtual working group sessions hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health using the Zoom platform. Participants were divided into virtual breakout rooms and discussed pre-assigned topics related to women’s leadership in global health. The participants then returned to share their ideas in a plenary session. Notes from the breakout rooms and transcripts from the plenary session were analyzed through a participatory and iterative thematic analysis approach.

Findings: We found that the working group participants identified two overarching themes that were critical for emerging women leaders to find success in global health leadership. First, the acquisition of individual essential skills is necessary to advance in their careers. Second, the institutional environments should be setup to encourage and enable women to enter and succeed in leadership roles. The participants also shared suggestions for improving women’s leadership opportunities such as including the use of virtual technologies to increase training and networking opportunities, intersectionality in mentorship and sponsorship, combatting impostor syndrome, and the importance of work-life balance.

Conclusions: Investing in women and their leadership potential has the promise to improve health and wealth at the individual, institutional, and community levels. This manuscript offers lessons and proposes solutions for increasing women’s leadership through improving individual level essential skills and fostering environments in which women leaders can emerge and thrive.

Global Neurosurgery in the Context of Global Public Health Practice–A Literature Review of Case Studies

Neurosurgical conditions are a substantial contributor to surgical burden worldwide, with low- and middle-income countries carrying a disproportionately large part. Policy initiatives such as the National Surgical, Obstetrics and Anesthesia Plans and Comprehensive Policy Recommendations for the Management of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus in Low-and-Middle-Income countries have highlighted the need for an intersectoral approach, not just at the hospital level but on a large scale encompassing national public health strategies. This article aims to show through case studies how addressing this surgical burden is not limited to the clinical context but extends to public health strategies as well.

For example, vitamin B12 and folic acid are micronutrients that, if not at adequate levels, can result in debilitating neurosurgical conditions. In Ethiopia, through coalesced efforts between neurosurgeons and policy makers, the government has made strides in implementing food fortification programs at a national level to address the neurosurgical burden. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are another neurosurgical burden that unevenly affects LMICs. Countries such as Colombia and India have shown the importance of legislation and enforcement, coupled with robust data collection and auditing systems; strong academic advocacy of neurosurgeons can drastically reduce TBIs.

Despite the importance of public health efforts in addressing neurosurgical conditions, there is a lack of neurosurgeon involvement in public health and lack of integration of neurosurgical burden in national health planning systems. It is imperative that neurosurgeons advocate for and are included in aspects of public health policy. Neurosurgery does not stop within the bounds of the hospital, and neither should the role of a neurosurgeons