Survey of Social Media Use for Surgical Education During Covid-19

Objective: To evaluate the use of social media platforms by medical students, surgical trainees, and practicing surgeons for surgical education during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Methods: An online, 15-question survey was developed and posted on Facebook and WhatsApp closed surgeon groups.

Results: The online survey was completed by 219 participants from South America (87%), North America (7%), Europe (5%), Central America, and Asia. Respondents included medical students (6.4%), surgical residents/fellows (24.2%), and practicing surgeons (69.4%). The most common age group was 35-44 years. When asked which social media platforms they preferred, the video sharing site YouTube (33.3%), the messaging app WhatsApp (21%), and “other” (including videoconferencing sites) (22.3%) were most popular. Respondents reported using social media for surgical education either daily (38.4%) or weekly (45.2%), for an average of 1-5 hours/week. Most (85%) opined that surgical conferences that were cancelled during the pandemic should be made available online, with live discussions.

Conclusion: Social media use for surgical education during Covid-19 appears to be increasing and evolving.

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, are non-COVID patients left in the lurch?

Objectives: 1) To explore the possible impact of the pandemic on the health seeking behavior of the patients, 2) To explore the relation of socio-demographics on the utility of health-care facilities.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted by enrolling all patients ≥15 years of age presenting to the Out-Patient-Department of three main public-hospitals after obtaining ethical committee approval. A questionnaire with validated Urdu translation was filled by each participant that included socio-demographic data, pre-Covid and Covid-19 era health seeking behaviors and the impact of the pandemic on the utilization of healthcare facilities. Data was analyzed using SPSS V.19.

Results: A total of 393 patients were enrolled with a male preponderance (72%) and a median age range of 31-45 years. Fifty-eight percent of the study population was unemployed and 47.3% were seeking follow up care. The frequency of ER and multiple (>4 times) OPD visits were significantly decreased in the Covid-19 times whereas, the laboratory and radiology services were largely unaffected. A significant number of patients were not satisfied with the current healthcare facilities that was seen irrespective of the socio-demographic status. Emergency Room and radiology services were largely unaffected whereas, elective procedures and laboratory facilities were reported to be severely affected or delayed in relation to socio-demographic variables.

Conclusions: Healthcare inequalities have widened and depression has shown a sharp rise during this pandemic. The over-burdened healthcare facilities at the verge of collapse may miss out on the chronic non-Covid patients which would ultimately lead to increased morbidity and mortality.

Virtual learning in global surgery: current strategies and adaptation for the COVID-19 pandemic

Modern surgical education has shifted to include technology as an integral component of training programs. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need to identify currently training modalities in global surgery and to delineate how these can be best used given the shift of global surgical training to the virtual setting. Here, we conducted a rapid review of the MEDLINE database examining the current status of training modalities in global surgical training programs and presented a case study of a virtual learning course on providing safe surgical care in the time of a pandemic. Our rapid review identified 285 publications, of which 101 were included in our analysis. Most articles describe training in high income country environments (87%, 88/101). The principal training modality described is apprenticeship (46%, 46/101), followed by simulation training (37%, 37/101), and virtual learning strategies (14%, 14/101). Our focused case study describes a virtual course entitled “Safe Surgical Care: Strategies During Pandemics,” created at the University of British Columbia by E.J., published 1-month postdeclaration of the pandemic. This multimodal course was rolled-out over a 5-week period and had significant engagement on an international level, with 1944 participants from 105 countries. With in-person training decreased as a result of the pandemic, virtual reality, virtual simulation, and telementoring may serve to bridge this gap. We propose that virtual learning strategies be integrated into global surgical training through the pursuit of increased accessibility, incorporation of telementoring, and inclusion in national health policy.

Hospitals’ responsibility in response to the threat of infectious disease outbreak in the context of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic: Implications for low- and middle-income countries

The WHO declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, and then a pandemic on March 11, 2020. COVID-19 affected over 200 countries and territories worldwide, with 25,541,380 confirmed cases and 852,000 deaths associated with COVID-19 globally, as of September 1, 2020.

While facing such a public health emergency, hospitals were on the front line to deliver health care and psychological services. The early detection, diagnosis, reporting, isolation, and clinical management of patients during a public health emergency required the extensive involvement of hospitals in all aspects. The response capacity of hospitals directly determined the outcomes of the prevention and control of an outbreak.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost all nations and territories regardless of their development level or geographic location, although suitable risk mitigation measures differ between developing and developed countries. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the consequences of the pandemic could be more complicated because incidence and mortality might be associated more with a fragile health care system and shortage of related resources. As evidenced by the situation in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, South Africa, and other LMICs, socioeconomic status (SES) disparity was a major factor in the spread of disease, potentially leading to alarmingly insufficient preparedness and responses in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.4 Conversely, the pandemic might also bring more unpredictable socioeconomic and long-term impacts in LMICs, and those with lower SES fare worse in these situations.

This review aimed to summarize the responsibilities of and measures taken by hospitals in combatting the COVID-19 outbreak. Our findings are hoped to provide experiences, as well as lessons and potential implications for LMICs.

Sword of Damocles: application of the ethical principles of resource allocation to essential cancer surgery patients requiring beds in limited supply during the COVID-19 pandemic

As a surge of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) patients strains the health care systems, shortages of health care professionals and life-saving equipment such as ventilators are forcing hospitals to make difficult decisions [1, 2]. It is critical that these health care systems consider whether non-essential surgical procedures can be delayed to ration medical equipment and interventions. Theatre list shortages occur for many reasons, including lack of beds, lack of ventilators, lack of anaesthetic staff, lack of surgical staff, lack of nursing staff and material shortages (e.g. personal protective equipment). Contributing to resource scarcity is the prolonged intubation many COVID-19 patients require as they recover from pneumonia, often two to three weeks, with several hours spent in the prone position and then, typically, a very slow weaning. During shortages, health care systems must determine how to fairly distribute these scarce resources to patients. Unfortunately, no single distribution framework applies to all shortages. However, general allocation principles for scarce health care resources, grounded in distributive justice and utility, can be applied, although particular rules will differ depending on the circumstances.

Impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic on pediatric oncology care in the Middle East, North Africa, and West Asia Region: A report from the Pediatric Oncology East and Mediterranean (POEM) Group

Childhood cancer is a highly curable disease when timely diagnosis and appropriate therapy are provided. A negative impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic on access to care for children with cancer is likely but has not been evaluated.

A 34‐item survey focusing on barriers to pediatric oncology management during the COVID‐19 pandemic was distributed to heads of pediatric oncology units within the Pediatric Oncology East and Mediterranean (POEM) collaborative group, from the Middle East, North Africa, and West Asia. Responses were collected on April 11 through 22, 2020. Corresponding rates of proven COVID‐19 cases and deaths were retrieved from the World Health Organization database.

In total, 34 centers from 19 countries participated. Almost all centers applied guidelines to optimize resource utilization and safety, including delaying off‐treatment visits, rotating and reducing staff, and implementing social distancing, hand hygiene measures, and personal protective equipment use. Essential treatments, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy, were delayed in 29% to 44% of centers, and 24% of centers restricted acceptance of new patients. Clinical care delivery was reported as negatively affected in 28% of centers. Greater than 70% of centers reported shortages in blood products, and 47% to 62% reported interruptions in surgery and radiation as well as medication shortages. However, bed availability was affected in <30% of centers, reflecting the low rates of COVID‐19 hospitalizations in the corresponding countries at the time of the survey.

Mechanisms to approach childhood cancer treatment delivery during crises need to be re‐evaluated, because treatment interruptions and delays are expected to affect patient outcomes in this otherwise largely curable disease.

Management of cervical cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: a challenge for developing countries

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health services worldwide are going through important adaptations to assist patients infected with COVID-19, at the same time as continuing to provide assistance to other potentially life-threatening diseases. Although patients with cancer may be at increased risk for severe events related to COVID-19 infection, their oncologic treatments frequently cannot be delayed for long periods without jeopardising oncologic outcomes. Considering this, a careful consideration for treatment management of different malignancies is required.

Cervical cancer is concentrated mainly in low-middle income countries (LMICs), which face particular challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the scarcity of health resources in many places. Although cervical cancer is the fourth cause of cancer death among women, it receives little attention from international Oncology societies and scientific research studies. In this review paper, we discuss the cervical cancer landscape and provide specialists recommendations for its management during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly focused on LMICs’ reality.

Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on children’s surgery in Africa

An outbreak of the disease known as COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan in the Hubei province of China, has rapidly spread to all continents of the globe. First detected via local hospital surveillance systems as a ‘pneumonia of unknown aetiology’ in late December 2019, the disease has since been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the WHO and reached pandemic status.

It is uncertain what the eventual toll of the pandemic will be in Africa; however, there has been a suspicion that the looming pandemic may hit harder than it has the rest of the world. Africa has baseline weaknesses in healthcare resource allocation, and her fragile healthcare systems are particularly vulnerable to being overwhelmed by this illness. Available statistics, to date, however, seem to show that the pandemic has been slow to begin. As of 26 May, 115 346 cases and 3471 deaths have been reported across the whole African continent, constituting 2% of all cases in the globe. African nations have had an opportunity to prepare for the coming onslaught, learn from the experience in other countries and choose interventions that are tailor-made for the unique socioeconomic context.

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COVID-19: Initial experience of an international group of hand surgeons

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected medical treatment protocols throughout the world. While the pandemic does not affect hand surgeons at first glance, they have a role to play. The purpose of this study was to describe the different measures that have been put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by hand surgeons throughout the world. The survey comprised 47 surgeons working in 34 countries who responded to an online questionnaire. We found that the protocols varied in terms of visitors, health professionals in the operating room, patient waiting areas, wards and emergency rooms. Based on these preliminary findings, an international consensus on hand surgery practices for the current viral pandemic, and future ones, needs to be built rapidly.