Diagnosis and management of surgical disease at Ethiopian health centres: cross-sectional survey of resources and barriers to care.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to characterise the resources and challenges for surgical care and referrals at health centres (HCs) in South Wollo Zone, Ethiopia. SETTING: Eight primary HCs in South Wollo Zone, Ethiopia. PARTICIPANTS: Eight health officers and nurses staffing eight HCs completed a survey. DESIGN: The study was a survey-based, cross-sectional assessment of HCs in South Wollo Zone, Ethiopia and data were collected over a 30-day period from November 2014 to January 2015. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Survey assessed human and material resources, diagnostic capabilities and challenges and patient-reported barriers to care. RESULTS: Eight HCs had an average of 18 providers each, the majority of which were nurses (62.2%) and health officers (20.7%). HCs had intermittent availability of clean water, nasogastric tubes, rectal tubes and suturing materials, none of them had any form of imaging. A total of 168 surgical patients were seen at the 8 HCs; 58% were referred for surgery. Most common diagnoses were trauma/burns (42%) and need for caesarean section (9%). Of those who did not receive surgery, 32 patients reported specific barriers to obtaining care (91.4%). The most common specific barriers were patients not being decision makers to have surgery, lack of family/social support and inability to afford hospital fees. CONCLUSIONS: HCs in South Wollo Zone, Ethiopia are well-staffed with nurses and health officers, however they face a number of diagnostic and treatment challenges due to lack of material resources. Many patients requiring surgery receive initial diagnosis and care at HCs; sociocultural and financial factors commonly prohibit these patients from receiving surgery. Further study is needed to determine how such delays may impact patient outcomes. Improving material resources at HCs and exploring community and family perceptions of surgery may enable more streamlined access to surgical care and prevent delays.
Starr, N; Carpenter, S; Carvalho, M; Souza, A; Chin, R; Kasotakis, G; Worku, M
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