Management of Congenital Heart Disease in Low-Income Countries: The Challenges and the Way Forward

In this article, we will discuss the management of congenital heart disease in low-income and low-middle income countries. First, we will review the epidemiology of congenital heart disease in the low-income and low-middle income countries and compare it to that in the high-income countries; cardiac disease is the commonest cause of death globally. The challenges that are facing the delivery of pediatric cardiac services will be discussed and some solutions will be suggested to improve these services. Pediatric cardiac services face huge economic, financial, social, and health care system delivery challenges. Collaboration between countries and non-governmental and philanthropy organizations is strongly needed to improve delivery of pediatric cardiac services in low-income and low-middle income countries. Planning of pediatric cardiac services in these countries should consider the context of each country or region; some countries managed to transform their pediatric cardiac services to be better.

The management of head and neck cancer in Africa. What lessons can be learned from African literature?

There is a significant dearth of contextually relevant information related to the management of head and neck cancer (HNC) in Africa. The aim of this letter was to put forward the findings from our larger systematic review to describe the current management of HNC patients in Africa and to identify gaps and present potential solutions. Sixty-six articles were included and analysed with descriptive statistics, a narrative synthesis, and thematic analysis. Surgical resection remains the primary medical intervention in Africa, whilst chemotherapy and radiation services remain limited. There was no mention of multidisciplinary team input in the management of these patients, including no description of any rehabilitative treatments. There are significant resource shortages ranging from access to medical equipment to both skilled medical and rehabilitative staff. The findings from this study imply that the management of HNC in Africa requires a possible transdisciplinary approach to improve access to services. Health professionals also need to explore a community-based level approach to care to improve access. There needs to be more context-specific research to improve contextually relevant teaching and practice in HNC.

Diagnosis and Management of Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: Protocol for a Scoping Review

Globally, 69 million people suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year and TBI is the most common cause of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Traumatic SAH (TSAH) has been described as an adverse prognostic factor leading to progressive neurological deterioration and an increase in morbidity and mortality, but there are a limited number of studies which evaluate recent trends in the diagnostic and management of SAH in the context of trauma.

The objective of this scoping review was to understand the extent and type of evidence in relation to the diagnostic criteria and management of TSAH.

This scoping review will be conducted in accordance with the Joanna Briggs Institute methodology for scoping reviews. A 3-step search strategy (an initial limited search in PubMed and Scopus databases; a main search of EMBASE, Web of Science, EBSCO, MEDLINE; and manual searches of reference lists of included articles) will be utilized. The search will be limited to studies with human participants and published in English, Spanish, and French between 2005 and 2020. This review will consider studies of adolescent and adult patients with SAH secondary to trauma. Study selection will be performed by 2 authors (DG and LF) in a 2-phase process; if any disagreement arises, a third author (AR) will be consulted. Data to be extracted from each study will include population, intervention, comparator and outcome measures, and a summary of findings. Citation screening, full-text review, risk of bias assessment, and extraction of study characteristics and outcomes will be carried out using a web-based software platform that streamlines the production of scoping reviews.

Ethics approval is not required for this systematic review, as there will be no patient involvement. The search for this systematic review commenced in December 2020, and we expect to publish the findings in early 2021. The plan for dissemination is to publish review findings in a peer-reviewed journal and present findings at conferences that engage the most pertinent stakeholders.

This scoping review will serve as an initial step in providing more evidence for health care professionals, economists, and policymakers so that they might devote more resources toward this significant problem affecting both health and economic outcomes worldwide.

Cerebral aneurysms in Africa: A scoping review

The epidemiology, management, and prognosis of cerebral aneurysms in Africa remain poorly understood. Most data to date has been from modeling studies. The authors aimed to describe the landscape of cerebral aneurysms in Africa based on published literature.

Articles on cerebral aneurysms in Africa from inception to June 9, 2020, were pulled from multiple databases (Medline, World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Library/Global Index Medicus African Journals Online, and Google Scholar). The search results were merged, uploaded into Rayyan. After deduplication, titles and abstracts were screened independently by four reviewers (FDT, USK, IN, NDAB) based on the pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. A full-text review was conducted, followed by data extraction of study, patient, neuroimaging, therapeutic, and prognostic characteristics.

Thirty-three articles were included in the full-text retrieval. These studies were published across 13 (24.0%) countries, notably in Morocco (30.3%, n = 10) and South Africa (15.2%, n = 5), and 14 (42.4%) of them were published on or after 2015. Together, the studies totaled 2289 patients; there was a female predominance in 18 (54.5%) study cohorts, and the most frequently cited aneurysms were located in the internal carotid (12.1%, n = 352) and anterior cerebral arteries (9.5%, n = 275). Open surgery (27.3%, n = 792) was the most widely used option in these studies ahead of coiling (3.2%, n = 94). The reported mortality rate following surgical intervention was 7.9%.

There are few peer-reviewed reports of aneurysm practice and variability in access to cerebral aneurysm care in Africa.

Magnitude, Pattern and Management Outcome of Intestinal Obstruction among Non-Traumatic Acute Abdomen Surgical Admissions in Arba Minch General Hospital, Southern Ethiopia

Background: Intestinal obstruction is defined as a blockage or partial blockage of the passage of the intestinal contents. It is a potentially risky surgical emergency associated with high morbidity and mortality. Its pattern differs from country to country and even from place to place within a country. Therefore, this study aimed to find out the magnitude, pattern and management outcome of intestinal obstruction in Arba Minch General Hospital.

Methods: A retrospective Cross-Sectional study was conducted in Arba Minch General hospital from January 09, 2015, to November 09, 2018. The data collection period was from December 15, 2018, to February 09, 2019. Simple random technique was applied to select 801 study participants. Then, the required data entered into Epi Info version and exported to the statistical package for the social sciences software package version 20 for analysis.

Result: This study revealed that the overall magnitude of intestinal obstruction was 40.60% with 95% CI (34.95 – 45.95). The magnitude of unfavorable management outcomes and deaths during the study period were 22.3% with 95% CI (18.00-27.00) and 7.1 % with 95% CI (4.00-10.00) respectively. Small bowel volvulus, sigmoid volvulus and adhesion (bands) accounted for 45.30%, 21.35% and 11.97% of all patterns of intestinal obstructions respectively. Dehydration (p<0.001), persistent tachycardia (p<0.001) and perforated bowl (p<0.001) were highly significantly associated with the management outcome of intestinal obstruction.

Conclusion and recommendation: Intestinal obstruction was the most common among all acute abdomen cases and its management outcome highly associated with dehydration. Early resuscitation is recommended to decrease unfavorable management outcomes.

Anal high-grade and late-stage cancer management in low-income setting: a case report

The burden of cancer is increasing in sub-Saharan Africa due to ageing, common risk factors and population growth. Anal cancer is a human papillomavirus-related rare disease with an incidence rate of 1.8 per 100 000 persons overall with an increasing incidence of by 2% per year in the last three decades. Despite that gold standard management is well described, in low-income countries, there is no possibility for a proper management. We presented a late-stage anal cancer case that reflects the urgent necessity to create the adequate condition for the development of effective oncologic approach including prevention, diagnosis and management.

Management of liver trauma in urban university hospitals in India: an observational multicentre cohort study

Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) contribute to 90% of injuries occurring in the world. The liver is one of the commonest organs injured in abdominal trauma. This study aims to highlight the demographic and management profile of liver injury patients, presenting to four urban Indian university hospitals in India.

This is a retrospective registry-based study. Data of patients with liver injury either isolated or concomitant with other injuries was used using the ICD-10 code S36.1 for liver injury. The severity of injury was graded based on the World Society of Emergency Surgery (WSES) grading for liver injuries.

A total of 368 liver injury patients were analysed. Eighty-nine percent were males, with road traffic injuries being the commonest mechanism. As per WSES liver injury grade, there were 127 (34.5%) grade I, 96 (26.1%) grade II, 70 (19.0%) grade III and 66 (17.9%) grade IV injuries. The overall mortality was 16.6%. Two hundred sixty-two patients (71.2%) were managed non-operatively (NOM), and 106 (38.8%) were operated. 90.1% of those managed non-operatively survived.

In this multicentre cohort of liver injury patients from urban university hospitals in India, the commonest profile of patient was a young male, with a blunt injury to the abdomen due to a road traffic accident. Success rate of non-operative management of liver injury is comparable to other countries.

Management of neuroblastoma in limited-resource settings

Neuroblastoma (NB) is a heterogeneous disease with variable outcomes among countries. Little is known about NB in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

The aim of this review was to evaluate regional management protocols and challenges in treating NB in paediatric oncology units in LMICs compared to high-income countries (HICs).

PubMed, Global Health, Embase, SciELO, African Index Medicus and Google Scholar were searched for publications with keywords pertaining to NB, LMICs and outcomes. Only English language manuscripts and abstracts were included. A descriptive review was done, and tables illustrating the findings were constructed.

Limited information beyond single-institution experiences regarding NB outcomes in LMICs was available. The disease characteristics varied among countries for the following variables: sex, age at presentation, MYCN amplification, stage and outcome. LMICs were found to be burdened with a higher percentage of stage 4 and high-risk NB compared to HICs. Implementation of evidence-based treatment protocols was still a barrier to care. Many socioeconomic variables also influenced the diagnosis, management and follow-up of patients with NB.

Patients presented at a later age with more advanced disease in LMICs. Management was limited by the lack of resources and genetic studies for improved NB classification. Further research is needed to develop modified diagnostic and treatment protocols for LMICs in the face of limited resources.

Perceptions of Non-Communicable Disease and War Injury Management in the Palestinian Health System: A Qualitative Study of Healthcare Providers Perspectives

Background: Palestine, like other low-income countries, is confronting an increasing epidemic of non-communicable disease (NCD) and trend of war injury. The management of health problems often presents a critical challenge to the Palestinian health system (PHS). Understanding the perceptions of healthcare providers is essential in exploring the gaps in the health system to develop an effective healthcare intervention. Unfortunately, health research on management of NCD and war injury has largely been neglected and received little attention. Therefore, the study aimed to explore the perspectives of healthcare providers regarding NCD and war injury management in the PHS in the Gaza Strip.
Methods: A qualitative study approach was used, based on four focus group discussions (FGDs) involving a purposive sampling strategy of 30 healthcare providers from three main public hospitals in Gaza Strip. A semi-structured topic guide was used, and the focus group interviews data were analyzed using manifest content analysis. The study was approved by the Palestinian Health Research Council (PHRC) for ethics approval.
Results: From the healthcare providers perspective, four main themes and several sub-themes have emerged from the descriptive manifest content analysis: functioning of healthcare system; system-related challenges; patients-related challenges; strategies and actions to navigating the challenges and improving care. Informants frequently discussed that despite some positive aspects in the system, fundamental changes and significant improvements are needed. Some expressed serious concerns that the healthcare system needs complete rebuilding to facilitate the management of NCD and war-related injury. They perceived important barriers to effective management of NCD and war injury such as poor hospital infrastructure and logistics, shortage of micro and sub-specialities and essential resources. Participants also expressed a dilemma and troubles in communication and interactions, especially during emergencies or crises. The informants stressed the unused of updated clinical management guidelines. There was a consensus regarding poor shared-care/task sharing, partnership, and cooperation among healthcare facilities.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that fundamental changes and significant reforms are needed in the health system to make healthcare services more effective, timely, and efficient. The study disclosed the non-use of clinical guidelines as well as suboptimal sectorial task-sharing among different stakeholders and healthcare providers. A clear and comprehensive healthcare policy considering the gaps in the system must be adopted for the improvement and development of care in the PHS.

Perioperative Management of Gastrointestinal Surgery in a Resource-Limited Hospital in Niger: Cross-sectional Study

Perioperative management in digestive surgery is a challenge in sub-Saharan Africa. Objective: To describe the process and outcomes of perioperative management in gastrointestinal surgery.
Materials and methods
This was a single center cross-sectional study over a 4-month period from June 1 to September 30, 2017, in a Nigerien hospital (West Africa). This study included caregivers and patients operated on gastrointestinal surgery.
We collected data for 56 caregivers and 253 patients underwent gastrointestinal surgery. The average age of caregivers was 38.6 ± 8.7. The median length of professional practice was 9 years. Almost 52% of caregivers (n = 29) did not know the standards of perioperative care. The median age of patients was 24 years, and male gender constituted 70% of cases (n = 177) with a sex ratio of 2.32. Patients came from rural areas in 78.2% (n = 198). Emergency surgery accounted for 60% (n = 152). The most surgical procedure was digestive ostomies performed in 28.9% (n = 73), followed by hernia repair and appendectomy in 24.5% (n = 62) and 13.9% (n = 35) respectively. The postoperative course was complicated in 28.1% (n = 71) among which 13 deaths. In the group of caregivers, the poor practice of perioperative management was associated with poor professional qualification, insufficient equipment, insufficient motivation (p < 0.05). The ASA3&ASA4 score, undernutrition, emergency surgery, poor postoperative monitoring, and poor psychological preparation were associated with complicated postoperative outcomes (p < 0.05).
The inadequacy of the technical platform and the lack of continuous training for healthcare staff represented the main dysfunctions of our hospital. The risk factors for complications found in this study need appropriate perioperative management to improve prognosis in gastrointestinal surgery.