By Chioma Obinna
The CovidSurg Collaborative has projected that, based on a 12-week period of peak disruption to hospital services due to COVID-19, it will take 11 months to clear the backlog of surgeries that have been cancelled.
The report also stated that 28.4 million elective surgeries would be cancelled worldwide this year.
The modelling study, published in the British Journal of Surgery, indicates that each additional week of disruption to hospital services will be associated with a further 2.4 million cancellations.
In a statement made available to Vanguard by Professor Adesoji Ademuyiwa, in Nigeria, most hospitals have issued out policies to cancel most elective surgeries indefinitely until reviewed based on containment of the community transmission of the SARS-COV-2 virus.
Across the nation, it is estimated that this will result in 114,514 cancelled surgeries, including 12,217cancer procedures.
It said: “These cancellations will create a backlog that will need to be cleared after the COVID-19 disruption ends.
“If, after the disruption ends, the Ministry of Health increases the number of surgeries performed each week by 20 percent compared to pre-pandemic activity, it will take 11 months to clear the backlog.
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“However, each additional week of disruption will lead to the cancellation of extra 8,705 surgeries, significantly extending the period it will take to clear the backlog.”
Professor Ademuyiwa, a Professor of Surgery at the University of Lagos and Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, who is also the Director of the National Institute of Health Research Global Surgery Unit in the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, led this global research in Nigeria.
He said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a huge backlog of cancelled elective surgeries across Nigeria and it estimated that each additional week of cancelled surgery will result in a backlog of over 8,000 surgeries.
“There is a need for all stakeholders to explore ways in which elective surgeries can resume in a safe way, both for patients and health care workers, to reduce the backlog of surgical burden expected after the pandemic resolves.”
The researchers collected detailed information from surgeons across 359 hospitals and 71 countries on plans for cancellation of elective surgery. This data was then statistically modelled to estimate totals for cancelled surgery across 190 countries.
The researchers projected that worldwide 72.3% of planned surgeries would be cancelled through the peak period of COVID-19 related disruption.
Most cancelled surgeries will be for non-cancer conditions. Orthopaedic procedures will be cancelled most frequently, with 6.3 million orthopaedic surgeries cancelled worldwide over a 12-week period.
It is also projected that globally 2.3 million cancer surgeries will be cancelled or postponed.
A Consultant Surgeon and Senior Lecturer at the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery at the University of Birmingham, Mr. Aneel Bhangu, said: “During the COVID-19 pandemics elective surgeries have been cancelled to reduce the risk of patients being exposed to COVID-19 in hospital, and to support the wider hospital response, for example by converting operating theatres into intensive care units.
“Although essential, cancellations place a heavy burden on patients and society. Patients’ conditions may deteriorate, worsening their quality of life as they wait for rescheduled surgery. In some cases, for example cancer, delayed surgeries may lead to a number of unnecessary deaths.”