Surgical resources in South Africa: a review of the number of functional operating theatres

  • AJ Dell
  • D Kahn
Keywords: Global surgery, Surgical Resources


Background: Surgery has previously been neglected as a development initiative, despite the obvious effect of surgical illnesses on morbidity and mortality. Recently, greater attention has been given to surgical services, as there is growing evidence of cost-effectiveness of surgical interventions. Operating theatre numbers have been used as a measure of surgical capacity, despite there being limitations associated with this use of this metric. This study aims to analyse part of the surgical resources in South Africa.
Methods: A descriptive analysis of surgical infrastructure in all nine provinces was performed. The total number of functional operating theatres was documented for all public and private hospitals in South Africa. Hospitals were contacted during the period from 1 October 2014 until 31 December 2014.
Results: The results showed 3.59 operating theatres per 100 000 population. This fell below the global average of 6.2 operating theatres per 100 000 as well as other developed countries. Theatres were concentrated in metropolitan areas, and there were a greater number of private operating theatres per insured population than in the uninsured public sector.
Conclusion: Strengthening surgical systems will reduce the surgical burden of disease and improve health outcomes globally. Little is known about the available surgical resources such as operating theatre density, although using this metric to evaluate surgical capacity has its limitations.

Key words: Global surgery, Surgical Resources


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-5151
print ISSN: 0038-2361