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BMJ Glob Health. 2018 Aug 16;3(4):e000875. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2018-000875. eCollection 2018.

Geospatial mapping of access to timely essential surgery in sub-Saharan Africa.

Author information

1
United Nations Population Fund, Technical Division, Population and Development Branch, New York City, New York, USA.
2
Lehrstuhl für Epidemiologie, Technische Universität München, München, Germany.
3
Klinikum Bogenhausen, Städtisches Klinikum München, Technische Universität München, München, Germany.
4
Kenya Medical Research Institute/Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Nairobi, Kenya.
5
WorldPop, Geography and Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.
6
Flowminder Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden.
7
Program in Global Surgery and Social Change, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Abstract

Introduction:

Despite an estimated one-third of the global burden of disease being surgical, only limited estimates of accessibility to surgical treatment in sub-Saharan Africa exist and these remain spatially undefined. Geographical metrics of access to major hospitals were estimated based on travel time. Estimates were then used to assess need for surgery at country level.

Methods:

Major district and regional hospitals were assumed to have capability to perform bellwether procedures. Geographical locations of hospitals in relation to the population in the 47 sub-Saharan countries were combined with spatial ancillary data on roads, elevation, land use or land cover to estimate travel-time metrics of 30 min, 1 hour and 2 hours. Hospital catchment was defined as population residing in areas less than 2 hours of travel time to the next major hospital. Travel-time metrics were combined with fine-scale population maps to define burden of surgery at hospital catchment level.

Results:

Overall, the majority of the population (92.5%) in sub-Saharan Africa reside in areas within 2 hours of a major hospital catchment defined based on spatially defined travel times. The burden of surgery in all-age population was 257.8 million to 294.7 million people and was highest in high-population density countries and lowest in sparsely populated or smaller countries. The estimated burden in children <15 years was 115.3 million to 131.8 million and had similar spatial distribution to the all-age pattern.

Conclusion:

The study provides an assessment of accessibility and burden of surgical disease in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet given the optimistic assumption of adequare surgical capability of major hospitals, the true burden of surgical disease is expected to be much greater. In-depth health facility assessments are needed to define infrastructure, personnel and medicine supply for delivering timely and safe affordable surgery to further inform the analysis.

KEYWORDS:

catchment population; geospatial analysis; global surgery; spatial modelling; sub-Saharn Africa; universal health coverage

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