What is the minimum number of specialist anaesthetists needed in low-income and middle-income countries?

INTRODUCTION:
The number of specialist anaesthetists in most low-income and middle-income countries is below what is needed to provide a safe quality anaesthesia service. There are no estimates of the optimal number; therefore, we estimated the minimum density of specialist anaesthetists to achieve a reasonable standard of healthcare as indicated by the maternal mortality ratio (MMR).

METHODS:
Utilising existing country-level data of the number of physician anaesthesia providers (PAPs), MMR and Human Development Index (HDI), we developed best-fit curves to describe the relationship between MMR and PAPs, controlling for HDI. The aim was to use this relationship to estimate the number of PAPs associated with achieving the median MMR.

RESULTS:
We estimated that, in order to achieve a reasonable standard of healthcare, as indicated by the global median MMR, countries should aim to have at least four PAPs per 100 000 population. Existing data show that currently 80 countries have fewer than this number.

CONCLUSION:
Four PAPs per 100 000 population is a modest target, but there is a need to increase training of doctors in many countries in order to train more specialist anaesthetists. It is important that this target is considered during the development of national workforce plans, even if a stepwise approach to workforce planning is chosen.

A profile of surgical burden and anaesthesia services at Mozambique’s Central Hospital: A review.

Surgical and anaesthesia data, including outcomes, remain limited in low-income countries (LIC). This study reviews the surgical burden and anaesthesia services at a tertiary care hospital in Mozambique.Information on activities within the department of anaesthesia at Maputo Central Hospital for 2014-15 was collected from its annual report and verified by the Chairman of Anaesthesia. Personnel information and health care metrics for the hospital in 2015 were collected and verified by hospital leadership.Maputo Central Hospital has 1423 beds with 50.1% allocated to primary surgical services. 39.7% of total admissions were to surgical services, and in 2015 the hospital performed 10,049 major operations requiring anaesthesia. The OB/GYN service had the most operations with 2894 (28.8%), followed by general surgery (1665, 16.6%). Inpatient surgical mortality was 4.1% and surgical-related diagnoses comprised two of the top 9 causes of death, with malignant neoplasms and hemorrhage from trauma causing the highest mortality. In 2014-15, Maputo Central Hospital employed 15 anesthesiologists, with 4 advanced and 23 basic mid-level anaesthesia providers. Of 10,897 total anaesthesia cases in 2014, 6954 were general anaesthesia and 3925 were neuraxial anaesthesia. Other anaesthesia services included chronic pain and intensive care consultation. Anaesthesia department leadership noted a strong desire to improve data collection and analysis for anaesthesia outcomes and complications, requested an additional administrator for statistical analysis.This profile of anaesthesia services at a large tertiary hospital in Mozambique highlights several features of anaesthesia care and surgical burden in LICs, including challenges of resource limitations, patient comorbidity, and social dynamics present in Mozambique that contribute to prolonged hospital stays. As noted, enhanced data collection and analysis within the department and the hospital may be useful in identifying strategies to improve outcomes and patient safety.

Surgery in Swaziland.

Surgeons working in less developed countries have to manage a wider range of conditions than their colleagues in Britain. It is suggested that such an experience would be a valuable part of the education of a specialist in Britain. A personal series of surgical operations carried out in Swaziland is presented.