Equipment for essential surgical care in 9 countries across Africa: availability, barriers and need for novel design

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Shortages of medical equipment in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) have been found by several previous studies that assessed surgical capacity. To increase surgical capacity, there is a need to identify the availability of specific types of surgical equipment on a local, regional and national level. A survey was conducted among surgeons attending the annual meeting of the College Of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) in December 2016. General information of the facilities, availability of surgical equipment, reasons for limited availability, daily usage of equipment and equipment that could benefit from redesign were assessed. Forty-two respondents participated in this study, representing 33 individual healthcare facilities (14 public referrals, 9 public district and 10 private (for-profit and non-profit)). The respondents worked in 9 countries in East, Central, Western and Southern Africa. A deficiency in availability of basic surgical equipment was found, especially in public district hospitals. Electrosurgical units, endoscopes, defibrillators, infusions pumps and electrocardiogram monitors were of limited availability. Reasons indicated for this limited availability were: no need, too costly, no training, no disposables and no repair. Lack of maintenance and old/overused equipment were identified as major reasons for failure of equipment. Equipment that could benefit from redesign were for example: electrosurgical units, laparoscopic equipment and theatre lights. Availability of surgical equipment should be increased, especially in public district hospitals. Novel context appropriate redesign that is adapted to fit the context in LMICs could decrease the barriers to availability and to failure of surgical equipment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-275
JournalHealth and Technology
Volume9 (2019)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Surgery
  • Medical equipment
  • Low-and-middle income countries
  • Maintenance

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