Plastic and reconstructive surgery (PRS) remains highly relevant to the unmet need for surgery in Malawi. Better understanding the current PRS landscape and its barriers may help address some of these challenges. This scoping review aimed to describe: (1) the scope and focus of the PRS literature being produced in Malawi and (2) the challenges, deficits, and barriers to providing accessible, high-quality PRS in Malawi.
This scoping review was conducted on four databases (SCOPUS, PubMed, Web of Science, EMBASE) from inception through September 1, 2020 following the PRISMA-ScR guidelines.
The database search retrieved 3852 articles, of which 31 were included that examined the burden of PRS-related conditions in Malawi. Of these 31 articles, 25 primarily discussed burn-related care. Burns injuries have a high mortality rate; between 27 and 75% in the studies. The literature revealed that there are only two burn units nationally with one PRS specialist in each unit, compounded by a lack of interest in PRS specialization by Malawian medical students. Congenital anomalies were the only other PRS-related condition examined and reported in the literature, accounting for 23% of all pediatric surgeries in tertiary facilities.
There is a need to increase the country’s capacity to handle burn reconstruction and other PRS-related conditions to reduce overall morbidity and mortality. Additional publicly funded research at the district and community level is warranted to determine the true burden of PRS disease in Malawi to derive health system strengthening and workforce capacity building strategies.