Malawi Medical Journal. Vol 31, No 3 (2019):233-239

Funding paediatric surgery procedures in sub-Saharan Africa
Sebastian O Ekenze

BackgroundIn sub-Saharan Africa, there is a growing awareness of the burden of paediatric surgical diseases. This has highlighted the large discrepancy between the capacity to treat and the ability to afford treatment, and the effect of this problem on access to care. This review focuses on the sources and challenges of funding paediatric surgical procedures in sub-Saharan Africa. MethodsWe undertook a search for studies published between January 2007 and November 2016 that reported the specific funding of paediatric surgical procedures and were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa. Abstract screening, full-text review and data abstraction were completed and resulting data were analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software. ResultsThirty-five studies met our inclusion criteria and were reviewed. The countries that were predominantly emphasized in the publications reviewed were Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda. The paediatric surgical procedures involved general paediatric surgery/urology, cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, oncology, plastics, ophthalmology, orthopaedics and otorhinolaryngology. The mean cost of these procedures ranged from 60 to 21,140 United States Dollars (USD). The source of funding for these procedures was mostly out-of-pocket payments (OOPs) by the patient???s family in 32 studies, (91.4%) and medical mission/non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in 21 (60%) studies. This pattern did not differ appreciably between the articles published in the initial and latter 5 years of the study period, although there was a trend towards a reduction in OOP funding. Improvements in healthcare funding by individual countries supported by international organizations and charities were the predominant suggested solutions to challenges in funding.ConclusionWhile considering the potential limitations created by diversity in study design, the reviewed publications indicate that funding for paediatric surgical procedures in sub-Saharan Africa is mostly by OOPs made by families of the patients. This may result in limited access to some procedures. Coordinated efforts, and collaboration between individual countries and international agencies, may help to reduce OOP funding and thus improve access to critical procedures.

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