Oxygen availability in sub-Saharan African countries: a call for data to inform service delivery

Oxygen is central to the management of patients admitted to hospital with severe COVID-19. Furthermore, the availability of oxygen therapy is just as important for the management of other patients who are acutely ill. However, despite recognition from most health-care providers that oxygen is a fundamental component of a health-care system, it has not been a focus of health-care delivery in sub-Saharan African countries, as shown by the lack of data collected on oxygen availability.

Morbidity and Mortality of Typhoid Intestinal Perforation Among Children in Sub-Saharan Africa 1995-2019: A Scoping Review

Background: Typhoid fever incidence and complications, including intestinal perforation, have declined significantly in high-income countries, with mortality rates <1%. However, an estimated 10.9 million cases still occur annually, most in low- and middle-income countries. With the availability of a new typhoid conjugate vaccine licensed for children and recommended by the World Health Organization, understanding severe complications, including associated mortality rates, is essential to inform country-level decisions on introduction of this vaccine. This scoping review summarizes over 20 years of the literature on typhoid intestinal perforation in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: We searched EMBASE, PubMed, Medline, and Cochrane databases for studies reporting mortality rates due to typhoid intestinal perforation in children, under 18 years old, in sub-Saharan Africa published from January 1995 through June 2019.

Results: Twenty-four papers from six countries were included. Reported mortality rates ranged from 4.6-75%, with 16 of the 24 studies between 11 and 30%. Thirteen papers included postoperative morbidity rates, ranging from 16-100%. The most documented complications included surgical site infections, intra-abdominal abscesses, and enterocutaneous fistulas. High mortality rates can be attributed to late presentation to tertiary centers, sepsis and electrolyte abnormalities requiring preoperative resuscitation, prolonged perforation-to-surgery interval, and lack of access to critical care or an intensive care unit postoperatively.

Conclusions: Current estimates of mortality related to typhoid intestinal perforation among children in sub-Saharan Africa remain unacceptably high. Prevention of typhoid fever is essential to reduce mortality, with the ultimate goal of a comprehensive approach that utilizes vaccination, improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene, and greater access to surgical care.

COVID-19 Preparedness Within the Surgical, Obstetric and Anesthetic Ecosystem in Sub Saharan Africa

Community transmission of COVID-19 is already being reported in Africa. Most countries on the continent will have +10,000 confirmed cases within the month. The population, while generally younger than in Europe and North America, has much higher rates of poverty, malnutrition, HIV, and TB, which could shift the demographics of lethality. For surgeons, obstetricians, and anesthesiologists, the major challenge will be maintaining provision of emergency and essential surgery and obstetric care while preserving precious resources, minimizing exposure of health care workers, and preventing onward transmission (Table ​(Table11). The human skill sets, resources, and supply chains supporting surgical services are also those needed for responding to the crisis.

A woman’s worth: an access framework for integrating emergency medicine with maternal health to reduce the burden of maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa

Within each of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified key emergency care (EC) interventions that, if implemented effectively, could ensure that the SDG targets are met. The proposed EC intervention for reaching the maternal mortality benchmark calls for “timely access to emergency obstetric care.” This intervention, the WHO estimates, can avert up to 98% of maternal deaths across the African region.

Access, however, is a complicated notion and is part of a larger framework of care delivery that constitutes the approachability of the proposed service, its acceptability by the target user, the perceived availability and accommodating nature of the service, its affordability, and its overall appropriateness.

Without contextualizing each of these aspects of access to healthcare services within communities, utilization and sustainability of any EC intervention-be it ambulances or simple toll-free numbers to dial and activate EMS-will be futile.

Main text
In this article, we propose an access framework that integrates the Three Delays Model in maternal health, with emergency care interventions. Within each of the three critical time points, we provide reasons why intended interventions should be contextualized to the needs of the community. We also propose measurable benchmarks in each of the phases, to evaluate the successes and failures of the proposed EC interventions within the framework. At the center of the framework is the pregnant woman, whose life hangs in a delicate balance in the hands of personal and health system factors that may or may not be within her control.

The targeted SDGs for reducing maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa are unlikely to be met without a tailored integration of maternal health service delivery with emergency medicine. Our proposed framework integrates the fields of maternal health with emergency medicine by juxtaposing the three critical phases of emergency obstetric care with various aspects of healthcare access. The framework should be adopted in its entirety, with measureable benchmarks set to track the successes and failures of the various EC intervention programs being developed across the African continent.

Management guidelines of penile cancer- a contemporary review of sub-Saharan Africa

Penile cancer is a rare malignancy with prevalence higher in areas of high Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) such as Africa, Asia and South America. In middle- and low-income countries where circumcision is not routinely practiced, the rate of penile cancer could be ten times higher.

Main body of the abstract
A literature review was conducted from 1992 to 2019 using PubMed, Google Scholar, African Journal Online and Google with inclusion of 27 publications with emphasis on the Sub-Saharan literature. Findings revealed that most men with penile cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) present with locally advanced to advanced disease with devastating consequences. The option of penile sparing procedure is reduced with most treatment option directed to mutilating surgeries. The lack of appropriate chemotherapy and radiotherapy worsens the prognosis in the region.

Short conclusion
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination may not be cost-effective for most regions in SSA. Therefore, early childhood circumcision might be the best advocated alternative for prevention.

The Burden of Urological Disease in Zomba, Malawi: A Needs Assessment in a sub-Saharan Tertiary Care Center

Introduction: A large part of the developing world continues to lack access to surgical care. Urology remains one of the least represented surgical subspecialties in global health. To begin understanding the burden of urological illness in sub-Saharan Africa, we sought to characterize all patients presenting to a tertiary care hospital in Malawi with a urological diagnosis or related complaint in the past year.

Methods: Retrospective review of the surgical clinic and surgical theater record books at Zomba Central Hospital (ZCH) was performed over a one-year time span. Patients presenting with urological diagnoses or undergoing a urological procedure under local or general anesthetic in the operating theater were identified and entered into a database.

Results: We reviewed 440 clinical patients. The most common clinical presentations were for urinary retention (34.7%) and lower urinary tract symptoms (15.5%). A total of 182 surgical cases were reviewed. The most common diagnoses for surgical patients were urethral stricture disease (22%), bladder masses (17%), and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms (14.8%). Urethral stricture-related procedures, including direct visual internal urethrotomy and urethral dilatation, were the most common (14.2% and 7.7%, respectively). BPH-related procedures, including simple prostatectomy and transurethral resection of the prostate were the second most common (6.7% and 8.2%, respectively).

Conclusions: Urethral stricture disease, BPH, and urinary retention represent the clinical diagnoses with the highest burden of visits. Despite these numbers, few definitive procedures are performed annually. Further focus on urological training in sub-Saharan Africa should focus on these conditions and their surgical management.

Exploring the role of obesity and overweight in predicting postoperative outcome of abdominal surgery in a sub-Saharan African setting: a prospective cohort study

Current literature on the role of excess weight in predicting surgical outcome is controversial. In sub-Saharan Africa, there is extreme paucity of data regarding this issue in spite of the increasing rates of obesity and overweight in the region. This prospective cohort study, carried out over a period of 4 months at Limbe Regional Hospital in the Southwest region of Cameroon, assessed 30-day postoperative outcome of abdominal surgery among consecutive adults with body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m2. Adverse postoperative events were reported as per Clavien–Dindo classification.

A total of 103 patients were enrolled. Of these, 68.9% were female. The mean age was 38.2 ± 13.7 years. Sixty-four (62.1%) of the patients were overweight and the mean BMI was 29.2 ±4.3 kg/m2. The physical status scores of the patients were either I or II. Appendectomy, myomectomy and hernia repair were the most performed procedures. The overall complication rate was 13/103 (12.6%), with 61.5% being Clavien–Dindo grades II or higher. From the lowest to the highest BMI category, there was a significant increase in the proportion of patients with complications; 25–29.9 kg/m2: 6.25%, 30–34.9 kg/m2: 18.75%, 35–39.9 kg/m2: 25.0%, and ≥ 40 kg/m2: 66.70%; p = 0.0086.

Severe Traumatic Brain Injury at a Tertiary Referral Center in Tanzania: Epidemiology and Adherence to Brain Trauma Foundation Guidelines

BACKGROUND: Severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability worldwide. Prospective TBI data from sub-Saharan Africa are sparse. This study examines epidemiology and explores management of patients with severe TBI and adherence to Brain Trauma Foundation Guidelines at a tertiary care referral hospital in Tanzania.
METHODS: Patients with severe TBI hospitalized at Bugando Medical Centre were recorded in a prospective registry including epidemiologic, clinical, treatment, and outcome data.
RESULTS: Between September 2013 and October 2015, 371 patients with TBI were admitted; 33% (115/371) had severe TBI. Mean age was 32.0 years 20.1, and most patients were male (80.0%). Vehicular injuries were the most common cause of injury (65.2%). Approximately half of the patients (47.8%) were hospitalized on the day of injury. Computed tomography of the brain was performed in 49.6% of patients, and 58.3% were admitted to the intensive care unit. Continuous arterial blood pressure monitoring and intracranial pressure monitoring were not performed in any patient. Of patients with severe TBI, 38.3% received hyperosmolar therapy, and 35.7% underwent craniotomy. The 2-week mortality was 34.8%.
CONCLUSIONS: Mortality of patients with severe TBI at Bugando Medical Centre, Tanzania, is approximately twice that in high-income countries. Intensive care unit care, computed tomography imaging, and continuous arterial blood pressure and intracranial pressure monitoring are underused or unavailable in the tertiary referral hospital setting. Improving outcomes after severe TBI will require concerted investment in prehospital care and improvement in availability of intensive care unit resources, computed tomography, and expertise in multidisciplinary care.