Double standards in healthcare innovations: the case of mosquito net mesh for hernia repair

With over two decades of evidence available including from randomised clinical trials, we explore whether the use of low-cost mosquito net mesh for inguinal hernia repair, common practice only in low-income and middle-income countries, represents a double standard in surgical care. We explore the clinical evidence, biomechanical properties and sterilisation requirements for mosquito net mesh for hernia repair and discuss the rationale for its use routinely in all settings, including in high-income settings. Considering that mosquito net mesh is as effective and safe as commercial mesh, and also with features that more closely resemble normal abdominal wall tissue, there is a strong case for its use in all settings, not just low-income and middle-income countries. In the healthcare sector specifically, either innovations should be acceptable for all contexts, or none at all. If such a double standard exists and worse, persists, it raises serious questions about the ethics of promoting healthcare innovations in some but not all contexts in terms of risks to health outcomes, equitable access, and barriers to learning.

Barriers to inguinal hernia repair in Ghana: prospective, multi-centre cohort study

Inguinal hernia (IH) is the most common general surgical pathology in Ghana with hernia repair rate very low. The objective was to assess patient-perceived barriers to IH repair in Ghana and identify predictors of experiencing delays until surgery. A multicenter prospective study was conducted during the Ghana Hernia Society outreach. Data regarding diagnosis using Kingsnorth’s classification of IH, age of patients, duration of hernia, reason for delay in repair, insurance status, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class, travel distance, region, hospital, and waiting times were obtained from patients and folders. Multivariable linear regression models were constructed to analyze delay until surgery and Kingsnorth’s classification while controlling for the covariates of age, insurance status, ASA class among others. The most common reasons were queues for surgery (23%), poverty (10%), and seeking traditional medicine (9%). On multivariate linear regression, increasing age and ASA class III were predictors of longer delays. Patients experienced significant increase of 1.1 years delay to surgery for every 10 year increase in of age. ASA Class III patients were significantly more likely to be delayed by 11.5 years compared to ASA Class I patients. Efforts should be made to address and overcome the barriers to IH repair identified.

Hernioplasty Using Low-Cost Mesh Compared to Surgical Mesh in Low- And Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review Protocol

Objective: This review aims to assess the differences in surgical outcomes between hernioplasty using low-cost mesh and surgical mesh in adults undergoing elective hernioplasty in low- and middle-income countries.

Introduction: The use of untreated mosquito netting in inguinal hernioplasty in low- and middle-income countries has been well described in the literature, with two recent limited systematic reviews finding equivalent postoperative surgical outcomes. This comprehensive review, across a wider set of databases and gray literature, will assess a broader set of outcomes including patient and surgeon preference and sterility, report more granular complication outcomes, and include other low-cost mesh alternatives such as resterilized surgical mesh and indigenous products, alongside mosquito net mesh.

Inclusion criteria: Adult patients undergoing elective inguinal hernioplasty with mesh in low- and middle-income countries.

Methods: Electronic bibliographic databases (PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science and the Cochrane Library) and gray literature databases and trial registers will be searched for experimental studies, either randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials, comparing hernioplasty with surgical mesh versus low-cost mesh, published in any language from 2000 to the present. Two independent reviewers will conduct the literature search, screen titles and abstracts, assess full-text studies for inclusion, assess methodological quality using the Cochrane Risk of Bias 2 tool, and extract data using a custom extraction tool. Synthesis will involve pooling for statistical meta-analysis with either a random-effects or fixed-effects model, as appropriate, and where this is not possible, findings will be presented in narrative form.