Understanding the burden of diseases requiring surgical care at national levels is essential to advance universal health coverage. The PREvalence Study on Surgical COnditions (PRESSCO) 2020 is a cross-sectional household survey to estimate the prevalence of physical conditions needing surgical consultation, to investigate healthcare-seeking behavior, and to assess changes from before the West African Ebola epidemic.
This study (ISRCTN: 12353489) was built upon the Surgeons Overseas Surgical Needs Assessment (SOSAS) tool, including expansions. Seventy-five enumeration areas from 9671 nationwide clusters were sampled proportional to population size. In each cluster, 25 households were randomly assigned and visited. Need for surgical consultations was based on verbal responses and physical examination of selected household members.
A total of 3,618 individuals from 1,854 households were surveyed. Compared to 2012, the prevalence of individuals reporting one or more relevant physical conditions was reduced from 25 to 6.2% (95% CI 5.4–7.0%) of the population. One-in-five conditions rendered respondents unemployed, disabled, or stigmatized. Adult males were predominantly prone to untreated surgical conditions (9.7 vs. 5.9% women; p < 0.001). Financial constraints were the predominant reason for not seeking care. Among those seeking professional health care, 86.7% underwent surgery.
PRESSCO 2020 is the first surgical needs household survey which compares against earlier study data. Despite the 2013–2016 Ebola outbreak, which profoundly disrupted the national healthcare system, a substantial reduction in reported surgical conditions was observed. Compared to one-time measurements, repeated household surveys yield finer granular data on the characteristics and situations of populations in need of surgical treatment.