Background: Noncommunicable diseases, including those requiring surgical care, are increasingly straining low- and middle-income countries. Globally, 11% of all disability-adjusted life-years lost result from conditions requiring surgery; however, little is known about country-specific burden. We piloted a household-based survey in a periurban district of Uganda to estimate the prevalence of surgical conditions and to identify logistical challenges.
Methods: Our sample comprised 57 households in 5 enumeration areas in the Wakiso District, in central Uganda. Our survey tool was the Surgeons OverSeas Assessment of Surgical need. A household representative completed demographic and household death information, and 2 randomly selected household members completed questions on surgical conditions.
Results: Of 96 participants, 6 (6.3%; 95% CI, 2.3-13.1) had an existing, untreated surgical condition. The lifetime prevalence of surgical conditions was 26% (25/96). The most common barrier to access to care was lack of financial resources. Of the 3 deaths reported, 2 were associated with surgery. The mean household interview time was 36 minutes. The greatest challenge was efficient coordination with local team members and government officials.
Conclusion: In this setting, the current prevalence of surgical conditions was nearly 1 in 10 persons, and lifetime occurrence was high, at 1 in 4 persons. Addressable challenges led to question revisions and a change in the data collection platform. A full-country study is both feasible and necessary to characterize the met and unmet need for surgical care in Uganda.
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