Embracing robotic surgery in low- and middle-income countries: Potential benefits, challenges, and scope in the future

Robotic surgery has applications in many medical specialties, including urology, general surgery, and surgical oncology. In the context of a widespread resource and personnel shortage in Low- and Middle-Income Countries(LMICs), the use of robotics in surgery may help to reduce physician burnout, surgical site infections, and hospital stays. However, a lack of haptic feedback and potential socioeconomic factors such as high implementation costs and a lack of trained personnel may limit its accessibility and application. Specific improvements focused on improved financial and technical support to LMICs can help improve access and have the potential to transform the surgical experience for both surgeons and patients in LMICs. This review focuses on the evolution of robotic surgery, with an emphasis on challenges and recommendations to facilitate wider implementation and improved patient outcomes.

The environment under the knife: A review of current Eco-surgical strategies and recommendations for Pakistan

The healthcare sector at its core is based on the fundamentals belief to do no harm and bring about betterment in the lives of the people. Paradoxically, hospitals are one of the leading contributors to pollution, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and toxic waste material worldwide. Surgical care delivery is quite resource intensive, consuming significant amount of energy and equipment as well as producing large quantities of waste. With climate change being a global priority, it is crucial that hospitals re-evaluate the environmental impact of such practices. The current review was planned to identify areas of improvement in surgical care in terms of sustainability, as well as describe efficient and innovative strategies for hospitals in Pakistan to lessen their impact
on the environment.

The environment under the knife: A review of current Eco-surgical strategies and recommendations for Pakistan

The healthcare sector at its core is based on the fundamentals belief to do no harm and bring about betterment in the lives of the people. Paradoxically, hospitals are one of the leading contributors to pollution, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and toxic waste material worldwide. Surgical care delivery is quite resource intensive, consuming significant amount of energy and equipment as well as producing large quantities of waste. With climate change being a global priority, it is crucial that hospitals re-evaluate the environmental impact of such practices. The current review was planned to identify areas of improvement in surgical care in terms of sustainability, as well as describe efficient and innovative strategies for hospitals in Pakistan to lessen their impact on the environment. The implementation of the 5 R’s strategy for surgical care (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink and Research) as well as general measures to improve energy efficiency, waste management and inter-sectoral collaboration will provide significant benefits to the environment and advance efforts to creating a more sustainable future for surgical healthcare in Pakistan.

Severe impact of COVID-19 pandemic on non-COVID patient care and health delivery: An observational study from a large multispecialty hospital of India

OBJECTIVES:
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted health-care delivery globally, especially for non-COVID diseases. These cases received suboptimal attention and care during the pandemic. In this observational cohort study, we have studied the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various aspects of medical and surgical practices.

MATERIAL AND METHODS:
This observational, cross-sectional cohort study was performed on the data of a 710 bedded, multispecialty, and tertiary care corporate hospital of the national capital of India. The data of the pandemic period (April 1, 2020–March 31, 2021) were divided into three main groups and were then compared with the patient data of the preceding non-pandemic year (April 1, 2019–March 31, 2020) of more than six hundred thousand cases.

RESULTS:
From the data of 677,237 cases in these 2 years, we found a significant effect of COVID-19 pandemic on most spheres of clinical practice (P < 0.05), including outpatient attendance and surgical work. The specialties providing critical and emergency care were less affected. Although the total hospital admissions reduced by 34.07%, these were not statistically significant (P = 0.506), as the number of COVID-19 admissions took place during this time and compensated for the drop. CONCLUSION: The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted health-care delivery to non-COVID cases across all the major medical and surgical specialties. Still, major urgent surgical and interventional work for cases was undertaken with due precautions, without waiting for the ongoing pandemic to end, as the delay in their treatment could have been catastrophic.

Cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment delays in the developing world: Evidence from a hospital-based study in Zambia

Expedited diagnostic processes for all suspected cervical cancer cases remain essential in the effort to improve clinical outcomes of the disease. However, in some developing countries like Zambia, there is paucity of data that assesses factors influencing diagnostic and treatment turnaround time (TAT) and other metrics vital for quality cancer care. We conducted a retrospective hospital-based study at the Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) for cervical cancer cases presenting to the facility between January 2014 and December 2018. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize demographic characteristics while a generalized linear model of the negative binomial was used to assess determinants of overall TAT. Our study included 2121 patient case files. The median age was 49 years (IQR: ±17) and most patients (n=634, 31%) were aged between 41–50 years. The International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Cancer stage II (n =941, 48%) was the most prevalent while stage IV (n=103, 5.2%) was the least. The average diagnostic TAT in public laboratories was 1.48 (95%CI: 1.21–1.81) times longer than in private laboratories. Furthermore, referral delay was 55 days (IQR: 24–152) and the overall TAT (oTAT) was 110 days (IQR: 62–204). The age of the patient, HIV status, stage of cancer and histological subtype did not influence oTAT while marital status influenced oTAT. The observed longer oTAT may increase irreversible adverse health outcomes among cervical cancer patients. There is a need to improve cancer care in Zambia through improved health expenditure especially in public health facilities.

Hospitals’ responsibility in response to the threat of infectious disease outbreak in the context of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic: Implications for low- and middle-income countries

The WHO declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, and then a pandemic on March 11, 2020. COVID-19 affected over 200 countries and territories worldwide, with 25,541,380 confirmed cases and 852,000 deaths associated with COVID-19 globally, as of September 1, 2020.

While facing such a public health emergency, hospitals were on the front line to deliver health care and psychological services. The early detection, diagnosis, reporting, isolation, and clinical management of patients during a public health emergency required the extensive involvement of hospitals in all aspects. The response capacity of hospitals directly determined the outcomes of the prevention and control of an outbreak.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost all nations and territories regardless of their development level or geographic location, although suitable risk mitigation measures differ between developing and developed countries. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the consequences of the pandemic could be more complicated because incidence and mortality might be associated more with a fragile health care system and shortage of related resources. As evidenced by the situation in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, South Africa, and other LMICs, socioeconomic status (SES) disparity was a major factor in the spread of disease, potentially leading to alarmingly insufficient preparedness and responses in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.4 Conversely, the pandemic might also bring more unpredictable socioeconomic and long-term impacts in LMICs, and those with lower SES fare worse in these situations.

This review aimed to summarize the responsibilities of and measures taken by hospitals in combatting the COVID-19 outbreak. Our findings are hoped to provide experiences, as well as lessons and potential implications for LMICs.

Safe Laparoscopy in Low and Middle Income Countries by reducing Surgical Site Infections through Laparoscopic Instrument Cleaning

Access to safe and affordable surgery is nothing short of a basic human right and people from all walks of life are entitled to it. But, five people from resource-constrained low and middle-income countries are vulnerable and left to fend for themselves when the need for surgery is a life governing event. Inhabitants of these regions are scourged by high mortality and morbidity due to surgical infection caused by the use of unclean and unsterile surgical instruments. Reduction in infections can be achieved by using clean and sterile surgical instruments. Laparoscopy, is a promising technique of surgery developed to efficiently perform complex abdominal surgeries with the use of small and minimum incisions on the patient. Laparoscopy’s minimally invasive nature allows complex surgeries to take place without the need of an absolutely sterile operating room, although the sterility of the surgical instruments cannot be compromised. The added benefit of faster recovery from smaller wounds makes it even more desirable for this context. The Minimally Invasive Surgery and Interventional Techniques Lab of the TU Delft has initiated projects addressing the health and well-being of resource-constrained, underdeveloped communities like rural India through frugal innovation. Rural Indian hospitals are grossly underfunded, under-maintained, and understaffed. Sterile processing practices in rural India are rudimentary compared to high-income hospitals like the ones in the Netherlands. In high-income hospitals, all used surgical instruments are cleaned and sterilized in dedicated central sterile processing departments (CSSD) by highly trained and well protected sterile processing technicians. However, rural India usually employs small teams of local undertrained and semi-literate nurses to carry out every primary and ancillary duty in the hospital. The lack of dedicated CSSDs exacerbates the nurse’s workload and exposure to harmful pathogenic surgical instruments. Laparoscopic instruments developed in high-income nations are seldom designed keeping low resource contexts in mind. The geometrical complexity of instruments keeps increasing but cleaning methods in rural India have stagnated. Resource constraints are a major reason as to why proper international and national guidelines for reprocessing cannot be followed. Hence hospitals cannot guarantee 100% safe and sterile instruments as compared so standardized outcomes in high-income hospitals. In this graduation project, the distinct reprocessing journey of surgical instruments for the two diverse economic contexts were studied. A comparative analysis of both reprocessing journeys uncovered severe unsafe and unfavorable practices in rural India. Significant data and insights from the research have hence paved the way for focusing on the “Cleaning” stage of the laparoscopic instrument reprocessing journey in rural India. This MSc graduation project aims at designing a frugal solution for cleaning and repurposing laparoscopic instruments, dedicated to hospitals in rural India where the demand for laparoscopy is high but surgeries are less due to resource constraints like lack of laparoscopic instruments and repurposing devices. The involvement of an Indian nurse and laparoscopic surgeon provided first-hand information about the problems and requirements in the rural Indian context. Prototyping and testing of various cleaning setups were conducted to extract the most viable design solution. Insights from the research and testing were combined into the concept design of a frugal mechanical washer and subsequently an “Envisioned Reprocessing Journey” for rural Indian hospitals to suggest a standard protocol for keeping most of their existing infrastructure in mind. Evaluations with the Indian nurse revealed that this device could indeed be a game-changer to the existing practices of reprocessing laparoscopic instruments in rural India.