A research network, CovidSurg Collaborative, says 28.4 million elective surgeries worldwide will be cancelled or postponed in 2020 as a result of disruption to hospital services occasioned by to COVID-19 pandemic.
A Consultant Paediatric Surgeon,
Prof. Adesoji Ademuyiwa, in a statement in Lagos on Friday, said the network made the projection based on a 12-week period of peak disruption to hospital services due to COVID-19.
CovidSurg Collaborative is focussed on the impact of COVID-19 on surgical care, with over 5,000 surgeons from across 120 countries participated in the programme.
Ademuyiwa, who is also a Director, National Institute of Health Research Global Surgery Unit, College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, led the global research in Nigeria.
According to him, 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.
He said: “The researchers collected detailed information from surgeons across 359 hospitals and 71 countries on plans for cancellation of elective surgeries.
“This data was then statistically modelled to estimate totals for cancelled surgery across 190 countries.
“The researchers project that worldwide, 72.3 per cent 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.”
In Nigeria, Ademuyiwa said that most hospitals had 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.
“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 per cent compared to pre-pandemic activity.
“It will take 11 months to clear the backlog.
“However, each additional week of disruption will lead to the cancellation of an extra 8, 705 surgeries, significantly extending the period it will take to clear the backlog,” the consultant paediatric surgeon said.
According to Ademuyiwa, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a huge backlog of cancelled elective surgeries across Nigeria.
He said it was estimated that each additional week of cancelled surgery would 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 healthcare workers.
“This is to reduce the backlog of surgical burden expected after the pandemic resolves,” he said.
Also, in the statement Mr Aneel Bhangu, a Consultant Surgeon and Senior Lecturer at the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery, University of Birmingham, said that cancellation of elective surgeries was to reduce risk of exposing patients to the virus.
Bhangu said: “During the COVID-19 pandemics, elective surgeries have been cancelled.
“This is 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 in to 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.”