Innovative bridging of the rural-urban divide: comparison of scope, safety, and impact of collaborative rural surgery camps and an urban surgical program.
BACKGROUND: In medically under-resourced regions worldwide, non-permanent surgery programs or camps have been conducted to expand access to surgical services. Surgery camp programs have been reported in rural India, primarily in the ophthalmic and obstetric fields; however, the provision of general surgical services in these settings is largely unknown. METHODS: A 12-month retrospective review of non-ambulatory procedures performed at a rural hospital surgery camp program and at an urban hospital in Maharashtra, India, was completed to characterize relative differences in procedural activity, frequency and severity of perioperative complications, and to evaluate efficacy of care. RESULTS: A total of 449 cases performed in rural hospital surgery camps were compared with 344 cases performed in an urban hospital during the course of the study period. The majority of rural surgical cases were elective and of intermediate complexity. Approximately 4% of rural cases were complex-major compared to 17% of urban cases. Intraoperative complications occurred in 0.2% rural cases compared to 5.5% of urban cases; p = 0.01. Postoperative complications were predominantly low grade in both groups. The postoperative complication rate was higher among rural surgical patients (43.4%; 23.5%; p < 0.01), though the Surgical Risk Score was significantly lower in this group (p < 0. 01). Rural surgery camp activity over 12 months achieved diagnostic and/or therapeutic goals in 92.2% of procedures and rendered 1.74-2.69 disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) averted per patient. CONCLUSIONS: Rural general surgery camps can safely and effectively provide a wide range of surgical services under appropriate collaborative and clinical conditions. Surgery camps may be a safe, temporizing solution to unmet needs until substantial gains in rural healthcare are realized.
Belle, JM; Bang, RA; Kelkar, D; Østbye, T; Lagoo-Deenadayalan, SA
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