The CovidSurg Collaborative, an international cohort study, aiming to assess the outcomes of surgery in patients diagnosed with Covid-19, has reported that Nigeria needs at least 11 months to clear the backlog of surgeries that have been cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The report which was published in the British Journal of Surgery (BJS) stated that 28.4 million elective surgeries would be cancelled worldwide due to the Covid-19 crisis, indicating that an additional week of disruption to medical services will be associated with 2.4 million further cancellations.
The report also stated that an estimated 114,514 surgeries have been cancelled in Nigeria, including 12,217 cancer procedures, cancellations which have created a backlog that will only be cleared after the Covid-19 disruption.
A Professor of Surgery at the University of Lagos and Consultant of Pediatric Surgeon at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Professor Adesoji Ademuyiwa, said that most hospitals have issued policies to cancel elective surgeries until a review of community transmission of Covid-19 was made to ascertain the level of safety.
He said, ‘The [Covid-19] pandemic has resulted in a huge backlog of cancelled elective surgeries across Nigeria and it is estimated that each additional week of cancelled surgery will result in a backlog of over 8,000 surgeries’.
Ademuyiwa further said, ‘There is a need for all stakeholders to explore ways in which elective surgeries can resume safely, both for patients and health care workers, to reduce the backlog of surgical burden expected after the pandemic resolves’.
A Senior Lecturer at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) at the University of Birmingham, Aneel Bhangu, said, ‘During the [Covid-19] pandemic, elective surgeries have been cancelled to reduce the risk of patients being exposed to [Covid-19] in hospitals, and to support the wider hospital response, for example by converting operating theatres into intensive care units’.
He further said, ‘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 several unnecessary deaths’.
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