A Nationwide Enumeration of Operations Performed for Pediatric Patients in Ghana

Eur J Pediatr Surg. 2021 Apr;31(2):199-205. doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1705130. Epub 2020 Apr 2.


Introduction: Currently, there are no existing benchmarks for evaluating a nation's pediatric surgical capacity in terms of met and unmet needs.

Materials and methods: Data on pediatric operations performed from 2014 to 2015 were obtained from a representative sample of hospitals in Ghana, then scaled up for national estimates. Operations were categorized as "essential" (most cost-effective, highest population impact) as designated by the World Bank's Disease Control Priorities versus "other." Estimates were then compared with pediatric operation rates in New Zealand to determine unmet pediatric surgery need in Ghana.

Results: A total of 29,884 operations were performed for children <15 years, representing an annual operation rate of 284/100,000 (95% uncertainty interval: 205-364). Essential procedures constituted 66% of all pediatric operations; 12,397 (63%) were performed at district hospitals. General surgery (8,808; 29%) and trauma (6,302; 21%) operations were most common. Operations for congenital conditions were few (826; 2.8%). Tertiary hospitals performed majority (55%) of operations outside of the essential category. Compared with the New Zealand benchmark (3,806 operations/100,000 children <15 years), Ghana is meeting only 7% of its pediatric surgical needs.

Conclusion: Ghana has a large unmet need for pediatric surgical care. Pediatric-specific benchmarking is needed to guide surgical capacity efforts in low- and middle-income country healthcare systems.