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Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 1996 Apr;90(2):213-21.

Rates of major surgery by age and sex in a rural district in Kenya.

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Department of International Health and Social Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


All major surgical operations performed during 1 year in Meru district, Kenya, were recorded. The district, with a population of 1.3 million, had five hospitals and two nursing homes where major surgery was performed. Over 3400 major operations were recorded: Caesarean section (129.0 operations/100,000 population), tubal ligation (39.4), laparotomy (14.0), hysterectomy (5.0), open reduction of fracture (4.3) and hernia repair (6.3). The total major surgery rate was 263/100,000 year: 88/100,000 males and 434/100,000 females. Of all major operations, 83.5% were performed on females, the most common being Caesarean section, tubal ligation, laparotomy, eye or lens removal and hysterectomy. Most frequent major operations on males were laparotomy, eye or lens removal, hernia repair, gastro-intestinal surgery and prostatectomy. Most major surgery (68.1%) was on young and middle-aged adults; only 7.7% was performed on children aged < 15 years even though these made up half of the population. Rates increased with age, and there were modest male/female differences except for very high rates of obstetrical surgery on young women. There is need to expand the district's capacity for major surgery and also to prevent more conditions requiring surgery, for example by improving sexual- and reproductive-health education, making family planning services more easily available among sexually active adolescents, and by initiating more aggressive prevention programmes against injuries. Although population-based operation rates, totally and by sex and age-group, are useful indicators for monitoring service output, current reporting is inadequate. One step towards improvement would be to require that every hospital reports, annually to the district level, all major operations by kind and by age and sex of the patient.

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