Challenges in developing paediatric surgery in Sub-Saharan Africa

Pediatr Surg Int. 2006 May;22(5):425-7. doi: 10.1007/s00383-006-1669-9. Epub 2006 Apr 5.


The aim of the present study is to report on the difficulties in developing paediatric surgery in a teaching hospital in Tanzania. The methods are as follows: (1) information on the demography and health services of Tanzania were obtained from the Ministry of Health and the 1998 consensus report; (2) hospital data was obtained from the Medical Director's Office and analysed; (3) the current delivery of surgical services for children at the Tumaini University Hospital and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) is reported; (4) the local, national and international support for the development of surgical services for children is noted; (5) the teaching, training and research programmes are proposed. The results showed that (1) Tanzania has a population of 31 million with a total health expenditure of 10%. There is 1 doctor for 23,000 inhabitants and 1 hospital bed per 940. The infant mortality is 173 per thousand life births. (2) The bed capacity at KCMC is 500 with a staff of 40 consultants, 294 nurses, 246 health attendants and 38 clinical officers. (3) Forty-two percent of admissions to the surgical ward and 50% of surgical outpatients are children. Surgical newborns are cared for in the special care baby unit and there are no neonatal or paediatric ventilators. (4) Support to develop surgical services for children has been pledged for locally, nationally and internationally; however, delivery of the service has not had the equivalent momentum. (5) The proposed teaching and training programme has been approved by the University. There is a need for surgical services for children with encouraging support for this venture; however, the challenges remain in delivering the service.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • General Surgery / education
  • Hospitals, Teaching / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Program Development
  • Surgery Department, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Surgery Department, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Tanzania
  • Workforce