Neurotrauma Registry Implementation in Colombia: A Qualitative Assessment

Objectives Latin America is among several regions of the world that lacks robust data on injuries due to neurotrauma. This research project sought to investigate a multi-institution brain injury registry in Colombia, South America, by conducting a qualitative study to identify factors affecting the creation and implementation of a multi-institution TBI registry in Colombia before the establishment of the current registry.

Methods Key informant interviews and participant observation identified barriers and facilitators to the creation of a TBI registry at three health care institutions in this upper-middle-income country in South America.

Results The study identified barriers to implementation involving incomplete clinical data, limited resources, lack of information and technology (IT) support, time constraints, and difficulties with ethical approval. These barriers mirrored similar results from other studies of registry implementation in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Ease of use and integration of data collection into the clinical workflow, local support for the registry, personal motivation, and the potential future uses of the registry to improve care and guide research were identified as facilitators to implementation. Stakeholders identified local champions and support from the administration at each institution as essential to the success of the project.

Conclusion Barriers for implementation of a neurotrauma registry in Colombia include incomplete clinical data, limited resources and lack of IT support. Some factors for improving the implementation process include local support, personal motivation and potential uses of the registry data to improve care locally. Information from this study may help to guide future efforts to establish neurotrauma registries in Latin America and in LMICs.

Case studies for implementing MCDA for tender and purchasing decisions in hospitals in Indonesia and Thailand

A multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) approach has been suggested for helping purchasers in low- and middle-income countries in an evidence-based assessment of multi-source pharmaceuticals to mitigate potential adverse consequences of price-based decisions on patient access to effective medicines. Six workshops for developing MCDA-instruments for purchasing were conducted in Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, and Kuwait in 2017–2020. In Indonesia and Thailand, two pilot-initiatives aimed to implement the instruments for hospital drug purchasing decisions.

By analysing and comparing the experiences and progress from the MCDA-workshops and the two case-examples for hospital implementation in Indonesia and Thailand, we aim to gain insights, which will support future implementation.

The selection of criteria and their average weight were compared quantitatively across the MCDA-instruments developed in all four countries and settings. Implementation experiences from two case-examples were studied, which included (1) testing the instrument across a variety of drugs in seven hospitals in Thailand and (2) implementation in one specialty hospital in Indonesia. Semi-structured interviews were conducted via web-conferences with four diverse stakeholders in the pilot implementation projects in Thailand and Indonesia. The open responses were evaluated through qualitative content analysis and synthesis using grounded theory coding.

Drivers for implementation were making ‘better’ decisions, achieving transparency and a rational selection process, reducing drug shortages, and assuring consistent quality. Challenges were seen on the technical level (definition or of criteria, scoring methods, access to data) or change-related challenges (resistance, perception of increased workload, lack of competencies or capabilities, lack of resources). The comparison of the MCDA instruments revealed high similarity, but also clear need for local adaptations in each specific case.

A set a of measures targeting challenges related to utility, methodology, data requirements, capacity building and training as well as the broader societal impact can help to overcome challenges in the implementation. Careful planning of implementation and organizational change is recommended for ensuring commitment and fit to local context and culture. Designing a collaborative change program for each application of MCDA-based purchasing will enable healthcare stakeholders to maximally benefit in terms of quality and effectiveness of care and access for patients.

Understanding context: A qualitative analysis of the roles of family caregivers of people living with cancer in Vietnam and the implications for service development in low-income settings

Research on the needs of family caregivers of people living with cancer remains disproportionately focused in high income contexts. This research gap adds to the critical challenge on global equitable delivery of cancer care. This study describes the roles of family caregivers of people living with cancer in Vietnam and possible implications for intervention development.

Semi-structured interviews and focus groups with family caregivers (n = 20) and health care providers (n = 22) were conducted in two national oncology hospitals. Findings were verified via workshops with carers (n = 11) and health care professionals (n = 28) in five oncology hospitals representing different regions of Vietnam. Data was analyzed collaboratively by an international team of researchers according to thematic analysis.

Family caregivers in Vietnam provide an integral role in the delivery of inpatient cancer care. In the hospital environment families are responsible for multiple roles including feeding, hydration, changing, washing, moving, wound care and security of personal belongings. Central to this role is primary decision making in terms of treatment and end-of-life care; relaying information, providing nutritional, emotional and financial support. Families are forced to manage severe complications and health care needs with minimal health literacy and limited health care professional input.

Understanding context and the unique roles of family caregivers of people living with cancer is critical in the development of supportive services. As psycho-oncology develops in low and middle income contexts, it is essential that family caregiver roles are of significant importance.

Short-term general, gynecologic, orthopedic, and pediatric surgical mission trips in Nicaragua: A cost-effectiveness analysis

Background Short-term surgical missions facilitated by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may be a possible platform for cost-effective international global surgical efforts. The objective of this study is to determine if short-term surgical mission trips provided by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Esperança to Nicaragua from 2016 to 2020 are cost-effective.
Methods Using a provider perspective, the costs of implementing the surgical trips were collected via Esperança’s previous trip reports. The reports and patient data were analyzed to determine disability-adjusted life years averted from each surgical procedure provided in Nicaragua from 2016-2020. Average cost-effectiveness ratios for each surgical trip specialty were calculated to determine the average cost of averting one disability adjusted life year.
Results Esperança’s surgical missions’ program in Nicaragua from 2016 to 2020 was found to be cost-effective, with pediatric and gynecology surgical specialties being highly cost-effective and general and orthopedic surgical specialties being moderately cost-effective. These results were echoed in both scenarios of the sensitivity analysis, except for the orthopedic specialty which was found to not be cost-effective when testing an increased discount rate.
Conclusions The cost-effectiveness of short-term surgical missions provided by NGOs can be cost-effective, but limitations include inconsistent data from a societal perspective and lack of an appropriate counterfactual. Future studies should examine the capacity for NGOs to collect adequate data and conduct rigorous economic evaluations

Barriers and facilitators to online medical and nursing education during the COVID-19 pandemic: perspectives from international students from low- and middle-income countries and their teaching staff

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a huge challenge to the education systems worldwide, forcing many countries to provisionally close educational institutions and deliver courses fully online. The aim of this study was to explore the quality of the online education in China for international medical and nursing students from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as well as the factors that influenced their satisfaction with online education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Questionnaires were developed and administered to 316 international medical and nursing students and 120 teachers at a university in China. The Chi-square test was used to detect the influence of participants’ personal characteristics on their satisfaction with online education. The Kruskal–Wallis rank-sum test was employed to identify the negative and positive factors influencing the online education satisfaction. A binary logistic regression model was performed for multiple-factor analysis to determine the association of the different categories of influential factors—crisis-, learner-, instructor-, and course-related categories, with the online education satisfaction.

Overall, 230 students (response rate 72.8%) and 95 teachers (response rate 79.2%) completed the survey. It was found that 36.5% of students and 61.1% of teachers were satisfied with the online education. Teachers’ professional title, students’ year of study, continent of origin and location of current residence significantly influenced the online education satisfaction. The most influential barrier for students was the severity of the COVID-19 situation and for teachers it was the sense of distance. The most influential facilitating factor for students was a well-accomplished course assignment and for teachers it was the successful administration of the online courses.

Several key factors have been identified that affected the attitudes of international health science students from LMICs and their teachers towards online education in China during the COVID-19 pandemic. To improve the online education outcome, medical schools are advised to promote the facilitating factors and cope with the barriers, by providing support for students and teaching faculties to deal with the anxiety caused by the pandemic, caring for the state of mind of in-China students away from home, maintaining the engagement of out-China students studying from afar and enhancing collaborations with overseas institutions to create practice opportunities at students’ local places.

Moral Distress and Resilience Associated with Cancer Care Priority Setting in a Resource Limited Context

Moral distress and burnout are highly prevalent among oncology clinicians. Research is needed to better understand how resource constraints and systemic inequalities contribute to moral distress in order to develop effective mitigation strategies. Oncology providers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are well positioned to provide insight into the moral experience of cancer care priority setting and expertise to guide solutions.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 22 oncology physicians, nurses, program leaders, and clinical advisors at a cancer center in Rwanda. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using the framework method.

Participants identified sources of moral distress at three levels of engagement with resource prioritization: witnessing program-level resource constraints drive cancer disparities, implementing priority setting decisions into care of individual patients, and communicating with patients directly about resource prioritization implications. They recommended individual and organizational level interventions to foster resilience, such as communication skills training and mental health support for clinicians, interdisciplinary team-building, fair procedures for priority setting, and collective advocacy for resource expansion and equity.

This study adds to the current literature an in-depth examination of the impact of resource constraints and inequities on clinicians in a low resource setting. Effective interventions are urgently needed to address moral distress, reduce clinician burnout, and promote well-being among a critical but strained oncology workforce. Collective advocacy is concomitantly needed to address the structural forces that constrain resources unevenly and perpetuate disparities in cancer care and outcomes.

Does Advanced Trauma Life Support Training work? 10-Year Follow Up of Advanced Trauma Life Support India Program

Studies evaluating the efficacy of ATLS in Low & Middle-income countries (LMICs) are limited. We followed up ATLS providers certified by ATLS India program over a decade (2008-2018), aiming at measuring the benefits, if any, in knowledge, skills & attitude (KSA) from ATLS, and attrition over time.

Survey instrument was developed taking a cue from published literature on ATLS and improvised using the Delphi method. Randomly selected ATLS providers were sent the survey instrument via email, as a Google form along with a statement of purpose. Results are presented descriptively.

1030 (41.2%) doctors responded. Improvement in knowledge (n=1013; 98.3%), psychomotor skills (n=986; 95.7%), organizational skills (n=998; 96.9%), overall trauma management (n=1013; 98.7%), self-confidence (n= 939; 91%) and ATLS promulgation at workplace in personal capacity (904; 87.8%) were reported. More than 60% opined benefits lasting beyond two years; more than 40% opined cognitive (492; 47.8%), psychomotor (433; 42%), and organizational benefits (499; 48.4%) lasting beyond three years. The Faculty-ATLS subgroup reported significantly more improvement in confidence, tendency to teach ATLS at the workplace, and retention of organizational skills than the providers’ subgroup. Lack of trained manpower (660; 64.1%) & attitude issues (n-495; 48.1%) were the major impediments at workplace. One third (n=373; 36.2%) recalled & enumerated life/ limb saving incidents applying ATLS principles.

Cognitive, psychomotor, organizational, and affective impact of ATLS is overwhelmingly positive in the Indian scenario. Till establishing formal trauma systems, ATLS remains the best hope for critically injured patients in LMICs.

The evaluation of a surgical task-sharing program in South Sudan

Background: Five billion people lack timely, affordable, and safe surgical services. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is the region with the scarcest access to surgical care. The surgical workforce is crucial in closing this gap. In SSA, South Sudan has one of the lowest surgical workforce density. Task-sharing being a cost-effective training method, in 2019, the University of British Columbia collaborated with Médecins Sans Frontières to create the Essential Surgical Skills program and launched it in South Sudan. This study aims to evaluate this pilot program. Methods: This is a mixed-method prospective cohort study. Quantitative data include pre- and post-training outputs (number and types of surgeries, complication, re-operation, and mortality) and surgical proficiency of the trainees (quiz, Entrustable Professional Activity (EPA), and logbook data), and online survey for trainers. Semi-structured interviews were performed with trainees at the program completion. Results: Since July 2019, trainees performed 385 operations. The most common procedures were skin graft (14.8%), abscess drainage (9.61%), wound debridement and transverse laparotomy (7.79% each). 172 EPAs have been completed, out of which 136 (79%) showed that the trainee could independently perform the procedure. During the training, the operating room and surgical ward mortality remained similar to the pre-training phase. Furthermore, the surgical morbidity decreased from 25% to less than 5%. The pass rate for all quizzes was 100%. Interviews and survey showed that trainees’ surgical knowledge, interprofessional teamwork, trainers’ global insight on surgical training in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), and patient care has improved. Also, the program empowered trainees, developed career path, and local acceptance and retention. The modules were relevant to community needs. Conclusions: This study casts light on the feasibility of training surgeons through a virtual platform in under-resourced regions. The COVID-19 global pandemic highlighted the need to make LMICs independent from fly-in trainers and traditional apprenticeship. Knowledge translation of this training platform’s evaluation will hopefully inform Ministries of Health and their partners to develop their National Surgical, Obstetric and Anesthesia Plans (NSOAPs). Furthermore, thanks to its scalability, both across levels of training and geography, it paves the way for virtual surgical education everywhere in the world.

Cancer care delivery innovations, experiences and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic: The Rwanda experience

Globally, cancer is the second leading cause of mortality. In 2018, 9.6 million lives were lost to cancer of which over 70% occurred in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) where limited access to cancer care and overwhelming late disease presentations negatively impact cancer related survival and quality of life [1]. Moreover, globally, new cancer cases are expected to increase from 18.1 million in 2018 to 21.4 million by 2030 [2]. In settings of poor health care systems and impoverished communities, the scarcity of and limited access to diagnostic and treatment modalities negatively impacts health outcomes and undermines achievement of the universal health care coverage (UHC) targets.

Over the past 20 years, Rwanda has recorded gains in key health indicators including increased life expectancy (from 48.6 in 2000 to 67.4 in 2015); declines in maternal mortality (from 1071 in 2000 to 210 per 100 000 live births in 2015) [3]. Concurrently, impressive gains were registered in the control of infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria [3]. However, little gains have been recorded for the management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) where age-standardized NCD mortality rates slightly decreased from 894.9 to 548.6 deaths per 100 000 people from 2000 to 2016 [4,5]. Anecdotally, plausible hindrances to the prevention and control of NCDs in Rwanda include low community awareness, lack of trained providers, limited access to diagnostic services and treatment capacity for complicated cases

The Role of Young Neurosurgeons in Global Surgery: A Unified Voice for Health Care Equity

Health care equity pursues the elimination of health disparities or inequalities. One of the most significant challenges is the inequality shaped by policies, for which systemic change is needed. Historically, non-surgical pathologies have received greater political priority than surgical pathologies, but we have begun to see a paradigm shift over the past decade. In 2010, Shrime et al. showed that 32.9% of all global deaths were attributed to surgically related conditions, which equated to three times more deaths than that due to non-surgical pathologies such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS combined (1). When the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery was published in 2015 (2), a new era in global health emerged. The message was clear: surgical diseases could no longer be neglected. The report emphasized the importance of systems-level improvements in service delivery, workforce training, financing, information management, infrastructure, health policy, and governance.

In neurosurgery, over five million patients present with treatable conditions each year but do not have access to surgical intervention (3). Most of these patients live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), particularly in Africa and South-East Asia. For a hospital to offer neurosurgical services, substantial investment in infrastructure and human resources is required. Hence, most neurosurgical services tend to be concentrated in tertiary hospitals or academic centers located in cities or urban regions. Moreover, the comprehensive management of a patient’s neurosurgical disease relies heavily on a functioning health care system, often requiring a multidisciplinary team approach, whether in children or adults.