Cancer Groundshot: Building a Robust Cancer Control Platform in Addition To Launching the Cancer Moonshot

Cancer Groundshot is a philosophy that calls for prioritization of strategies in global cancer control. The underlying principle of Cancer Groundshot is that one must ensure access to interventions that are already proven to work before focusing on the development of new interventions. In this article, we discuss the philosophy of Cancer Groundshot as it pertains to priorities in cancer care and research in low- and middle-income countries and the utility of technology in addressing global cancer disparities; we also address disparities seen in high-income countries. The oncology community needs to realign our priorities and focus on improving access to high-value cancer control strategies, rather than allocating resources primarily to the development of technologies that provide only marginal gains at a high cost. There are several “low-hanging fruit” actions that will improve access to quality cancer care in low- and middle-income countries and in high-income countries. Worldwide, cancer morbidity and mortality can be averted by implementing highly effective, low-cost interventions that are already known to work, rather than investing in the development of resource-intensive interventions to which most patients will not have access (i.e., we can use Cancer Groundshot to first save more lives before we focus on the “moonshots”).

Comparative evaluation of robot-assisted and conventional urology surgeries in India

There is dearth of evidence on patients’ perspective, their knowledge and understanding about robot-assisted surgeries, especially in Low- and Middle-Income countries such as India. The aim of this prospective study was to analyze inpatients’ and surgeon’s perspectives towards robot-assisted and conventional urological surgeries. A total of 136 patients (94 robot-assisted surgery cases and 42 conventional surgery cases) were enrolled in the study. A performa (with details such as sociodemographic details of patient, patient’s view point on surgery opted and doctor’s perspective on advising robot-assisted or conventional surgery) was used for data collection. Of 136 patients, 135 (99.3%) responded that their reason for opting the surgery (either robot-assisted or open laparoscopy) depended on the advice provided by the surgeon. 78 (83.3%) patients mentioned they opted for robot-assisted surgeries because of aesthetics (cosmetically better) in comparison to 07 (16.7%) patients who opted for conventional surgeries. Only 1.1% of surgeons reported robot-assisted surgeries to be technically easy. A few surgeons (1.1%) who operated with robot-assisted surgeries mentioned it to be time-consuming than 71.4% (30) surgeons in open/lap group. All the surgeons who treated patients with robot-assisted surgeries mentioned to have no of complications in comparison to 35.75% surgeons in open/lap group. The reason for choosing robot-assisted surgeries among both patients and surgeons were patient’s compatibility, cosmetically better, less-time consuming and less hospital stay. In addition, the surgeons also believed the robot-assisted surgeries to have fewer complications for their patients and therefore, recommended it.

Public awareness, knowledge of availability, and willingness to use neurosurgical care services in Sub-Saharan Africa: A cross-sectional study

Low- and middle-income countries bear the majority of neurosurgical disease burden and patients face significant barriers to seeking, reaching, and receiving care. We aimed to understand barriers to seeking care among adult Africans by evaluating the public perception, knowledge of availability, and readiness to use neurosurgical care services.

An e-survey was distributed among African adults who are not in the health sector or pursuing a health-related degree. Chi-square test and ANOVA were used for bivariate analysis and the alpha value was set at 0.05. Odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals were calculated.

Six hundred and sixty-two adults from 16 African countries aged 25.4 (95% CI: 25.0, 25.9) responded. The majority lived in urban settings (90.6%) and were English-speaking (76.4%) men (54.8%). Most respondents (76.3%) could define neurosurgery adequately. The most popular neurosurgical diseases were traumatic brain injury (76.3%), congenital brain and spine diseases (67.7%), and stroke (60.4%). Unwillingness to use or recommend in-country neurosurgical services was associated with rural dwelling (β = -0.69, SE = 0.31, P = 0.03), lack of awareness about the availability of neurosurgeons in-country (β = 1.02, SE = 0.20, P<0.001), and believing neurosurgery is expensive (β = -1.49, SE = 0.36, P<0.001).

Knowledge levels about neurosurgery are satisfactory; however, healthcare-seeking is negatively impacted by multiple factors.

Evaluating Shifts in Perception After a Pilot Trauma Quality Improvement Training Course in Cameroon

Trauma is a major contributor to the global burden of disease, with low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) being disproportionately affected. Trauma Quality Improvement (QI) initiatives could potentially save an estimated two million lives each year. Successful trauma QI initiatives rely on adequate training and a culture of quality among hospital staff. This study evaluated the effect of a pilot trauma QI training course on participants’ perceptions on leadership, medical errors, and the QI process in Cameroon.

Study participants took part in a three-day, eight-module course training on trauma QI methods and applications. Perceptions on leadership, medical errors, and QI were assessed pre and post-course using a 15-item survey measured on a five-point Likert scale. Median pre- and post-course scores were compared using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Knowledge retention and course satisfaction were also evaluated in a post-course survey and evaluation.

A majority of the 25 course participants completed pre-course (92%) and post-course (80%) surveys. Participants’ perceptions of safety and comfort discussing medical errors at work significantly increased post-course (pre-median = 5, IQR [4-5]; post-median = 5, IQR [5-5]; P = 0.046). The belief that individuals responsible for medical error should be held accountable significantly decreased after the course (pre-median = 3, IQR [2-4]; post-median = 1, IQR [1-2]; P < 0.001). Overall satisfaction with the course was high with median scores ≥4. Conclusions These initial results suggest that targeted trauma QI training effectively influences attitudes about QI. Further investigation of the effect of the trauma QI training on hospital staff in larger courses is warranted to assess reproducibility of these findings.

Priorities for content for a short-course on postoperative care relevant for low- and middle-income countries: an e-Delphi process with training facilitators

Most surgical and anaesthetic mortality and morbidity occurs postoperatively, disproportionately affecting low- and middle-income countries. Various short courses have been developed to improve patient outcomes in low- and middle-income countries, but none specifically to address postoperative care and complications. We aimed to identify key features of a proposed short-course addressing this topic using a Delphi process with low- and middle-income country anaesthesia providers trained as short-course facilitators. An initial questionnaire was co-developed from literature review and exploratory workshops to include 108 potential course features. Features included content; teaching method; appropriate participants; and appropriate faculty. Over three Delphi rounds (panellists numbered 86, 64 and 35 in successive cycles), panellists indicated which features they considered most important. Responses were analysed by geographical regions: Africa, the Americas, south-east Asia and Western Pacific. Ultimately, panellists identified 60, 40 and 54 core features for the proposed course in each region, respectively. There were high levels of consensus within regions on what constituted core course content, but not between regions. All panellists preferred the small group workshop teaching method irrespective of region. All regions considered anaesthetists to be key facilitators, while all agreed that both anaesthetists and operating theatre nurses were key participants. The African and Americas regional panels recommended more multidisciplinary healthcare professionals for participant roles. Faculty from high-income countries were not considered high priority. Our study highlights variability between geographical regions as to which course features were perceived as most locally relevant, supporting regional adaptation of short-course design rather than a one-size-fits-all model.

Assessing quality of care in maternity services in low and middle-income countries: Development of a Maternity Patient Reported Outcome Measure

Globally, low and middle-income countries bear the greatest burden of maternal and newborn mortality. To reduce these high levels, the quality of care provided needs to be improved. This study aimed to develop a patient reported outcome measure for use in maternity services in low and middle-income countries, to facilitate improvements in quality of care. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups discussions were conducted with women who had recently given birth in selected healthcare facilities in Malawi and Kenya. Transcripts of these were analysed using a thematic approach and analytic codes applied. Draft outcomes were identified from the data, which were reviewed by a group of clinical experts and developed into a working copy of the Maternity Patient Reported Outcome Measure (MPROM). A further sample of new mothers were asked to evaluate the draft MPROM during cognitive debriefing interviews, and their views used to revise it to produce the final proposed measure. Eighty-three women were interviewed, and 44 women took part in 10 focus group discussions. An array of outcomes was identified from the data which were categorised under the domains of physical and psychological symptoms, social issues, and baby-related health outcomes. The draft outcomes were configured into 79 questions with answers provided using a five-point Likert scale. Minor revisions were made following cognitive debriefing interviews with nine women, to produce the final proposed MPROM. In conjunction with women from the target population and clinical experts, this study has developed what is believed to be the first condition-specific PROM suitable for assessing care quality in maternity services in low and middle-income countries. Following further validation studies, it is anticipated that this will be a useful tool in facilitating improvements in the quality of care provided to women giving birth in healthcare facilities in these settings.

Piloting a Faculty Development Program in a Rural Haitian Teaching Hospital

Background: Faculty development for nurse and physician educators has a limited evidence base in high income countries, and very little research from low- and middle-income countries. Health professions educators in many global settings do not receive training on how to educate effectively.

Objective: To pilot and assess a faculty development program aimed at nurse and physician educators at a teaching hospital in rural Haiti.

Methods: We developed a program covering a total of 22 topics in health professions education, including applied learning theory as well as nurse and physician targeted topics. We assessed impact through participant assessment of personal growth, participant evaluation of the program, knowledge testing pre and post program, and structured observations of program participants providing teaching during the program.

Findings: Nineteen out of 37 participants completed the program. While participant reviews were uniformly positive, a pre- and post-test on general educational topics showed no significant change, and the effort to institute observation and feedback of teaching did not succeed.

Conclusions: Our project showcases some benefits of faculty development, while also demonstrating the challenges of instituting faculty development in situations where participants have limited time and resources. We suspect more benefits may emerge as the program evolves to fit the learners and setting

Artificial intelligence for early diagnosis of lung cancer through incidental nodule detection in low- and middle-income countries-acceleration during the COVID-19 pandemic but here to stay

Although the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic had profound pernicious effects, it revealed deficiencies in health systems, particularly among low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). With increasing uncertainty in healthcare, existing unmet needs such as poor outcomes of lung cancer (LC) patients in LMICs, mainly due to late stages at diagnosis, have been challenging-necessitating a shift in focus for judicious health resource utilization. Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) for screening large volumes of pulmonary images performed for noncancerous reasons, such as health checks, immigration, tuberculosis screening, or other lung conditions, including but not limited to COVID-19, can facilitate easy and early identification of incidental pulmonary nodules (IPNs), which otherwise could have been missed. AI can review every chest X-ray or computed tomography scan through a trained pair of eyes, thus strengthening the infrastructure and enhancing capabilities of manpower for interpreting images in LMICs for streamlining accurate and early identification of IPNs. AI can be a catalyst for driving LC screening with enhanced efficiency, particularly in primary care settings, for timely referral and adequate management of coincidental IPN. AI can facilitate shift in the stage of LC diagnosis for improving survival, thus fostering optimal health-resource utilization and sustainable healthcare systems resilient to crisis. This article highlights the challenges for organized LC screening in LMICs and describes unique opportunities for leveraging AI. We present pilot initiatives from Asia, Latin America, and Russia illustrating AI-supported IPN identification from routine imaging to facilitate early diagnosis of LC at a potentially curable stage.

Strengthening research capacity through an intensive training program for biomedical investigators from low- and middle-income countries: the Vanderbilt Institute for Research Development and Ethics (VIRDE)

Capacity strengthening initiatives aimed at increasing research knowledge and skills of investigators in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have been implemented over the last several decades. With increased capacity, local investigators will have greater leadership in defining research priorities and impact policy change to help improve health outcomes. Evaluations of models of capacity strengthening programs are often limited to short-term impact. Noting the limitations of traditional output-based evaluations, we utilized a broader framework to evaluate the long-term impact of the Vanderbilt Institute in Research Development and Ethics (VIRDE), a decade-old intensive grant development practicum specifically tailored for investigators from LMICs.

To assess the impact of VIRDE on the research careers of alumni over the past 10 years, we surveyed alumni on research engagement, grant productivity, career trajectory, and knowledge gained in grant writing. Descriptive statistics, including means and total counts, and paired sample t-tests were used to analyze the data.

Forty-six of 58 alumni completed the survey. All respondents returned to their home countries and are currently engaged in research. Post-VIRDE grant writing knowledge ratings were significantly greater than pre-VIRDE. The number of respondents submitting grants post-VIRDE was 2.6 times higher than before the program. Eighty-three percent of respondents submitted a total of 147 grants post-VIRDE, of which 45.6% were awarded. Respondents acknowledged VIRDE’s positive impact on career growth and leadership, with 88% advancing in career stage.

Gains in grant writing knowledge and grant productivity suggest that VIRDE scholars built skills and confidence in grant writing during the program. A substantial proportion of respondents have advanced in their careers and continue to work in academia in their country of origin. Results show a sustained impact on the research careers of VIRDE alumni. The broader framework for research capacity strengthening resulted in an expansive assessment of the VIRDE program and alumni, illuminating successful program elements and implications that can inform similar capacity strengthening programs.

Current perspectives of oncoplastic breast surgery in Pakistan

Oncoplastic breast surgery is based on the concept of tumour-specific immediate reconstruction. It combines both local and distant techniques to maintain breast texture, symmetry and cosmesis without compromising oncological outcome. The current narrative review was planned to highlight the current state and future of oncoplastic breast surgery in low- and middle-income
countries where its utilisation in surgical practice remains insubstantial because majority of the surgeons who are treating breast cancer are either general surgeons or breast surgeons who do not have expertise in oncoplastic breast surgery or reconstructive surgery. Moreover, scarcity of financial resources, ignorance about oncoplastic breast surgery techniques, disfigurement
distress and cultural taboos coerce women to hide in the shadows with their breast disease. Oncoplastic breast surgery needs more exposure in a developing country like Pakistan.