Pediatric surgical capacity in Africa: Current status and future needs

Asra Toobaie, Sherif Emil, Doruk Ozgediz, Sanjay Krishnaswami, Dan Poenaru

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background African pediatric surgery (PS) faces multiple challenges. Information regarding existing resources is limited. We surveyed African pediatric surgeons to determine available resources and clinical, educational, and collaborative needs. Methods Members of the Pan-African Pediatric Surgical Association (PAPSA) and the Global Pediatric Surgery Network (GPSN) completed a structured email survey covering PS providers, facilities, resources, workload, education/training, disease patterns, and collaboration priorities. Results Of 288 deployed surveys, 96 were completed (33%) from 26 countries (45% of African countries). Median PS providers/million included 1 general surgeon and 0.26 pediatric surgeons. Median pediatric facilities/million included 0.03 hospitals, 0.06 ICUs, and 0.17 surgical wards. Neonatal ventilation was available in 90% of countries, fluoroscopy in 70%, TPN in 50%, and frozen section pathology in 35%. Median surgical procedures/institution/year was 852. Median waiting time was 40 days for elective procedures and 7 days? for emergencies. Weighted average percent mortality for key surgical conditions varied between 1% (Sierra Leone) and 54% (Burkina Faso). Providers ranked collaborative professional development highest and direct clinical care lowest priority in projects with high-income partners. Conclusions The broad deficits identified in PS human and material resources in Africa suggest the need for a global collaborative effort to address the PS gaps. Level of evidence Level 5, expert opinion without explicit critical appraisal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)843-848
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017


  • Africa
  • Facilities
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Training program
  • Workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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