Global Surgery| Volume 158, ISSUE 3, P764-772, September 2015

Pilot study of a population-based survey to assess the prevalence of surgical conditions in Uganda


      Noncommunicable diseases, including those requiring surgical care, are increasingly straining low- and middle-income countries. Globally, 11% of all disability-adjusted life-years lost result from conditions requiring surgery; however, little is known about country-specific burden. We piloted a household-based survey in a periurban district of Uganda to estimate the prevalence of surgical conditions and to identify logistical challenges.


      Our sample comprised 57 households in 5 enumeration areas in the Wakiso District, in central Uganda. Our survey tool was the Surgeons OverSeas Assessment of Surgical need. A household representative completed demographic and household death information, and 2 randomly selected household members completed questions on surgical conditions.


      Of 96 participants, 6 (6.3%; 95% CI, 2.3–13.1) had an existing, untreated surgical condition. The lifetime prevalence of surgical conditions was 26% (25/96). The most common barrier to access to care was lack of financial resources. Of the 3 deaths reported, 2 were associated with surgery. The mean household interview time was 36 minutes. The greatest challenge was efficient coordination with local team members and government officials.


      In this setting, the current prevalence of surgical conditions was nearly 1 in 10 persons, and lifetime occurrence was high, at 1 in 4 persons. Addressable challenges led to question revisions and a change in the data collection platform. A full-country study is both feasible and necessary to characterize the met and unmet need for surgical care in Uganda.
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