Age at Primary Cleft Lip Repair

Background: The bellwether procedures described by the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery represent the ability to deliver adult surgical services after there is a clear and easily made diagnosis. There is a need for pediatric surgery bellwether indicators. A pediatric bellwether indicator would ideally be a routinely performed procedure, for a relatively common condition that, in itself, is rarely lethal at birth, but that should ideally be treated with surgery by a standard age. Additionally, the condition should be easy to diagnose, to minimize the confounding effects of delays or failures in diagnosis. In this study, we propose the age at primary cleft lip
(CL) repair as a bellwether indicator for pediatric surgery.
Method: We reviewed the surgical records of 71,346 primary cleft surgery patients and ultimately studied age at CL repair in 40,179 patients from 73 countries, treated by Smile Train partners for 2019. Data from Smile Train’s database were correlated with World Bank and WHO indicators.
Results: Countries with a higher average age at CL repair (delayed access to surgery) had higher maternal, infant, and child mortality rates as well as a greater risk of catastrophic health expenditure for surgery. There was also a negative correlation between delayed CL repair and specialist surgical workforce numbers, life expectancy, percentage of deliveries by C-section, total health expenditure per capita, and Lancet Commission on Global Surgery procedure rates.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that age at CL repair has potential to serve as a bellwether indicator for pediatric surgical capacity in Lower- and Middleincome Countr

A critical threshold for global pediatric surgical workforce density

Purpose
1.7 billion children lack access to surgical care, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). The pediatric surgical workforce density (PSWD), an indicator of surgical access, correlates with survival of complex pediatric surgical problems. To determine if PSWD also correlates with population-level health outcomes for children, we compared PSWD with pediatric-specific mortality rates and determined the PSWD associated with improved survival.

Methods
Using medical licensing registries, pediatric surgeons practicing in 26 countries between 2015 and 2019 were identified. Countries’ PSWD was calculated as the ratio of pediatric surgeons per 100,000 children. The correlation between neonatal, infant and under 5 mortality rates and PSWD was assessed using Spearman’s correlations and piecewise linear regression models.

Results
Four LIC, eight L-MIC, ten UMIC and four HIC countries, containing 420 million children, were analyzed. The median PSWD by income group was 0.03 (LIC), 0.12 (L-MIC), 1.34 (UMIC) and 2.13 (HIC). PSWD strongly correlated with neonatal (0.78, p < 0.001), infant (0.82, p < 0.001) and under 5 (0.83, p  0.37. Currently, PSWD in LMICs is inadequate to meet UN Sustainable Development Goal 3.2 for child mortality.

Access to pediatric surgery delivered by general surgeons and anesthesia providers in Uganda: Results from 2 rural regional hospitals

Background
Significant limitations in pediatric surgical capacity exist in low- and middle-income countries, especially in rural regions. Recent global children’s surgical guidelines suggest training and support of general surgeons in rural regional hospitals as an effective approach to increasing pediatric surgical capacity.

Methods
Two years of a prospective clinical database of children’s surgery admissions at 2 regional referral hospitals in Uganda were reviewed. Primary outcomes included case volume and clinical outcomes of children at each hospital. Additionally, the disability-adjusted life-years averted by delivery of pediatric surgical services at these hospitals were calculated. Using a value of statistical life calculation, we also estimated the economic benefit of the pediatric surgical care currently being delivered.

Results
From 2016 to 2019, more than 300 surgical procedures were performed at each hospital per year. The majority of cases were standard general surgery cases including hernia repairs and intussusception as well as procedures for surgical infections and trauma. In-hospital mortality was 2.4% in Soroti and 1% in Lacor. Pediatric surgical capacity at these hospitals resulted in over 12,400 disability-adjusted life-years averted/year. This represents an estimated economic benefit of 10.2 million US dollars/year to the Ugandan society.

Conclusion
This investigation demonstrates that lifesaving pediatric procedures are safely performed by general surgeons in Uganda. General surgeons who perform pediatric surgery significantly increase surgical access to rural regions of the country and add a large economic benefit to Ugandan society. Overall, the results of the study support increasing pediatric surgical capacity in rural areas of low- and middle-income countries through support and training of general surgeons and anesthesia providers.

Online action planning forums to develop a roadmap to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of global children’s surgical care

Purpose
We aimed to understand the challenges facing children’s surgical care providers globally and realistic interventions to mitigate the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on children’s surgery.

Methods
Two online Action Planning Forums (APFs) were organized by the Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery (GICS) with a geographically diverse panel representing four children’s surgical, anesthesia, and nursing subspecialties. Qualitative analysis was performed to identify codes, themes, and subthemes.

Results
The most frequently reported challenges were delayed access to care for children; fear among the public and patients; unavailability of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE); diversion of resources toward COVID-19 care; and interruption in student and trainee hands-on education. To address these challenges, panelists recommended human resource and funding support to minimize backlog; setting up international, multi-center studies for systematic data collection specifically for children; providing online educational opportunities for trainees and students in the form of large and small group discussions; developing best practice guidelines; and, most importantly, adapting solutions to local needs.

Conclusion
Identification of key challenges and interventions to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global children’s surgery via an objective, targeted needs assessment serves as an essential first step. Key interventions in these areas are underway.

Improving standard of pediatric surgical care in a low resource setting: the key role of academic partnership

Background: An epidemiological transition is interesting Sub-Saharan Africa increasing the burden of non-communicable diseases most of which are of surgical interest. Local resources are far from meeting needs and, considering that 50% of the population is less than 14 years of age, Pediatric surgical coverage is specially affected. Efforts are made to improve standards of care and to increase the number of Pediatric surgeons through short-term specialist surgical Missions, facilities supported by humanitarian organization, academic Partnership, training abroad of local surgeons. This study is a half term report about three-years Partnership between the University of Chieti- Pescara, Italy and the University of Gezira, Sudan to upgrade standard of care at the Gezira National Centre for Pediatric Surgery (GNCPS) of Wad Medani. Four surgical Teams per year visited GNCPS. The Program was financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.
Methods: The state of local infrastructure, current standard of care, analysis of caseload, surgical activity and results are reported. Methods utilized to assess local needs and to develop Partnership activities are described.
Results: Main surgical task of the visiting Team were advancements in Colorectal procedures, Epispadias/Exstrophy Complex management and Hypospadias surgery (20% of major surgical procedures at the GNCPS). Intensive care facilities and staff to assist more complex cases (i.e. neonates) are still defective. Proctoring, training on the job of junior surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses, collaboration in educational programs, advisorship in hospital management, clinical governance, maintenance of infrastructure together with training opportunities in Italy were included by the Program. Despite on-going efforts, actions have not yet been followed by the expected results. More investments are needed on Healthcare infrastructures to increase health workers motivation and prevent brain drain.
Conclusions: The key role that an Academic Partnership can play, acting through expatriated Teams working in the same constrained contest with the local workforce, must be emphasized. Besides clinical objectives, these types of Global Health Initiatives address improvement in management and clinical governance. The main obstacles to upgrade standard of care and level of surgery met by the Visiting Team are scarce investments on health infrastructure and a weak staff retention policy, reflecting in poor motivation and low performance.

Addressing Supply Chain Management Issues in Cost-effective Maternal and Pediatric Global Surgery: A Call to Action

Persistent global disparities in maternal and neonatal outcomes exist, in part, due to a lack of access to safe surgery. This commentary examines the relative need for increased focus on access to safe maternal and pediatric surgery globally, starting with a focus on cost-effective surgeries. There is a need to understand context-specific surgeries for regions, including understanding regional versus tertiary development. Most important is a need to understand the crucial role of supply chain management (SCM) in developing better access to maternal and pediatric surgery in limited resource settings. We evaluate the role of SCM in global surgery and global health, and the current landscape of inefficiency. We outline specific findings and takeaways from recent solutions developed in pediatric and maternal surgery to address SCM inefficiencies. We then examine the applicability to other settings and look at the future. Our goal is to summarize the challenges that exist today in a global setting to provide better access to maternal and pediatric surgery and outline solutions relying on structural, SCM-related framework.

Reducing Gastroschisis Mortality: A Quality Improvement Initiative at a Ugandan Pediatric Surgery Unit

Introduction: With modern treatment, survival of gastroschisis exceeds 90% in high-income countries. Survival in these countries has been largely attributed to prenatal diagnosis, delivery at tertiary facilities with timely resuscitation, timely intervention, parenteral nutrition and intensive care facilities. In sub-Saharan Africa, due to lack of these facilities, mortality rates are still alarmingly high ranging from 75 to 100%. In Uganda the mortality is 98%.

Aim: The aim of this study was to reduce gastroschisis mortality in a feasible, sustainable way using a locally derived gastroschisis care protocol at a referring hospital in Western Uganda.

Methods: Data collection was performed from January to October 2018. Nursing staff were interviewed regarding the survival and management of gastroschisis babies. A locally derived protocol was created with staff input and commitment from all the team members.

Results: Four mothers absconded and 17 babies were cared for using the newly designed protocol. Seven survived and were well at one month post discharge follow-up, reducing the mortality for this condition from 98 to 59%.

Conclusion: A dedicated team with minimal resources can significantly reduce the mortality in gastroschisis by almost 40% using a locally derived protocol.

Burden of emergency pediatric surgical procedures on surgical capacity in Uganda: a new metric for health system performance

Background: The significant burden of emergency operations in low- and middle-income countries can overwhelm surgical capacity leading to a backlog of elective surgical cases. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the burden of emergency procedures on pediatric surgical capacity in Uganda and to determine health metrics that capture surgical backlog and effective coverage of children’s surgical disease in low- and middle-income countries.

Methods: We reviewed 2 independent and prospectively collected databases on pediatric surgical admissions at Mulago National Referral Hospital and Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda. Pediatric surgical patients admitted at either hospital between October 2015 to June 2017 were included. Our primary outcome was the distribution of surgical acuity and associated mortality.

Results: A combined total of 1,930 patients were treated at the two hospitals, and 1,110 surgical procedures were performed. There were 571 emergency cases (51.6%), 108 urgent cases (9.7%), and 429 elective cases (38.6%). Overall mortality correlated with surgical acuity. Emergency intestinal diversions for colorectal congenital malformations (anorectal malformations and Hirschsprung’s disease) to elective definitive repair was 3:1. Additionally, 30% of inguinal hernias were incarcerated or strangulated at time of repair.

Conclusion: Emergency and urgent operations utilize the majority of operative resources for pediatric surgery groups in low- and middle-income countries, leading to a backlog of complex congenital procedures. We propose the ratio of emergency diversion to elective repair of colorectal congenital malformations and the ratio of emergency to elective repair of inguinal hernias as effective health metrics to track this backlog. Surgical capacity for pediatric conditions should be increased in Uganda to prevent a backlog of elective cases.