Publications by authors named "Justine Davies"

118 Publications

Unmet need for hypercholesterolemia care in 35 low- and middle-income countries: A cross-sectional study of nationally representative surveys.

PLoS Med 2021 Oct 25;18(10):e1003841. Epub 2021 Oct 25.

Department of Economics & Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Goettingen, Göttingen, Germany.

Background: As the prevalence of hypercholesterolemia is increasing in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), detailed evidence is urgently needed to guide the response of health systems to this epidemic. This study sought to quantify unmet need for hypercholesterolemia care among adults in 35 LMICs.

Methods And Findings: We pooled individual-level data from 129,040 respondents aged 15 years and older from 35 nationally representative surveys conducted between 2009 and 2018. Hypercholesterolemia care was quantified using cascade of care analyses in the pooled sample and by region, country income group, and country. Hypercholesterolemia was defined as (i) total cholesterol (TC) ≥240 mg/dL or self-reported lipid-lowering medication use and, alternatively, as (ii) low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) ≥160 mg/dL or self-reported lipid-lowering medication use. Stages of the care cascade for hypercholesterolemia were defined as follows: screened (prior to the survey), aware of diagnosis, treated (lifestyle advice and/or medication), and controlled (TC <200 mg/dL or LDL-C <130 mg/dL). We further estimated how age, sex, education, body mass index (BMI), current smoking, having diabetes, and having hypertension are associated with cascade progression using modified Poisson regression models with survey fixed effects. High TC prevalence was 7.1% (95% CI: 6.8% to 7.4%), and high LDL-C prevalence was 7.5% (95% CI: 7.1% to 7.9%). The cascade analysis showed that 43% (95% CI: 40% to 45%) of study participants with high TC and 47% (95% CI: 44% to 50%) with high LDL-C ever had their cholesterol measured prior to the survey. About 31% (95% CI: 29% to 33%) and 36% (95% CI: 33% to 38%) were aware of their diagnosis; 29% (95% CI: 28% to 31%) and 33% (95% CI: 31% to 36%) were treated; 7% (95% CI: 6% to 9%) and 19% (95% CI: 18% to 21%) were controlled. We found substantial heterogeneity in cascade performance across countries and higher performances in upper-middle-income countries and the Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, and Americas. Lipid screening was significantly associated with older age, female sex, higher education, higher BMI, comorbid diagnosis of diabetes, and comorbid diagnosis of hypertension. Awareness of diagnosis was significantly associated with older age, higher BMI, comorbid diagnosis of diabetes, and comorbid diagnosis of hypertension. Lastly, treatment of hypercholesterolemia was significantly associated with comorbid hypertension and diabetes, and control of lipid measures with comorbid diabetes. The main limitations of this study are a potential recall bias in self-reported information on received health services as well as diminished comparability due to varying survey years and varying lipid guideline application across country and clinical settings.

Conclusions: Cascade performance was poor across all stages, indicating large unmet need for hypercholesterolemia care in this sample of LMICs-calling for greater policy and research attention toward this cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor and highlighting opportunities for improved prevention of CVD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003841DOI Listing
October 2021

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on hospital utilisation in Sierra Leone.

BMJ Glob Health 2021 10;6(10)

King's Centre for Global Health and Health Partnerships, King's College London School of Population Health and Environmental Sciences, London, UK.

Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected health systems in many countries, but little is known about effects on health systems in sub-Saharan Africa. This study examines the effects of COVID-19 on hospital utilisation in a sub-Saharan country, Sierra Leone.

Methods: Mixed-methods study using longitudinal nationwide hospital data (admissions, operations, deliveries and referrals) and qualitative interviews with healthcare workers and patients. Hospital data were compared across quarters (Q) in 2020, with day 1 of Q2 representing the start of the pandemic in Sierra Leone. Admissions are reported in total and disaggregated by sex, service (surgical, medical, maternity and paediatric) and hospital type (government or private non-profit). Referrals in 2020 were compared with 2019 to assess whether any changes were the result of seasonality. Comparisons were performed using Student's t-test. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: From Q1 to Q2, weekly mean hospital admissions decreased by 14.7% (p=0.005). Larger decreases were seen in male 18.8% than female 12.5% admissions. The largest decreases were in surgical admissions, a 49.8% decrease (p<0.001) and medical admissions, a 28.7% decrease (p=0.002). Paediatric and maternity admissions did not significantly change. Total operations decreased by 13.9% (p<0.001), while caesarean sections and facility-based deliveries showed significant increases: 12.7% (p=0.014) and 7.5% (p=0.03), respectively. In Q3, total admissions remained 13.2% lower (p<0.001) than Q1. Mean weekly referrals were lower in Q2 and Q3 of 2020 compared with 2019, suggesting findings were unlikely to be seasonal. Qualitative analysis identified both supply-side factors, prioritisation of essential services, introduction of COVID-19 services and pausing elective care, and demand-side factors, fear of nosocomial infection and financial hardship.

Conclusion: The study demonstrated a decrease in hospital utilisation during COVID-19, the decrease is less than reported in other countries during COVID-19 and less than reported during the Ebola epidemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2021-005988DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8506048PMC
October 2021

Correction to: Prevalence and socio-demographic associations of diet and physical activity risk-factors for cardiovascular disease in Bo, Sierra Leone.

BMC Public Health 2021 Oct 7;21(1):1806. Epub 2021 Oct 7.

Institute of Applied Health Research, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, B15 2TT, Birmingham, UK.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-11759-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8499498PMC
October 2021

The relationship between psychosocial circumstances and injuries in adolescents: An analysis of 87,269 individuals from 26 countries using the Global School-based Student Health Survey.

PLoS Med 2021 Sep 28;18(9):e1003722. Epub 2021 Sep 28.

Institute for Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Background: Over a million adolescents die globally each year from preventable or treatable causes, with injuries (intentional and unintentional) being the leading cause of these deaths. To inform strategies to prevent these injuries, we aimed to assess psychosocial factors associated with serious injury occurrence, type, and mechanism in adolescents.

Methods And Findings: We conducted a secondary analysis of cross-sectional survey data collected from the Global School-based Student Health Survey between 2009 and 2015. We used logistic regression to estimate associations between prevalence of serious injuries, injury type (effects of injury), and injury mechanism (cause of injury) and psychosocial factors (factors that relate to individuals socially, or their thoughts or behaviour, or the interrelation between these variables). Psychosocial factors were categorised, based on review of the literature, author knowledge, and discussion amongst authors. The categories were markers of risky behaviour (smoking, alcohol use, drug use, and physical activity), contextual factors (hunger, bullying, and loneliness), protective factors (number of friends and having a supportive family), and markers of poor mental health (planned or attempted suicide and being too worried to sleep). Models were adjusted for country factors (geographical area and income status, both using World Bank classification), demographic factors (age and sex), and factors to explain the survey design. A total of 87,269 adolescents living in 26 countries were included. The weighted majority were 14-15 years old (45.88%), male (50.70%), from a lower-middle-income country (81.93%), and from East Asia and the Pacific (66.83%). The weighted prevalence of a serious injury in the last 12 months was 36.33%, with the rate being higher in low-income countries compared to other countries (48.74% versus 36.14%) and amongst males compared to females (42.62% versus 29.87%). Psychosocial factors most strongly associated with serious injury were being bullied (odds ratio [OR] 2.45, 95% CI 1.93 to 3.13, p < 0.001), drug use (OR 2.08, 95% CI 1.73 to 2.49, p < 0.001), attempting suicide (OR 1.78, CI 1.55 to 2.04, p < 0.001), being too worried to sleep (OR 1.80, 95% CI 1.54 to 2.10, p < 0.001), feeling lonely (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.37 to 1.89, p < 0.001), and going hungry (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.30 to 2.01, p < 0.001). Factors hypothesised to be protective were not associated with reduced odds of serious injury: Number of close friends was associated with an increased odds of injury (OR 1.23, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.43, p = 0.007), as was having understanding parents or guardians (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.26, p = 0.036). Being bullied, using drugs, and attempting suicide were associated with most types of injury, and being bullied or too worried to sleep were associated with most mechanisms of injury; other psychosocial factors were variably associated with injury type and mechanism. Limitations include the cross-sectional study design, making it not possible to determine the directionality of the associations found, and the survey not capturing children who did not go to school.

Conclusions: We observed strong associations between serious injury and psychosocial factors, but we note the relationships are likely to be complex and our findings do not inform causality. Nevertheless, our findings suggest that multifactorial programmes to target psychosocial factors might reduce the number of serious injuries in adolescents, in particular programmes concentrating on reducing bullying and drug use and improving mental health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003722DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8478259PMC
September 2021

Estimated effect of increased diagnosis, treatment, and control of diabetes and its associated cardiovascular risk factors among low-income and middle-income countries: a microsimulation model.

Lancet Glob Health 2021 Nov 22;9(11):e1539-e1552. Epub 2021 Sep 22.

Institute for Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK; Centre for Global Surgery, Department of Global Health, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa; Medical Research Council-Wits University Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Background: Given the increasing prevalence of diabetes in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), we aimed to estimate the health and cost implications of achieving different targets for diagnosis, treatment, and control of diabetes and its associated cardiovascular risk factors among LMICs.

Methods: We constructed a microsimulation model to estimate disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) lost and health-care costs of diagnosis, treatment, and control of blood pressure, dyslipidaemia, and glycaemia among people with diabetes in LMICs. We used individual participant data-specifically from the subset of people who were defined as having any type of diabetes by WHO standards-from nationally representative, cross-sectional surveys (2006-18) spanning 15 world regions to estimate the baseline 10-year risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (defined as fatal and non-fatal myocardial infarction and stroke), heart failure (ejection fraction of <40%, with New York Heart Association class III or IV functional limitations), end-stage renal disease (defined as an estimated glomerular filtration rate <15 mL/min per 1·73 m or needing dialysis or transplant), retinopathy with severe vision loss (<20/200 visual acuity as measured by the Snellen chart), and neuropathy with pressure sensation loss (assessed by the Semmes-Weinstein 5·07/10 g monofilament exam). We then used data from meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials to estimate the reduction in risk and the WHO OneHealth tool to estimate costs in reaching either 60% or 80% of diagnosis, treatment initiation, and control targets for blood pressure, dyslipidaemia, and glycaemia recommended by WHO guidelines. Costs were updated to 2020 International Dollars, and both costs and DALYs were computed over a 10-year policy planning time horizon at a 3% annual discount rate.

Findings: We obtained data from 23 678 people with diabetes from 67 countries. The median estimated 10-year risk was 10·0% (IQR 4·0-18·0) for cardiovascular events, 7·8% (5·1-11·8) for neuropathy with pressure sensation loss, 7·2% (5·6-9·4) for end-stage renal disease, 6·0% (4·2-8·6) for retinopathy with severe vision loss, and 2·6% (1·2-5·3) for congestive heart failure. A target of 80% diagnosis, 80% treatment, and 80% control would be expected to reduce DALYs lost from diabetes complications from a median population-weighted loss to 1097 DALYs per 1000 population over 10 years (IQR 1051-1155), relative to a baseline of 1161 DALYs, primarily from reduced cardiovascular events (down from a median of 143 to 117 DALYs per 1000 population) due to blood pressure and statin treatment, with comparatively little effect from glycaemic control. The target of 80% diagnosis, 80% treatment, and 80% control would be expected to produce an overall incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of US$1362 per DALY averted (IQR 1304-1409), with the majority of decreased costs from reduced cardiovascular event management, counterbalanced by increased costs for blood pressure and statin treatment, producing an overall incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $1362 per DALY averted (IQR 1304-1409).

Interpretation: Reducing complications from diabetes in LMICs is likely to require a focus on scaling up blood pressure and statin medication treatment initiation and blood pressure medication titration rather than focusing on increasing screening to increase diabetes diagnosis, or a glycaemic treatment and control among people with diabetes.

Funding: None.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(21)00340-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8526364PMC
November 2021

Economic burden of road traffic injuries in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review of existing literature.

BMJ Open 2021 Sep 15;11(9):e048231. Epub 2021 Sep 15.

Institute for Global Health, University College London, Faculty of Population Health Sciences, London, UK

Objective: This systematic review aims to explore and synthesise existing literature on the direct and indirect costs from road traffic injuries (RTIs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the quality of existing evidence, methods used to estimate and report these costs, and the factors that drive the costs.

Methodology: MEDLINE, SCOPUS, ProQuest Central, Web of Science, Global Index Medicus, Embase, World Bank Group e-Library, Econlit, Google Scholar and WHO webpages were searched for relevant literature. References of selected papers were also examined for related articles. Screening was done following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Articles were included in this review if they were published by March 2019, written in English, conducted in SSA and reported original findings on the cost of illness or economic burden of RTIs. The results were systematically examined, and the quality assessed by two reviewers using a modified Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards (CHEERS) checklist.

Results: Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. RTIs can cost between INT$119 and 178 634 per injury and INT$486 and 12 845 per hospitalisation. Findings show variability in costing methods and inadequacies in the quality of existing evidence. Prolonged hospital stays, surgical sundries and severity of injury were the most common factors associated with cost.

Conclusion: While available data are limited, evidence shows that the economic burden of RTIs in SSA is high. Poor quality of existing evidence and heterogeneity in costing methods limit the generalisability of costs reported.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-048231DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8444250PMC
September 2021

Multimorbidity and mortality in an older, rural black South African population cohort with high prevalence of HIV findings from the HAALSI Study.

BMJ Open 2021 09 15;11(9):e047777. Epub 2021 Sep 15.

MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand Faculty of Health Sciences, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Objectives: Multimorbidity is associated with mortality in high-income countries. Our objective was to investigate the relationship between multimorbidity (≥2 of the following chronic medical conditions: hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidaemia, anaemia, HIV, angina, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol dependence) and all-cause mortality in an older, rural black South African population. We further investigated the relationship between HIV multimorbidity (HIV as part of the multimorbidity cluster) and mortality, while testing for the effect of frailty in all models.

Design: Population cohort study.

Setting: Agincourt subdistrict of Mpumalanga province, South Africa.

Participants: 4455 individuals (54.7% female), aged ≥40 years (median age 61 years, IQR 52-71) and resident in the study area.

Primary And Secondary Outcome Measures: The primary outcome measure was time to death and the secondary outcome measure was likelihood of death within 2 years of the initial study visit. Mortality was determined during annual population surveillance updates.

Results: 3157 individuals (70.9%) had multimorbidity; 29% of these had HIV. In models adjusted for age and sociodemographic factors, multimorbidity was associated with greater risk of death (women: HR 1.72; 95% CI: 1.18 to 2.50; men: HR 1.46; 95% CI: 1.09 to 1.95) and greater odds of dying within 2 years (women: OR 2.34; 95% CI: 1.32 to 4.16; men: OR 1.51; 95% CI: 1.02 to 2.24). HIV multimorbidity was associated with increased risk of death compared with non-HIV multimorbidity in men (HR 1.93; 95% CI: 1.05 to 3.54), but was not statistically significant in women (HR 1.85; 95% CI: 0.85 to 4.04); when detectable, HIV viral loads were higher in men (p=0.021). Further adjustment for frailty slightly attenuated the associations between multimorbidity and mortality risk (women: HR 1.55; 95% CI: 1.06 to 2.26; men: HR 1.36; 95% CI: 1.01 to 1.82), but slightly increased associations between HIV multimorbidity and mortality risk.

Conclusions: Multimorbidity is associated with mortality in this older black South African population. Health systems which currently focus on HIV should be reorganised to optimise identification and management of other prevalent chronic diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-047777DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8444254PMC
September 2021

Global surgery, obstetric, and anaesthesia indicator definitions and reporting: An Utstein consensus report.

PLoS Med 2021 Aug 20;18(8):e1003749. Epub 2021 Aug 20.

Program in Global Surgery and Social Change, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.

Background: Indicators to evaluate progress towards timely access to safe surgical, anaesthesia, and obstetric (SAO) care were proposed in 2015 by the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery. These aimed to capture access to surgery, surgical workforce, surgical volume, perioperative mortality rate, and catastrophic and impoverishing financial consequences of surgery. Despite being rapidly taken up by practitioners, data points from which to derive the indicators were not defined, limiting comparability across time or settings. We convened global experts to evaluate and explicitly define-for the first time-the indicators to improve comparability and support achievement of 2030 goals to improve access to safe affordable surgical and anaesthesia care globally.

Methods And Findings: The Utstein process for developing and reporting guidelines through a consensus building process was followed. In-person discussions at a 2-day meeting were followed by an iterative process conducted by email and virtual group meetings until consensus was reached. The meeting was held between June 16 to 18, 2019; discussions continued until August 2020. Participants consisted of experts in surgery, anaesthesia, and obstetric care, data science, and health indicators from high-, middle-, and low-income countries. Considering each of the 6 indicators in turn, we refined overarching descriptions and agreed upon data points needed for construction of each indicator at current time (basic data points), and as each evolves over 2 to 5 (intermediate) and >5 year (full) time frames. We removed one of the original 6 indicators (one of 2 financial risk protection indicators was eliminated) and refined descriptions and defined data points required to construct the 5 remaining indicators: geospatial access, workforce, surgical volume, perioperative mortality, and catastrophic expenditure. A strength of the process was the number of people from global institutes and multilateral agencies involved in the collection and reporting of global health metrics; a limitation was the limited number of participants from low- or middle-income countries-who only made up 21% of the total attendees.

Conclusions: To track global progress towards timely access to quality SAO care, these indicators-at the basic level-should be implemented universally as soon as possible. Intermediate and full indicator sets should be achieved by all countries over time. Meanwhile, these evolutions can assist in the short term in developing national surgical plans and collecting more detailed data for research studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003749DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8415575PMC
August 2021

Prevalence and socio-demographic associations of diet and physical activity risk-factors for cardiovascular disease in Bo, Sierra Leone.

BMC Public Health 2021 08 10;21(1):1530. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

Institute of Applied Health Research, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK.

Background: Little is known about modifiable dietary and physical activity risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in Sierra Leone. This information is critical to the development of health improvement interventions to reduce the prevalence of these diseases. This cross-sectional study investigated the prevalence and socio-demographic correlates of dietary and physical activity risk behaviours amongst adults in Bo District, Sierra Leone.

Methods: Adults aged 40+ were recruited from 10 urban and 30 rural sub-districts in Bo. We examined risk factors including: ≤150 min of moderate or vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) weekly, physical inactivity for ≥3 h daily, ≤5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables, and salt consumption (during cooking, at the table, and in salty snacks). We used logistic regression to investigate the relationship between these outcomes and participants' socio-demographic characteristics.

Results: 1978 eligible participants (39.1% urban, 55.6% female) were included in the study. The prevalence of behavioural risk factors was 83.6% for ≤5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables; 41.4 and 91.6% for adding salt at the table or during cooking, respectively and 31.1% for eating salty snacks; 26.1% for MVPA ≤150 min weekly, and 45.6% for being physically inactive ≥3 h daily. Most MVPA was accrued at work (nearly 24 h weekly). Multivariable analysis showed that urban individuals were more likely than rural individuals to consume ≤5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables (Odds Ratio (OR) 1.09, 95% Confidence Interval (1.04-1.15)), add salt at the Table (OR 1.88 (1.82-1.94)), eat salty snacks (OR 2.00 (1.94-2.07)), and do MVPA ≤150 min weekly (OR 1.16 (1.12-1.21)). Male individuals were more likely to add salt at the Table (OR 1.23 (1.20-1.27)) or consume salty snacks (OR 1.35 (1.31-1.40)) than female individuals but were less likely to report the other behavioural risk-factors examined. Generally, people in lower wealth quintiles had lower odds of each risk factor than those in the higher wealth quintiles.

Conclusion: Dietary risk factors for CVD are highly prevalent, particularly among urban residents, of Bo District, Sierra Leone. Our findings highlight that forthcoming policies in Sierra Leone need to consider modifiable risk factors for CVD in the context of urbanisation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-11422-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8353867PMC
August 2021

Pulse wave velocity in South African women and children: comparison between the Mobil-O-Graph and SphygmoCor XCEL devices.

J Hypertens 2021 Jul 16. Epub 2021 Jul 16.

SAMRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa Julius Global Health, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA Hypertension in Africa Research Team (HART) South African Medical Research Council: Unit for Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Background: Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) is the gold-standard noninvasive measure of arterial stiffness. Data comparing tonometry-based devices such as the SphygmoCor XCEL to simpler brachial-cuff-based estimates of PWV, such as from the Mobil-O-Graph in African populations are sparse. We therefore aimed to compare PWV measured by the Mobil-O-Graph and the SphygmoCor XCEL device in a sample of South African women and children.

Methods: Women (n = 85) 29 years [interquartile range (IQR): 29-69] and their children/grandchildren (n = 27) 7 years (IQR: 4-11) were recruited for PWV measurement with Mobil-O-Graph and SphygmoCor XCEL on the same day. Wilcoxon signed-rank test, regression analysis, spearman correlation and Bland-Altman plots were used for PWV comparison between devices.

Results: For adults, the SphygmoCor XCEL device had a significantly higher PWV (7.3 m/s, IQR: 6.4-8.5) compared with the Mobil-O-Graph (5.9 m/s, IQR: 5.0-8.1, P = 0.001) with a correlation coefficient of 0.809 (P ≤ 0.001). Bland--Altman analysis indicated an acceptable level of agreement but significant bias (mean difference PWV: 0.90 ± 1.02 m/s; limits of agreement: -1.10 to 2.90). The odds of having a PWV difference more than 1 m/s decreased with a higher age [odds ratio (OR): 0.95, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 0.92-0.98] and increased with greater height (OR: 1.10, 95% CI = 1.01-1.21, P = 0.03) in multivariable analysis. In children, the Bland-Altman indicated an excellent level of agreement (-0.03 ± 0.63 m/s; limits of agreement: -1.26 to 1.21), but no correlation was found (rs = 0.08, P = 0.71).

Conclusion: Particularly in younger and taller women, the Mobil-O-Graph significantly underestimated PWV compared with the SphygmoCor. Although no correlation was found between the two devices for children, further research is required due to the small sample size. Furthermore, the clinical value of both methods in young African populations requires further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/HJH.0000000000002976DOI Listing
July 2021

Body-mass index and diabetes risk in 57 low-income and middle-income countries: a cross-sectional study of nationally representative, individual-level data in 685 616 adults.

Lancet 2021 07;398(10296):238-248

Non-Communicable Diseases Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Population Sciences Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

Background: The prevalence of overweight, obesity, and diabetes is rising rapidly in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), but there are scant empirical data on the association between body-mass index (BMI) and diabetes in these settings.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we pooled individual-level data from nationally representative surveys across 57 LMICs. We identified all countries in which a WHO Stepwise Approach to Surveillance (STEPS) survey had been done during a year in which the country fell into an eligible World Bank income group category. For LMICs that did not have a STEPS survey, did not have valid contact information, or declined our request for data, we did a systematic search for survey datasets. Eligible surveys were done during or after 2008; had individual-level data; were done in a low-income, lower-middle-income, or upper-middle-income country; were nationally representative; had a response rate of 50% or higher; contained a diabetes biomarker (either a blood glucose measurement or glycated haemoglobin [HbA]); and contained data on height and weight. Diabetes was defined biologically as a fasting plasma glucose concentration of 7·0 mmol/L (126·0 mg/dL) or higher; a random plasma glucose concentration of 11·1 mmol/L (200·0 mg/dL) or higher; or a HbA of 6·5% (48·0 mmol/mol) or higher, or by self-reported use of diabetes medication. We included individuals aged 25 years or older with complete data on diabetes status, BMI (defined as normal [18·5-22·9 kg/m], upper-normal [23·0-24·9 kg/m], overweight [25·0-29·9 kg/m], or obese [≥30·0 kg/m]), sex, and age. Countries were categorised into six geographical regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and central Asia, east, south, and southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and north Africa, and Oceania. We estimated the association between BMI and diabetes risk by multivariable Poisson regression and receiver operating curve analyses, stratified by sex and geographical region.

Findings: Our pooled dataset from 58 nationally representative surveys in 57 LMICs included 685 616 individuals. The overall prevalence of overweight was 27·2% (95% CI 26·6-27·8), of obesity was 21·0% (19·6-22·5), and of diabetes was 9·3% (8·4-10·2). In the pooled analysis, a higher risk of diabetes was observed at a BMI of 23 kg/m or higher, with a 43% greater risk of diabetes for men and a 41% greater risk for women compared with a BMI of 18·5-22·9 kg/m. Diabetes risk also increased steeply in individuals aged 35-44 years and in men aged 25-34 years in sub-Saharan Africa. In the stratified analyses, there was considerable regional variability in this association. Optimal BMI thresholds for diabetes screening ranged from 23·8 kg/m among men in east, south, and southeast Asia to 28·3 kg/m among women in the Middle East and north Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Interpretation: The association between BMI and diabetes risk in LMICs is subject to substantial regional variability. Diabetes risk is greater at lower BMI thresholds and at younger ages than reflected in currently used BMI cutoffs for assessing diabetes risk. These findings offer an important insight to inform context-specific diabetes screening guidelines.

Funding: Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health McLennan Fund: Dean's Challenge Grant Program.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00844-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8336025PMC
July 2021

Targeting Hypertension Screening in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of 1.2 Million Adults in 56 Countries.

J Am Heart Assoc 2021 07 2;10(13):e021063. Epub 2021 Jul 2.

Heidelberg Institute of Global Health Medical Faculty and University Hospital University of Heidelberg Germany.

Background As screening programs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) often do not have the resources to screen the entire population, there is frequently a need to target such efforts to easily identifiable priority groups. This study aimed to determine (1) how hypertension prevalence in LMICs varies by age, sex, body mass index, and smoking status, and (2) the ability of different combinations of these variables to accurately predict hypertension. Methods and Results We analyzed individual-level, nationally representative data from 1 170 629 participants in 56 LMICs, of whom 220 636 (18.8%) had hypertension. Hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure ≥140 mm Hg, diastolic blood pressure ≥90 mm Hg, or reporting to be taking blood pressure-lowering medication. The shape of the positive association of hypertension with age and body mass index varied across world regions. We used logistic regression and random forest models to compute the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve in each country for different combinations of age, body mass index, sex, and smoking status. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for the model with all 4 predictors ranged from 0.64 to 0.85 between countries, with a country-level mean of 0.76 across LMICs globally. The mean absolute increase in the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve from the model including only age to the model including all 4 predictors was 0.05. Conclusions Adding body mass index, sex, and smoking status to age led to only a minor increase in the ability to distinguish between adults with and without hypertension compared with using age alone. Hypertension screening programs in LMICs could use age as the primary variable to target their efforts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.121.021063DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8403275PMC
July 2021

Mortality trends and access to care for cardiovascular diseases in Agincourt, rural South Africa: a mixed-methods analysis of verbal autopsy data.

BMJ Open 2021 06 25;11(6):e048592. Epub 2021 Jun 25.

Medical Research Council/Wits University Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health, Johannesburg, South Africa

Objectives: Cardiovascular diseases are the second leading cause of mortality behind HIV/AIDS in South Africa. This study investigates cardiovascular disease mortality trends in rural South Africa over 20+ years and the associated barriers to accessing care, using verbal autopsy data.

Design: A mixed-methods approach was used, combining descriptive analysis of mortality rates over time, by condition, sex and age group, quantitative analysis of circumstances of mortality (CoM) indicators and free text narratives of the final illness, and qualitative analysis of free texts.

Setting: This study was done using verbal autopsy data from the Health and Socio-Demographic Surveillance System site in Agincourt, rural South Africa.

Participants: Deaths attributable to cardiovascular diseases (acute cardiac disease, stroke, renal failure and other unspecified cardiac disease) from 1993 to 2015 were extracted from verbal autopsy data.

Results: Between 1993 and 2015, of 15 305 registered deaths over 1 851 449 person-years of follow-up, 1434 (9.4%) were attributable to cardiovascular disease, corresponding to a crude mortality rate of 0.77 per 1000 person-years. Cardiovascular disease mortality rate increased from 0.34 to 1.12 between 1993 and 2015. Stroke was the dominant cause of death, responsible for 41.0% (588/1434) of all cardiovascular deaths across all years. Cardiovascular disease mortality rate was significantly higher in women and increased with age. The main delays in access to care during the final illness were in seeking and receiving care. Qualitative free-text analysis highlighted delays not captured in the CoM, principally communication between the clinician and patient or family. Half of cases initially sought care outside a hospital setting (50.9%, 199/391).

Conclusions: The temporal increase in deaths due to cardiovascular disease highlights the need for greater prevention and management strategies for these conditions, particularly for the women. Strategies to improve seeking and receiving care during the final illness are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-048592DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8237742PMC
June 2021

Identifying knowledge needed to improve surgical care in Southern Africa using a theory of change approach.

BMJ Glob Health 2021 06;6(6)

Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

Surgical healthcare has been prioritised in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional intergovernmental entity promoting equitable and sustainable economic growth and socioeconomic development. However, challenges remain in translating political prioritisation into effective and equitable surgical healthcare. The AfroSurg Collaborative (AfroSurg) includes clinicians, public health professionals and social scientists from six SADC countries; it was created to identify context-specific, critical areas where research is needed to inform evidence-grounded policy and implementation. In January 2020, 38 AfroSurg members participated in a theory of change (ToC) workshop to agree on a vision: 'An African-led, regional network to enable evidence-based, context-specific, safe surgical care, which is accessible, timely, and affordable for all, capturing the spirit of Ubuntu' and to identify necessary policy and service-delivery knowledge needs to achieve this vision. A unified ToC map was created, and a Delphi survey was conducted to rank the top five priority knowledge needs. In total, 45 knowledge needs were identified; the top five priority areas included (1) mapping of available surgical services, resources and providers; (2) quantifying the burden of surgical disease; (3) identifying the appropriate number of trainees; (4) identifying the type of information that should be collected to inform service planning; and (5) identifying effective strategies that encourage geographical retention of practitioners. Of the top five knowledge needs, four were policy-related, suggesting a dearth of much-needed information to develop regional, evidenced-based surgical policies. The findings from this workshop provide a roadmap to drive locally led research and create a collaborative network for implementing research and interventions. This process could inform discussions in other low-resource settings and enable more evidenced-based surgical policy and service delivery across the SADC countries and beyond.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2021-005629DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8208008PMC
June 2021

Developing and evaluating a frailty index for older South Africans-findings from the HAALSI study.

Age Ageing 2021 Jun 9. Epub 2021 Jun 9.

AGE Research Group, NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, Translational Clinical Research Institute, Newcastle University and Newcastle-upon-Tyne NHS Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Background: despite rapid population ageing, few studies have investigated frailty in older people in sub-Saharan Africa. We tested a cumulative deficit frailty index in a population of older people from rural South Africa.

Methods: analysis of cross-sectional data from the Health and Ageing in Africa: Longitudinal Studies of an INDEPTH Community (HAALSI) study. We used self-reported diagnoses, symptoms, activities of daily living, objective physiological indices and blood tests to calculate a 32-variable cumulative deficit frailty index. We fitted Cox proportional hazards models to test associations between frailty category and all-cause mortality. We tested the discriminant ability of the frailty index to predict one-year mortality alone and in addition to age and sex.

Results: in total 3,989 participants were included in the analysis, mean age 61 years (standard deviation 13); 2,175 (54.5%) were women. The median frailty index was 0.13 (interquartile range 0.09-0.19); Using population-specific cutoffs, 557 (14.0%) had moderate frailty and 263 (6.6%) had severe frailty. All-cause mortality risk was related to frailty severity independent of age and sex (hazard ratio per 0.01 increase in frailty index: 1.06 [95% confidence interval 1.04-1.07]). The frailty index alone showed moderate discrimination for one-year mortality: c-statistic 0.68-0.76; combining the frailty index with age and sex improved performance (c-statistic 0.77-0.81).

Conclusion: frailty measured by cumulative deficits is common and predicts mortality in a rural population of older South Africans. The number of measures needed may limit utility in resource-poor settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afab111DOI Listing
June 2021

Non-fatal injuries in rural Burkina Faso amongst older adults, disease burden and health system responsiveness: a cross-sectional household survey.

BMJ Open 2021 05 28;11(5):e045621. Epub 2021 May 28.

Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate the epidemiology of injury as well as patient-reported health system responsiveness following injury and how this compares with non-injured patient experience, in older individuals in rural Burkina Faso.

Design: Cross-sectional household survey. Secondary analysis of the CRSN Heidelberg Ageing Study dataset.

Setting: Rural Burkina Faso.

Participants: 3028 adults, over 40, from multiple ethnic groups, were randomly sampled from the 2015 Nouna Health and Demographic Surveillance Site census.

Primary And Secondary Outcome Measures: Primary outcome was incidence of injury. Secondary outcomes were incidence of injury related disability and patient-reported health system responsiveness following injury.

Results: 7.7% (232/3028) of the population reported injury in the preceding 12 months. In multivariable analyses, younger age, male sex, highest wealth quintile, an abnormal Generalised Anxiety Disorder score and lower Quality of Life score were all associated with injury. The most common mechanism of injury was being struck or hit by an object, 32.8%. In multivariable analysis, only education was significantly negatively associated with odds of disability (OR 0.407, 95% CI 0.17 to 0.997). Across all survey participants, 3.9% (119/3028) reported their most recent care seeking episode was following injury, rather than for another condition. Positive experience and satisfaction with care were reported following injury, with shorter median wait times (10 vs 20 min, p=0.002) and longer consultation times (20 vs 15 min, p=0.002) than care for another reason. Injured patients were also asked to return to health facilities more often than those seeking care for another reason, 81.4% (95% CI 73.1% to 87.9%) vs 54.8% (95% CI 49.9% to 53.6%).

Conclusions: Injury is an important disease burden in this older adult rural low-income and middle-income country population. Further research could inform preventative strategies, including safer rural farming methods, explore the association between adverse mental health and injury, and strengthen health system readiness to provide quality care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-045621DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8166610PMC
May 2021

What is the financial burden to patients of accessing surgical care in Sierra Leone? A cross-sectional survey of catastrophic and impoverishing expenditure.

BMJ Open 2021 03 8;11(3):e039049. Epub 2021 Mar 8.

Centre of Global Surgery, Department of Global Health, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Objectives: To measure the financial burden associated with accessing surgical care in Sierra Leone.

Design: A cross-sectional survey conducted with patients at the time of discharge from tertiary-level care. This captured demographics, yearly household expenditure, direct medical, direct non-medical and indirect costs for surgical care, and summary household assets. Missing data were imputed.

Setting: The main tertiary-level hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Participants: 335 surgical patients under the care of the hospital surgical team receiving operative or non-operative surgical care on the surgical wards.

Outcome Measures: Rates of catastrophic expenditure (a cost >10% of annual expenditure), impoverishment (being pushed into, or further into, poverty as a result of surgical care costs), amount of out-of-pocket (OOP) costs and means used to meet these costs were derived.

Results: Of 335 patients interviewed, 39% were female and 80% were urban dwellers. Median yearly household expenditure was US$3569. Mean OOP costs were US$243, of which a mean of US$24 (10%) was spent prehospital. Of costs incurred during the hospital admission, direct medical costs were US$138 (63%) and US$34 (16%) were direct non-medical costs. US$46 (21%) were indirect costs. Catastrophic expenditure affected 18% of those interviewed. Concerning impoverishment, 45% of patients were already below the national poverty line prior to admission, and 9% of those who were not were pushed below the poverty line following payment for surgical care. 84% of patients used household savings to meet OOP costs. Only 2% (six patients) had health insurance.

Conclusion: Obtaining surgical care has substantial economic impacts on households that pushes them into poverty or further into poverty. The much-needed scaling up of surgical care needs to be accompanied by financial risk protection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039049DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7942261PMC
March 2021

Assessing trauma care systems in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review and evidence synthesis mapping the Three Delays framework to injury health system assessments.

BMJ Glob Health 2021 05;6(5)

Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, West Midlands, UK

Background: The large burden of injuries falls disproportionately on low/middle-income countries (LMICs). Health system interventions improve outcomes in high-income countries. Assessing LMIC trauma systems supports their improvement. Evaluating systems using a Three Delays framework, considering barriers to seeking (Delay 1), reaching (Delay 2) and receiving care (Delay 3), has aided maternal health gains. Rapid assessments allow timely appraisal within resource and logistically constrained settings. We systematically reviewed existing literature on the assessment of LMIC trauma systems, applying the Three Delays framework and rapid assessment principles.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review and narrative synthesis of articles assessing LMIC trauma systems. We searched seven databases and grey literature for studies and reports published until October 2018. Inclusion criteria were an injury care focus and assessment of at least one defined system aspect. We mapped each study to the Three Delays framework and judged its suitability for rapid assessment.

Results: Of 14 677 articles identified, 111 studies and 8 documents were included. Sub-Saharan Africa was the most commonly included region (44.1%). Delay 3, either alone or in combination, was most commonly assessed (79.3%) followed by Delay 2 (46.8%) and Delay 1 (10.8%). Facility assessment was the most common method of assessment (36.0%). Only 2.7% of studies assessed all Three Delays. We judged 62.6% of study methodologies potentially suitable for rapid assessment.

Conclusions: Whole health system injury research is needed as facility capacity assessments dominate. Future studies should consider novel or combined methods to study Delays 1 and 2, alongside care processes and outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2020-004324DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8118008PMC
May 2021

Impairment in Activities of Daily Living and unmet need for care among older adults: A population-based study from Burkina Faso.

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2021 Mar 14. Epub 2021 Mar 14.

Population Studies Center and Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Objectives: The importance of impairment in performing Activities of Daily Living (ADL) is likely to increase in sub-Saharan Africa since few care options for affected people exist. This study investigated the prevalence of ADL impairment, the extent to which care-need was met and described characteristics of people with ADL impairment and unmet need in Burkina Faso.

Methods: This study used data from the CRSN Heidelberg Aging Study, a population-based study among 3,026 adults aged over 40 years conducted in rural Burkina Faso. Information on six basic ADL items was sought, with a follow-up question asking whether care-needs were not met, partially met or met. Bivariable correlations and multivariable logistic regression were used to determine sociodemographic and health characteristics associated with ADL impairment and unmet need.

Results: ADL impairment of any kind was reported by 1,202 (39.7%) respondents and was associated with older age (Adjusted Odds Ratio: 1.05 [95% CI: 1.04-1.06]), being a woman (1.33 [1.06-1.60]) and reporting depressive symptoms (1.90 [1.65-2.18]). Among those with ADL impairment, 67.8% had at least one unmet need. Severe ADL impairment was found in 202 (6.7%) respondents, who reported lower prevalence of unmet need (43.1%). Severe ADL impairment was associated with depressive symptoms (2.55 [2.11-3.07]) to a stronger degree than any ADL impairment.

Discussion: Prevalence of ADL impairment and unmet need was high in this setting. Variation in impairment across the population highlighted key groups for future interventions. Unmet need for care was highest in middle-aged adults, indicating a gap in care provision.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbab041DOI Listing
March 2021

Cardiovascular disease risk profile and management practices in 45 low-income and middle-income countries: A cross-sectional study of nationally representative individual-level survey data.

PLoS Med 2021 03 4;18(3):e1003485. Epub 2021 Mar 4.

Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Background: Global cardiovascular disease (CVD) burden is high and rising, especially in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Focussing on 45 LMICs, we aimed to determine (1) the adult population's median 10-year predicted CVD risk, including its variation within countries by socio-demographic characteristics, and (2) the prevalence of self-reported blood pressure (BP) medication use among those with and without an indication for such medication as per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Methods And Findings: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative household surveys from 45 LMICs carried out between 2005 and 2017, with 32 surveys being WHO Stepwise Approach to Surveillance (STEPS) surveys. Country-specific median 10-year CVD risk was calculated using the 2019 WHO CVD Risk Chart Working Group non-laboratory-based equations. BP medication indications were based on the WHO Package of Essential Noncommunicable Disease Interventions guidelines. Regression models examined associations between CVD risk, BP medication use, and socio-demographic characteristics. Our complete case analysis included 600,484 adults from 45 countries. Median 10-year CVD risk (interquartile range [IQR]) for males and females was 2.7% (2.3%-4.2%) and 1.6% (1.3%-2.1%), respectively, with estimates indicating the lowest risk in sub-Saharan Africa and highest in Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. Higher educational attainment and current employment were associated with lower CVD risk in most countries. Of those indicated for BP medication, the median (IQR) percentage taking medication was 24.2% (15.4%-37.2%) for males and 41.6% (23.9%-53.8%) for females. Conversely, a median (IQR) 47.1% (36.1%-58.6%) of all people taking a BP medication were not indicated for such based on CVD risk status. There was no association between BP medication use and socio-demographic characteristics in most of the 45 study countries. Study limitations include variation in country survey methods, most notably the sample age range and year of data collection, insufficient data to use the laboratory-based CVD risk equations, and an inability to determine past history of a CVD diagnosis.

Conclusions: This study found underuse of guideline-indicated BP medication in people with elevated CVD risk and overuse by people with lower CVD risk. Country-specific targeted policies are needed to help improve the identification and management of those at highest CVD risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003485DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7932723PMC
March 2021

Variation in the Proportion of Adults in Need of Blood Pressure-Lowering Medications by Hypertension Care Guideline in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Cross-Sectional Study of 1 037 215 Individuals From 50 Nationally Representative Surveys.

Circulation 2021 03 8;143(10):991-1001. Epub 2021 Feb 8.

Division of Primary Care and Population Health, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, CA (P.G.).

Background: Current hypertension guidelines vary substantially in their definition of who should be offered blood pressure-lowering medications. Understanding the effect of guideline choice on the proportion of adults who require treatment is crucial for planning and scaling up hypertension care in low- and middle-income countries.

Methods: We extracted cross-sectional data on age, sex, blood pressure, hypertension treatment and diagnosis status, smoking, and body mass index for adults 30 to 70 years of age from nationally representative surveys in 50 low- and middle-income countries (N = 1 037 215). We aimed to determine the effect of hypertension guideline choice on the proportion of adults in need of blood pressure-lowering medications. We considered 4 hypertension guidelines: the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guideline, the commonly used 140/90 mm Hg threshold, the 2016 World Health Organization HEARTS guideline, and the 2019 UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline.

Results: The proportion of adults in need of blood pressure-lowering medications was highest under the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association, followed by the 140/90 mm Hg, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, and World Health Organization guidelines (American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association: women, 27.7% [95% CI, 27.2-28.2], men, 35.0% [95% CI, 34.4-35.7]; 140/90 mm Hg: women, 26.1% [95% CI, 25.5-26.6], men, 31.2% [95% CI, 30.6-31.9]; National Institute for Health and Care Excellence: women, 11.8% [95% CI, 11.4-12.1], men, 15.7% [95% CI, 15.3-16.2]; World Health Organization: women, 9.2% [95% CI, 8.9-9.5], men, 11.0% [95% CI, 10.6-11.4]). Individuals who were unaware that they have hypertension were the primary contributor to differences in the proportion needing treatment under different guideline criteria. Differences in the proportion needing blood pressure-lowering medications were largest in the oldest (65-69 years) age group (American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association: women, 60.2% [95% CI, 58.8-61.6], men, 70.1% [95% CI, 68.8-71.3]; World Health Organization: women, 20.1% [95% CI, 18.8-21.3], men, 24.1.0% [95% CI, 22.3-25.9]). For both women and men and across all guidelines, countries in the European and Eastern Mediterranean regions had the highest proportion of adults in need of blood pressure-lowering medicines, whereas the South and Central Americas had the lowest.

Conclusions: There was substantial variation in the proportion of adults in need of blood pressure-lowering medications depending on which hypertension guideline was used. Given the great implications of this choice for health system capacity, policy makers will need to carefully consider which guideline they should adopt when scaling up hypertension care in their country.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.051620DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7940589PMC
March 2021

Improving nursing documentation for surgical patients in a referral hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone: protocol for assessing feasibility of a pilot multifaceted quality improvement hybrid type project.

Pilot Feasibility Stud 2021 Jan 27;7(1):33. Epub 2021 Jan 27.

King's Centre for Global Health & Health Partnerships, School of Population Health & Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King's College London, London, UK.

Background: There is an urgent need to improve quality of care to reduce avoidable mortality and morbidity from surgical diseases in low- and middle-income countries. Currently, there is a lack of knowledge about how evidence-based health system strengthening interventions can be implemented effectively to improve quality of care in these settings. To address this gap, we have developed a multifaceted quality improvement intervention to improve nursing documentation in a low-income country hospital setting. The aim of this pilot project is to test the intervention within the surgical department of a national referral hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Methods: This project was co-developed and co-designed by in-country stakeholders and UK-based researchers, after a multiple-methodology assessment of needs (qualitative, quantitative), guided by a participatory 'Theory of Change' process. It has a mixed-method, quasi-experimental evaluation design underpinned by implementation and improvement science theoretical approaches. It consists of three distinct phases-(1) pre-implementation(project set up and review of hospital relevant policies and forms), (2) intervention implementation (awareness drive, training package, audit and feedback), and (3) evaluation of (a) the feasibility of delivering the intervention and capturing implementation and process outcomes, (b) the impact of implementation strategies on the adoption, integration, and uptake of the intervention using implementation outcomes, (c) the intervention's effectiveness For improving nursing in this pilot setting.

Discussion: We seek to test whether it is possible to deliver and assess a set of theory-driven interventions to improve the quality of nursing documentation using quality improvement and implementation science methods and frameworks in a single facility in Sierra Leone. The results of this study will inform the design of a large-scale effectiveness-implementation study for improving nursing documentation practices for patients throughout hospitals in Sierra Leone.

Trial Registration: Protocol version number 6, date: 24.12.2020, recruitment is planned to begin: January 2021, recruitment will be completed: December 2021.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40814-021-00768-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7839195PMC
January 2021

Development and use of clinical vignettes to assess injury care quality in Northern Malawi.

Injury 2021 Apr 14;52(4):793-805. Epub 2021 Jan 14.

King's Centre for Global Health and Health Partnerships, School of Population Health & Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King's College London, London, UK; Centre for Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK; Medical Research Council/Wits University Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; Extraordinary Professor, Centre for Global Surgery, Department of Global Health, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town.

Background: It is known that outcomes after injury care in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) are poorer than those in high income countries. However, little is known about healthcare provider competency to deliver quality injury care in these settings. We developed and used clinical vignettes to evaluate injury care quality in an LMIC setting.

Method: Four serious injury scenarios, developed from agreed best practice, testing diagnostic and management skills, were piloted with high and low-income setting clinicians. Scenarios were used with primary and referral facility clinicians in Malawi. Participants described their clinical course of action (assessment, diagnostic, treatment and management approaches) for each scenario, registering one point per agreed best practice response. Mean percentage total scores were calculated and univariable and multivariable comparison made across provider groups, facility types, injury care frequency and training level.

Results: Fourteen Doctors, 51 Clinical Officers, 20 Medical Assistants from 11 facilities participated. Mean percentage total vignette scores varied significantly with clinician provider group (Doctors 63.1% vs Clinical Officers 49.6%, p<0.001, Clinical Officers vs Medical Assistants 39.4% p=0.001). Important care aspects most frequently included or omitted were: following chest injury, 88.2% reported chest drain insertion, 7.1% checked for tracheal deviation; following penetrating abdominal injury and shock, 98.8% secured IV access, 0% mentioned tranexamic acid; following severe head injury, 88.2% proposed CT or neurosurgical transfer, 7.1% ensured normotension; and following isolated open lower leg fracture, 90.1% arranged orthopaedic consultation, 2.4% assessed distal neurological status.

Conclusion: These clinical vignettes proved easy to use and collected rich data. This supports their use for assessing and monitoring clinical care quality in other similar settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.injury.2021.01.013DOI Listing
April 2021

Estimating the burden of cardiovascular risk in community dwellers over 40 years old in South Africa, Kenya, Burkina Faso and Ghana.

BMJ Glob Health 2021 01;6(1)

MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt), School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.

Introduction: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors are increasing in sub-Saharan Africa. The impact of these risk factors on future CVD outcomes and burden is poorly understood. We examined the magnitude of modifiable risk factors, estimated future CVD risk and compared results between three commonly used 10-year CVD risk factor algorithms and their variants in four African countries.

Methods: In the Africa-Wits-INDEPTH partnership for Genomic studies (the AWI-Gen Study), 10 349 randomly sampled individuals aged 40-60 years from six sites participated in a survey, with blood pressure, blood glucose and lipid levels measured. Using these data, 10-year CVD risk estimates using Framingham, Globorisk and WHO-CVD and their office-based variants were generated. Differences in future CVD risk and results by algorithm are described using kappa and coefficients to examine agreement and correlations, respectively.

Results: The 10-year CVD risk across all participants in all sites varied from 2.6% (95% CI: 1.6% to 4.1%) using the WHO-CVD lab algorithm to 6.5% (95% CI: 3.7% to 11.4%) using the Framingham office algorithm, with substantial differences in risk between sites. The highest risk was in South African settings (in urban Soweto: 8.9% (IQR: 5.3-15.3)). Agreement between algorithms was low to moderate (kappa from 0.03 to 0.55) and correlations ranged between 0.28 and 0.70. Depending on the algorithm used, those at high risk (defined as risk of 10-year CVD event >20%) who were under treatment for a modifiable risk factor ranged from 19.2% to 33.9%, with substantial variation by both sex and site.

Conclusion: The African sites in this study are at different stages of an ongoing epidemiological transition as evidenced by both risk factor levels and estimated 10-year CVD risk. There is low correlation and disparate levels of population risk, predicted by different risk algorithms, within sites. Validating existing risk algorithms or designing context-specific 10-year CVD risk algorithms is essential for accurately defining population risk and targeting national policies and individual CVD treatment on the African continent.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2020-003499DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7825268PMC
January 2021

Depressive symptoms and cardiovascular disease: a population-based study of older adults in rural Burkina Faso.

BMJ Open 2020 12 22;10(12):e038199. Epub 2020 Dec 22.

Heidelberg Institute of Global Health, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany.

Objectives: To contribute to the current understanding of depressive disorders in sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries by examining the association of depressive symptoms with cardiovascular and cardiometabolic conditions in a population-based study of middle-aged and older adults in rural Burkina Faso.

Setting: This study was conducted in the Nouna Health and Demographic Surveillance System in north-western Burkina Faso, in a mixed rural and small-town environment. The data were obtained between May and July 2018.

Participants: Consenting adults over 40 years of age (n=3026).

Primary And Secondary Outcome Measures: Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire depression module (PHQ-9). Chronic cardiometabolic conditions were assessed via a lipid panel and glycated haemoglobin measures from serum, alongside anthropometry and blood pressure measurements and a self-reported questionnaire. Multivariable linear regression was used to test the relationship between depressive symptoms and cardiovascular/cardiometabolic conditions after controlling for sociodemographic factors.

Results: Depressive symptoms were not associated with the metabolic syndrome (standardised beta coefficient=0.00 (95% CI -0.04 to 0.03)), hypertension (beta=0.01 (95% CI -0.02 to 0.05)), diabetes mellitus (beta=0.00 (95% CI -0.04 to 0.04)) and past diagnosis of elevated blood pressure or blood sugar. Prior stroke diagnosis (beta=0.04 (95% CI 0.01 to 0.07)) or heart disease (beta=0.08 (95% CI 0.05 to 0.11)) was positively associated with the standardised PHQ-9 score as were self-reported stroke symptoms.

Conclusion: Objectively measured cardiometabolic conditions had no significant association with depressive symptoms in an older, poor, rural SSA population, in contrast to observations in high income countries. However, consequences of cardiovascular disease such as stroke and heart attack were associated with depressive symptoms in older adults in Burkina Faso.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-038199DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7757460PMC
December 2020

An innovative model for management of cardiovascular disease risk factors in the low resource setting of Cambodia.

Health Policy Plan 2021 May;36(4):397-406

Institute for Applied Research, Birmingham University, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK.

Non-communicable diseases are increasing in developing countries and control of diabetes and hypertension is needed to reduce rates of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality, stroke and ischaemic heart disease. We evaluated a programme in Cambodia, financed by a revolving drug fund, which utilizes Peer Educators to manage diabetes and hypertension in the community. We assessed clinical outcomes and retention in the programme. For all people enrolled in the programme between 2007 and 2016, the average change in blood pressure (BP) and percentage with controlled hypertension (BP < 140/<90 mmHg) or diabetes (fasting blood glucose (BG) < 7mg/dl, post-prandial BG < 130 mg/dl, or HBA1C < 7%) was calculated every 6 months from enrolment.  Attrition rate in the nth year of enrolment was calculated; associations with loss to follow-up were explored using cox regression. A total of 9139 patients enrolled between January 2007 and March 2016. For all people with hypertension, mean change in systolic and diastolic BP within the first year was -15.1 mmHg (SD 23.6, P < 0.0001) and -8.6 mmHg (SD 14.0, P < 0.0001), respectively. BP control was 50.5% at year 1, peaking at 70.6% at 5.5 years. 41.3% of people with diabetes achieved blood sugar control at 6 months and 44.4% at 6.5 years.  An average of 2.3 years [SD 1.9] was spent in programme. Attrition rate within year 1 of enrolment ranged from 29.8% to 61.5% with average of 44.1% [SD 10.3] across 2008-15. Patients with hypertension were more likely to leave the program compared to those with diabetes and males more likely than females. The programme shows a substantial and sustained rate of diabetes and hypertension control for those who remain in the program and could be a model for implementation in other low middle-income settings, however, further work is needed to improve patient retention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapol/czaa176DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8128014PMC
May 2021

Knowledge and understanding of cardiovascular disease risk factors in Sierra Leone: a qualitative study of patients' and community leaders' perceptions.

BMJ Open 2020 12 15;10(12):e038523. Epub 2020 Dec 15.

Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, West Midlands, UK.

Objectives: Prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors (CVDRF) is increasing, especially in low-income countries. In Sierra Leone, there are no previous studies on the knowledge and the awareness of these conditions in the community. This study aimed to explore the knowledge and understanding of CVDRF, as well as the perceptions of the barriers and facilitators to accessing care for these conditions, among patients and community leaders in Sierra Leone.

Design: Qualitative study employing semistructured interviews and focus group discussions.

Setting: Urban and rural Bo District, Sierra Leone.

Participants: Interviews with a purposive sample of 37 patients and two focus groups with six to nine community leaders.

Results: While participants possessed general knowledge of their conditions, the level and complexity of this knowledge varied widely. There were clear gaps in knowledge regarding the coexistence of CVDRF and their consequences, as well as the link between behavioural factors and CVDRF. An overarching theme from the data was the need to create an understanding and awareness of CVDRF in the community in order to prevent and improve management of these conditions. Cost was also seen as a major barrier to accessing care for CVDRFs.

Conclusions: The knowledge gaps identified in this study highlight the need to design strategies and interventions that improve knowledge and recognition of CVDRF in the community. Interventions should specifically consider how to develop and enhance awareness about CVDRF and their consequences. They should also consider how patients seek help and where they access it.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-038523DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7745312PMC
December 2020

Staff recognition and its importance for surgical service delivery: a qualitative study in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Health Policy Plan 2021 Mar;36(1):93-100

King's Centre for Global Health and Health Partnerships, School of Population Health & Environmental Sciences, King's College London, Room 2.13, Weston Education Centre, Cutcombe Road, London, SE5 9RJ, UK.

We examined the views of providers and users of the surgical system in Freetown, Sierra Leone on processes of care, job and service satisfaction and barriers to achieving quality and accessible care, focusing particularly on the main public tertiary hospital in Freetown and two secondary and six primary sites from which patients are referred to it. We conducted interviews with health care providers (N = 66), service users (n = 24) and people with a surgical condition who had chosen not to use the public surgical system (N = 13), plus two focus groups with health providers in primary care (N = 10 and N = 10). The overall purpose of the study was to understand perceptions on processes of and barriers to care from a variety of perspectives, to recommend interventions to improve access and quality of care as part of a larger study. Our research suggests that providers perceive their relationships with patients to be positive, while the majority of patients see the opposite: that many health workers are unapproachable and uncaring, particularly towards poorer patients who are unable or unwilling to pay staff extra in the form of informal payments for their care. Many health care providers note the importance of lack of recognition shown to them by their superiors and the health system in general. We suggest that this lack of recognition underlies poor morale, leading to poor care. Any intervention to improve the system should therefore consider staff-patient relations as a key element in its design and implementation, and ideally be led and supported by frontline healthcare workers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapol/czaa131DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7938499PMC
March 2021

Identifying a Basket of Surgical Procedures to Standardize Global Surgical Metrics: An International Delphi Study.

Ann Surg 2020 Nov 17. Epub 2020 Nov 17.

Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Lagos & Pediatric Surgery Unit, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria, P.M.B. 12003, Lagos.

Objective: We aimed to define a globally applicable list of surgical procedures, or "basket", which could represent a health system's capacity to provide surgical care and standardize global surgical measurement.

Summary Of Background Data: Six indicators have been proposed to assess access to safe, affordable, timely surgical and anesthesia care, with a focus on laparotomy, caesarean section, and treatment of open fracture. However, comparability, particularly for these procedures, has been limited by a lack of definitional clarity and their overly broad scope.

Methods: We conducted a three round international expert Delphi exercise between April and June 2019 using REDCap to identify a set of procedures representative of surgical capacity. To be included, procedures had to be important for treating common conditions, well-defined, and impactful (i.e. well-recognized clinical or functional benefit). Procedures were eliminated or prioritized in each round, and those noted as "extremely" or "very important" by ≥ 50% of respondents in round 3 were included in the final "basket".

Results: Altogether 331 respondents from 78 countries participated in the Delphi process. A final basket of 32 procedures representing diseases categories in trauma, cancer, congenital anomalies, maternal/reproductive health, aging, and infection were identified as important for inclusion to assess surgical capacity.

Conclusions: This surgical basket could allow a more standardized assessment of a country's surgical system. Further testing and refinement will likely be needed, but this basket can be used immediately to guide ongoing monitoring and evaluation of global surgery capacities to improve and strengthen surgery and anesthesia care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/SLA.0000000000004611DOI Listing
November 2020

Association between country preparedness indicators and quality clinical care for cardiovascular disease risk factors in 44 lower- and middle-income countries: A multicountry analysis of survey data.

PLoS Med 2020 11 10;17(11):e1003268. Epub 2020 Nov 10.

Institut Africain de Santé publique (IASP), Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Background: Cardiovascular diseases are leading causes of death, globally, and health systems that deliver quality clinical care are needed to manage an increasing number of people with risk factors for these diseases. Indicators of preparedness of countries to manage cardiovascular disease risk factors (CVDRFs) are regularly collected by ministries of health and global health agencies. We aimed to assess whether these indicators are associated with patient receipt of quality clinical care.

Methods And Findings: We did a secondary analysis of cross-sectional, nationally representative, individual-patient data from 187,552 people with hypertension (mean age 48.1 years, 53.5% female) living in 43 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and 40,795 people with diabetes (mean age 52.2 years, 57.7% female) living in 28 LMICs on progress through cascades of care (condition diagnosed, treated, or controlled) for diabetes or hypertension, to indicate outcomes of provision of quality clinical care. Data were extracted from national-level World Health Organization (WHO) Stepwise Approach to Surveillance (STEPS), or other similar household surveys, conducted between July 2005 and November 2016. We used mixed-effects logistic regression to estimate associations between each quality clinical care outcome and indicators of country development (gross domestic product [GDP] per capita or Human Development Index [HDI]); national capacity for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases ('NCD readiness indicators' from surveys done by WHO); health system finance (domestic government expenditure on health [as percentage of GDP], private, and out-of-pocket expenditure on health [both as percentage of current]); and health service readiness (number of physicians, nurses, or hospital beds per 1,000 people) and performance (neonatal mortality rate). All models were adjusted for individual-level predictors including age, sex, and education. In an exploratory analysis, we tested whether national-level data on facility preparedness for diabetes were positively associated with outcomes. Associations were inconsistent between indicators and quality clinical care outcomes. For hypertension, GDP and HDI were both positively associated with each outcome. Of the 33 relationships tested between NCD readiness indicators and outcomes, only two showed a significant positive association: presence of guidelines with being diagnosed (odds ratio [OR], 1.86 [95% CI 1.08-3.21], p = 0.03) and availability of funding with being controlled (OR, 2.26 [95% CI 1.09-4.69], p = 0.03). Hospital beds (OR, 1.14 [95% CI 1.02-1.27], p = 0.02), nurses/midwives (OR, 1.24 [95% CI 1.06-1.44], p = 0.006), and physicians (OR, 1.21 [95% CI 1.11-1.32], p < 0.001) per 1,000 people were positively associated with being diagnosed and, similarly, with being treated; and the number of physicians was additionally associated with being controlled (OR, 1.12 [95% CI 1.01-1.23], p = 0.03). For diabetes, no positive associations were seen between NCD readiness indicators and outcomes. There was no association between country development, health service finance, or health service performance and readiness indicators and any outcome, apart from GDP (OR, 1.70 [95% CI 1.12-2.59], p = 0.01), HDI (OR, 1.21 [95% CI 1.01-1.44], p = 0.04), and number of physicians per 1,000 people (OR, 1.28 [95% CI 1.09-1.51], p = 0.003), which were associated with being diagnosed. Six countries had data on cascades of care and nationwide-level data on facility preparedness. Of the 27 associations tested between facility preparedness indicators and outcomes, the only association that was significant was having metformin available, which was positively associated with treatment (OR, 1.35 [95% CI 1.01-1.81], p = 0.04). The main limitation was use of blood pressure measurement on a single occasion to diagnose hypertension and a single blood glucose measurement to diagnose diabetes.

Conclusion: In this study, we observed that indicators of country preparedness to deal with CVDRFs are poor proxies for quality clinical care received by patients for hypertension and diabetes. The major implication is that assessments of countries' preparedness to manage CVDRFs should not rely on proxies; rather, it should involve direct assessment of quality clinical care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003268DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7654799PMC
November 2020
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