Performance in mortality prediction of SAPS 3 And MPM-III scores among adult patients admitted to the ICU of a private tertiary referral hospital in Tanzania: a retrospective cohort study

Illness predictive scoring systems are significant and meaningful adjuncts of patient management in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). They assist in predicting patient outcomes, improve clinical decision making and provide insight into the effectiveness of care and management of patients while optimizing the use of hospital resources. We evaluated mortality predictive performance of Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS 3) and Mortality Probability Models (MPM0-III) and compared their performance in predicting outcome as well as identifying disease pattern and factors associated with increased mortality.

This was a retrospective cohort study of adult patients admitted to the ICU of the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar- es- Salaam, Tanzania between August 2018 and April 2020. Demographics, clinical characteristics, outcomes, source of admission, primary admission category, length of stay and the support provided with the worst physiological data within the first hour of ICU admission were extracted. SAPS 3 and MPM0-III scores were calculated using an online web-based calculator. The performance of each model was assessed by discrimination and calibration. Discrimination between survivors and non–survivors was assessed by the area under the receiver operator characteristic curve (ROC) and calibration was estimated using the Hosmer-Lemeshow goodness-of-fit test.

A total of 331 patients were enrolled in the study with a median age of 58 years (IQR 43-71), most of whom were male (n = 208, 62.8%), of African origin (n = 178, 53.8%) and admitted from the emergency department (n = 306, 92.4%). In- hospital mortality of critically ill patients was 16.1%. Discrimination was very good for all models, the area under the receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curve for SAPS 3 and MPM0-III was 0.89 (95% CI [0.844–0.935]) and 0.90 (95% CI [0.864–0.944]) respectively. Calibration as calculated by Hosmer-Lemeshow goodness-of-fit test showed good calibration for SAPS 3 and MPM0-III with Chi- square values of 4.61 and 5.08 respectively and P–Value > 0.05.

Both SAPS 3 and MPM0-III performed well in predicting mortality and outcome in our cohort of patients admitted to the intensive care unit of a private tertiary hospital. The in-hospital mortality of critically ill patients was lower compared to studies done in other intensive care units in tertiary referral hospitals within Tanzania.

Resource Use, Availability and Cost in the Provision of Critical Care in Tanzania: A Systematic Review


Critical care is essential in saving lives of critically ill patients, however, provision of critical care across lower resource settings can be costly, fragmented and heterogenous. Despite the urgent need to scale-up the provision of critical care, little is known about its availability and cost. Here, we aim to systematically review and identify reported resource use, availability and costs for the provision of critical care and the nature of critical care provision in Tanzania.


The systematic review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines; PROSPERO registration number: CRD42020221923. We searched Medline, Embase and global health databases. We included studies that reported on provision of critical care, cost and availability of resources used in the provision of critical care published after 2010. Costs were adjusted and reported in 2019 USD and TZS using the world bank GDP deflators.


A total 31 studies were found to fulfil the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Critical care identified in Tanzania was categorised into: ICU delivered critical care and non-ICU critical care. The availability of ICU delivered critical care was limited to urban settings whereas non-ICU critical care was found in rural and urban settings. 15 studies reported on the costs of services related to critical care yet no study reported an average or unit cost of critical care. Costs of medication, equipment (e.g. oxygen, PPE), services, and human resources were identified as inputs to specific critical care services in Tanzania.


There is limited evidence on the resource use, availability and costs of critical care in Tanzania. There is a strong need for further empirical research on critical care resources availability, utilization and costs across specialties and hospitals of different level in LMICs like Tanzania to inform planning, priority setting and budgeting for critical care services.

Burden of Road Traffic Injuries in Tanzania: One-Year Prospective Study of Consecutive Patients in 13 Multilevel Health Facilities

Background. Road traffic injuries (RTIs) pose a severe public health crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and specifically in Tanzania, where the mortality due to RTIs is nearly double the global rate. There is a paucity of RTI data in Tanzania to inform evidence-based interventions to reduce the incidence and improve care outcomes. A trauma registry was implemented at 13 health facilities of diverse administrative levels in Tanzania. In this study, we characterize the burden of RTIs seen at these health facilities. Methods. This was a one-year prospective descriptive study utilizing trauma registry data from 13 multilevel health facilities in Tanzania from 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2020. We provide descriptive statistics on patient demographics; location; share of injury; nature, type, and circumstances of RTI; injury severity; disposition; and outcomes. Results. Among 18,553 trauma patients seen in 13 health facilities, 7,416 (40%) had RTIs. The overall median age was 28 years (IQR 22–38 years), and 79.3% were male. Most road traffic crashes (RTC) occurred in urban settings (68.7%), involving motorcycles (68.3%). Motorcyclists (32.9%) were the most affected road users; only 37% of motorcyclists wore helmets at the time of the crash. The majority (88.2%) of patients arrived directly from the site, and 49.0% used motorized (two- or three-) wheelers to travel to the health facility. Patients were more likely to be admitted to the ward, taken to operating theatre, died at emergency unit (EU), or referred versus being discharged if they had intracranial injuries (27.8% vs. 3.7%; ), fracture of the lower leg (18.9% vs. 6.4%; ), or femur fracture (12.9% vs. 0.4%; ). Overall, 36.1% of patients were admitted, 10.6% transferred to other facilities, and mortality was 2%. Conclusions. RTCs are the main cause of trauma in this setting, affecting mostly working-age males. These RTCs result in severe injuries requiring hospital admission or referral for almost half of the victims. Motorcyclists are the most affected group, in alignment with prior studies. These findings demonstrate the burden of RTCs as a public health concern in Tanzania and the need for targeted interventions with a focus on motorcyclists.

Epidemiology of surgery in a protracted humanitarian setting: a 20-year retrospective study of Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Kigoma, Western Tanzania

There are 80 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, 26.3 million of whom are refugees. Many refugees live in camps and have complex health needs, including a high burden of non-communicable disease. It is estimated that 3 million procedures are needed for refugees worldwide, yet very few studies exist on surgery in refugee camps, particularly protracted refugee settings. This study utilizes a 20-year dataset, the longest dataset of surgery in a refugee setting to be published to date, to assess surgical output in a setting of protracted displacement.

A retrospective review of surgeries performed in Nyarugusu Camp was conducted using paper logbooks containing entries between November 2000 and September 2020 inclusive. Abstracted data were digitized into standard electronic form and included date, patient nationality, sex, age, indication, procedure performed, and anesthesia used. A second reviewer checked 10% of entries for accuracy. Entries illegible to both reviewers were excluded. Demographics, indication for surgery, procedures performed, and type of anesthesia were standardized for descriptive analysis, which was performed in STATA.

There were 10,799 operations performed over the 20-year period. Tanzanians underwent a quarter of the operations while refugees underwent the remaining 75%. Ninety percent of patients were female and 88% were 18 years of age or older. Caesarean sections were the most common performed procedure followed by herniorrhaphies, tubal ligations, exploratory laparotomies, hysterectomies, appendectomies, and repairs. The most common indications for laparotomy procedures were ectopic pregnancy, uterine rupture, and acute abdomen. Spinal anesthesia was the most common anesthesia type used. Although there was a consistent increase in procedural volume over the study period, this is largely explained by an increase in overall camp population and an increase in caesarean sections rather than increases in other, specific surgical procedures.

There is significant surgical volume in Nyarugusu Camp, performed by staff physicians and visiting surgeons. Both refugees and the host population utilize these surgical services. This work provides context to the surgical training these settings require, but further study is needed to assess the burden of surgical disease and the extent to which it is met in this setting and others.

Effect of a multifaceted intervention to improve clinical quality of care through stepwise certification (SafeCare) in health-care facilities in Tanzania: a cluster-randomised controlled trial

Quality of care is consistently shown to be inadequate in health-care settings in many low-income and middle-income countries, including in private facilities, which are rapidly growing in number but often do not have effective quality stewardship mechanisms. The SafeCare programme aims to address this gap in quality of care, using a standards-based approach adapted to low-resource settings, involving assessments, mentoring, training, and access to loans, to improve clinical quality and facility business performance. We assessed the effect of the SafeCare programme on quality of patient care in faith-based and private for-profit facilities in Tanzania.

In this cluster-randomised controlled trial, health facilities were eligible if they were dispensaries, health centres, or hospitals in the faith-based or private for-profit sectors in Tanzania. We randomly assigned facilities (1:1) using computer-generated stratified randomisation to receive the full SafeCare package (intervention) or an assessment only (control). Implementing staff and participants were masked to outcome measurement and the primary outcomes were measured by fieldworkers who had no knowledge of the study group allocation. The primary outcomes were health worker compliance with infection prevention and control (IPC) practices as measured by observation of provider–patient interactions, and correct case management of undercover standardised patients at endline (after a minimum of 18 months). Analyses were by modified intention to treat. The trial is registered with ISRCTN, ISRCTN93644888.

Between March 7 and Nov 30, 2016, we enrolled and randomly assigned 237 health facilities to the intervention (n=118) or control (n=119). Nine facilities (seven intervention facilities and two control facilities) closed during the trial and were not included in the analysis. We observed 29 608 IPC indications in 5425 provider–patient interactions between Feb 7 and April 5, 2018. Health facilities received visits from 909 standardised patients between May 3 and June 12, 2018. Intervention facilities had a 4·4 percentage point (95% CI 0·9–7·7; p=0.015) higher mean SafeCare standards assessment score at endline than control facilities. However, there was no evidence of a difference in clinical quality between intervention and control groups at endline. Compliance with IPC practices was observed in 8181 (56·9%) of 14 366 indications in intervention facilities and 8336 (54·7%) of 15 242 indications in control facilities (absolute difference 2·2 percentage points, 95% CI −0·2 to −4·7; p=0·071). Correct management occurred in 120 (27·0%) of 444 standardised patients in the intervention group and in 136 (29·2%) of 465 in the control group (absolute difference −2·8 percentage points, 95% CI −8·6 to −3·1; p=0·36).

SafeCare did not improve clinical quality as assessed by compliance with IPC practices and correct case management. The absence of effect on clinical quality could reflect a combination of insufficient intervention intensity, insufficient links between structural quality and care processes, scarcity of resources for quality improvement, and inadequate financial and regulatory incentives for improvement.

Economic Consequences of Caesarean Section Delivery: Evidence From a Household Survey in Tanzania

Background: Caesarean section (C-section) delivery is an important indicator of access to life-saving essential obstetric care. Yet, there is limited understanding of the costs of utilising C-section delivery care in sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, we estimated the direct and indirect patient cost of accessing C-section in Tanzania

Methods: Cross-sectional survey data of 2012 was used, which covered 3000 households from 11 districts in three regions. We interviewed women who had given births in the last 12 months before the survey to capture their experience of care. We used a regression model to estimate the effect of C-section on costs, while inequality on C-section coverage and delivery costs were assessed with a concentration index.

Results: C-section increased the likelihood of paying for health care by 16% compared to normal delivery. The additional cost of C-section compared to normal delivery was 20 USD, but reduced to about 11 USD when restricted to public facilities. Women with C-section delivery spent an extra 2 days at the health facility compared to normal delivery, but this was reduced slightly to 1.9 days in public facilities. The distribution of C-section coverage was significantly in favour of wealthier than poorest women (CI=0.2052, p<0.01), and this pro-rich pattern was consistent in rural districts but with unclear pattern in urban districts.

Conclusions: C-section is a life-saving intervention but is associated with significant economic burden especially among the poor families. More health resources are needed for provision of free maternal care, reduce inequality in access and improve birth outcomes in Tanzania.

Invasive breast Cancer treatment in Tanzania: landscape assessment to prepare for implementation of standardized treatment guidelines

Incidence of breast cancer continues to rise in low- and middle-income countries, with data from the East African country of Tanzania predicting an 82% increase in breast cancer from 2017 to 2030. We aimed to characterize treatment pathways, receipt of therapies, and identify high-value interventions to increase concordance with international guidelines and avert unnecessary breast cancer deaths.

Primary data were extracted from medical charts of patients presenting to Bugando Medical Center, Tanzania, with breast concerns and suspected to have breast cancer. Clinicopathologic features were summarized with descriptive statistics. A Poisson model was utilized to estimate prevalence ratios for variables predicted to affect receipt of life-saving adjuvant therapies and completion of therapies. International and Tanzanian guidelines were compared to current care patterns in the domains of lymph node evaluation, metastases evaluation, histopathological diagnosis, and receptor testing to yield concordance scores and suggest future areas of focus.

We identified 164 patients treated for suspected breast cancer from April 2015–January 2019. Women were predominantly post-menopausal (43%) and without documented insurance (70%). Those with a confirmed histopathology diagnosis (69%) were 3 times more likely to receive adjuvant therapy (PrR [95% CI]: 3.0 [1.7–5.4]) and those documented to have insurance were 1.8 times more likely to complete adjuvant therapy (1.8 [1.0–3.2]). Out of 164 patients, 4% (n = 7) received concordant care based on the four evaluated management domains. The first most common reason for non-concordance was lack of hormone receptor testing as 91% (n = 144) of cases did not undergo this testing. The next reason was lack of lymph node evaluation (44% without axillary staging) followed by absence of abdominopelvic imaging in those with symptoms (35%) and lack of histopathological confirmation (31%).

Patient-specific clinical data from Tanzania show limitations of current breast cancer management including axillary staging, receipt of formal diagnosis, lack of predictive biomarker testing, and low rates of adjuvant therapy completion. These findings highlight the need to adapt and adopt interventions to increase concordance with guidelines including improving capacity for pathology, developing complete staging pathways, and ensuring completion of prescribed adjuvant therapies.

Does health insurance contribute to improved utilization of health care services for the elderly in rural Tanzania? A cross-sectional study

Background: Health care systems in developing countries such as Tanzania depend heavily on out-of-pocket payments. This mechanism contributes to inefficiency, inequity and cost, and is a barrier to patients seeking access to care. There are efforts to expand health insurance coverage to vulnerable groups, including older adults, in Sub-Saharan African countries.

Objective: To analyse the association between health insurance and health service use in rural residents aged 60 and above in Tanzania.

Methods: Data were obtained from a household survey conducted in the Nzega and Igunga districts. A standardised survey instrument from the World Health Organization Study on global AGEing and adult health was used. This comprised of questions regarding demographic and socio-economic characteristics, health and insurance status, health seeking behaviours, sickness history (three months and one year prior to the survey), and the receipt of health care. A multistage sampling method was used to select wards, villages and respondents in each district. Local ward and hamlet officers guided the researchers in identifying households with older people. Crude and adjusted logistic regression methods were used to explore associations between health insurance and outpatient and inpatient health care use.

Results: The study sample comprised 1,899 people aged 60 and above of whom 44% reported having health insurance. A positive statistically significant association between health insurance and the utilisation of outpatient and inpatient care was observed in all models. The odds of using outpatient (adjusted OR = 2.20; 95% CI: 1.54, 3.14) and inpatient services (adjusted OR = 3.20; 95% CI: 2.46, 4.15) were higher among the insured.

Conclusion: Health insurance is a predictor of outpatient and inpatient health services in people aged 60 and above in rural Tanzania. Further research is needed to understand the perceptions of both the insured and uninsured regarding the quality of care received.

The Impact of Inadequate Soft-tissue Coverage following Severe Open Tibia Fractures in Tanzania

Managing lower extremity fractures complicated by large soft-tissue defects is challenging for surgeons in low- and middle-income countries, and long-term quality of life (QOL) for these patients is unclear.

We examined QOL, surgical complications, and longitudinal outcomes in 10 patients with Gustilo-Anderson Classification Type IIIB open tibia fractures seen at an orthopedic institute in Tanzania, from December 2015 to March 2017. Patients completed follow-up at 2-, 6-, 12-, 26-, and 52-week time points, and returned for qualitative interviews at 2.5 years. The primary outcome was QOL, as measured using EuroQoL-5D scores and qualitative semi-structured interview responses. The secondary outcome was rate of complication, as defined by reoperation for deep infection or nonunion.

Ten patients enrolled in the study and 7 completed 1-year follow-up. All fractures were caused by road traffic accidents and treated by external fixation. No patients received initial soft-tissue (flap) coverage of the wound. All patients developed an infected nonunion. No patients returned to work at 6 weeks, 3 months, or 6 months. EQ-5D index scores at 1 year were poor (0.71 ± 0.09). Interview themes included ongoing medical complications, loss of employment, reduced income, and difficulty with activities of daily living.

Patients in low- and middle-income countries with IIIB open tibia fractures not treated with appropriate soft-tissue coverage experience poor QOL, high complication rates, and severe socioeconomic effects as a result of their injuries. These findings illustrate the need for resources and training to build capacity for extremity soft-tissue reconstruction in LMICs.

Cost-Effectiveness of Operating on Traumatic Spinal Injuries in Low-Middle Income Countries: A Preliminary Report From a Major East African Referral Center

Study Design:
Retrospective cost-effectiveness analysis.

While the incidence of traumatic spine injury (TSI) is high in low-middle income countries (LMICs), surgery is rarely possible due to cost-prohibitive implants. The objective of this study was to conduct a preliminary cost-effectiveness analysis of operative treatment of TSI patients in a LMIC setting.

At a tertiary hospital in Tanzania from September 2016 to May 2019, a retrospective analysis was conducted to estimate the cost-effectiveness of operative versus nonoperative treatment of TSI. Operative treatment included decompression/stabilization. Nonoperative treatment meant 3 months of bed rest. Direct costs included imaging, operating fees, surgical implants, and length of stay. Four patient scenarios were chosen to represent the heterogeneity of spine trauma: Quadriplegic, paraplegic, neurologic improvement, and neurologically intact. Disability-adjusted-life-years (DALYs) and incremental-cost-effectiveness ratios were calculated to determine the cost per unit benefit of operative versus nonoperative treatment. Cost/DALY averted was the primary outcome (i.e., the amount of money required to avoid losing 1 year of healthy life).

A total of 270 TSI patients were included (125 operative; 145 nonoperative). Operative treatment averaged $731/patient. Nonoperative care averaged $212/patient. Comparing operative versus nonoperative treatment, the incremental cost/DALY averted for each patient outcome was: quadriplegic ($112-$158/DALY averted), paraplegic ($47-$67/DALY averted), neurologic improvement ($50-$71/DALY averted), neurologically intact ($41-$58/DALY averted). Sensitivity analysis confirmed these findings without major differences.

This preliminary cost-effectiveness analysis suggests that the upfront costs of spine trauma surgery may be offset by a reduction in disability. LMIC governments should consider conducting more spine trauma cost-effectiveness analyses and including spine trauma surgery in universal health care.