Scielo RSS <![CDATA[SAMJ: South African Medical Journal]]> vol. 113 num. 5 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Sylvia Annigje Magdalena Heijke (1955 - 2022)</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Identifying non-tuberculosis mycobacteria: Is it time to introduce new molecular assays?</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Introductory editorial: Snakebite CME series</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Approach to the diagnosis and management of snakebite envenomation in South Africa in humans: Layperson aspects and the role of emergency medical services</b>]]> Snakebites occur in the community, not in the Emergency Unit. As such it is important to understand the first-aid concepts and pre-hospital emergency care aspects of this neglected disease. This article will highlight the concepts for emergency care within the context of the current pre-hospital arena and in light of the recent South African Snakebite Symposium consensus meeting held in July 2022, where wilderness rescue, emergency medical services and other medical participants agreed through evidence review and consensus debate on the current best approaches to care of the snakebite victim outside the hospital environment. <![CDATA[<b>Medical internship training in South Africa: Reflections on the new training model 2020 - 2021</b>]]> The South African (SA) medical internship training programme model was recently revised to extend training into the primary care platform. In this article, we reflect on the experiences of training under the new model from an intern perspective. We use these reflections to make recommendations to the Health Professions Council of SA on how to further improve the training model by implementing systems that guide and empower the intern doctor practising at a primary level of care. <![CDATA[<b>The incidence and outcomes of high-risk acute coronary syndromes in Western Cape Province, South Africa: A prospective cohort study</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Tygerberg Hospital (TBH) is a tertiary-level hospital in Western Cape Province, South Africa, that provides healthcare to a large low- to middle-income population with services including centralised advanced cardiac care. Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) remains an important cause of death in the region despite a high burden of communicable diseases, including HIV OBJECTIVES: To describe the incidence of ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and high-risk non-ST-elevation ACS (HR-NSTEACS) in the TBH referral network, describe the in-hospital and 30-day mortality of these patients, and identify important high-risk population characteristics METHODS: The Tygerberg Acute Coronary Syndrome Registry database is an ongoing prospective study that enrols all STEMI and HR-NSTEACS patients in the TBH referral network. All patients aged &gt;18 years presenting with STEMI or HR-NSTEACS were treated in accordance with current European Society of Cardiology guidelines and were included prospectively over a 9-month surveillance period. A waiver of consent was granted to include patients who died before giving informed consent. Data collected included a demographic profile, risk factors for cardiovascular disease, in-hospital therapy and 30-day mortality RESULTS: A total of 586 patients were enrolled, with a male predominance (64.5%) and incidence rates of STEMI and HR-NSTEACS of 14.7 per 100 000 and 15.6 per 100 000, respectively. The mean patient age was 58 years, and STEMI patients tended to be younger than HR-NSTEACS patients (56 v. 58 years; p=0.01). Cardiovascular risk factors were prevalent overall, but hypertension (79.8% v. 68.3%; p<0.01) and pre-existing IHD (29.1% v. 7.0%; p=0.03) were more prevalent in the HR-NSTEACS group. HIV was present in 12.6% of patients tested, similar to the background population rate. The overall 30-day all-cause mortality rate was 6.1%, with an in-hospital mortality rate of 3.9%. The 30-day mortality rates were similar for STEMI (1.8%) and HR-NSTEACS (2.6%) (p=0.75). HIV did not affect mortality rates CONCLUSION: Use of a guideline-based approach to treating ACS in a low- to middle-income country setting yields mortality rates comparable to those in high-income countries. However, the lower-than-expected incidence rates of both STEMI and HR-NSTEACS in a relatively young population with a high prevalence of traditional cardiovascular risk factors, and a relatively high proportion of STEMI, suggest potential under-recording of ischaemic heart disease in the region. The rate and outcomes of coronary artery disease (CAD) in people living with HIV were similar to those in people without HIV, suggesting that traditional risk factors still drive CAD outcomes in the region <![CDATA[<b>SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk in the school environment: A pilot case-ascertained prospective study to inform future school-based surveillance</b>]]> BACKGROUND: There is no current active or passive disease surveillance programme focused on schools in South Africa (SA). As such, the country is missing an opportunity to rapidly and effectively flag and address pathogen outbreaks, for example SARS-CoV-2, in a key closed setting. Furthermore, the role of school transmission in the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus within communities is uncertain OBJECTIVE: This pilot study, conducted during March 2022 in Cape Town, aimed to indicate the feasibility of conducting intense active contact-tracing in a school environment prior to a large national study to compare school v. community SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk METHODS: We conducted a pilot school-level case-ascertained prospective study with a component of enhanced surveillance. Following study initiation, the first learner at a participating school who tested SARS-CoV-2 positive (via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or a rapid antigen test (RAT)) was invited to join the study as the index case and all their school-based close contacts were followed up telephonically, monitored for symptoms for 14 days, and tested using PCR if any symptoms were reported RESULTS: On 8 March 2022, a student with RAT laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 was identified and they and their guardian consented to participate as the index case. Of the 11 eligible close contacts, six provided consent/assent and completed symptom-monitoring calls until the end of the 14-day study period. The secondary attack rate (SAR) was 2/11 (18.18%) of all close contacts who were at risk of infection, 2/4 (50.0%) of all those close contacts who developed symptoms, and 2/4 (50.0%) of all those close contacts who developed symptoms and were tested for SARS-CoV-2. During the same period, the school reported that 9 of the 926 learner body tested COVID-19 positive (0.97%). Total hours spent conducting monitoring for 6 learners was 27 hours, with each learner requiring approximately 4.5 hours of contact time during the study period CONCLUSION: This is the first SA school-based COVID-19 transmission study, the results of which can inform national discussions regarding the role of schools and school-based active and passive surveillance in pathogen prevention and control <![CDATA[<b>Knowledge, attitudes and practices of undergraduate health sciences students on hepatitis B vaccination at a South African university highlight the need for improvement of policies, implementation and co-ordination</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection causes nearly 300 million chronic infections globally. Healthcare workers face up to four times the risk of HBV infection through occupational exposure to contaminated blood and bodily fluids. Health sciences students (HSSs) are regarded as at an even greater risk as they embark on their clinical training journey. While chronic hepatitis B is incurable, it can be prevented by the safe and effective hepatitis B vaccine (HepB). The South African National Department of Health recommends at least three doses of vaccine (HepB3) for HSSs before patient contact. However, data on policy implementation at training institutions, vaccine coverage and HBV immunity in HSSs are lacking or limited OBJECTIVES: To investigate knowledge, attitudes and practices of HSSs at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in relation to international guidelines and institutional HepB programmes included in the Wits vaccination policy. Sociodemographic factors predicting HepB uptake were also investigated METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted between February and June 2021. An electronic, self-administered survey was emailed to all current HSSs (N=3 785). The survey included questions on sociodemographic characteristics, knowledge of and attitudes towards HepB-related international guidelines and Wits policies, and HepB uptake and vaccine practices at Wits. Descriptive statistical analyses, followed by multivariable regression modelling, were used to identify factors associated with HepB uptake RESULTS: A response rate of only 7.1% yielded 269 returned surveys, of which 221 were adequate for analysis. Most respondents were female (69.2%), with a mean (standard deviation) age of 22.5 (3.5) years, and were studying a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MB BCh) degree (76.9%). Only 78% of those students who reported a history of vaccination (89.1% of study sample) reported a completed vaccine series. The only significant predictor, when adjusted for interactions, was being enrolled in MB BCh compared with other courses (odds ratio 4.69; p=0.026). Students displayed higher levels of knowledge around institutional (Wits) vaccine recommendations (94.1%) compared with international recommendations (75.6%). Most students were in favour of mandatory vaccination (91.4%), but not of serological testing following vaccination (42.5%). Half of our students received vaccinations in private facilities, but no follow-up or record was made of this by the designated Wits Campus Health and Wellness Centre CONCLUSION: Institutional HepB policies are suboptimal, with no centralised co-ordination or implementation strategy. Urgent efforts are required to create awareness around policy and management, ensure vaccination coverage in this high-risk group, and foster positive practices with adequate monitoring <![CDATA[<b>Prevalence of secondary health conditions and mental status in persons with long-term spinal cord injury in South Africa: Comparison between public and private healthcare sectors</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Spinal cord injuries typically result in a range of negative health outcomes and health states, which impacts overall functioning, health and well-being. It remains important to establish the prevalence (burden) of health outcomes to help with the development of optimal treatment strategies OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence and treatment rates of secondary health conditions (SHCs) and mental health states in persons with long-term spinal cord injury (SCI) receiving public compared with private healthcare services in South Africa METHODS: A cross-sectional survey included 200 community-dwelling persons with long-term SCI, 60% with paraplegia, 53% with complete injuries and 156 from the public and 44 from private healthcare sectors. The following modules of the International Spinal Cord Injury (InSCI) community survey were used: (i) demographic and injury characteristics; (ii) SHCs and treatment rates; and (iii) vitality and emotional well-being. All statistical analyses were stratified according to healthcare sector RESULTS: Pain (47% v. 57), sexual dysfunction (59% v. 41%) and muscle spasms (54% v. 43%) were the most common SHCs in both cohorts, and the period prevalence was significantly higher for sleeping problems (41% v. 25%), sexual dysfunction (59% v. 41%) and contractures (42% v. 20%) in the public compared with the private cohort. Persons with SCI in the private cohort received treatment more often for sleeping problems (100% v. 45%), autonomic dysreflexia (75% v. 27%) and pain (56% v. 33%) than their counterparts with public insurance. Negative mental health states were prevalent in both groups CONCLUSION: SHCs and negative mental health were common in persons with SCI in South Africa, while those with public insurance reporter a higher occurrence of sleep problems and contractures, as well as lower treatment rates. Overall, a need exists to better support persons with SCI in the long-term context to facilitate improved functioning and wellbeing <![CDATA[<b>Healthcare workers' knowledge and practice of the South African national tuberculosis management guidelines</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) remains a global public health concern. The 2014 South African (SA) national TB management guidelines were developed to decrease the burden of TB, but implementation remains a challenge OBJECTIVES: To estimate healthcare workers' level of knowledge about the national TB management guidelines and to assess the implementation of these guidelines METHODS: A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in four randomly selected health facilities in Dr Kenneth Kaunda district, North West Province, SA. We administered a TB knowledge questionnaire and reviewed TB registers and 204 patient files RESULTS: A total of 38 participants completed the TB knowledge questionnaire. The majority were professional nurses (89%). The participants' mean (standard deviation) age was 46 (8) years, and the median (interquartile range) career length was 10 (8 - 17) years. Inadequate knowledge of the national TB management guidelines was revealed in 12 participants (32%). The review of the TB register showed that 163 153 patients were screened for TB. Of these, 9 308 (6%) had presumptive TB, 8 116 (87%) had an Xpert test and 1 292 (16%) had positive Xpert results. Overall, 1 150 (12%) of the patients with presumptive TB were diagnosed with drug-sensitive TB and started treatment based on laboratory results and a clinical diagnosis. Of this sample, 999 patients (87%) were treated successfully. The patient file review showed that a total of 197 patients (97%) received the correct treatment dose according to body weight and treatment phase. Smear microscopy was consistently done throughout the intensive and continuation phases of TB treatment. Body weight was monitored in 199 patients (98%). Contact investigation was conducted for 133 patients (65%), and there was evidence that child contacts aged <5 years were started on isoniazid preventive therapy. Only 110 patients (54%) had documented HIV status. Of these, 66 (60%) were HIV positive, and 39 (59%) of them received antiretroviral therapy. Body mass index was monitored in 55 patients (27%). Eighty (39%) of the patients with TB were women of childbearing potential, and only 8 (10%) of them had their pregnancy test results recorded. Treatment side-effects were reported in 17 patient files (8%); 13 (76%) were managed and 8 (62%) had resolved side-effects CONCLUSION: Most participants had adequate knowledge of the national TB management guidelines. A high TB treatment success rate was noted, along with some good practices. The study also highlights several knowledge and practice gaps that can be overcome by measures such as quality audits to improve record keeping. Adequate training of healthcare workers, sustaining and updating knowledge through continuous training, and strengthened supervision mechanisms to ensure compliance with the guidelines are recommended <![CDATA[<b>Operating theatre efficiency at a tertiary eye hospital in South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND: South Africa (SA) is a resource-limited country that needs efficient operating theatres in order for surgical care to function cost-effectively. Regular assessment of theatre efficiency in our setting is therefore needed OBJECTIVES: To describe ophthalmology theatre efficiency at a central hospital in SA and compare this with international benchmarks METHODS: St John Eye Hospital is the ophthalmology section of Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto, SA. It has three operating theatres. A cross-sectional study was done of the theatres' registry of surgical procedures over a 6-month period. Data analysed included the starting and finishing times of theatre lists, surgical cases that were cancelled on the day of surgery, and theatre utilisation rates. These data were compared with international benchmarks RESULTS: A total of 1 482 surgical procedures in 229 theatre lists were included in the study. Sixty-five percent of these theatre lists started late, accounting for 4 236 minutes of lost theatre time, significantly more than the maximum of 10% recommended by the Royal College of Anaesthetists. Of theatre lists, 23% and 30% finished after 16hl5 (theatre overrun) and before 16h00 (theatre underrun), respectively. This is more than double the 10% recommended by the Royal College of Anaesthetists. The theatre utilisation rate was 62%, which is significantly lower than the ideal utilisation rate of 80%. The cancellation rate was 16%, which is significantly higher than the international benchmark of 2% recommended by the New South Wales guidelines. The most common reasons for cancellations were medical unfitness of the patient and lack of operating theatre time CONCLUSION: All theatre efficiency parameters at St John Eye Hospital were below international benchmarks