The Impact of Mobile Health Interventions on Antenatal and Postnatal Care Utilization in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Meta-Analysis

Despite many efforts, the utilization of full antenatal and postnatal care remains a significant concern in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We planned to retrieve the relevant literature and pooled the data for meta-analysis to evaluate the impact of mobile health (mHealth) intervention on antenatal and postnatal care utilization in low- and middle-income countries. We searched the literature through major electronic databases such as PubMed, MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane, Scopus, CINAHL, Clinical key, Google Scholar, and Ovid with selected keywords and explored the reference list of articles. Meta-analysis was performed using the RevMan software version 5.4; p-value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. The effect of variables was measured in odds ratio (OR) with a fixed-effects model. Six published interventional studies were selected as per the eligibility and participants, intervention, comparison, and outcome (PICO) framed for systematic review and meta-analysis. The search was restricted to articles in the English language, articles published online, and preprinted articles until September 2020. Outcome variables include antenatal and postnatal care utilization by pregnant and delivered mothers. The results have been presented in the form of a forest plot. The findings of this meta-analysis depicted the significant increase in four or more antenatal care (ANC) attendance (OR = 1.81, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.49-2.19), tetanus toxoid (TT) immunization (OR = 1.63, 95% CI = 1.17-2.27), compliance to iron supplementation (OR = 1.88, 95% CI = 1.18-3.00), and postnatal care attendance (OR = 2.54, 95% CI = 2.15-2.99) among those pregnant mothers who received mHealth intervention compared with the control group. This meta-analysis creates evidence for the effectiveness of mHealth with pooled data of interventional studies with limited sample sizes. Technology is changing, but even with limited support such as short messaging service (SMS), there was an improvement in antenatal and postnatal service utilization. This meta-analysis concluded that mHealth has the potential to increase the utilization of antenatal and postnatal care compared to standard care, although the level of evidence is moderate.

Hands-On Training Courses for Cervical Cancer Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Procedures in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

In 2018, there were approximately 570,000 new cases of cervical cancer worldwide. More than 85% of cases occurred in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), primarily because of poor access to screening and a limited number of medical providers trained to diagnose and treat cervical precancerous lesions. Our objective was to provide locally arranged, hands-on training courses for medical providers in LMICs to learn to perform cervical cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment procedures. The courses included didactic lectures and hands-on training stations using low-cost simulation models developed by bioengineers and students at Rice University in Houston, TX, United States, and the Malawi Polytechnic in Blantyre, Malawi. The hands-on training stations included visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA), colposcopy, cervical biopsy, endocervical curettage, loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), and thermal ablation. Provider pre- and postcourse confidence levels in performing the procedures were evaluated. From February 2017 to January 2020, we arranged 15 hands-on training courses in seven cities across six countries (El Salvador, Mozambique, Trinidad and Tobago, Lesotho, Malawi, and Nepal). Overall, there were 506 participants. The average number of participants per course was 38 (range 19-92). The participants included doctors, nurses, and midwives. The course duration varied from 1 to 3 days. Increased confidence in performing VIA, colposcopy and cervical biopsy, ablation, and LEEP was reported by 69%, 71%, 61%, and 76% of participants, respectively. Our findings suggest that locally arranged, hands-on cervical cancer prevention training courses in LMICs can improve provider confidence in performing cervical cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment procedures. These courses are part of a larger strategy to build local capacity for delivering and improving cervical cancer prevention services in LMICs.

Strengthening the Health System as a Strategy to Achieving a Universal Health Coverage in Underprivileged Communities in Africa: A Scoping Review

Universal health coverage (UHC) is defined as people having access to quality healthcare services (e.g., treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care) they need, irrespective of their financial status. Access to quality healthcare services continues to be a challenge for many people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The aim of this study was to conduct a scoping review to map out the health system strengthening strategies that can be used to attain universal health coverage in Africa. We conducted a scoping review and qualitatively synthesized existing evidence from studies carried out in Africa. We included studies that reported interventions to strengthen the health system, e.g., financial support, increasing work force, improving leadership capacity in health facilities, and developing and upgrading infrastructure of primary healthcare facilities. Outcome measures included health facility infrastructures, access to medicines, and sources of financial support. A total of 34 studies conducted met our inclusion criteria. Health financing and developing health infrastructure were the most reported interventions toward achieving UHC. Our results suggest that strengthening the health system, namely, through health financing, developing, and improving the health infrastructure, can play an important role in reaching UHC in the African context.

Western Honduras Copán Population–Based Cancer Registry: Initial Estimates and a Model for Rural Central America

Population-based cancer registries (PBCRs) are critical for national cancer control planning, yet few low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have quality PBCRs. The Central America Four region represents the principal LMIC region in the Western hemisphere. We describe the establishment of a PBCR in rural Western Honduras with first estimates for the 2013-2017 period.

The Western Honduras PBCR was established through a collaboration of academic institutions and the Honduras Ministry of Health for collection of incident cancer data from public and private health services. Data were recorded using the Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) web-based platform with data monitoring and quality checks. Crude and age-standardized rates (ASRs) were calculated at the regional level, following WHO methodology.

The web-based platform for data collection, available ancillary data services (eg, endoscopy), and technical support from international centers (United States and Colombia) were instrumental for quality control. Crude cancer incidence rates were 112.2, 69.8, and 154.6 per 100,000 habitants overall, males, and females, respectively (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer). The adjusted ASRs were 84.2, 49.6, and 118.9 per 100,000 overall habitants, males, and females, respectively. The most common sites among men were stomach (ASR 26.0, 52.4%), colorectal (ASR 5.11, 10.15%), and prostate (ASR 2.7, 5.4%). The most common sites in women were cervix (ASR 34.2, 36.7%), breast (ASR 11.2, 12.3%), and stomach (ASR 10.8, 11.7%).

The Copán-PBCR represents a successful model to develop cancer monitoring in rural LMICs. Innovations included the use of the REDCap platform and leverage of Health Ministry resources. This provides the first PBCR data for Honduras and the Central America Four and confirms that infection-driven cancers, such as gastric and cervical, should be priority targets for cancer control initiatives.

International Orthopaedic Volunteer Opportunities in Low and Middle-Income Countries

Globally, the burden of musculoskeletal conditions continues to rise, disproportionately affecting low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The ability to meet these orthopaedic surgical care demands remains a challenge. To help address these issues, many orthopaedic surgeons seek opportunities to provide humanitarian assistance to the populations in need. While many global orthopaedic initiatives are well-intentioned and can offer short-term benefits to the local communities, it is essential to emphasize training and the integration of local surgeon-leaders. The commitment to developing educational and investigative capacity, as well as fostering sustainable, mutually beneficial partnerships in low-resource settings, is critical. To this end, global health organizations, such as the Consortium of Orthopaedic Academic Traumatologists (COACT), work to promote and ensure the lasting sustainability of musculoskeletal trauma care worldwide. This article describes global orthopaedic efforts that can effectively address musculoskeletal care through an examination of 5 domains: clinical care, clinical research, surgical education, disaster response, and advocacy.

Barriers and facilitators to adherence to national drug policies on antibiotic prescribing and dispensing in Bangladesh

The National Drug Policy in Bangladesh prohibits the sale and distribution of antibiotics without prescription from a registered physician. Compliance with this policy is poor; prescribing antibiotics by unqualified practitioners is common and over-the-counter dispensing widespread. In Bangladesh, unqualified practitioners such as drug shop operators are a major source of healthcare for the poor and disadvantaged. This paper reports on policy awareness among drug shop operators and their customers and identifies current dispensing practices, barriers and facilitators to policy adherence.

We conducted a qualitative study in rural and urban Bangladesh from June 2019 to August 2020. This included co-design workshops (n = 4) and in-depth interviews (n = 24) with drug shop operators and customers/household members, key informant interviews (n = 12) with key personnel involved in aspects of the antibiotic supply chain including pharmaceutical company representatives, and model drug shop operators; and a group discussion with stakeholders representing key actors in informal market systems namely: representatives from the government, private sector, not-for-profit sector and membership organizations.

Barriers to policy compliance among drug shop operators included limited knowledge of government drug policies, or the government-led Bangladesh Pharmacy Model Initiative (BPMI), a national guideline piloted to regulate drug sales. Drug shop operators had no clear knowledge of different antibiotic generations, how and for what diseases antibiotics work contributing to inappropriate antibiotic dispensing. Nonetheless, drug shop operators wanted the right to prescribe antibiotics based on having completed related training. Drug shop customers cited poor healthcare facilities and inadequate numbers of attending physician as a barrier to obtaining prescriptions and they described difficulties differentiating between qualified and unqualified providers.

Awareness of the National Drug Policy and the BPMI was limited among urban and rural drug shop operators. Poor antibiotic prescribing practice is additionally hampered by a shortage of qualified physicians; cultural and economic barriers to accessing qualified physicians, and poor implementation of regulations. Increasing qualified physician access and increasing training and certification of drug shop operators could improve the alignment of practices with national policy.

Neonatal Resuscitation Research Priorities in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Several critical physiological changes occur during birth. Optimal and timely resuscitation is essential to avoid morbidity and mortality. The International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) is a multinational committee that publishes evidence-based consensus and treatment recommendations for resuscitation in various scenarios including that for neonatal resuscitation. The majority of perinatal deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); however, there is limited research output from LMICs to generate evidence-based practice recommendations specific for LMICs. The current review identifies key areas of neonatal resuscitation-related research needed from LMICs to inform evidence-based resuscitation of neonates in LMICs.

Resource Use, Availability and Cost in the Provision of Critical Care in Tanzania: A Systematic Review


Critical care is essential in saving lives of critically ill patients, however, provision of critical care across lower resource settings can be costly, fragmented and heterogenous. Despite the urgent need to scale-up the provision of critical care, little is known about its availability and cost. Here, we aim to systematically review and identify reported resource use, availability and costs for the provision of critical care and the nature of critical care provision in Tanzania.


The systematic review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines; PROSPERO registration number: CRD42020221923. We searched Medline, Embase and global health databases. We included studies that reported on provision of critical care, cost and availability of resources used in the provision of critical care published after 2010. Costs were adjusted and reported in 2019 USD and TZS using the world bank GDP deflators.


A total 31 studies were found to fulfil the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Critical care identified in Tanzania was categorised into: ICU delivered critical care and non-ICU critical care. The availability of ICU delivered critical care was limited to urban settings whereas non-ICU critical care was found in rural and urban settings. 15 studies reported on the costs of services related to critical care yet no study reported an average or unit cost of critical care. Costs of medication, equipment (e.g. oxygen, PPE), services, and human resources were identified as inputs to specific critical care services in Tanzania.


There is limited evidence on the resource use, availability and costs of critical care in Tanzania. There is a strong need for further empirical research on critical care resources availability, utilization and costs across specialties and hospitals of different level in LMICs like Tanzania to inform planning, priority setting and budgeting for critical care services.

Integrative oncology: Addressing the global challenges of cancer prevention and treatment

The increase in cancer incidence and mortality is challenging current cancer care delivery globally, disproportionally affecting low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) when it comes to receiving evidence-based cancer prevention, treatment, and palliative and survivorship care. Patients in LMICs often rely on traditional, complementary, and integrative medicine (TCIM) that is more familiar, less costly, and widely available. However, spheres of influence and tensions between conventional medicine and TCIM can further disrupt efforts in evidence-based cancer care. Integrative oncology provides a framework to research and integrate safe, effective TCIM alongside conventional cancer treatment and can help bridge health care gaps in delivering evidence-informed, patient-centered care. This growing field uses lifestyle modifications, mind and body therapies (eg, acupuncture, massage, meditation, and yoga), and natural products to improve symptom management and quality of life among patients with cancer. On the basis of this review of the global challenges of cancer control and the current status of integrative oncology, the authors recommend: 1) educating and integrating TCIM providers into the cancer control workforce to promote risk reduction and culturally salient healthy life styles; 2) developing and testing TCIM interventions to address cancer symptoms or treatment-related adverse effects (eg, pain, insomnia, fatigue); and 3) disseminating and implementing evidence-based TCIM interventions as part of comprehensive palliative and survivorship care so patients from all cultures can live with or beyond cancer with respect, dignity, and vitality. With conventional medicine and TCIM united under a cohesive framework, integrative oncology may provide citizens of the world with access to safe, effective, evidence-informed, and culturally sensitive cancer care.

Surgical Site Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance After Cesarean Section Delivery in Rural Rwanda

Background: As the volume of surgical cases in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) increases, surgical-site infections (SSIs) are becoming more prevalent with anecdotal evidence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), despite a paucity of data on resistance patterns.

Objectives: As a primary objective, this prospective study aimed to describe the epidemiology of SSIs and the associated AMR among women who delivered by cesarean at a rural Rwandan hospital. As secondary objectives, this study also assessed patient demographics, pre- and post-operative antibiotic use, and SSI treatment.

Methods: Women who underwent cesarean deliveries at Kirehe District Hospital between September 23rd, 2019, and March 16th, 2020, were enrolled prospectively. On postoperative day (POD) 11 (+/− 3 days), their wounds were examined. When an SSI was diagnosed, a wound swab was collected and sent to the Rwandan National Reference Laboratory for culturing and antibiotic susceptibility testing.

Findings: Nine hundred thirty women were enrolled, of whom 795 (85.5%) returned for the POD 11 clinic visit. 45 (5.7%) of the 795 were diagnosed with SSI and swabs were collected from 44 of these 45 women. From these 44 swabs, 57 potential pathogens were isolated. The most prevalent bacteria were coagulase-negative staphylococci (n = 12/57, 20.3% of all isolates), and Acinetobacter baumannii complex (n = 9/57, 15.2%). 68.4% (n = 39) of isolates were gram negative; 86.7% if excluding coagulase-negative staphylococci. No gram-negative pathogens isolated were susceptible to ampicillin, and the vast majority demonstrated intermediate susceptibility or resistance to ceftriaxone (92.1%) and cefepime (84.6%).

Conclusions: Bacterial isolates from SSI swab cultures in rural Rwanda predominantly consisted of gram-negative pathogens and were largely resistant to commonly used antibiotics. This raises concerns about the effectiveness of antibiotics currently used for surgical prophylaxis and treatment and may guide the appropriate selection of treatment of SSIs in rural Rwanda and comparable settings.