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  • The Effect of Conflict on Obstetric and Non-Obstetric Surgical Needs and Operative Mortality in Fragile States.

    Rahman, AS; Chao, TE; Trelles, M; Dominguez, L; Mupenda, J; Kasonga, C; Akemani, C; Kondo, KM; Chu, KM (Springer Nature, 2021-02-09)
    Background Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides surgical care in fragile states, which are more vulnerable to conflict. The primary objective of this study was to compare the indications for operative intervention in surgical projects in fragile states during periods of active conflict (CON) and non-conflict (NON-CON). In addition, risk factors for non-obstetric and obstetric operative mortality were identified. Methods This was a retrospective analysis of MSF surgical projects in fragile states January 1, 2008–December 31, 2017. Variables considered in the analysis include age, gender, American Society of Anesthesiology physical status, emergency status, re-intervention status, indication for surgical intervention, and conflict/non-conflict time period. Results There were 30 surgical projects in 13 fragile states with 87,968 surgical interventions in 68,667 patients. Obstetric needs were the most common indication for surgical intervention (n = 28,060, 31.9%) but were more common during NON-CON (n = 23,142, 35.7%) compared to CON periods (n = 4,918, 21.2%, p < 0.001). Trauma was more common during CON (42.0%) compared to NON-CON (23.0%) periods (p < 0.001). Non-obstetric operative mortality was similar during CON (0.2%) compared to NON-CON (0.2%, p = 0.920), but obstetric operative mortality was higher (0.5%) during CON compared to NON-CON (0.2%, p < 0.001) periods. Risk factors for obstetric and non-obstetric mortality included age ≥ 30 years, ASA greater than 1, and emergency intervention. Conclusion Humanitarian surgeons working in fragile states should be prepared to treat a range of surgical needs including trauma and obstetrics during conflict and non-conflict periods. The mortality in obstetric patients was higher during conflict periods, and further research to understand ways to protect this vulnerable group is needed.
  • Delivery strategies for optimizing uptake of contraceptives among adolescents aged 15-19 years in Nsanje District, Malawi.

    Makinja, AK; Maida, ZM; Nyondo-Mipando, AL (BMC, 2021-01-20)
    Background Despite documented benefits of contraceptives, uptake among young people aged 20–24 years is high compared to adolescents aged 15–19 years in Malawi. As the world’s population of 15–19-year-olds continues to grow the need to meet the increasing demand for contraceptive services and information that address adolescent-specific needs cannot be underestimated. To inform Sexual and Reproductive health services for the youth, we explored strategies for optimizing uptake of contraceptives among this age group. Methods An exploratory qualitative cross-sectional study was conducted at Nsanje District Hospital and Nyamadzere Community Day Secondary School guided by Social-Ecological Framework to understand strategies that may optimize the uptake of contraceptives among adolescents aged 15–19. Nsanje district was purposively selected based on the reason that it is the second district in Malawi with the highest rate of adolescent childbearing of girls aged 15–19 years. We conducted a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) with 9 traditional leaders, 11 Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) with health workers, 20 In-depth Interviews (IDIs) with 12 adolescents, 4 teachers, and 4 parents. All data were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim into English. The data was analyzed and managed using deductive thematic analysis guided by Social-Ecological Framework. Results Adolescents suggested accessing contraceptives from local drug stores, pharmacies and hospitals at a health system level and through Youth Centres, clubs, and corners at a Community level. There is a need to ensure a continuous supply of various kinds of contraceptives and the presence of youth-friendly health care workers in the specified areas. Conclusion There is no one way of delivering contraceptives to adolescents. Multiple avenues existent at the health facility and community could be leveraged to optimize delivery and uptake of contraceptives in a manner that is not intimidating to an adolescent while involving key stakeholders.
  • Resilience to maintain quality of intrapartum care in war torn Yemen: a retrospective pre-post study evaluating effects of changing birth volumes in a congested frontline hospital

    Obel, J; Martin, AIC; Mullahzada, AW; Kremer, R; Maaloe, N (BMC, 2021-01-07)
    Background Fragile and conflict-affected states contribute with more than 60% of the global burden of maternal mortality. There is an alarming need for research exploring maternal health service access and quality and adaptive responses during armed conflict. Taiz Houbane Maternal and Child Health Hospital in Yemen was established during the war as such adaptive response. However, as number of births vastly exceeded the facility’s pre-dimensioned capacity, a policy was implemented to restrict admissions. We here assess the restriction’s effects on the quality of intrapartum care and birth outcomes. Methods A retrospective before and after study was conducted of all women giving birth in a high-volume month pre-restriction (August 2017; n = 1034) and a low-volume month post-restriction (November 2017; n = 436). Birth outcomes were assessed for all births (mode of birth, stillbirths, intra-facility neonatal deaths, and Apgar score < 7). Quality of intrapartum care was assessed by a criterion-based audit of all caesarean sections (n = 108 and n = 82) and of 250 randomly selected vaginal births in each month. Results Background characteristics of women were comparable between the months. Rates of labour inductions and caesarean sections increased significantly in the low-volume month (14% vs. 22% (relative risk (RR) 0.62, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.45-0.87) and 11% vs. 19% (RR 0.55, 95% CI 0.42-0.71)). No other care or birth outcome indicators were significantly different. Structural and human resources remained constant throughout, despite differences in patient volume. Conclusions Assumptions regarding quality of care in periods of high demand may be misguiding - resilience to maintain quality of care was strong. We recommend health actors to closely monitor changes in quality of care when implementing resource changes; to enable safe care during birth for as many women as possible.
  • “Better dead than being mocked”: an anthropological study on perceptions and attitudes towards unwanted pregnancy and abortion in the Democratic Republic of Congo

    Burtscher, D; Schulte-Hillen, C; Saint-Sauveur, J-F; De Plecker, E; Nair, M; Arsenijevic, J (Taylor & Francis, 2020-12-09)
    Unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion contribute significantly to the burden of maternal suffering, ill health and death in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This qualitative study examines the vulnerabilities of women and girls regarding unwanted pregnancy and abortion, to better understand their health-seeking behaviour and to identify barriers that hinder them from accessing care. Data were collected in three different areas in eastern DRC, using in-depth individual interviews, group interviews and focus group discussions. Respondents were purposively sampled. All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcriptions were screened for relevant information, manually coded and analysed using qualitative content analysis. Perceptions and attitudes towards unwanted pregnancy and abortion varied across the three study areas. In North Kivu, interviews predominantly reflected the view that abortions are morally reprehensible, which contrasts the widespread practice of abortion. In Ituri many perceive abortions as an appropriate solution for reducing maternal mortality. Legal constraints were cited as a barrier for health professionals to providing adequate medical care. In South Kivu, the general view was one of opposition to abortion, with some tolerance towards breastfeeding women. The main reasons women have abortions are related to stigma and shame, socio-demographics and finances, transactional sex and rape. Contrary to the prevailing critical narrative on abortion, this study highlights a significant need for safe abortion care services. The proverb “Better dead than being mocked” shows that women and girls prefer to risk dying through unsafe abortion, rather than staying pregnant and facing stigma for an unwanted pregnancy.
  • Hypocalcaemia and calcium intake in pregnancy: A research protocol for critical analysis of risk factors, maternofoetal outcomes and evaluation of diagnostic methods in a third-category health facility, Cameroon

    Ajong, AB; Kenfack, B; Ali, IM; Yakum, MN; Aljerf, L; Telefo, PB (Public Library of Sciences, 2020-11-05)
    Introduction Hypocalcaemia in pregnancy remains a major health issue, particularly in the developing world where daily calcium intakes are suboptimal. This electrolyte imbalance can lead to severe maternofoetal and childhood consequences. Calcium supplementation, amongst others, contributes significantly to meeting calcium demands in pregnancy. With ionised calcaemia as the gold standard for diagnosis, total calcaemia and albumin-corrected calcaemia in other pathological states have been found to overestimate the burden of hypocalcaemia. The main objectives of this study are to describe the blood calcium level (total, albumin corrected, and ionised calcaemia) and associated maternofoetal outcomes while identifying determinants of calcium supplementation and ionised hypocalcaemia. This study will also evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of albumin corrected calcaemia as a diagnostic tool for hypocalcaemia (ionised calcaemia as the gold standard) among pregnant women in the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital, Cameroon. Methods Our study will target a total of 1067 term pregnant women who shall be included consecutively into the study as they arrive the maternity of the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital for their last antenatal care visit. Data shall be collected using a semi-structured interview-administered questionnaire and blood samples collected for total plasma calcium, albumin and serum ionized calcium assays. Additional data will be collected at birth (maternal and foetal variables; foetal outcomes evaluated as secondary outcomes). Total calcaemia and albuminemia shall be measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometry, while ionised calcaemia will be measured by ion-selective electrode potentiometry(using MSLEA15-H electrolyte analyzer) per standard BIOLABO and MSLEA15 protocols, respectively. Data will be analysed using the statistical softwares epi-Info version 7.2.2.16 and STATA version 16. Expected research outcome This study will present a more precise estimate of the burden of hypocalcaemia in late pregnancy as well as identify and analyse the different factors associated with calcium supplementation and ionised hypocalcaemia among term pregnant women in a developing world setting. Maternofoetal outcomes associated with hypocalcaemia will be determined as well as the sensitivity and specificity of total and albumin-corrected calcaemia in diagnosing hypocalcaemia. Our findings will contribute significantly to designing or strengthening interventions to control this electrolyte imbalance.
  • Knowledge of peri-menarcheal changes and a comparative analysis of the age at menarche among young adolescent school girls in urban and rural Cameroon

    Ajong, AB; Tankala, NN; Yakum, MN; Azenoi, IS; Kenfack, B (BMC, 2020-11-04)
    Background Menarche is an expected event that occurs during the development of every normal young girl. We designed this study to evaluate the knowledge of young school girls on puberty, menarche, and menstruation, and to update data on the age at menarche in a rural and urban setting in Cameroon. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional survey from February to March 2017, targeting female students aged 9 to 16 years in Yaoundé (urban) and Bamougoum (rural). Participants were included using a randomised cluster sampling and data collected using an auto-administrable questionnaire. Student t-test or the Kruskal-Wallis test was used to compare means, and the odds ratio used as the measure of association between age at menarche and selected covariates. Results 1157 participants were included in the study; 49.3% from an urban setting and 50.7% from a rural setting. Regarding the knowledge of our participants on puberty, menarche, and menstruation, 67.20% of rural participants had good knowledge, whereas only 46.00% had good knowledge in the urban setting. Mean age at menarche was 12.76 ± 1.33 years, with the mean age at menarche in the urban setting of 12.48 ± 1.12 years and the rural setting of 13.03 ± 1.46 years. Mean age at menarche was significantly lower in participants aged below 14 years (p-value = 0.000), those with both parents alive (p-value = 0.0461), those whose fathers had skilled occupations (p-value = 0.005), those of urban resident (p-value = 0.000), and those who watched TV everyday (p-value = 0.030). Urban residence and age below 14 years were significantly associated with an earlier onset of menarche. Conclusion Rural participants had better knowledge of puberty, menarche, and the menstrual cycle than their counterparts in the urban setting. The mean age at menarche over the last two decades has dropped by 7.4 and 4.2 months per decade in urban and rural Cameroon respectively. Mean age at menarche varies significantly with age group, urban/rural residence, state of both parents (both alive/at least one dead), occupation of the father, and frequency of watching TV. Age and urban/rural residence are associated with age at onset of menarche. The continually declining age at menarche is an alarm for future early menarche-linked morbidities.
  • Assault and care characteristics of victims of sexual violence in eleven Médecins Sans Frontières programs in Africa. What about men and boys?

    Broban, A; Van den Bergh, R; Russell, W; Benedetti, G; Caluwaerts, S; Owiti, P; Reid, A; De Plecker, E (Public Library of Sciences, 2020-08-04)
    Background: Often neglected, male-directed sexual violence (SV) has recently gained recognition as a significant issue. However, documentation of male SV patients, assaults and characteristics of presentation for care remains poor. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) systematically documented these in all victims admitted to eleven SV clinics in seven African countries between 2011 and 2017, providing a unique opportunity to describe SV patterns in male cases compared to females, according to age categories and contexts, thereby improving their access to SV care. Methods and findings: This was a multi-centric, cross-sectional study using routine program data. The study included 13550 SV cases, including 1009 males (7.5%). Proportions of males varied between programs and contexts, with the highest being recorded in migratory contexts (12.7%). Children (<13yrs) represented 34.3% of males. Different SV patterns appeared between younger and older males; while male children and adolescents were more often assaulted by known civilians, without physical violence, adult males more often endured violent assault, perpetrated by authority figures. Male patients presented more frequently to clinics providing integrated care (medical and psychological) for victims of violence (odds ratio 3.3, 95%CI 2.4-4.6), as compared to other types of clinics where SV disclosure upon admission was necessary. Males, particularly adults, were disproportionately more likely to suffer being compelled to rape (odds ratio 12.9, 95%CI 7.6-21.8).Retention in SV care was similar for males and females. Conclusions: Patterns of male-directed SV varied considerably according to contexts and age categories. A key finding was the importance of the clinic setup; integrated medical and SV clinics, where initial disclosure was not necessary to access care, appeared more likely to meet males' needs, while accommodating females' ones. All victims' needs should be considered when planning SV services, with an emphasis on appropriately trained and trauma-informed medical staff, health promotion activities and increased psychosocial support.
  • Knowledge transmission, peer support, behaviour change and satisfaction in post Natal clubs in Khayelitsha, South Africa: a qualitative study

    Duvivier, H; Decroo, T; Nelson, A; Cassidy, T; Mbakaz, Z; Duran, LT; de Azevedo, V; Solomon, S; Venables, E (BMC, 2020-07-08)
    Background The Post Natal Club (PNC) model assures comprehensive care, including HIV and Maternal and Child Health care, for postpartum women living with HIV and their infants during an 18-month postnatal period. The PNC model was launched in 2016 in Town Two Clinic, a primary health care facility in Khayelitsha, South Africa. This qualitative research study aims to understand how participation in PNCs affected knowledge transmission, peer support, behaviour change and satisfaction with the care provided. Methods We conducted ten in-depth interviews; three focus group discussions and participant observation with PNC members, health-care workers and key informants selected through purposive sampling. Seventeen PNC members between 21 and 38 years old, three key informants and seven staff working in PNC participated in the research. All participants were female, except for one of the three key informants who was male. Data was collected until saturation. The data analysis was performed in an inductive way and involved an iterative process, using Nvivo11 software. Results PNC members acquired knowledge on HIV, ART, adherence, infant feeding, healthy eating habits, follow up tests and treatment for exposed infants. Participants believed that PNC created strong relationships among members and offered an environment conducive to sharing experience and advice. Most interviewees stated that participating in PNC facilitated disclosure of their HIV status, enhanced support network and provided role models. PNC members said that they adapted their behaviour based on advice received in PNCs related to infant feeding, ART adherence, monitoring of symptoms and stimulation of early childhood development. The main benefits were believed to be comprehensive care for mother-infant pairs, time-saving and the peer dynamic. The main challenge from the perspective of key informants was the sustainability of dedicating human resources to PNC. Conclusion The PNC model was believed to improve knowledge acquisition, behaviour change and peer support. Participants, staff and the majority of key informants expressed a high level of satisfaction with the PNC model. Sustainability and finding adequate human resources for PNCs remained challenging. Strategies to improve sustainability may include handing over some PNC tasks to members to increase their sense of ownership.
  • A community-based assessment of the perception and involvement of male partners in maternity care in Benin-City, Nigeria

    Erhabor, JO; Okpere, E; Lawani, LO; Omozuwa, ES; Eze, P (Taylor & Francis, 2020-06-17)
    Male involvement in maternal health promotion is paramount to safe motherhood. This study evaluates the perception and participation of male partners in maternity care (MC). A cross-sectional study involving 372 participants was conducted through qualitative (interviews and focus group discussion) and quantitative research methods which assessed knowledge, attitude and perception, between 1 December 2017 and 21 January 2018. The data were analysed with IBM SPSS version 25.0 using descriptive and inferential statistics. The mean age of the participants was 35.9 ± 11.5 years. Four-fifths (80.4%) had a positive attitude towards MC but only 27.2% was actively involved, due to socio-cultural reasons. Knowledge regarding MC was associated with age (p = .023), employment (p = .039) and education (p = .002) - higher among younger-aged professionals with a higher education. Male partners had a positive attitude towards MC but were poorly involved, due to socio-cultural factors. Community health workers and stakeholders should step up community health education with engagement of men to promote their involvement.Impact statementWhat is already known on this subject? The role of men in maternity care (MC) is well defined and found to improve health outcomes in high income countries. However, their level of participation in a low income country, such as Nigeria, is far below expectation.What do the results of this study add? The result of this work has provided scarce community-based local data on male partners' involvement in MC. This study showed that majority of males demonstrated a positive attitude but were poorly involved, due to socio-cultural reasons. It also shown that those with a younger age, professionals and those with a higher education were more knowledgeable about MC. This suggests the need for health workers and key players to step up community health education and engagement of men to promote active involvement in women's health matters.What are the implications of these findings for clinical practice and/or further research? Stakeholders in low resource-settings like Nigeria could introduce interventions to scaling up health education, create the enabling hospital environment to accommodate male partners, actively engage, support and motivate them to be involved in MC. Further research will be required to assess the impact of such interventions and how to sustain potential benefits.
  • Perinatal outcomes of babies delivered by second-stage Caesarean section versus vacuum extraction in a resource-poor setting, Nigeria - a retrospective analysis

    Eze, P; Lawani, LO; Chikezie, RU; Ukaegbe, CI; Iyoke, CA (BMC, 2020-05-14)
    Background To evaluate the perinatal status of neonates delivered by assisted vaginal delivery (AVD) versus second-stage caesarean birth (CS). Methods A 5-year retrospective study was conducted in a tertiary hospital. Data was analyzed with IBM SPSS® version 25.0 statistical software using descriptive/inferential statistics. Results A total of 559 births met the inclusion criteria; AVD (211; 37.7%) and second-stage CS (348; 62.3%). Over 80% of the women were aged 20–34 years: 185 (87.7%) for the AVD group, and 301 (86.5%) for the second-stage CS group. More than half of the women were parous: 106 (50.2%) for the AVD group, and 184 (52.9%) for the second-stage CS group. The commonest indication for intervention in both groups is delayed second stage: 178 (84.4%) in the AVD group, and 239 (68.9%) in the second-stage CS group. There was a statistically significant difference in decision to delivery interval (DDI) between both groups: 197 (93.4%) women in the AVD group had DDI of less than 30 min and 21 women (6.0%) in the CS group had a DDI of less than 30 min (p <  0.001). During the DDI, there were 3 (1.4%) intra-uterine foetal deaths (IUFD) in the AVD and 19 (5.5%) in the CS group (p = 0.023). After adjusting for co-variates, there were statistically significant differences between the AVD and CS groups in the foetal death during DDI (p = 0.029) and perinatal deaths (p = 0.040); but no statistically significant differences in severe perinatal outcomes (p = 0.811), APGAR scores at 5th minutes (p = 0.355), and admission into the NICU (p = 0.946). After adjusting for co-variates, use of AVD was significantly associated with the level of experience of the care provider, with resident (junior) doctors less likely to opt for AVD than CS (aOR = 0.45, 95% CI: 0.29–0.70). Conclusion Second-stage CS when compared with AVD was not associated with improved perinatal outcomes. AVD is a practical option for reducing the rising Caesarean delivery rates without compromising the clinical status of the newborn.
  • Maternal health after Ebola: unmet needs and barriers to healthcare in rural Sierra Leone

    Elston, JWT; Danis, K; Gray, N; West, K; Lokuge, K; Black, B; Stringer, B; Jimmisa, AS; Biankoe, A; Sanko, MO; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2019-11-07)
    Sierra Leone has the world’s highest estimated maternal mortality. Following the 2014–16 Ebola outbreak, we described health outcomes and health-seeking behaviour amongst pregnant women to inform health policy. In October 2016–January 2017, we conducted a sequential mixed-methods study in urban and rural areas of Tonkolili District comprising: household survey targeting women who had given birth since onset of the Ebola outbreak; structured interviews at rural sites investigating maternal deaths and reporting; and in-depth interviews (IDIs) targeting mothers, community leaders and health workers. We selected 30 clusters in each area: by random GPS points (urban) and by random village selection stratified by population size (rural). We collected data on health-seeking behaviours, barriers to healthcare, childbirth and outcomes using structured questionnaires. IDIs exploring topics identified through the survey were conducted with a purposive sample and analysed thematically. We surveyed 608 women and conducted 29 structured and 72 IDIs. Barriers, including costs of healthcare and physical inaccessibility of healthcare facilities, delayed or prevented 90% [95% confidence interval (CI): 80–95] (rural) vs 59% (95% CI: 48–68) (urban) pregnant women from receiving healthcare. Despite a general preference for biomedical care, 48% of rural and 31% of urban women gave birth outside of a health facility; of those, just 4% and 34%, respectively received skilled assistance. Women expressed mistrust of healthcare workers (HCWs) primarily due to payment demanded for ‘free’ healthcare. HCWs described lack of pay and poor conditions precluding provision of quality care. Twenty percent of women reported labour complications. Twenty-eight percent of villages had materials to record maternal deaths. Pregnant women faced important barriers to care, particularly in rural areas, leading to high preventable mortality and morbidity. Women wanted to access healthcare, but services available were often costly, unreachable and poor quality. We recommend urgent interventions, including health promotion, free healthcare access and strengthening rural services to address barriers to maternal healthcare.
  • Prevalence and correlates of low serum calcium in late pregnancy: A cross sectional study in the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital; Littoral Region of Cameroon

    Ajong, AB; Kenfack, B; Ali, IM; Yakum, MN; Telefo, PB (Public Library of Science, 2019-11-07)
    Introduction Women from low and middle income countries are generally more likely to have sub-optimal calcium intake. The objective of this study was to assess serum calcium disorders and correlates in late pregnancy. Methods We conducted from December 2018 to April 2019, a cross-sectional hospital-based study targeting pregnant women in late pregnancy in the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital. Data were collected by measurement of parameters (weight, height, blood pressure and foetal birthweight), administration of a semi-structured questionnaire and analysis of blood samples collected from each participant. Absorption spectrophotometry was used to measure serum calcium and albumin concentrations and corrected serum calcium calculated from the Payne’s equation. With a statistical significant threshold set at p-value = 0.05, the odds ratio was used as a measure of the strength of association between hypocalcaemia and maternofoetal variables. Results We enrolled a total of 354 consenting participants with a mean age of 27.41±5.84 years. The prevalence of hypocalcaemia in late pregnancy was 58.76 [53.42–63.90]%. The rate of calcium supplementation in pregnancy was 57.63[52.28–62.80]% with a mean duration of supplementation of 3.69±1.47 months. When controlled for marital status, age, level of education, and gestational age at delivery, pregnant women with systolic blood pressures below 130 mmHg were significantly less likely to have hypocalcaemia than their counterparts with higher systolic blood pressures (Adjusted Odds Ratio = 0.41[0.18–0.89], p-value = 0.020). No statistically significant associations were found between diastolic blood pressure, body mass index, foetal birth weight and hypocalcaemia. Conclusion Hypocalcaemia in late pregnancy is highly prevalent (59%) among women accessing reproductive services at the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital. There is also a wide gap in calcium supplementation compared to World Health Organization recommendations. Hypocalcaemia is significantly associated to higher systolic blood pressure in pregnancy. Systematic calcium supplementation and consumption of high calcium containing locally available meals should be encouraged.
  • Does the presence of conflict affect maternal and neonatal mortality during Caesarean sections?

    Gil Cuesta, J; Trelles, M; Naseer, A; Momin, A; Ngabo Mulamira, L; Caluwaerts, S; Guha-Sapir, D (International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, 2019-09-21)
    Introduction: Conflicts frequently occur in countries with high maternal and neonatal mortality and can aggravate difficulties accessing emergency care. No literature is available on whether the presence of conflict influences the outcomes of mothers and neonates during Caesarean sections (C-sections) in high-mortality settings. Objective: To determine whether the presence of conflict was associated with changes in maternal and neonatal mortality during C-sections. Methods: We analysed routinely collected data on C-sections from 17 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health facilities in 12 countries. Exposure variables included presence and intensity of conflict, type of health facility and other types of access to emergency care. Results: During 2008–2015, 30,921 C-sections were performed in MSF facilities; of which 55.4% were in areas of conflict. No differences were observed in maternal mortality in conflict settings (0.1%) vs. non-conflict settings (0.1%) (P = 0.08), nor in neonatal mortality between conflict (12.2%) and non-conflict settings (11.5%) (P = 0.1). Among the C-sections carried out in conflict settings, neonatal mortality was slightly higher in war zones compared to areas of minor conflict (P = 0.02); there was no difference in maternal mortality (P = 0.38). Conclusions: Maternal and neonatal mortality did not appear to be affected by the presence of conflict in a large number of MSF facilities. This finding should encourage humanitarian organisations to support C-sections in conflict settings to ensure access to quality maternity care.
  • Lassa fever in pregnancy with a positive maternal and fetal outcome: A case report.

    Agboeze, J; Nwali, MI; Nwakpakpa, E; Ogah, OE; Onoh, R; Eze, J; Ukaegbe, C; Ajayi, N; Nnadozie, UU; Orji, ML; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-08-26)
    BACKGROUND: The signs and symptoms of Lassa fever are initially indistinguishable from other febrile illnesses common in the tropics and complications of pregnancy. Surviving Lassa fever during pregnancy is rare. Only few cases have been documented. The antiviral drug of choice is ribavirin. CASE DESCRIPTION: A 25-year-old multigravida farmer with fever who was initially thought to have malaria in pregnancy at 29 weeks gestation. Further changes in her clinical state and laboratory tests led to a confirmation of Lassa fever. The Liver enzymes were markedly deranged and the packed cell volume was 27%. She commenced on ribavirin and subsequently was delivered of a live male neonate who was RT PCR negative for Lassa fever virus. Her clinical state improved, repeat RT PCR on day 15 was negative and she made full recovery. DISCUSSION: The case reported had similar clinical features of fever and abdominal pain and resulted in the initial diagnoses of Malaria in pregnancy. When she failed to respond to antimalarial and antibiotics treatments, a strong suspicion of viral hemorrhagic fever was made. At this time the patient was in advanced stage of the disease with bleeding from vagina and puncture sites. On the third day of admission she was delivered of a live male neonate who remained negative after 2 consecutive RT PCR tests for Lassa fever virus. Lassa fever carries a high risk of death to the fetus throughout pregnancy and to the mother in the third trimester. Mothers with Lassa fever improved rapidly after evacuation of the uterus by spontaneous abortion, or normal delivery. She was clinically stable following delivery. Her laboratory investigations were essentially normal. Throughout her management transmission based precautions were observed. None of the six close contacts developed symptoms after been followed up for 21 days. CONCLUSION: This report adds to the body of literature that individuals can survive Lassa fever during pregnancy with good maternal and fetal outcome.
  • The epidemiology of rape and sexual violence in the platinum mining district of Rustenburg, South Africa: Prevalence, and factors associated with sexual violence.

    Steele, SJ; Abrahams, N; Duncan, K; Woollett, N; Hwang, B; O'Connell, L; van Cutsem, G; Shroufi, A (Public Library of Sciences, 2019-07-31)
    BACKGROUND: Estimates for the prevalence of rape and other forms of sexual violence (SV) vary in South Africa. This survey aimed to provide clarity by quantifying the prevalence of SV (forced sex or sexual acts) by 1) sexual partners, and 2) non-partners, and to describe factors associated with these outcomes among women (18-49 years) living in Rustenburg Municipality. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a cluster-randomized household survey (November-December 2015). Women were asked about their experiences of SV, associated attitudes and behaviours, and access to services. Logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with partner and non-partner SV. RESULTS: Of eligible households, 83·1% (1700/2044) participated. Of 966 women invited, 836 participated (86·5%). Average age of participants was 31.6 years (95%CI: 30·9, 32·4) with 45% having completed at least secondary school, and 60% unemployed or looking for work. Lifetime prevalence of SV was 24.9% (95%CI: 21·7-28·5), reaching 9.0% (95% CI: 6·6-12·1) by age 15. Almost one third told no one of their SV experiences. Factors related to financial dependence were associated with SV by a partner. History of termination of pregnancy increased the likelihood of SV by a non-partner as an adult. Women who experienced SV in childhood or as an adult were more likely to experience SV from a different type of perpetrator than those who did not. CONCLUSIONS: We found a high prevalence of SV, including during childhood, in this setting, with limited access to care. This and the high morbidity attributed to SV calls for increased service provision.
  • Acceptability and utilization of a lipid-based nutrient supplement formulated for pregnant women in rural Niger: a multi-methods study

    Isanaka, S; Kodish, SR; Mamaty, AA; Guindo, O; Zeilani, M; Grais, RFF (BioMed Central, 2019-07-01)
    Background In food insecure settings, it may be difficult for pregnant women to meet increased nutritional needs through traditional diets. A promising new strategy to fill nutrient gaps in pregnancy involves the provision of lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNS). We aimed to assess the acceptability and utilization of a 40 g LNS formulation (Epi-E) with increased micronutrient content relative to the recommended daily allowance among pregnant women in rural Niger. Methods We conducted a two-part, multi-methods study among pregnant women presenting to antenatal care in Madarounfa, Niger during two periods (Ramadan and non-Ramadan). Part 1 included two LNS test meals provided at the health center, and Part 2 included a 14-day home trial to simulate more realistic conditions outside of the health center. Open- and closed-ended questions were used to assess organoleptic properties of Epi-E using a 5-point hedonic scale after the test meals, as well as utilization and willingness to pay for Epi-E after the 14-day home trial. Results Participants consumed more than 90% of the test meal in both periods. Epi-E was rated highly in terms of overall liking, color, taste and smell during test meals in both periods (median 5/5 for all); only time, mode and frequency of consumption varied between Ramadan and non-Ramadan periods in observance of daily fasting during the holy month. Conclusion Epi- E, a 40 g LNS formulation with increased micronutrient content, was highly acceptable among pregnant women in rural Niger, and utilization was guided by household and individual considerations that varied by time period. This formulation can be further tested as a potential strategy to improve the nutritional status of pregnant women in this context.
  • Reproductive health in humanitarian settings in Lebanon and Iraq: results from four cross-sectional studies, 2014-2015.

    Balinska, MA; Nesbitt, R; Ghantous, Z; Ciglenecki, I; Staderini, N (BMC, 2019-06-10)
    BACKGROUND: Reproductive health is an important component of humanitarian response. Displaced women need access to family planning, antenatal care, and the presence of a skilled birth attendant at delivery. Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Lebanon and Iraq have been hosting large numbers of refugees, thereby straining local capacities to provide these services. In order to identify salient health needs, Médecins Sans Frontières conducted a survey in several sites hosting refugees and internally displaced persons across the region. Here we describe the reproductive health profile of Syrian refugees, Iraqi displaced persons, and vulnerable Lebanese and their use of services. METHODS: We conducted four cross-sectional surveys in 2014-2015 in two sites in Lebanon and two sites in Iraq. Depending on the site, two-stage cluster sampling or systematic sampling was intended, but non-probability methods were employed at the second stage due to implementation challenges. We collected information on overall health (including reproductive health) and demographic information from heads of households on the basis of a standardized questionnaire. Pearson chi-square tests were used to compare proportions, and generalized linear models were used to calculate odds ratios with regard to risk factors. All analyses were performed using the survey suite of commands in Stata version 14.1. RESULTS: A total of 23,604 individuals were surveyed, including 5925 women of childbearing age. Overall, it was reported that 7.5% of women were currently pregnant and 12.8% had given birth within the previous 12 months. It was reported that pregnancy was unplanned for 57% of currently pregnant women and 66.7% of women who had delivered in the previous year. A slight majority of women from both groups had accessed antenatal care at least once. Amongst women who had delivered in the previous year, 84.5% had done so with a skilled birth attendant and 22.1% had had a cesarean section. Location and head of household education were predictors of unplanned pregnancy in multivariable analysis. Head of household education was also significantly associated with higher uptake of antenatal care. CONCLUSIONS: Considering the large number of pregnant women and women having recently delivered in these settings, addressing their sexual and reproductive health needs emerges as a crucial aspect of humanitarian response. This study identified unmet needs for family planning and high cesarean section rates at all sites, suggesting both lack of access to certain services (contraception, antenatal care), but also over-recourse to cesarean section. These specific challenges can impact directly on maternal and child health and need today to be kept high on the humanitarian agenda.
  • Breast Tuberculosis in Women: A Systematic Review

    Quaglio, G; Pizzol, D; Isaakidis, P; Bortolani, A; Tognon, F; Marotta, C; Di Gennaro, F; Putoto, G; Olliaro, P (American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2019-05-20)
    Breast tuberculosis (TB) is rarely reported and poorly described. This review aims to update the existing literature on risk factors, clinical presentations, constitutional symptoms, diagnostic procedures, and medical and surgical treatments for breast TB. In all, 1,478 cases of breast TB were collected. Previous history of TB was reported in 19% of cases. The most common clinical appearance of the lesion was breast lump (75%). The most common associated finding was axillary lymphadenitis (33%) followed by sinus or fistula (24%). The most common symptoms were pain and fever, reported in 42% and 28% of cases, respectively. The most used diagnostic method was fine-needle aspiration cytology (32%), followed by biopsy (27%), acid-fast bacteria Ziehl–Neelsen stain (26%), culture (13%), and polymerase chain reaction (2%). These tested positive in 64%, 93%, 27%, 26%, and 58% of cases, respectively. The majority (69%) of patients received a 6-month anti-TB treatment (isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol). Surgery consisted of excision in 39% of cases, drainage in 23%, and mastectomy in 5%. The great majority of patients had a positive outcome. It often mimics breast cancer, which makes it difficult to diagnose. Most patients, when diagnosed in time, respond to antitubercular therapy alone.
  • "If we miss this chance, it's futile later on" - late antenatal booking and its determinants in Bhutan: a mixed-methods study.

    Dorji, T; Das, M; Van den Bergh, R; Oo, MM; Gyamtsho, S; Tenzin, K; Tshomo, T; Ugen, S (BioMed Central, 2019-05-07)
    BACKGROUND: To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal related to maternal and neonatal outcomes, the World Health Organization advocates for a first antenatal care (ANC) contact before 12 weeks of gestation. In order to guide interventions to achieve early ANC in the lower middle-income setting of Bhutan, we conducted an assessment of the magnitude and determinants of late ANC in this context. METHODS: This was a mixed-methods study with quantitative (cross-sectional study) and qualitative (in-depth interviews with pregnant women and ANC providers) component in a concurrent triangulation design. The quantitative component retrospectively analysed the socio-demographic and clinical characteristics, and the gestational age at booking of women who were provided care for delivery or miscarriages at the three tertiary hospitals in Bhutan from May-August 2018. The qualitative component involved thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with ten women attending ANC visits and four healthcare workers involved in ANC provision. RESULTS: Among 868 women studied, 67% (n = 584) had a late booking (after 12 weeks), and 1% (n = 13) had no booking. Women with only primary education and those residing in rural areas were more likely to have a late first ANC booking. While many women achieved the recommended eight ANC visits, this did not necessarily reflect early booking. Late booking was common among multigravida women. The interviews illustrated a general understanding and recognition of the importance of early ANC. Support from peers, family and co-workers, and male participation in accessing ANC were seen as enablers. The outreach clinics (ORCs) at the primary healthcare level were an important means of reaching the ANC services to women in rural areas where geographical accessibility was a barrier. Specific barriers to early ANC were gender insensitivity in providing care through male health workers, cost/time in ANC visits, and the inability to produce the documents of the father for booking ANC. CONCLUSION: Late ANC booking was common in Bhutan, and appeared to be associated with educational, geographic, socio-cultural and administrative characteristics. A comprehensive information package on ANC needs to be developed for pregnant mothers, and the quality of ANC coverage needs to be measured in terms of early ANC booking.
  • Trends of and factors associated with cesarean section related surgical site infections in Guinea

    Delamou, A; Camara, BS; Sidibe, S; Camara, A; Dioubate, N; Ayadi, AME; Tayler-Smith, K; Beavogui, AH; Balde, MD; Zachariah, R (Page Press, 2019-05-03)
    Since the adoption of free obstetric care policy in Guinea in 2011, no study has examined the surgical site infections in maternity facilities. The objective of this study was to assess the trends of and factors associated with surgical site infection following cesarean section in Guinean maternity facilities from 2013 to 2015. This was a retrospective cohort study using routine medical data from ten facilities. Overall, the incidence of surgical site infections following cesarean section showed a declining trend across the three periods (10% in 2013, 7% in 2014 and 5% in 2015, P<0.001). Women who underwent cesarean section in 2014 (AOR: 0.70; 95%CI: 0.57-0.84) and 2015 (AOR: 0.43; 95%CI: 0.34-0.55) were less likely to develop surgical site infections during hospital stay than women operated in 2013. In the contrary, women with comorbidities were more likely to experience surgical site infection (AOR: 1.54; 95% CI: 1.25-1.90) than those who did not have comorbidities. The reductions achieved in 2014 and 2015 (during the Ebola outbreak) should be sustained in the post-Ebola context.

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