Global Surgery Education and Training Programmes—a Scoping Review and Taxonomy

Global surgery is an emerging field of study and practice, aiming to respond to the worldwide unmet need for surgical care. As a relatively new concept, it is not clear that there is a common understanding of what constitutes “global surgery education and training”. This study examines the forms that global surgery education and training programmes and interventions take in practice, and proposes a classification scheme for such activities. A scoping review of published journal articles and internet websites was performed according to the PRISMA Extension for Scoping Review guidelines. PubMed MEDLINE, EMBASE and Google were searched for sources that described global surgery education and training programme. Only sources that explicitly referenced a named education programme, were surgical in nature, were international in nature, were self-described as “global surgery” and presented new information were included. Three hundred twenty-seven records were identified and 67 were ultimately included in the review. “Global surgery education and training” interventions described in the literature most commonly involved both a High-Income Country (HIC) institution and a Low- and Middle-Income Country (LMIC) institution. The literature suggests that significant current effort is directed towards academic global surgery programmes in HIC institutions and HIC surgical trainee placements in LMICs. Four categories and ten subcategories of global surgery education and training were identified. This paper provides a framework from which to study global surgery education and training. A clearer understanding of the forms that such interventions take may allow for more strategic decision making by actors in this field

Training programme in gasless laparoscopy for rural surgeons of India (TARGET study) – Observational feasibility study

Background
Benefits of laparoscopic surgery are well recognised but uptake in rural settings of low- and middle-income countries is limited due to implementation barriers. Gasless laparoscopy has been proposed as an alternative but requires a trained rural surgical workforce to upscale. This study evaluates a feasibility of implementing a structured laparoscopic training programme for rural surgeons of North-East India.

Methods
A 3-day training programme was held at Kolkata Medical College in March 2019. Laparoscopic knowledge and Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Skills (FLS) were assessed pre and post simulation training using multiple choice questions and the McGill Inanimate System for Training and Evaluation of Laparoscopic Skills (MISTELS), respectively. Competency with an abdominal lift device was assessed using the Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills (OSATS) and live operating performance via the Global Operative Assessment of Laparoscopic Skills (GOALS) scores during live surgery. Costs of the training programme and qualitative feedback were evaluated.

Results
Seven rural surgeons participated. There was an improvement in knowledge acquisition (mean difference in MCQ score 5.57 (SD = 4.47)). The overall normalised mean MISTELS score for the FLS tasks improved from 386.02 (SD 110.52) pre-to 524.40 (SD 94.98) post-training (p = 0.09). Mean OSATS score was 22.4 out of 35 (SD 3.31) indicating competency with the abdominal lift device whilst a mean GOALS score of 16.42 out of 25 (SD 2.07) indicates proficiency in performing diagnostic laparoscopy using the gasless technique during live operating. Costs of the course were estimated at 354 USD for trainees and 461 USD for trainers.

Conclusion
Structured training programme in gasless laparoscopy improves overall knowledge and skills acquisition in laparoscopic surgery for rural surgeons of North-East India. It is feasible to deliver a training programme in gasless laparoscopy for rural surgeons. Larger studies are needed to assess the benefits for wider adoption in a similar context.

Adopting localised health financing models for universal health coverage in Low and middle-income countries: lessons from the National Health lnsurance Scheme in Ghana

The health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) have recently increased awareness of the need for countries to increase fiscal space for health. Prior to these, many Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) had embraced the concept of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and have either commenced or are in the process of implementing various models of health insurance in order to provide financial access to health care to their populations. While evidence of a relationship between experimentation with UHC and increased access to and utilisation of health care in LMICs is common, there is inadequate research evidence on the specific health financing model that is most appropriate for pursuing the objectives of UHC in these settings. Drawing on a synthesis of empirical and theoretical discourses on the feasibility of UHC in LMICs, this paper argues that the journey towards UHC is not a ‘one size fits all’ process, but a long-term policy engagement that requires adaptation to the specific socio-cultural and political economy contexts of implementing countries. The study draws on the WHO’s framework for tracking progress towards UHC using the implementation of a mildly progressive pluralistic health financing model in Ghana and advocates a comprehensive discourse on the potential for LMICs to build resilient and responsive health systems to facilitate a gradual transition towards UHC.

Global Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto: Past and Present Efforts, and a Charter for the Future

Kenneth McKenzie arrived in Toronto in 1923, bringing the legacy of being the first neurosurgeon in Canada. Since then, Toronto has established itself as the hub of Canadian neurosurgery, in both volumes of cases, the strength of trainees, and research output (1). As one of the most extensive training programs in North America (2), Toronto has had ongoing international connections, chiefly through the fellowship programs within our division. The earliest instance in which Toronto demonstrated a concerted work efford in global neurosurgery was through the persistent and continued struggle of Ab Guha (1957-2009), who amongst many philanthropic activities, establish the National Neuroscience Institute in Calcutta (India), his city of birth, as his goal. Since then, interest in global neurosurgery has remained strong within our division, with multiple continued and consistent collaboration areas. These include Mark Bernstein’s travels within Africa and SouthEast Asia, expanding the reach of awake craniotomies; James Rutka’s efforts to strengthen local surgeons throughout Ukraine; George Ibrahim’s collaborations in Haiti to expand the surgical treatment of pediatric neurosurgical conditions; and Mojgan Hodaie’s work on structured curricula for neurosurgery residents. Simultaneously, Toronto neurosurgery has focused on encouraging fellows from low- and middle-income countries (LMIC’s) to join our center, in many cases funded by the first Chair in International Neurosurgery (3).

As a result of these activities, several clinical fellows who trained in Toronto and returned to bring their expertise to their local sites must be highlighted, including Grace Mutango (pediatric neurosurgery, Uganda), Nilesh Mohan (neuro-oncology, Kenya), Claire Karakezi (neuro-oncology, Rwanda), Selfy Oswari (Indonesia), and a substantial number of short-term visitors from a breadth of international sites.

Global Neurosurgery: A call to Action

Global health organizations have highlighted the inequalities that exist in health services around the globe. Although the disparities in medical care are real, the differences in surgical care are often more significant but do not receive the same attention and resources, and only as recently as 2015 was surgery established as a global health priority. That year, the Lancet Commission released their Global Surgery 2030 instrumental report on the tremendous lack of surgical care globally and the need for a focus on addressing this issue: 5 billion people do not have access to safe and affordable surgical and anesthetic care, 143 million additional surgeries are needed each year, and 33 million people face catastrophic health expenditure each year due to payments for such care (1).

When it comes to surgical subspecialties such as neurological surgery, access to care goes from being a disparity to a complete absence in some cases. Large areas of the world, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMIC’s), suffer ratios of one neurosurgeon for every 10 million people, in which case access to neurosurgical care is no longer a right but a luxury

Global Surgery indicators and pediatric hydrocephalus: a multicenter cross-country comparative study building the case for health systems strengthening

Purpose: The aim of this study is to compare specific three-institution, cross-country data that are relevant to the Global Surgery indicators and the functioning of health systems.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed clinical and socioeconomic characteristics of pediatric patients who underwent CSF diversion surgery for hydrocephalus in three different centers: University of Tsukuba Hospital in Ibaraki, Japan (HIC), Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila, Philippines (LMIC), and the Federal Neurosurgical Center in Novosibirsk, Russia (UMIC). The outcomes of interest were timing of CSF diversion surgery and mortality. Statistical tests included descriptive statistics, Cox proportional hazards model, and logistic regression. Nation-level data were also obtained to provide the relevant socioeconomic contexts in discussing the results.

Results: In total, 159 children were included—13 from Japan, 99 from the Philippines, and 47 from the Russian Federation. The median time to surgery at the specific neurosurgical centers were 6 days in the Philippines and 1 day in both Japan and Russia. For the cohort from the Philippines, non-poor patients were more likely to receive CSF diversion surgery at an earlier time (HR=4.74, 95%CI 2.34–9.61, p<0.001). In the same center, those with infantile or post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus (HR=3.72, 95%CI 1.70–8.15, p=0.001) were more likely to receive CSF diversion earlier compared to those with congenital hydrocephalus, and those with post-infectious (HR=0.39, 95%CI 0.22–0.70, p=0.002) or myelomeningocele-associated hydrocephalus (HR=0.46, 95%CI 0.22–0.95, p=0.037) were less likely to undergo surgery at an earlier time. For Russia, older patients were more likely to receive or require early CSF diversion (HR=1.07, 95%CI 1.01–1.14, p=0.035). EVD insertion was found to be associated with mortality (cOR 14.45, 95% CI 1.28–162.97, p = 0.031).

Conclusion: In this study, Filipino children underwent late time-interval of CSF diversion surgery and had mortality differences compared to their Japanese and Russian counterparts. These disparities may reflect on the functioning of the respective country’s health systems.

Barriers to training in laparoscopic surgery in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review

Laparoscopic surgery has the potential to improve care in resource-deprived low- and-middle-income countries (LMICs). This study aims to analyse the barriers to training in laparoscopic surgery in LMICs. Medline, Embase, Global Health and Web of Science were searched using ‘LMIC’, ‘Laparoscopy’ and ‘Training’. Two researchers screened results with mutual agreement. Included papers were in English, focused on abdominal laparoscopy and training in LMICs. PRISMA guidelines were followed; 2992 records were screened, and 86 full-text articles reviewed to give 26 key papers. Thematic grouping identified seven key barriers: funding; availability and maintenance of equipment; local access to experienced laparoscopic trainers; stakeholder dynamics; lack of knowledge on effective training curricula; surgical departmental structure and practical opportunities for trainees. In low-resource settings, technological advances may offer low-cost solutions in the successful implementation of laparoscopic training and improve access to surgical care.

Assessment of Laparoscopic Instrument Reprocessing in Rural India: A Mixed Methods Study

Background
Laparoscopy is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure that uses long slender instruments that require much smaller incisions than conventional surgery. This leads to faster recovery times, fewer infections and shorter hospital stays. For these reasons, laparoscopy could be particularly advantageous to patients in low to middle income countries (LMICs). Unfortunately, sterile processing departments in LMIC hospitals are faced with limited access to equipment and trained staff and poses an obstacle to safe surgical care. The reprocessing of laparoscopic devices requires specialised equipment and training. Therefore, when LMIC hospitals invest in laparoscopy, an update of the standard operating procedure in sterile processing is required. Currently, it is unclear whether LMIC hospitals, that already perform laparoscopy, have managed to introduce updated reprocessing methods that minimally invasive equipment requires. The aim of this study was to identify the laparoscopic sterile reprocessing procedures in rural India and to test the effectiveness of the sterilisation equipment.
Methods
We assessed laparoscopic instrument sterilisation capacity in four rural hospitals in different states in India using a mixed-methods approach. As the main form of data collection, we developed a standardised observational checklist based on reprocessing guidelines from several sources. Steam autoclave performance was measured by monitoring the autoclave cycles in two hospitals. Finally, the findings from the checklist data were supported by an interview survey with surgeons and nurses.
Results
The checklist data revealed the reprocessing methods the hospitals used in the reprocessing of laparoscopic instruments. It showed that the standard operating procedures had not been updated since the introduction of laparoscopy and the same reprocessing methods for regular surgical instruments were still applied. The interviews conrmed that staff had not received additional training and that they were unaware of the hazardous effects of reprocessing detergents and disinfectants.
Conclusion
As laparoscopy is becoming more prevalent in LMICs, updated policy is needed to incorporate minimally invasive instrument reprocessing in medical practitioner and staff training programs. While reprocessing standards improve, it is essential to develop instruments and reprocessing equipment that is
more suitable for resource-constrained rural surgical environments.

The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: vision beyond 2020

Eye health and vision have widespread and profound implications for many aspects of life, health, sustainable development, and the economy. Yet nowadays, many people, families, and populations continue to suffer the consequences of poor access to high-quality, affordable eye care, leading to vision impairment and blindness.
In 2020, an estimated 596 million people had distance vision impairment worldwide, of whom 43 million were blind. Another 510 million people had uncorrected near vision impairment, simply because of not having reading spectacles. A large proportion of those affected (90%), live in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, encouragingly, more than 90% of people with vision impairment have a preventable or treatable cause with existing highly cost-effective interventions. Eye conditions affect all stages of life, with young children and older people being particularly affected. Crucially, women, rural populations, and ethnic minority groups are more likely to have vision impairment, and this pervasive inequality needs to be addressed. By 2050, population ageing, growth, and urbanisation might lead to an estimated 895 million people with distance vision impairment, of whom 61 million will be blind. Action to prioritise eye health is needed now.
This Commission defines eye health as maximised vision, ocular health, and functional ability, thereby contributing to overall health and wellbeing, social inclusion, and quality of life. Eye health is essential to achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Poor eye health and impaired vision have a negative effect on quality of life and restrict equitable access to and achievement in education and the workplace. Vision loss has substantial financial implications for affected individuals, families, and communities. Although high-quality data for global economic estimates are scarce, particularly for LMICs, conservative assessments based on the latest prevalence figures for 2020 suggest that annual global productivity loss from vision impairment is approximately US$410·7 billion purchasing power parity. Vision impairment reduces mobility, affects mental wellbeing, exacerbates risk of dementia, increases likelihood of falls and road traffic crashes, increases the need for social care, and ultimately leads to higher mortality rates.
By contrast, vision facilitates many daily life activities, enables better educational outcomes, and increases work productivity, reducing inequality. An increasing amount of evidence shows the potential for vision to advance the SDGs, by contributing towards poverty reduction, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, and decent work. Eye health is a global public priority, transforming lives in both poor and wealthy communities. Therefore, eye health needs to be reframed as a development as well as a health issue and given greater prominence within the global development and health agendas.
Vision loss has many causes that require promotional, preventive, treatment, and rehabilitative interventions. Cataract, uncorrected refractive error, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy are responsible for most global vision impairment. Research has identified treatments to reduce or eliminate blindness from all these conditions; the priority is to deliver treatments where they are most needed. Proven eye care interventions, such as cataract surgery and spectacle provision, are among the most cost-effective in all of health care. Greater financial investment is needed so that millions of people living with unnecessary vision impairment and blindness can benefit from these interventions.
Lessons from the past three decades give hope that this challenge can be met. Between 1990 and 2020, the age-standardised global prevalence of blindness fell by 28·5%. Since the 1990s, prevalence of major infectious causes of blindness—onchocerciasis and trachoma—have declined substantially. Hope remains that by 2030, the transmission of onchocerciasis will be interrupted, and trachoma will be eliminated as a public health problem in every country worldwide. However, the ageing population has led to a higher crude prevalence of age-related causes of blindness, and thus an increased total number of people with blindness in some regions.

Starting and Operating a Public Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory in a Low Resource Setting: The Eight-Year Story of the Uganda Heart Institute Catheter Laboratory

Abstract
Background: Low- and-middle-income-countries (LMICs) currently bear 80% of the world’s cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality burden. The same countries are underequipped to handle the disease burden due to critical shortage of resources. Functional cardiac catheterization laboratories (cath labs) are central in the diagnosis and management of CVDs. Yet, most LMICs, including Uganda, fall remarkably below the minimum recommended standards of cath lab:population ratio due to a host of factors including the start-up and recurring costs.

Objectives: To review the performance, challenges and solutions employed, lessons learned, and projections for the future for a single cath lab that has been serving the Ugandan population of 40 million people in the past eight years.

Methods: A retrospective review of the Uganda Heart Institute cath lab clinical database from 15 February 2012 to 31 December 2019 was performed.

Results: In the initial two years, this cath lab was dependent on skills transfer camps by visiting expert teams, but currently, Ugandan resident specialists independently operate this lab. 3,542 adult and pediatric procedures were conducted in 8 years, including coronary angiograms and percutaneous coronary interventions, device implantations, valvuloplasties, and cardiac defect closures, among others. There was a consistent expansion of the spectrum of procedures conducted in this cath lab each year. The initial lack of technical expertise and sourcing for equipment, as well as the continual need for sundries present(ed) major roadblocks. Government support and leveraging existing multi-level collaborations has provided a platform for several solutions. Sustainability of cath lab services remains a significant challenge especially in relation to the high cost of sundries and other consumables amidst a limited budget.

Conclusion: A practical example of how centers in LMIC can set up and sustain a public cardiac catheterization laboratory is presented. Government support, research, and training collaborations, if present, become invaluable leverage opportunities.