General Surgical Emergencies

Authors: Colin McCord, Doruk Ozgediz, Haile Debas, Jessica H. Beard

In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), at least 60 percent of the surgical operations performed are for emergencies, and that much can be done with very simple facilities and minimal support. The most common types of general surgical emergencies include: (1) acute abdominal emergencies; (2) urinary obstructions; and (3) respiratory obstructions and pleural disease. Due to efficiency systems, the total cost of lifesaving service in LMICs runs less than US$50. Because first-level facilities need to perform emergency obstetrical and trauma surgery, training programs should create the capacity to manage all three categories of surgical emergencies: general surgical, traumatic, and obstetric. It is important to address limitations on the use of new technologies in the context of the limited budgetary and human resources in LMICs. The barriers to effective service delivery result from inadequate training of existing staff, lack of a referral system that can bring patients to referral hospitals from health centers and dispensaries, and the financial burden of a hospital stay for poor families.
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