All Publications


  • Correction: Validation of a Manual Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Device (PragmaVAC) for Acute and Chronic Wounds: A Prospective, Randomized, Controlled Trial. World journal of surgery Hariri, M., Maaz, B., Netfagi, M., Alawa, J., Sattouf, A., Dubies, H. A., Alahmad, J., Seyitisa, M. F., Godier-Furnemont, A., Ghali, A., Ghandour, A., Abdullah, Z., Alsaleh, M., Almousa, I., Habib, W., Alshaer, H. 2022

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00268-022-06785-6

    View details for PubMedID 36255479

  • Knowledge, attitudes and practices concerning breast cancer, cervical cancer and screening among healthcare professionals and students in Mogadishu, Somalia: a cross-sectional study ECANCERMEDICALSCIENCE Walz, L., Mohamed, D., Haibah, A., Harle, N., Al-Ali, S., Moussa, A., Alawa, J., Awale, M., Khoshnood, K. 2022; 16
  • Knowledge, attitudes and practices concerning breast cancer, cervical cancer and screening among healthcare professionals and students in Mogadishu, Somalia: a cross-sectional study. Ecancermedicalscience Walz, L., Mohamed, D., Haibah, A., Harle, N., Al-Ali, S., Moussa, A. A., Alawa, J., Awale, M. A., Khoshnood, K. 2022; 16: 1455

    Abstract

    Somali women face exceptionally high mortality and incidence rates from both breast cancer (BC) and cervical cancer (CC). They experience the highest age-standardised BC mortality rate in Africa and an age-standardised BC incidence rate of 41.7 per 100,000 women. Somalia's second-highest cancer-related mortality and incidence rates are due to CC, both behind BC. It is critical to identify the underlying factors that may influence healthcare workers' management of both cancers. At present, there is a lack of evidence regarding providers' knowledge of these two cancers and their screening in Somalia.A cross-sectional questionnaire was administered with a purposive sampling strategy to 469 healthcare professionals and students and was completed by 405 (86%). Healthcare workers were recruited from Mogadishu-based hospitals.One hundred and ninety-seven healthcare professionals and 207 students completed the survey and were included in the analysis. 89% and 73% of respondents demonstrated good knowledge of BC and CC, respectively. Only 46% knew that a vaccine could prevent CC, and 89% of healthcare professionals disagreed that human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines were available to their patients. Attitudes towards cancer screening, in addition to breast self-examination (BSE), were overwhelmingly positive. For both BC and CC, 24% reported having treated a patient and 30% reported having conducted a screen for either disease.Overall, while knowledge of both diseases and screening was good, there remain areas for clear educational targeting such as HPV vaccine availability and BC preventability. Attitudes to screening for both diseases were exceedingly positive but, with the exception of BSE, failed to translate into practice due to inadequate resources and patient refusal. Future investments into Somalia's chronic care management should prioritise technology necessary to conduct screenings for both diseases, expanding HPV vaccine access and understanding patients' potential motivations for refusing screening.

    View details for DOI 10.3332/ecancer.2022.1455

    View details for PubMedID 36405949

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9666280

  • Validation of a Manual Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Device (PragmaVAC) for Acute and Chronic Wounds: A Prospective, Randomized, Controlled Trial. World journal of surgery Hariri, M., Maaz, B., Natfagi, M., Alawa, J., Sattouf, A., Dubies, H. A., Alahmad, J., Seyitisa, M. F., Godier-Furnemont, A., Ghali, A., Ghandour, A., Abdullah, Z., Alsaleh, M., Almousa, I., Habib, W., Alshaer, H. 2022

    Abstract

    Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) is an alternative to the standard gauze dressings for wound treatment. Due to limited health resources, poor electrical supply, and high costs, NPWT in resource-constrained settings is inaccessible. In conflict-affected settings, civilian injuries typically involve traumatic wounds or chronic wound infections that affect the extremities.PragmaVAC® is a manually operated NPWT device designed to increase accessibility to NPWT without the need of electrical power. We aimed to determine the clinical efficacy of PragmaVAC through a controlled, non-blinded open-label clinical trial in a resource-constrained locality. The endpoint was formation of granulation tissue sufficient for wound closure.Fifty-nine patients qualified for analysis (19 Gauze; 40 PragmaVAC). The mean age of participants was 49.25 years, 55.9% were male, and 42.4% were diabetic. Forty three wounds (72.9%) were acute, 44 wounds (74.6%) were clean-contaminated, and 34 wounds (57.6%) were localized to the lower limb. The average duration of treatment was 15.3 days in PragmaVAC vs 36.5 days in control, p = 0.013. Similarly, PragmaVAC required fewer number of dressing changes 2.7 vs 23.2 times, p < 0.0001, at a lower frequency of dressings 0.22/day vs 0.73/day, in the control group, p < 0.0001.PragmaVAC is associated with accelerated healing and less frequent requirement of dressing changes. The introduction of a manually operated, low-cost device in resource-constrained settings presents an opportunity to improve wound care outcomes, decrease interventions, and optimize usage of material and human resources.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00268-022-06713-8

    View details for PubMedID 36175648

  • DeepBackRib: Deep Learning to Understand Factors Associated with Readmissions after Rib Fractures. The journal of trauma and acute care surgery Choi, J., Alawa, J., Tennakoon, L., Forrester, J. D. 2022

    Abstract

    Deep neural networks yield high predictive performance, yet obscure interpretability limits clinical applicability. We aimed to build an explainable deep neural network that elucidates factors associated with readmissions after rib fractures among non-elderly adults, termed DeepBackRib. We hypothesized DeepBackRib could accurately predict readmissions and a game theoretic approach to elucidate how predictions are made would facilitate model explainability.We queried the 2017 National Readmissions Database for index hospitalization encounters of adults aged 18-64 years hospitalized with multiple rib fractures. The primary outcome was 3-month readmission(s). Study cohort was split 60-20-20 into training-validation-test sets. Model input features included demographic/injury/index hospitalization characteristics and index hospitalization International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision diagnosis codes. The seven-layer DeepBackRib comprised multi-pronged strategies to mitigate overfitting and was trained to optimize recall. Shapley Additive Explanation (SHAP) analysis identified the marginal contribution of each input feature for predicting readmissions.20,260 patients met inclusion criteria, among whom 11% (N = 2,185) experienced 3-month readmissions. Feature selection narrowed 3,164 candidate input features to 61, and DeepBackRib yielded 91%, 85%, and 82% recall on the training, validation, and test sets, respectively. SHAP analysis quantified the marginal contribution of each input feature in determining DeepBackRib's predictions: underlying chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and long index hospitalization length-of-stay had positive associations with three-month readmissions, while private primary payer and diagnosis of pneumothorax during index admission had negative associations.We developed and internally validated a high-performing deep learning algorithm that elucidates factors associated with readmissions after rib fractures. Despite promising predictive performance, standalone deep learning algorithms are insufficient for clinical prediction tasks: a concerted effort is needed to ensure clinical prediction algorithms remain explainable.Level III, Prognostic and epidemiological.

    View details for DOI 10.1097/TA.0000000000003791

    View details for PubMedID 36121263

  • Staying Physically Active Is Associated with Better Mental Health and Sleep Health Outcomes during the Initial Period of COVID-19 Induced Nation-Wide Lockdown in Jordan. International journal of environmental research and public health Al-Ajlouni, Y. A., Park, S. H., Alawa, J., Dodin, B., Shamaileh, G., Makarem, N., Keyes, K. M., Duncan, D. T. 1800; 19 (2)

    Abstract

    Jordan, a Middle Eastern country, initially responded to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases within its own borders by imposing a 7-week strict lockdown and closure of international and domestic travel. Such measures drastically influenced lifestyle behaviors of the population. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of physical activity, and its association with mental and sleep health outcomes among Jordanians during a period of COVID-19 induced lockdown. Validated questionnaires were administered using a web-based platform to evaluate moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), anxiety and depressive symptoms, sleep health, and sociodemographic characteristics. A modified Poisson regression model with robust error variance was used to estimate adjusted prevalence ratios (aPRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Compared to participants who met the guidelines, those who did not had significantly higher prevalence of moderate or severe anxiety symptoms than that of minimal or mild anxiety symptoms and increased depressive symptoms. Insufficient MVPA was associated with higher prevalence of poor sleep quality, short sleep duration (<7 h) and sleep problems. Overall, sufficient MVPA was associated with better mental and sleep health during the COVID-19 induced nation-wide lockdown in Jordan. While further research is necessary, promoting physical activity during the lockdown could potentially improve mental and sleep health outcomes among the population.

    View details for DOI 10.3390/ijerph19020776

    View details for PubMedID 35055598

  • Medication for opioid use disorder in the Arab World: A systematic review. The International journal on drug policy Alawa, J., Muhammad, M., Kazemitabar, M., Bromberg, D. J., Garcia, D., Khoshnood, K., Ghandour, L. 2022; 102: 103617

    Abstract

    Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a global public health concern. The standard of care for OUD involves treatment using medications such as buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone. No known review exists to assess the contextual factors associated with medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in the Arab World. This systematic review serves as an implementation science study to address this research gap and improve the uptake of MOUD in the Arab World.Systematic searches of Medline, PsycINFO, and EMBASE, and a citation analysis, were used to identify peer-reviewed articles with original data on MOUD in the Arab World. Quality assessment was conducted using the CASP appraisal tools, and main findings were extracted and coded according to the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework.652 research articles were identified, and 10 met inclusion criteria for final review. Four studies considered health-systems aspects of MOUD administration, such as cost-effectiveness, the motivations for and impact of national MOUD policies, the types of social, political, and scientific advocacy that led to the adoption of MOUD in Arab countries, and the challenges limiting its wide-scale adoption in the Arab World. Six papers considered MOUD at individual and group patient levels by evaluating patient quality of life, addiction severity, patient satisfaction, and patient perspectives on opioid agonist therapy.Despite financial and geographic barriers that limit access to MOUD in the Arab World, this review found MOUD to be cost-effective and associated with positive health outcomes for OUD patients in the Arab World. MOUD can be successfully established and scaled to the national level in the Arab context, and strong coalitions of health practitioners can lobby to establish MOUD programs in Arab countries. Still, the relative novelty of MOUD in this context precludes an abundance of research to address its long-term delivery in the Arab World.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.drugpo.2022.103617

    View details for PubMedID 35182841

  • Innovation is needed in creating electronic health records for humanitarian crises and displaced populations. Frontiers in digital health Shrestha, A., Alawa, J., Ashworth, H., Essar, M. Y. 2022; 4: 939168

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fdgth.2022.939168

    View details for PubMedID 36300131

  • Knowledge and perceptions of COVID-19, prevalence of pre-existing conditions and access to essential resources in Somali IDP camps: a cross-sectional study. BMJ open Alawa, J., Al-Ali, S., Walz, L., Wiles, E., Harle, N., Awale, M. A., Mohamed, D., Khoshnood, K. 2021; 11 (6): e044411

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVES: This study examined knowledge and perceptions of COVID-19, prevalence of pre-existing conditions and access to essential resources among residents of internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Somalia, where overcrowded settlements with weakened infrastructure, inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities, and limited access to health services make this vulnerable population particularly susceptible to a COVID-19 outbreak.DESIGN: A descriptive, cross-sectional survey.SETTING: Twelve IDP camps across six areas of the Lower Shabelle region in Somalia.PARTICIPANTS: 401 adult Somali IDP camp residents.RESULTS: The majority of participants were female (86%) and had received no formal education (89%). While 58% reported being in 'good' health, half of the participants reported having one or more pre-existing conditions. Though 77% of respondents reported taking at least one COVID-19 preventative public health measure, respondents reported a lack of access to adequate sanitation, an inability to practice social distancing and nearly universal inability to receive a COVID-19 screening exam. Questions assessing knowledge surrounding COVID-19 prevention and treatment yielded answers of 'I don't know' for roughly 50% of responses. The majority of participants were not familiar with basic information about the virus or confident that they could receive medical services if infected. 185 (47%) respondents indicated that camp living conditions needed to change to prevent the spread of COVID-19.CONCLUSION: This study highlights low levels of COVID-19 knowledge and limited access to essential prevention and treatment resources among individuals living in Somali IDP camps. A massive influx of additional resources is required to adequately address COVID-19 in Somalia, starting with codesigning interventions to educate those individuals most vulnerable to infection.

    View details for DOI 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-044411

    View details for PubMedID 34187818

  • Knowledge of and preparedness for COVID-19 among Somali healthcare professionals: A cross-sectional study. PloS one Alawa, J., Walz, L., Al-Ali, S., Harle, N., Wiles, E., Awale, M. A., Mohamed, D., Khoshnood, K. 2021; 16 (11): e0259981

    Abstract

    Somalia is considered severely underprepared to contain an outbreak of COVID-19, with critical shortages in healthcare personnel and treatment resources. In limited-resource settings such as Somalia, providing healthcare workers with adequate information on COVID-19 is crucial to improve patient outcomes and mitigate the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This study assessed the knowledge of, preparedness for, and perceptions toward COVID-19 prevention and treatment among Somali healthcare workers.A descriptive, cross-sectional survey was completed by 364 Somali healthcare workers in summer of 2020 utilizing a convenience sampling method.Participants' most accessed sources of COVID-19 information were from social media (64.8%), official government and international health organization websites (51.1%,), and traditional media sources such as radio, TV, and newspapers (48.1%). A majority of participants demonstrated strong knowledge of treatment of COVID-19, the severity of COVID-19, and the possible outcomes of COVID-19, but only 5 out of 10 symptoms listed were correctly identified by more than 75% of participants. Although participants indicated seeing a median number of 10 patients per week with COVID-19 related symptoms, access to essential medical resources, such as N95 masks (30.2%), facial protective shields (24.5%), and disposable gowns (21.4%), were limited. Moreover, 31.3% agreed that Somalia was in a good position to contain an emerging outbreak of COVID-19. In addition, 40.4% of participants agreed that the Somali government's response to the pandemic was sufficient to protect Somali healthcare professionals.This study provides evidence for the need to equip Somali healthcare providers with more information, personal protective equipment, and treatment resources such that they can safely and adequately care for COVID-19 patients and contain the spread of the virus. Social media and traditional news outlets may be effective outlets to communicate information regarding COVID-19 and the Somali government's response to frontline healthcare workers.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0259981

    View details for PubMedID 34813620

  • Addressing COVID-19 in humanitarian settings: a call to action. Conflict and health Alawa, J., Alawa, N., Coutts, A., Sullivan, R., Khoshnood, K., Fouad, F. M. 2020; 14: 64

    Abstract

    Refugees and internally displaced persons in humanitarian settings are particularly susceptible to the spread of infectious illnesses such as COVID-19 due to overcrowding and inadequate access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. Countries facing conflict or humanitarian emergencies often have damaged or fragmented health systems and little to no capacity to test, isolate, and treat COVID-19 cases. Without a plan to address COVID-19 in humanitarian settings, host governments, aid agencies, and international organizations risk prolonging the spread of the virus across borders, threatening global health security, and devastating vulnerable populations. Stakeholders must coordinate a multifaceted response to address COVID-19 in humanitarian settings that incorporates appropriate communication of risks, sets forth resource-stratified guidelines for the use of limited testing, provides resources to treat affected patients, and engages displaced populations.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s13031-020-00307-8

    View details for PubMedID 32934662