Effect of Door-to-Door Screening and Awareness Generation Activities in the Catchment Areas of Vision Centers on Service Use: Protocol for a Randomized Experimental Study

A vision center (VC) is a significant eye care service model to strengthen primary eye care services. VCs have been set up at the block level, covering a population of 150,000-250,000 in rural areas in North India. Inadequate use by rural communities is a major challenge to sustainability of these VCs. This not only reduces the community’s vision improvement potential but also impacts self-sustainability and limits expansion of services in rural areas. The current literature reports a lack of awareness regarding eye diseases and the need for care, social stigmas, low priority being given to eye problems, prevailing gender discrimination, cost, and dependence on caregivers as factors preventing the use of primary eye care.

Our organization is planning an awareness-cum-engagement intervention—door-to-door basic eye checkup and visual acuity screening in VCs coverage areas—to connect with the community and improve the rational use of VCs.

In this randomized, parallel-group experimental study, we will select 2 VCs each for the intervention arm and the control arm from among poor, low-performing VCs (ie, walk-in of ≤10 patients/day) in our 2 operational regions (Vrindavan, Mathura District, and Mohammadi, Kheri District) of Uttar Pradesh. Intervention will include door-to-door screening and awareness generation in 8-12 villages surrounding the VCs, and control VCs will follow existing practices of awareness generation through community activities and health talks. Data will be collected from each VC for 4 months of intervention. Primary outcomes will be an increase in the number of walk-in patients, spectacle advise and uptake, referral and uptake for cataract and specialty surgery, and operational expenses. Secondary outcomes will be uptake of refraction correction and referrals for cataract and other eye conditions. Differences in the number of walk-in patients, referrals, uptake of services, and cost involved will be analyzed.

Background work involved planning of interventions and selection of VCs has been completed. Participant recruitment has begun and is currently in progress.

Through this study, we will analyze whether our door-to-door intervention is effective in increasing the number of visits to a VC and, thus, overall sustainability. We will also study the cost-effectiveness of this intervention to recommend its scalability.

The ethical development and sustainability of trauma registries in low- and middle-income countries

Trauma registries are an anonymized, systematic, prospective data banks for trauma patients that may include details on demographics, injury details, hospital processes, and outcomes. They are an important component of trauma care systems and a tool for improving outcomes in trauma. Given the high rates of morbidity and mortality from trauma in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the implementation of trauma registries in LMICs is a growing area of interest; however, while many pilot trauma registries have been demonstrated to be feasible in LMICs, very few are sustainable in the long term. In this thesis, a trauma registry established in 2017 in Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH), Uganda is examined. Since the establishment of this registry, data for over 3000 trauma patients has been collected, however, the registry faces questions of how to achieve long-term viability without the financial support of external partnerships. The aim of this thesis is therefore to evaluate several aspects of sustainability of trauma registries for low-income settings. First, the ethical importance of sustainability in global surgery was established through a scoping review on the literature on the ethics of global surgery. A grounded theory content analysis was completed to identify themes and gaps in the existing literature. Four major ethical domains in global surgery were identified: clinical care and delivery; education and exchange of trainees; research, monitoring, and evaluation; and engagement in collaborations and partnerships. While the literature on ethics in global surgery was sparse, mostly in the form of commentaries or editorials, and largely published by authors in high-income countries (HICs), the importance of including LMIC authors in the conversation on ethics in global surgery and the value of building sustainable collaborations and partnerships were key findings of this scoping review. Next, a literature review of considerations for the implementation of ethical and sustainable trauma registries in LMICs was completed. A number of practical challenges were identified for the development of trauma registries in LMICs and included funding sources, personnel requirements, technology access, and quality assurance mechanisms. Ethical considerations for trauma registry development were also identified, and included concerns of patient confidentiality, informed consent, and sustaining the registry. Strategies for these ethical and practical considerations for trauma registry development in LMICs are discussed, and opportunities for future research opportunities are explored. The widespread nature and accessibility of mobile phones in most low- and middle-income countries, including Uganda, makes the use of mobile phone technology in health a potential avenue for inexpensive health care innovation. A mobile application trauma registry was designed and implemented to minimize workload and contribute to sustainability of the registry. Healthcare workers involved in trauma then completed a validated questionnaire known as the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) for evaluating the usability of the mobile application trauma registry and predicting future use behaviours. Healthcare workers scored the mobile application highly, indicating a high potential for ongoing use. The UTAUT was also identified as a method for other trauma registries to predict future use and opportunities for sustainability. Finally, a potential means of financial self-sustainability for trauma registries in low-income countries was evaluated. In many public hospitals in low-income settings, government funding for patients seen is dependent on documentation of those patients. This study evaluated the improvements to patient documentation following the implementation of a trauma registry and concurrent patient registration system at MRRH. A significant improvement in patient documentation was found, with a 20-fold increase in trauma patients documented following the implementation of patient registration and a trauma registry. This more accurate documentation could then be used to apply for increased government funding for trauma patients and for sustaining the trauma registry in the long-term. The concurrent implementation of a patient registration system with a trauma registry therefore could be an avenue for financial viability for other trauma registries in low-income contexts. Taken together, these studies represent a compelling picture for the ethical imperative to develop sustainable trauma registries in LMICs and some of the strategies that may be undertaken to achieve this. By combining these techniques, we hope to achieve a sustainable, long-term trauma registry at MRRH that can serve as a model for other trauma registries in LMICs going forward.

From short-term surgical missions towards sustainable partnerships. A survey among members of visiting teams

An estimated five billion people lack access to safe surgical care across the globe. Traditionally, providing short-term surgical missions has been the main strategy for health professionals from high-income countries to support surgical care in low- and middle-income countries. However, traditional missions have come under criticism because evidence of their sustainable value is lacking, along with any robust documentation and application of recommendations by participants of ongoing surgical missions. Using survey data collection and analysis, this study aims to provide a framework on how to improve the use of visiting surgical teams to strengthen surgical services in resource-poor settings.

An online survey was conducted among members of foreign teams to collect data on five specific areas: basic characteristics of the mission, main activities. follow-up and reporting, the local registration process and collaboration with local actors. The survey included 58 respondents from 13 countries, and representing 20 organizations.

During surgical missions, training activities were considered most impactful, and reporting on outcome/s, along with long-term follow-up were strongly recommended. According to almost all participants (94 percent), the focus should be on establishing collaborative practices with local actors, and encourage strategic, long-term changes under their leadership.

Building sustainable partnerships within local healthcare systems is the way forward for foreign surgical parties that aim to improve surgical care in low- and- middle income countries. When foreign help is offered, local stakeholders should be in the lead.

The challenges and opportunities of global neurosurgery in East Africa: the Neurosurgery Education and Development model

The objective of this study was to describe the experience of a volunteering neurosurgeon during an 18-week stay at the Neurosurgery Education and Development (NED) Institute and to report the general situation regarding the development of neurosurgery in Zanzibar, identifying the challenges and opportunities and explaining the NED Foundation’s model for safe practice and sustainability.

The NED Foundation deployed the volunteer neurosurgeon coordinator (NC) for an 18-week stay at the NED Institute at the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital, Stonetown, Zanzibar. The main roles of the NC were as follows: management of patients, reinforcement of weekly academic activities, coordination of international surgical camps, and identification of opportunities for improvement. The improvement opportunities were categorized as clinical, administrative, and sociocultural and were based on observations made by the NC as well as on interviews with local doctors, administrators, and government officials.

During the 18-week period, the NC visited 460 patients and performed 85 surgical procedures. Four surgical camps were coordinated on-site. Academic activities were conducted weekly. The most significant challenges encountered were an intense workload, deficient infrastructure, lack of self-confidence among local physicians, deficiencies in technical support and repairs of broken equipment, and lack of guidelines. Through a series of interviews, the sociocultural factors influencing the NED Foundation’s intervention were determined. Factors identified for success were the activity of neurosurgical societies in East Africa; structured pan-African neurosurgical training; the support of the Foundation for International Education in Neurological Surgery (FIENS) and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA); motivated personnel; and the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar’s willingness to collaborate with the NED Foundation.

International collaboration programs should balance local challenges and opportunities in order to effectively promote the development of neurosurgery in East Africa. Support and endorsement should be sought to harness shared resources and experience. Determining the caregiving and educational objectives within the logistic, administrative, social, and cultural framework of the target hospital is paramount to success.