Prevalence of Surgically Untreated Face, Head, and Neck Conditions in Uganda: A Cross-Sectional Nationwide Household Survey

World Neurosurg. 2018 Feb:110:e747-e754. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2017.11.099. Epub 2017 Nov 24.


Background: The Surgeons OverSeas Assessment of Surgical Need tool (SOSAS) was created to evaluate the burden of surgically treatable conditions in low- and middle-income countries. The goal of our study is to describe the face, head, and neck (FHN) conditions that need surgical care in Uganda, along with barriers to that care and disability from these conditions.

Methods: A 2-stage cluster randomized SOSAS survey was administered in a cross-sectional manner between August and September 2014. Participants included randomly selected persons in 105 enumeration areas in 74 districts throughout Uganda with 24 households in each cluster. The SOSAS survey collected demographic and clinical data on all respondents. Univariate and multivariate logistic models evaluated associations of demographic characteristics and clinical characteristics of the FHN conditions and outcomes of whether health care was sought or surgical care was received.

Results: Of the 4428 respondents, 331 (7.8%) reported having FHN conditions. The most common types of conditions were injury-related wounds. Of those who reported an FHN condition, 36% reported receiving no surgical care whereas 82.5% reported seeking health care. In the multivariate model, literacy and type of condition were significant predictors of seeking health care whereas village type, literacy, and type of condition remained significant predictors of receiving surgical care.

Conclusions: Many individuals in Uganda are not receiving surgical care and barriers include costs, rural residency, and literacy. Our study highlights the need for targeted interventions in various parts of Uganda to increase human resources for surgery and expand surgical capacity.

Keywords: Disease burden; Global surgery; Head and neck injury; Low- and middle-income countries.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Developing Countries
  • Face / surgery
  • Female
  • Head / surgery*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck / surgery*
  • Needs Assessment
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Prevalence
  • Random Allocation
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uganda / epidemiology
  • Young Adult