Purpose: We aimed to understand the challenges facing children's surgical care providers globally and realistic interventions to mitigate the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on children's surgery.
Methods: Two online Action Planning Forums (APFs) were organized by the Global Initiative for Children's Surgery (GICS) with a geographically diverse panel representing four children's surgical, anesthesia, and nursing subspecialties. Qualitative analysis was performed to identify codes, themes, and subthemes.
Results: The most frequently reported challenges were delayed access to care for children; fear among the public and patients; unavailability of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE); diversion of resources toward COVID-19 care; and interruption in student and trainee hands-on education. To address these challenges, panelists recommended human resource and funding support to minimize backlog; setting up international, multi-center studies for systematic data collection specifically for children; providing online educational opportunities for trainees and students in the form of large and small group discussions; developing best practice guidelines; and, most importantly, adapting solutions to local needs.
Conclusion: Identification of key challenges and interventions to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global children's surgery via an objective, targeted needs assessment serves as an essential first step. Key interventions in these areas are underway.
Keywords: COVID-19; Children’s surgery; Global surgery; Online social networking; Pandemic; Pediatric surgery.