Rural and urban differences in treatment status among children with surgical conditions in Uganda.


BACKGROUND:
In low and middle-income countries, approximately 85% of children have a surgically treatable condition before the age of 15. Within these countries, the burden of pediatric surgical conditions falls heaviest on those in rural areas. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the relationship between rurality, surgical condition and treatment status among a cohort of Ugandan children.

METHODS:
We identified 2176 children from 2315 households throughout Uganda using the Surgeons OverSeas Assessment of Surgical Need (SOSAS) survey. Children were randomly selected and were included in the study if they were 18 years of age or younger and had a surgical condition. Location of residence, surgical condition, and treatment status was compared among children.

RESULTS:
Of the 305 children identified with surgical conditions, 81.9% lived in rural areas. The most prevalent causes of surgical conditions reported among rural and urban children were masses (24.0% and 25.5%, respectively), followed by wounds due to injury (19.6% and 16.4%, respectively). Among children with untreated surgical conditions, 79.1% reside in rural areas while 20.9% reside in urban areas. Among children with untreated surgical conditions, the leading reason for not seeking surgical care among children living in both rural and urban areas was a lack of money (40.6% and 31.4%, respectively), and the leading reason for not receiving care in both rural and urban settings was a lack of money (48.0% and 42.8%, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS:
Our data suggest that over half of the children with a surgical condition surveyed are not receiving surgical care and a large majority of children with surgical needs were living in rural areas. Future interventions aimed at increasing surgical access in rural areas in low-income countries are needed.

Pioneering endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography in a Sub Saharan African hospital: A case series


Background and study aims
Although endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) was introduced in Europe, Asia and America over four decades ago, East Africa and Africa as a whole has been slow in taking up this very important minimally invasive procedure for the management of various hepatopancreaticobiliary conditions. This has led to reliance on open surgery for even simple benign biliary strictures, stones and malignant causes of biliary and pancreatic duct obstruction that can be treated endoscopically without a need for a morbid open surgical intervention. In Uganda, ERCP was introduced in January 2017 after obtaining training and equipment support from Senior Experten Service (SES), German. We therefore report the first six cases of ERCP performed at our endoscopy unit.

Patients and methods
This is a case series report of six patients referred with yellowing of eyes and body itching as the main complaints. They predominantly had raised gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), total bilirubin and direct bilirubin. They also had different imaging investigations demonstrating hepatic ducts dilatation.

Results
Four out of the six patients had complete post ERCP symptom resolution. One patient had partial symptom resolution and the other patient recovered after conversion to open surgery.

Conclusion
Collaborative skills transfer made ERCP feasible in our institute and this marked the start of this specialised service in Uganda.

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


INTRODUCTION AND HYPOTHESIS:
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.

METHODS:
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.

RESULTS:
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.

CONCLUSIONS:
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


Background
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.

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

Results
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.

Conclusions
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.

Early detection and treatment strategies for breast cancer in low-income and upper middle-income countries: a modelling study.


Poor breast cancer survival in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) can be attributed to advanced-stage presentation and poor access to systemic therapy. We aimed to estimate the outcomes of different early detection strategies in combination with systemic chemotherapy and endocrine therapy in LMICs.We adapted a microsimulation model to project outcomes of three early detection strategies alone or in combination with three systemic treatment programmes beyond standard of care (programme A): programme B was endocrine therapy for all oestrogen-receptor (ER)-positive cases; programme C was programme B plus chemotherapy for ER-negative cases; programme D was programme C plus chemotherapy for advanced ER-positive cases. The main outcomes were reductions in breast cancer-related mortality and lives saved per 100 000 women relative to the standard of care for women aged 30-49 years in a low-income setting (East Africa; using incidence data and life tables from Uganda and data on tumour characteristics from various East African countries) and for women aged 50-69 years in a middle-income setting (Colombia).In the East African setting, relative mortality reductions were 8-41%, corresponding to 23 (95% uncertainty interval -12 to 49) to 114 (80 to 138) lives saved per 100 000 women over 10 years. In Colombia, mortality reductions were 7-25%, corresponding to 32 (-29 to 70) to 105 (61 to 141) lives saved per 100 000 women over 10 years.The best projected outcomes were in settings where access to both early detection and adjuvant therapy is improved. Even in the absence of mammographic screening, improvements in detection can provide substantial benefit in settings where advanced-stage presentation is common.Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/University of Washington Cancer Consortium Cancer Center Support Grant of the US National Institutes of Health.

Renal Outcomes in Children with Operated Spina Bifida in Uganda.


To describe the extent of renal disease in Ugandan children surviving at least ten years after spina bifida repair and to investigate risk factors for renal deterioration in this cohort.Children who had undergone spina bifida repair at CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda between 2000 and 2004 were invited to attend interview, physical examination, renal tract ultrasound, and a blood test (creatinine). Medical records were retrospectively reviewed. The following were considered evidence of renal damage: elevated creatinine, hypertension, and ultrasound findings of hydronephrosis, scarring, and discrepancy in renal size >1cm. Female sex, previous UTI, neurological level, mobility, detrusor leak point pressure, and adherence with clean intermittent catheterisation (CIC) were investigated for association with evidence of renal damage.65 of 68 children aged 10-14 completed the assessment. The majority (83%) reported incontinence. 17 children (26%) were performing CIC. One child had elevated creatinine. 25 children (38%) were hypertensive. There was a high prevalence of ultrasound abnormalities: hydronephrosis in 10 children (15%), scarring in 42 (64%), and >1cm size discrepancy in 28 (43%). No children with lesions at S1 or below had hydronephrosis (p = 0.025), but this group had comparable prevalence of renal size discrepancy, scarring, and hypertension to those children with higher lesions.Incontinence, ultrasound abnormalities, and hypertension are highly prevalent in a cohort of Ugandan children with spina bifida, including those with low neurological lesions. These findings support the early and universal initiation of CIC with anticholinergic therapy in a low-income setting.

Estimating the Cost of Neurosurgical Procedures in a Low-Income Setting: An Observational Economic Analysis


BACKGROUND: There are no data on cost of neurosurgery in low-income and middle-income countries. The objective of this study was to estimate the cost of neurosurgical procedures in a low-resource setting to better inform resource allocation and health sector planning.
METHODS: In this observational economic analysis, microcosting was used to estimate the direct and indirect costs of neurosurgical procedures at Mulago National Referral Hospital (Kampala, Uganda).
RESULTS: During the study period, October 2014 to September 2015, 1440 charts were reviewed. Of these patients, 434 had surgery, whereas the other 1006 were treated nonsurgically. Thirteen types of procedures were performed at the hospital. The estimated mean cost of a neurosurgical procedure was $542.14 (standard deviation [SD], $253.62). The mean cost of different procedures ranged from $291 (SD, $101) for burr hole evacuations to $1,221 (SD, $473) for excision of brain tumors. For most surgeries, overhead costs represented the largest proportion of the total cost (29%e41%).
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study using primary data to determine the cost of neurosurgery in a low-resource setting. Operating theater capacity is likely the binding constraint on operative volume, and thus, investing in operating theaters should achieve a higher level of efficiency. Findings from this study could be used by stakeholders and policy makers for resource allocation and to perform economic analyses to establish the value of neurosurgery in achieving global health goals.

Building neurosurgical capacity in low and middle income countries


Neurosurgery capacity in low- and middle-income countries is far from adequate; yet burden of neurological diseases, especially neuro-trauma, is projected to increase exponentially. Previous efforts to build neurosurgical capacity have typically been individual projects and short termmissions. Recognizing the dual needs of addressing disease burden and building sustainable, long-term neurosurgical care capacity, we describe in this paper an ongoing collaboration between the Mulago Hospital Department of Neurosurgery (Kampala, Uganda) and Duke University Medical Center (Durham, NC, USA) as a replicable model to meet the dual needs. The collaboration employs a threefold approach to building capacity: technology, twinning, and training performed together in a top-down approach. Also described are lessons learned to date by Duke Global Neurosurgery and Neurosciences (DGNN) and applicability beyond Kampala.

Linking household and health facility surveys to assess obstetric service availability, readiness and coverage: evidence from 17 low- and middle-income countries.


Improving access and quality of obstetric service has the potential to avert preventable maternal, neonatal and stillborn deaths, yet little is known about the quality of care received. This study sought to assess obstetric service availability, readiness and coverage within and between 17 low- and middle-income countries.We linked health facility data from the Service Provision Assessments and Service Availability and Readiness Assessments, with corresponding household survey data obtained from the Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. Based on performance of obstetric signal functions, we defined four levels of facility emergency obstetric care (EmOC) functionality: comprehensive (CEmOC), basic (BEmOC), BEmOC-2, and low/substandard. Facility readiness was evaluated based on the direct observation of 23 essential items; facilities “ready to provide obstetric services” had ?20 of 23 items available. Across countries, we used medians to characterize service availability and readiness, overall and by urban-rural location; analyses also adjusted for care-seeking patterns to estimate population-level coverage of obstetric services.Of the 111?500 health facilities surveyed, 7545 offered obstetric services and were included in the analysis. The median percentages of facilities offering EmOC and “ready to provide obstetric services” were 19% and 10%, respectively. There were considerable urban-rural differences, with absolute differences of 19% and 29% in the availability of facilities offering EmOC and “ready to provide obstetric services”, respectively. Adjusting for care-seeking patterns, results from the linking approach indicated that among women delivering in a facility, a median of 40% delivered in facilities offering EmOC, and 28% delivered in facilities “ready to provide obstetric services”. Relatively higher coverage of facility deliveries (?65%) and coverage of deliveries in facilities “ready to provide obstetric services” (?30% of facility deliveries) were only found in three countries.The low levels of availability, readiness and coverage of obstetric services documented represent substantial missed opportunities within health systems. Global and national efforts need to prioritize upgrading EmOC functionality and improving readiness to deliver obstetric service, particularly in rural areas. The approach of linking health facility and household surveys described here could facilitate the tracking of progress towards quality obstetric care.