Purpose: To determine the population-based rate of emergency surgery performed in Ghana, categorized by hospital level.
Methods: Data on operations performed from June 2014 to May 2015 were obtained from a nationally representative sample of hospitals and scaled up to nationwide estimates. Operations were categorized as to: "emergency" or "elective" and as to "essential" (most cost-effective, highest population impact) or "other" according to the World Bank's Disease Control Priorities project.
Results: Of 232,776 (95% UI 178,004-287,549) total operations performed nationally, 48% were emergencies. 112,036 emergency operations (95% UI 92,105-131,967) were performed and the annual national rate was 416 per 100,000 population (95% UI 342-489). Most emergency operations (87%) were in the essential category. Of essential emergency procedures, 47% were obstetric and gynecologic, 22% were general surgery, and 31% were trauma. District (first-level) hospitals performed 54%, regional hospitals 10%, and tertiary hospitals 36% of all emergency operations. About half (54%) of district hospitals did not have a fully trained surgeon, however, these hospitals performed 36% of district hospital emergency operations and 20% of all emergency operations.
Conclusions: Emergency operations make up nearly half of all operations performed in Ghana. Most are performed at district hospitals, many of which do not have fully trained surgeons. Obstetric procedures make up a large portion of emergency operations, indicating a need for improved provision of non-obstetric emergency surgical care. These data are useful for future benchmarking efforts to improve availability of emergency surgical care in Ghana and other low- and middle-income countries.
Keywords: Emergency surgery; Ghana; Global surgery; Low- and middle-income countries; Operation rate.