A geospatial evaluation of timely access to surgical care in seven countries
To assess the consistent availability of basic surgical resources at selected facilities in seven countries.
In 2010–2014, we used a situational analysis tool to collect data at district and regional hospitals in Bangladesh (n = 14), the Plurinational State of Bolivia (n = 18), Ethiopia (n = 19), Guatemala (n = 20), the Lao People's Democratic Republic (n = 12), Liberia (n = 12) and Rwanda (n = 25). Hospital sites were selected by pragmatic sampling. Data were geocoded and then analysed using an online data visualization platform. Each hospital’s catchment population was defined as the people who could reach the hospital via a vehicle trip of no more than two hours. A hospital was only considered to show consistent availability of basic surgical resources if clean water, electricity, essential medications including intravenous fluids and at least one anaesthetic, analgesic and antibiotic, a functional pulse oximeter, a functional sterilizer, oxygen and providers accredited to perform surgery and anaesthesia were always available.
Only 41 (34.2%) of the 120 study hospitals met the criteria for the provision of consistent basic surgical services. The combined catchments of the study hospitals in each study country varied between 3.3 million people in Liberia and 151.3 million people in Bangladesh. However, the combined catchments of the study hospitals in each study country that met the criteria for the provision of consistent basic surgical services were substantially smaller and varied between 1.3 million in Liberia and 79.2 million in Bangladesh.
Many study facilities were deficient in the basic infrastructure necessary for providing basic surgical care on a consistent basis.