Current perspectives of oncoplastic breast surgery in Pakistan

Oncoplastic breast surgery is based on the concept of tumour-specific immediate reconstruction. It combines both local and distant techniques to maintain breast texture, symmetry and cosmesis without compromising oncological outcome. The current narrative review was planned to highlight the current state and future of oncoplastic breast surgery in low- and middle-income
countries where its utilisation in surgical practice remains insubstantial because majority of the surgeons who are treating breast cancer are either general surgeons or breast surgeons who do not have expertise in oncoplastic breast surgery or reconstructive surgery. Moreover, scarcity of financial resources, ignorance about oncoplastic breast surgery techniques, disfigurement
distress and cultural taboos coerce women to hide in the shadows with their breast disease. Oncoplastic breast surgery needs more exposure in a developing country like Pakistan.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international reconstructive collaborations in Africa

The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has catalysed a widespread humanitarian crisis in many low- and middle-income countries around the world, with many African nations significantly impacted. The aim of this study was to quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the planning and provision of international reconstructive collaborations in Africa.

An anonymous, 14-question, multiple choice questionnaire was sent to 27 non-governmental organisations who regularly perform reconstructive surgery in Africa. The survey was open to responses for four weeks, closing on the 7th of March 2021. A single reminder was sent out at 2 weeks. The survey covered four key domains: (1) NGO demographics; (2) the impact of COVID-19 on patient follow-up; (3) barriers to the safe provision of international surgical collaborations during COVID-19; (4) the impact of COVID-19 on NGO funding.

A total of ten reconstructive NGOs completed the survey (response rate, 37%). Ethiopia (n = 5) and Tanzania (n = 4) were the countries where most collaborations took place. Plastic, reconstructive and burns surgery was the most common sub-speciality (n = 7). For NGOs that did not have a year-round presence in country (n = 8), only one NGO was able to perform reconstructive surgery in Africa during the pandemic. The most common barrier identified was travel restrictions (within country, n = 8 or country entry-exit, n = 7). Pre-pandemic, 1547 to ≥ 1800 patients received reconstructive surgery on international surgical collaborations. After the outbreak, 70% of NGOs surveyed had treated no patients, with approximately 1405 to ≥ 1640 patients left untreated over the last year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed huge pressures on health services and their delivery across the globe. This theme has extended into international surgical collaborations leading to increased unmet surgical needs in low- and middle-income countries.