Pediatric Appendicitis Severity in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: A Retrospective Cohort Analysis

Acute appendicitis is a common pediatric surgical emergency; however, there are few grading systems to assign disease severity. The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) recently developed a grading system for a variety of emergency surgical conditions, including appendicitis. The severity of acute appendicitis in younger patients in KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) is unknown. We aimed to describe the disease severity in this patient population using the AAST grading system hypothesizing that the AAST grade would correlate with morbidity, management type, and duration of stay.
Single institutional review of patients <18 years old with a final diagnosis of acute appendicitis during 2010-2016 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, was performed. Demographics, physiologic and symptom data, procedural details, postoperative complications, and Clavien-Dindo classification were abstracted. AAST grades were generated based on intraoperative findings. Summary, univariate, and nominal logistic regression analyses were performed to compare AAST grade and outcomes.
A total of 401 patients were identified with median [IQR] age of 11 [5-13], 65% male. Appendectomy was performed in all patients; 2.4% laparoscopic, 37.6% limited incision, and 60% midline laparotomy. Complications occurred in 41.6%, most commonly unplanned relaparotomy (22.4%), surgical site infection (8.9%), pneumonia (7.2%), and acute renal failure (2.9%). Complication rate and median length of stay increased with greater AAST grade (all p < 0.001). AAST grade was independently associated with increased risk of complications.
Pediatric appendicitis is a morbid disease in a developing middle-income country. The AAST grading system is generalizable and accurately corresponds with management strategies as well as key clinical outcomes.

Abortion care in Haiti: A secondary analysis of demographic and health data.

Abortion-related mortality accounts for 8% of all global maternal deaths and 97% of the estimated 25 million unsafe abortions performed each year occur in low- and middle-income countries. Haiti has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the western hemisphere and to further understand the circumstances of induced abortion in Haiti, the current work uses data from the 2012 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) to describe the methods of induced abortion in Haiti between 2007-2012 and to identify potential factors associated with use of different abortion methods.

This is a secondary analysis of nationally representative cross-sectional data from the 2012 Haitian DHS, a two-stage cluster randomized household survey. Analysis included descriptive statistics on participant demographics, methods of abortion, and location of / assistant for the abortion. Multivariate regression was conducted to determine if demographic characteristics were associated with: 1) increased or decreased odds of having an abortion; or 2) increased or decreased odds of reporting an evidence based or non-evidence based method of abortion.

Among the 14,287 women of childbearing age who completed the 2012 Haiti DHS survey, 289 women reported having an induced abortion in the previous five years. Recommended methods, manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) or misoprostol alone, were used in 26.6% of the abortions (n = 77). Additionally, 13.8% (n = 40) of abortions used these recommended methods in combination with a non-evidenced based method such as injections, plants or tablets. A total of 92 women had a dilation and curettage (D&C) abortion, either alone (n = 77) or in combination with another method (n = 15) and over a quarter (n = 80) of reported abortions were conducted by non-evidence based methods (n = 80). A majority of abortions using a recommended method were assisted by a relative/friend (n = 28) or were unassisted (n = 34). Most abortions occurred in private homes (n = 174) with hospitals/clinics being the second most common location (n = 84). Women in the middle (OR = 3.3, 95% CI = 2.0-5.6) and highest (OR = 7.4, 95% CI = 4.4-12.3) wealth brackets were more likely to have had an abortion in comparison to women in the lowest wealth bracket. Women who had ever been in a marital union were more likely to have had an abortion than those who had not. The only demographic factor predictive of aborting using a recommended method was living in an urban area, with urban-dwelling women being less likely to use a recommended abortion method (OR = 0.4, 95% CI = 0.2-0.9) in comparison with women living in rural settings.

In a nationally representative survey in Haiti, 2% of women of childbearing age reported having an abortion in the five years prior to the survey. A large proportion of these abortions were carried out using non-evidence based methods and over half occurred outside of the formal health care system. Understanding women’s attitudes, knowledge and barriers around abortion is paramount to improving knowledge and access to evidence-based abortion care in an effort to decrease maternal morbidity and mortality in Haiti.

Severe maternal outcomes in eastern Ethiopia: Application of the adapted maternal near miss tool.

With the reduction of maternal mortality, maternal near miss (MNM) has been used as a complementary indicator of maternal health. The objective of this study was to assess the frequency of MNM in eastern Ethiopia using an adapted sub-Saharan Africa MNM tool and compare its applicability with the original WHO MNM tool.

We applied the sub-Saharan Africa and WHO MNM criteria to 1054 women admitted with potentially life-threatening conditions (including 28 deaths) in Hiwot Fana Specialized University Hospital and Jugel Hospital between January 2016 and April 2017. Discharge records were examined to identify deaths or women who developed MNM according to the sub-Saharan or WHO criteria. We calculated and compared MNM and severe maternal outcome ratios. Mortality index (ratio of maternal deaths to SMO) was calculated as indicator of quality of care.

The sub-Saharan Africa criteria identified 594 cases of MNM and all the 28 deaths while the WHO criteria identified 128 cases of MNM and 26 deaths. There were 7404 livebirths during the same period. This gives MNM ratios of 80 versus 17 per 1000 live births for the adapted and original WHO criteria. Mortality index was 4.5% and 16.9% in the adapted and WHO criteria respectively. The major difference between the two criteria can be attributed to eclampsia, sepsis and differences in the threshold for transfusion of blood.

The sub-Saharan Africa criteria identified all the MNM cases identified by the WHO criteria and all the maternal deaths. Applying the WHO criteria alone will cause under reporting of MNM cases (including maternal deaths) in this low-resource setting. The mortality index of 4.5% among women who fulfilled the adapted MNM criteria justifies labeling these women as having ‘life-threatening conditions’.

The lucky ones get cured: Health care seeking among women with pelvic organ prolapse in Amhara Region, Ethiopia.

The majority of women suffering from maternal morbidities live in resource-constrained settings with diverse barriers preventing access to quality biomedical health care services. This study aims to highlight the dynamics between the public health system and alternative healing through an exploration of the experiences of health care seeking among women living with severe symptomatic pelvic organ prolapse in an impoverished setting.

The data were collected through ethnographic fieldwork at the hospital and community levels in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. The fieldwork included participant observation, 42 semi-structured interviews and two focus group discussions over a period of one year. A group of 24 women with severe symptomatic pelvic organ prolapse served as the study’s main informants. Other central groups of informants included health care providers, local healers and actors from the health authorities and non-governmental organisations.

Three case stories were chosen to illustrate the key findings related to health care seeking among the informants. The women strove to find remedies for their aggravating ailment, and many navigated between and combined various available healing options both within and beyond the health care sector. Their choices were strongly influenced by poverty, by lack of knowledge about the condition, by their religious and spiritual beliefs and by the shame and embarrassment related to the condition. An ongoing health campaign in the study area providing free surgical treatment for pelvic organ prolapse enabled a study of the experiences related to the introduction of free health services targeting maternal morbidity.

This study highlights how structural barriers prevent women living in a resource-constrained setting from receiving health care for a highly prevalent and readily treatable maternal morbidity such as pelvic organ prolapse. Our results illustrate that the provision of free quality services may dramatically alter both health-and illness-related perceptions and conduct in an extremely vulnerable population.

Demand and capacity to integrate pelvic organ prolapse and genital fistula services in low-resource settings.

There is a need for expanded access to safe surgical care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as illustrated by the report of the 2015 Lancet Commission on Global Surgery. Packages of closely-related surgical procedures may create platforms of capacity that maximize impact in LMIC. Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and genital fistula care provide an example. Although POP affects many more women in LMICs than fistula, donor support for fistula treatment in LMICs has been underway for decades, whereas treatment for POP is usually limited to hysterectomy-based surgical treatment, occurring with little to no donor support. This capacity-building discrepancy has resulted in POP care that is often non-adherent to international standards and in non-integration of POP and fistula services, despite clear areas of similarity and overlap. The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility and potential value of integrating POP services at fistula centers.

Fistula repair sites supported by the Fistula Care Plus project were surveyed on current demand for and capacity to provide POP, in addition to perceptions about integrating POP and fistula repair services.

Respondents from 26 hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia completed the survey. Most fistula centers (92%) reported demand for POP services, but many cannot meet this demand. Responses indicated a wide variation in assessment and grading practices for POP; approaches to lower urinary tract symptom evaluation; and surgical skills with regard to compartment-based POP, and urinary and rectal incontinence. Fistula surgeons identified integration synergies but also potential conflicts.

Integration of genital fistula and POP services may enhance the quality of POP care while increasing the sustainability of fistula care.

Health and sustainable development; strengthening peri-operative care in low income countries to improve maternal and neonatal outcomes

Uganda is far from meeting the sustainable development goals on maternal and neonatal mortality with a maternal mortality ratio of 383/100,000 live births, and 33% of the women gave birth by 18 years. The neonatal mortality ratio was 29/1000 live births and 96 stillbirths occur every day due to placental abruption, and/or eclampsia – preeclampsia and other unkown causes. These deaths could be reduced with access to timely safe surgery and safe anaesthesia if the Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care services (CEmONC), and appropriate intensive care post operatively were implemented. A 2013 multi-national survey by Epiu et al. showed that, the Safe Surgical Checklist was not available for use at main referral hospitals in East Africa. We, therefore, set out to further assess 64 government and private hospitals in Uganda for the availability and usage of the WHO Checklists, and investigate the post-operative care of paturients; to advocate for CEmONC implementation in similarly burdened low income countries.

The cross-sectional survey was conducted at 64 government and private hospitals in Uganda using preset questionnaires.

We surveyed 41% of all hospitals in Uganda: 100% of the government regional referral hospitals, 16% of government district hospitals and 33% of all private hospitals. Only 22/64 (34.38%: 95% CI = 23.56–47.09) used the WHO Safe Surgical Checklist. Additionally, only 6% of the government hospitals and 14% not-for profit hospitals had access to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) services for postoperative care compared to 57% of the private hospitals.

There is urgent need to make WHO checklists available and operationalized. Strengthening peri-operative care in obstetrics would decrease maternal and neonatal morbidity and move closer to the goal of safe motherhood working towards Universal Health Care.

Diagnosis and management of 365 ureteric injuries following obstetric and gynecologic surgery in resource-limited settings.

Ureteric injuries are among the most serious complications of pelvic surgery. The incidence in low-resource settings is not well documented.This retrospective review analyzes a cohort of 365 ureteric injuries with ureterovaginal fistulas in 353 women following obstetric and gynecologic operations in 11 countries in Africa and Asia, all low-resource settings. The patients with ureteric injury were stratified into three groups according to the initial surgery: (a) obstetric operations, (b) gynecologic operations, and (c) vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) repairs.The 365 ureteric injuries in this series comprise 246 (67.4%) after obstetric procedures, 65 (17.8%) after gynecologic procedures, and 54 (14.8%) after repair of obstetric fistulas. Demographic characteristics show clear differences between women with iatrogenic injuries and women with obstetric fistulas. The study describes abdominal ureter reimplantation and other treatment procedures. Overall surgical results were good: 92.9% of women were cured (326/351), 5.4% were healed with some residual incontinence (19/351), and six failed (1.7%).Ureteric injuries after obstetric and gynecologic operations are not uncommon. Unlike in high-resource contexts, in low-resource settings obstetric procedures are most often associated with urogenital fistula. Despite resource limitations, diagnosis and treatment of ureteric injuries is possible, with good success rates. Training must emphasize optimal surgical techniques and different approaches to assisted vaginal delivery.

A longitudinal study of the prevalence and characteristics of breast disorders detected by clinical breast examination during pregnancy and six months postpartum in Ibadan, Southwestern Nigeria.

Breast disorders cause great anxiety for women especially when they occur in pregnancy because breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer related deaths in women. Majority of the disorders are Benign Breast Diseases (BBD) with various degrees of associated breast cancer risks. With increasing breast cancer awareness in Nigeria, we sought to determine the prevalence and characteristics of breast disorders among a cohort of pregnant women.A longitudinal study of 1248 pregnant women recruited in their first trimester- till 26 weeks gestational age consecutively from selected antenatal clinics (ANCs), in Ibadan, Southwest Nigeria. A pretested interviewer- administered questionnaire was used to collect information at recruitment. Clinical Breast Examination (CBE) using MammaCare® technique was performed at recruitment and follow up visits at third trimester, six weeks postpartum and six months postpartum. Women with breast disorders were referred for Breast Ultrasound Scan (BUS) and those with Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BIRADS) ≥4 had ultrasound guided biopsy. Statistical analysis was performed using Stata version 14.Mean age of participants was 29.7 ± 5.2 years and mean gestational age at recruitment was 20.4 ± 4.4 weeks. Seventy-two participants (5.8%) had a past history of BBD and 345 (27.6%) were primigravidae. Overall, breast disorder was detected among 223 (17.9%) participants and 149 (11.9%) had it detected at baseline. Findings from the CBE showed that 208 (69.6%) of 299 breast disorders signs found were palpable lumps or thickenings in the breast, 28 (9.4%) were persistent pain, and 63 (21.1%) were abscesses, infection and mastitis. Twenty out of 127 (15.7%) participants who had BUS performed were classified as BIRADS ≥3. Lesions found by BUS were reactive lymph nodes (42.5%), prominent ducts (27.1%), fibroadenoma (9.6%), breast cysts (3.8%) and fibrocystic changes (2.5%). No malignant pathology was found on ultrasound guided biopsy.Breast lump is a major breast disorder among pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in Ibadan. Routine clinical breast examination and follow up of pregnant women found with breast disorders could facilitate early detection of pregnancy associated breast cancer in low resource settings.

Incidence of unintended pregnancy among female sex workers in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

To determine the incidence of unintended pregnancy among female sex workers (FSWs) in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs).We searched MEDLINE, PsychInfo, Embase and Popline for papers published in English between January 2000 and January 2016, and Web of Science and Proquest for conference abstracts. Meta-analysis was performed on the primary outcomes using random effects models, with subgroup analysis used to explore heterogeneity.Eligible studies targeted FSWs aged 15-49 years living or working in an LMIC.Studies were eligible if they provided data on one of two primary outcomes: incidence of unintended pregnancy and incidence of pregnancy where intention is undefined. Secondary outcomes were also extracted when they were reported in included studies: incidence of induced abortion; incidence of birth; and correlates/predictors of pregnancy or unintended pregnancy.Twenty-five eligible studies were identified from 3866 articles. Methodological quality was low overall. Unintended pregnancy incidence showed high heterogeneity (I²>95%), ranging from 7.2 to 59.6 per 100 person-years across 10 studies. Study design and duration were found to account for heterogeneity. On subgroup analysis, the three cohort studies in which no intervention was introduced had a pooled incidence of 27.1 per 100 person-years (95% CI 24.4 to 29.8; I2=0%). Incidence of pregnancy (intention undefined) was also highly heterogeneous, ranging from 2.0 to 23.4 per 100 person-years (15 studies).Of the many studies examining FSWs’ sexual and reproductive health in LMICs, very few measured pregnancy and fewer assessed pregnancy intention. Incidence varied widely, likely due to differences in study design, duration and baseline population risk, but was high in most studies, representing a considerable concern for this key population. Evidence-based approaches that place greater importance on unintended pregnancy prevention need to be incorporated into existing sexual and reproductive health programmes for FSWs.CRD42016029185.

A Liftless Intervention to Prevent Preterm Birth and Low Birthweight Among Pregnant Ghanaian Women: Protocol of a Stepped-Wedge Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial.

Preterm birth (PTB) is a leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Every year, 20 million babies are born with low birthweight (LBW), about 96% of which occur in low-income countries. Despite the associated dangers, in about 40%-50% of PTB and LBW cases, the causes remain unexplained. Existing evidence is inconclusive as to whether occupational physical activities such as heavy lifting are implicated. African women bear the transport burden of accessing basic needs for their families. Ghana’s PTB rate is 14.5%, whereas the global average is 9.6%. The proposed liftless intervention aims to decrease lifting exposure during pregnancy among Ghanaian women. We hypothesize that a reduction in heavy lifting among pregnant women in Ghana will increase gestational age and birthweight.To investigate the effects of the liftless intervention on the incidence of PTB and LBW among pregnant Ghanaian women.A cohort stepped-wedge cluster randomized controlled trial in 10 antenatal clinics will be carried out in Ghana. A total of 1000 pregnant participants will be recruited for a 60-week period. To be eligible, the participant should have a singleton pregnancy between 12 and 16 weeks gestation, be attending any of the 10 antenatal clinics, and be exposed to heavy lifting. All participants will receive standard antenatal care within the control phase; by random allocation, two clusters will transit into the intervention phase. The midwife-led 3-component liftless intervention consists of health education, a take-home reminder card mimicking the colors of a traffic light, and a shopping voucher. The primary outcome are gestational ages of <28, 28-32, and 33-37 weeks. The secondary outcomes are LBW (preterm LBW, term but LBW, and postterm), compliance, prevalence of low back and pelvic pain, and premature uterine contractions. Study midwives and participants will not be blinded to the treatment allocation.Permission to conduct the study at all 10 antenatal clinics has been granted by the Ghana Health Service. Application for funding to begin the trial is ongoing. Findings from the main trial are expected to be published by the end of 2019.To the best of our knowledge, there has been no randomized trial of this nature in Ghana. Minimizing heavy lifting among pregnant African women can reduce the soaring rates of PTB and LBW. The findings will increase the knowledge of the prevention of PTB and LBW worldwide.Pan African Clinical Trial Register (PACTR201602001301205); Trial2.aspx?TrialID=PACTR201602001301205 (Archived by WebCite at