Purpose: To estimate the population-based annual rate of hernia surgery in Ghana, so as to better define the met and unmet need and to identify opportunities to decrease the unmet need.
Methods: Data on operations performed from June 2014 to May 2015 were obtained from representative samples of 48 of 124 district (first-level) hospitals, 9 of 11 regional (referral) hospitals, and 3 of 5 tertiary hospitals, and scaled-up to nationwide estimates. Rates of hernia surgery were compared to previously published annual incidence of symptomatic hernia in Ghana (210/100,000 population) and to published annual rates of hernia surgery in high-income countries (120-275/100,000).
Results: Estimated 17,418 [95% uncertainty interval (UI) 8154-26,683] hernia operations were performed nationally. The annual rate of hernia operations was 65 operations/100,000 population (95% UI 30.2-99.0). The rate was considerably less than the annual incidence of new symptomatic hernia or rates of hernia surgery in high-income countries. Hernia operations represented 7.5% of all operations. Most hernia operations (74%) were performed at district hospitals. Most district hospitals (54%) did not have fully trained surgeons, but nonetheless performed 38% of district-level hernia operations.
Conclusions: The rate of hernia operations fell short of estimated need. Most hernia repairs were performed at district hospitals, many without fully trained surgeons. Future global surgery benchmarking needs to address both overall surgical rates as well as rates for specific highly important operations. Countries can strengthen their planning for surgical care by defining their total, met, and unmet need for hernia surgery.
Keywords: Ghana; Global surgery; Hernia; Low- and middle-income country; Population-based rates.