Epidemiology of surgery in a protracted humanitarian setting: a 20-year retrospective study of Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Kigoma, Western Tanzania
Journal – BMC Surgery
Article type – Journal research article – Clinical research
Publication date – Nov – 2021
Authors – Sarah Rapaport, Hilary Ngude, Amber Lekey, Mohamed Abbas, Peter J. Winch, Kent Stevens, Zachary Obinna Enumah
Keywords – Global Health, global surgery, Humanitarian setting, Refugee camp, Tanzania
Open access – Yes
Speciality – General surgery, Health policy
World region Eastern Africa
Language – English
Submitted to the One Surgery Index on November 9, 2021 at 12:54 am
There are 80 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, 26.3 million of whom are refugees. Many refugees live in camps and have complex health needs, including a high burden of non-communicable disease. It is estimated that 3 million procedures are needed for refugees worldwide, yet very few studies exist on surgery in refugee camps, particularly protracted refugee settings. This study utilizes a 20-year dataset, the longest dataset of surgery in a refugee setting to be published to date, to assess surgical output in a setting of protracted displacement.
A retrospective review of surgeries performed in Nyarugusu Camp was conducted using paper logbooks containing entries between November 2000 and September 2020 inclusive. Abstracted data were digitized into standard electronic form and included date, patient nationality, sex, age, indication, procedure performed, and anesthesia used. A second reviewer checked 10% of entries for accuracy. Entries illegible to both reviewers were excluded. Demographics, indication for surgery, procedures performed, and type of anesthesia were standardized for descriptive analysis, which was performed in STATA.
There were 10,799 operations performed over the 20-year period. Tanzanians underwent a quarter of the operations while refugees underwent the remaining 75%. Ninety percent of patients were female and 88% were 18 years of age or older. Caesarean sections were the most common performed procedure followed by herniorrhaphies, tubal ligations, exploratory laparotomies, hysterectomies, appendectomies, and repairs. The most common indications for laparotomy procedures were ectopic pregnancy, uterine rupture, and acute abdomen. Spinal anesthesia was the most common anesthesia type used. Although there was a consistent increase in procedural volume over the study period, this is largely explained by an increase in overall camp population and an increase in caesarean sections rather than increases in other, specific surgical procedures.
There is significant surgical volume in Nyarugusu Camp, performed by staff physicians and visiting surgeons. Both refugees and the host population utilize these surgical services. This work provides context to the surgical training these settings require, but further study is needed to assess the burden of surgical disease and the extent to which it is met in this setting and others.
OSI Number – 21334