Introduction: A large part of the developing world continues to lack access to surgical care. Urology remains one of the least represented surgical subspecialties in global health. To begin understanding the burden of urological illness in sub-Saharan Africa, we sought to characterize all patients presenting to a tertiary care hospital in Malawi with a urological diagnosis or related complaint in the past year.
Methods: Retrospective review of the surgical clinic and surgical theater record books at Zomba Central Hospital (ZCH) was performed over a one-year time span. Patients presenting with urological diagnoses or undergoing a urological procedure under local or general anesthetic in the operating theater were identified and entered into a database.
Results: We reviewed 440 clinical patients. The most common clinical presentations were for urinary retention (34.7%) and lower urinary tract symptoms (15.5%). A total of 182 surgical cases were reviewed. The most common diagnoses for surgical patients were urethral stricture disease (22%), bladder masses (17%), and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms (14.8%). Urethral stricture-related procedures, including direct visual internal urethrotomy and urethral dilatation, were the most common (14.2% and 7.7%, respectively). BPH-related procedures, including simple prostatectomy and transurethral resection of the prostate were the second most common (6.7% and 8.2%, respectively).
Conclusions: Urethral stricture disease, BPH, and urinary retention represent the clinical diagnoses with the highest burden of visits. Despite these numbers, few definitive procedures are performed annually. Further focus on urological training in sub-Saharan Africa should focus on these conditions and their surgical management.