The study of 11,422 adult patients at 247 hospitals spread over 25 countries – including Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria and Zambia, revealed that just over 18% of in-patients developed complications following surgery, while 1% of elective in-patients died in hospital within 30 days of their operation – twice the global average.
Prof Bruce Biccard, a co-author of the latest study from the University of Cape Town, said that one of the major problems is likely to be an insufficient number of medical staff, resulting in difficulties in spotting or tackling complications following operations. “The reason that people do so terribly in Africa from a surgical point of view is that there are just no human resources,” he said. The findings are probably a reflection of a scanty workforce, limited numbers of hospital beds, and poor systems to check up on patients follow surgery, noting that there are only about 0.7 specialist surgeons, obstetricians and anaesthesiologists per 100,000 population. The recommended figure to decrease the risk of death following surgery is 20–40 such specialists per 100,000 population. “There is no way we are going to be able to train enough physicians to fill this deficit in human resources,” said Biccard