Main Article Content

Surgical need among the ageing population of Uganda

Tu M Tran
Anthony T Fuller
Elissa K Butler
Christine Muhumuza
Vincent F Ssennono
Joao Ricardo Vissoci
Fredrick Makumbi
Jeffrey G Chipman
Moses Galukande
Michael M Haglund
Samuel Luboga


Background: Uganda’s ageing population (age 50 years and older) will nearly double from 2015 to 2050. HIV/AIDS, diabetes, stroke among other disease processes have been studied in the elderly population. However, the burden of disease from surgi- cally-treatable conditions is unknown. 

Objectives: To determine the proportion of adults above 50 years with unmet surgical need and deaths attributable to probable surgically-treatable conditions. 

Methods: A cluster randomized sample representing the national population of Uganda was enumerated. The previously vali- dated Surgeons Overseas assessment of surgical need instrument, a head-to-toe verbal interview, was used to determine any sur- gically-treatable conditions in two randomly-selected living household members. Deaths were detailed by heads of households. Weighted metrics are calculated taking sampling design into consideration and Taylor series linearization was used for sampling error estimation.   

Results: The study enumerated 425 individuals above age 50 years. The prevalence proportion of unmet surgical need was 27.8% (95%CI, 22.1-34.3). This extrapolates to 694,722 (95%CI, 552,279-857,157) individuals living with one or more surgically treatable conditions. The North sub-region was observed to have the highest prevalence proportion. Nearly two out of five household deaths (37.9%) were attributed to probable surgically treatable causes.

Conclusion: There is disproportionately high need for surgical care among the ageing population of Uganda with approximate- ly 700,000 consultations needed.

Keywords: Surgical need, ageing population, Uganda.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1729-0503
print ISSN: 1680-6905