Development and content validation of the Safe Surgery Organizational Readiness Tool: A quality improvement study

Recent efforts to increase access to safe and high-quality surgical care in low- and middle-income countries have proven successful. However, multiple facilities implementing the same safety and quality improvement interventions may not all achieve successful outcomes. This heterogeneity could be explained, in part, by pre-intervention organizational characteristics and lack of readiness of surgical facilities. In this study, we describe the process of developing and content validating the Safe Surgery Organizational Readiness Tool.

Materials and methods
The new tool was developed in two stages. First, qualitative results from a Safe Surgery 2020 intervention were combined with findings from a literature review of organizational readiness and change. Second, through iterative discussions and expert review, the Safe Surgery Organizational Readiness Tool was content validated.

The Safe Surgery Organizational Readiness Tool includes 14 domains and 56 items measuring the readiness of surgical facilities in low- and middle-income countries to implement surgical safety and quality improvement interventions. This multi-dimensional and multi-level tool offers insights into facility members’ beliefs and attitudes at the individual, team, and facility levels. A panel review affirmed the content validity of the Safe Surgery Organizational Readiness Tool.

The Safe Surgery Organizational Readiness Tool is a theory- and evidence-based tool that can be used by change agents and facility leaders in low- and middle-income countries to assess the baseline readiness of surgical facilities to implement surgical safety and quality improvement interventions. Next steps include assessing the reliability and validity of the Safe Surgery Organizational Readiness Tool, likely resulting in refinements.

Is Independent Clinical Research Possible in Low- and Middle-Income Countries? A Roadmap to Address Persistent and New Barriers and Challenges

Cancer is an increasing and significant problem for both high- and low- and middle-income countries. Basic, translational, and clinical research efforts have been instrumental in generating the outstanding improvements we have witnessed over the last few decades, answering important questions, and improving patient outcomes. Arguably, a substantial portion of currently ongoing research is sponsored by the pharmaceutical industy and specifically addresses questions under industry interests, most of which apply to high-income countries, leaving behind problems related to the much larger and underserved population of patients with cancer in low- and middle-income countries. In this scenario, discussing independent academic research is an important challenge, particularly for these countries. Although different countries and institutions face different problems while establishing independent research agendas, some generalizable barriers can be identified. A solid regulatory and ethical framework, a strong and sustainable technical supporting infrastructure, and motivated and experienced investigators are all paramount to build a viable and productive academic research program. Securing funding for research, although not the only hurdle, is certainly one of the most basic hurdles to overcome. Noticeably, and as an added impediment, public and governmental support for cancer research has been decreasing in high-income countries and is almost nonexistent in the rest of the world. We propose an initial careful diagnostic assessment of the research resource scenario of each institution/country and adjustment of the strategic development plan according to four different research resource restriction levels. Although not necessarily applicable to all situations, this model can be helpful if adjusted to each local or regional situation

Andersen’s utilization model for cataract surgical rate and empirical evidence from economically-developing areas

Un-operated cataract is the leading cause of vision loss worldwide, responsible for 33% of visual impairment, and half of global blindness. The study aimed to build a fast evaluation method utilizing Andersen’s utilization framework and identify predictors of cataract surgical rate in sub-Saharan Africa and China.

The study was a cross-over ecological epidemiology study with a total of 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and 31 provinces in China. Information was extracted from public data and published studies. Linear regression and structural equation modeling with Bootstrap were used to analyze predictors of CSR and their pathways to impact in sub-Saharan Africa and China separately.

Cataract surgical resources in sub-Saharan Africa were linearly correlated with CSR (β = 0.74, 95% CI: 0.09, 0.91), while GDP/P didn’t impact cataract surgical resources (β = 0.29, 95% CI: − 0.12, 0.75). In China, residents’ average ability to pay was confirmed as the mediator between GDP/P and CSR (p = 0.32, RMSEA = 0.07; βCSR-paying = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.25, 0.90; βpaying-GDP/P = 0.89, 95% CI: 0.82, 0.93).

In sub-Saharan Africa, CSR is determined by health care provision. Local economic development may not directly influence CSR. Therefore, international assistance aimed to providing free cataract surgery directly is crucial. In China, CSR is determined principally by health care demand (ability to pay). To increase CSR in underserved areas of China, ability to pay must be enhanced through social insurance, and reduced surgical fees.

The Preparing Residents for International Medical Experiences (PRIME) Simulation Workshop: Equipping Surgery and Anesthesia Trainees for International Rotations

Introduction: Although global health training expands clinical and sociocultural expertise for graduate medical trainees and is increasingly in demand, evidence-based courses are limited. To improve self-assessed competence for clinical scenarios encountered during international rotations, we developed and assessed a simulation-based workshop called Preparing Residents for International Medical Experiences. Methods: High-fidelity simulation activities for anesthesiology, surgery, and OB/GYN trainees involved three scenarios. The first was a mass casualty in a low-resource setting requiring distribution of human and material resources. In the second, learners managed a septic operative patient and coordinated postoperative care without an ICU bed available. The final scenario had learners evaluate a non-English-speaking patient with pre-eclampsia. We paired simulation with small-group discussion to address socio-behavioural factors, stress, and teaching skills. Participants evaluated the quality of the teaching provided. In addition, we measured anesthesiology trainees’ self-assessed competence before and after the workshop. Results: The workshop included 23 learners over two iterations. Fifteen trainees (65%) completed the course evaluation, 93% of whom strongly agreed that the training met the stated objectives. Thirteen out of 15 (87%) anesthesiology trainees completed the competence survey. After the training, more trainees indicated confidence in providing clinical care with indirect supervision or independently. Mean self-assessed competency scores on a scale of 1–5 increased for all areas, with a mean competency increase of 0.3 (95% CI, 0.2–0.5). Discussion: Including simulation in a pretravel workshop can improve trainees’ self-assessed competence for a variety of scenarios involving clinical care in limited-resource settings

Financial toxicity of cancer care in low and middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Introduction: The costs associated with cancer diagnosis, treatment and care present enormous financial toxicity. However, evidence of financial toxicity associated with cancer in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) is scarce.

Aim: To identify the extent of cancer-related financial toxicity and how it has been measured in LMICs.

Methods: Four electronic databases were searched to identify studies of any design that reported financial toxicity among cancer patients in LMICs. Random-effects meta-analysis was used to derive the pooled prevalence of financial toxicity. Sub-group analyses were performed according to: costs; and determinants of financial toxicity.

Results: A total of 31 studies were included in this systematic review and meta-analysis. The pooled prevalence of financial toxicity was 56.96% [95% CI, 30.51, 106.32]. In sub-group meta-analyses, the financial toxicity was higher among cancer patients with household size of more than four (1.17% [95% CI, 1.03, 1.32]; p = 0.02; I2 = 0%), multiple cycles of chemotherapy (1.94% [95% CI, 1.00, 3.75]; p = 0.05; I2 = 43%) and private health facilities (2.87% [95% CI, 1.89, 4.35]; p < 0.00001; I2 = 26%). Mean medical costs per cancer patients were $2,740.18 [95% CI, $1,953.62, $3,526.74]. The ratio of cost of care to gross domestic product (GDP) per capita varied considerably across the LMICs included in this review, which ranged from 0.06 in Vietnam to 327.65 in Ethiopia.

Conclusions: This study indicates that cancer diagnosis, treatment and care impose high financial toxicity on cancer patients in LMICs. Further rigorous research on cancer-related financial toxicity is needed.

Postpartum infection, pain and experiences with care among women treated for postpartum hemorrhage in three African countries: A cohort study of women managed with and without condom-catheter uterine balloon tamponade

We aimed to determine the risk of postpartum infection and increased pain associated with use of condom-catheter uterine balloon tamponade (UBT) among women diagnosed with postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) in three low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We also sought women’s opinions on their overall experience of PPH care.

This prospective cohort study compared women diagnosed with PPH who received and did not receive UBT (UBT group and no-UBT group, respectively) at 18 secondary level hospitals in Uganda, Egypt, and Senegal that participated in a stepped wedge, cluster-randomized trial assessing UBT introduction. Key outcomes were reported pain (on a scale 0–10) in the immediate postpartum period and receipt of antibiotics within four weeks postpartum (a proxy for postpartum infection). Outcomes related to satisfaction with care and aspects women liked most and least about PPH care were also reported.

Among women diagnosed with PPH, 58 were in the UBT group and 2188 in the no-UBT group. Self-reported, post-discharge antibiotic use within four weeks postpartum was similar in the UBT (3/58, 5.6%) and no-UBT groups (100/2188, 4.6%, risk ratio = 1.22, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.45–3.35). A high postpartum pain score of 8–10 was more common among women in the UBT group (17/46, 37.0%) than in the no-UBT group (360/1805, 19.9%, relative risk ratio = 3.64, 95% CI:1.30–10.16). Most women were satisfied with their care (1935/2325, 83.2%). When asked what they liked least about care, the most common responses were that medications (580/1511, 38.4%) and medical supplies (503/1511, 33.3%) were unavailable.

UBT did not increase the risk of postpartum infection among this population. Women who receive UBT may experience higher degrees of pain compared to women who do not receive UBT. Women’s satisfaction with their care and stockouts of medications and other supplies deserve greater attention when introducing new technologies like UBT.

Designing devices for global surgery: evaluation of participatory and frugal design methods

Most people living in low- and middle-income countries have no access to surgical care. Equipping under-resourced health care contexts with appropriate surgical equipment is thus critical. “Global” technologies must be designed specifically for these contexts. But while models, approaches and methods have been developed for the design of equipment for global surgery, few studies describe their implementation or evaluate their adequacy for this purpose.

A multidisciplinary team applied participatory and frugal design methods to design a surgical device for gasless laparoscopy. The team employed a formal roadmap, devised to guide the development of global surgical equipment, to structure the design process into phases. Phases 0–1 comprised primary research with surgeons working in low-resource settings and forming collaborative partnerships with key stakeholders. These participated in phases 2–3 through design workshops and video events. To conclude, surgical stakeholders (n=13) evaluated a high-fidelity prototype in a cadaveric study.

The resulting design, “RAIS” (Retractor for Abdominal Insufflation-less Surgery), received positive feedback from rural surgeons keen to embrace and champion innovation as a result of the close collaboration and participatory design methods employed. The roadmap provided a valuable means to structure the design process but this evaluation highlighted the need for further development to detail specific methodology. The project outcomes were used to develop recommendations for innovators designing global surgical equipment.

To inform early phases in the design roadmap, engaging a variety of stakeholders to provide regular input is crucial. Effective communication is vital to elucidate clear functional design requirements and hence reveal opportunities for frugal innovation. Finally, responsible innovation must be embedded within the process of designing devices for global surgery.

A community-wide effort is required to formally evaluate and optimize processes for designing global surgical devices and hence accelerate adoption of frugal surgical technologies in low-resource settings.

Recommendations for the Management of COVID-19 in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

At the conclusion of its first year, the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic are still fluid. Today’s global and regional numbers on incidence and mortality are outdated just a few weeks later. Effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are becoming available, but the exact timeline of their availability, in particular in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), is still unclear. What has become clear, albeit not completely understood, is that many poorer countries have been hit less by the pandemic than high-income countries (HICs), even when accounting for underreporting related to more limited testing capacity. Many LMICs need to be commended for their generally faster public health responses at much earlier stages in their epidemics than their HIC counterparts. Also, likely because of the relatively younger population in LMICs than HICs, the estimated COVID-19 infection/ fatality ratio is typically around two to three deaths per 1,000 infections in LMICs, contrasted to six to 10 deaths per 1,000 infections observed in HICs with older populations.

The Rise of Inflow Cisternostomy in Resource-Limited Settings: Rationale, Limitations, and Future Challenges

Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) bear most of the global burden of traumatic brain injury (TBI), but they lack the resources to address this public health crisis. For TBI guidelines and innovations to be effective, they must consider the context in LMICs; keeping this in mind, this article will focus on the history, pathophysiology, practice, evidence, and implications of cisternostomy. In this narrative review, the author discusses the history, pathophysiology, practice, evidence, and implications of cisternostomy. Cisternostomy for the management of TBI is an innovation developed in LMICs, primarily for LMICs. Its practice is based on the cerebrospinal fluid shift edema theory that attributes injury to increased pressure within the subarachnoid space due to subarachnoid hemorrhage and subsequent dysfunction of glymphatic drainage. Early reports of the technique report significant improvements in the Glasgow Outcome Scale, lower mortality rates, and shorter intensive care unit durations. Most reports are single-center studies with small sample sizes, and the technique requires experience and skill. These limitations have led to criticisms and slow adoption of the technique. Further research is needed to establish the effect of cisternostomy on TBI outcomes.

Point-of-Care Ultrasound: Applications in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Purpose of Review
This review highlights the applications of point-of-care ultrasound in low- and middle-income countries and shows the diversity of ultrasound in the diagnosis and management of patients.

Recent Findings
There is a paucity of data on point-of-care ultrasound in anesthesiology in low- and middle-income countries. However, research has shown that point-of-care ultrasound can effectively help manage infectious diseases, as well as abdominal and pulmonary pathologies.

Point-of-care ultrasound is a low-cost imaging modality that can be used for the diagnosis and management of diseases that affect low- and middle-income countries. There is limited data on the use of ultrasound in anesthesiology, which provides clinicians and researchers opportunity to study its use during the perioperative period.