The True Costs of Cesarean Sections for Patients in Rural Rwanda: Accounting for Post-Discharge Expenses in Estimated Health Expenditures

Introduction: While it is recognized that there are costs associated with postoperative patient follow-up, risk assessments of catastrophic health expenditures (CHEs) due to surgery in sub-Saharan Africa rarely include expenses after discharge. We describe patient-level costs for cesarean section (c-section) and follow-up care up to postoperative day (POD) 30 and evaluate the contribution of follow-up to CHEs in rural Rwanda.

Methods: We interviewed women who delivered via c-section at Kirehe District Hospital between September 2019 and February 2020. Expenditure details were captured on an adapted surgical indicator financial survey tool and extracted from the hospital billing system. CHE was defined as health expenditure of ≥ 10% of annual household expenditure. We report the cost of c-section up to 30 days after discharge, the rate of CHE among c-section patients stratified by in-hospital costs and post-discharge follow-up costs, and the main contributors to c-section follow-up costs.

Results: Of the 479 participants in this study, 90% were classified as impoverished before surgery and an additional 6.4% were impoverished by the c-section. The median out-of-pocket costs up to POD30 was US$122.16 (IQR: $102.94, $148.11); 63% of these expenditures were attributed to post-discharge expenses or lost opportunity costs (US$77.50; IQR: $67.70, $95.60). To afford c-section care, 64.4% borrowed money and 18.4% sold possessions. The CHE rate was 27% when only considering direct and indirect costs up to the time of discharge and 77% when including the reported expenses up to POD30. Transportation and lost household wages were the largest contributors to post-discharge costs.

Conclusion: Costs associated with surgical follow-up are often neglected in financial risk calculations but contribute significantly to the risk of CHE in rural Rwanda. Insurance coverage for direct medical costs is insufficient to protect against CHE. Innovative follow-up solutions to reduce costs of patient transport and compensate for household lost wages need to be considered.

Barriers to inguinal hernia repair in Ghana: prospective, multi-centre cohort study

Inguinal hernia (IH) is the most common general surgical pathology in Ghana with hernia repair rate very low. The objective was to assess patient-perceived barriers to IH repair in Ghana and identify predictors of experiencing delays until surgery. A multicenter prospective study was conducted during the Ghana Hernia Society outreach. Data regarding diagnosis using Kingsnorth’s classification of IH, age of patients, duration of hernia, reason for delay in repair, insurance status, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class, travel distance, region, hospital, and waiting times were obtained from patients and folders. Multivariable linear regression models were constructed to analyze delay until surgery and Kingsnorth’s classification while controlling for the covariates of age, insurance status, ASA class among others. The most common reasons were queues for surgery (23%), poverty (10%), and seeking traditional medicine (9%). On multivariate linear regression, increasing age and ASA class III were predictors of longer delays. Patients experienced significant increase of 1.1 years delay to surgery for every 10 year increase in of age. ASA Class III patients were significantly more likely to be delayed by 11.5 years compared to ASA Class I patients. Efforts should be made to address and overcome the barriers to IH repair identified.

The global burden of sepsis: barriers and potential solutions.

Sepsis is a major contributor to the global burden of disease. The majority of sepsis cases and deaths are estimated to occur in low and middle-income countries. Barriers to reducing the global burden of sepsis include difficulty quantifying attributable morbidity and mortality, low awareness, poverty and health inequity, and under-resourced and low-resilience public health and acute health care delivery systems. Important differences in the populations at risk, infecting pathogens, and clinical capacity to manage sepsis in high and low-resource settings necessitate context-specific approaches to this significant problem. We review these challenges and propose strategies to overcome them. These strategies include strengthening health systems, accurately identifying and quantifying sepsis cases, conducting inclusive research, establishing data-driven and context-specific management guidelines, promoting creative clinical interventions, and advocacy.