Research

Geographical maldistribution of surgical resources in South Africa: A review of the number of hospitals, hospital beds and surgical beds

A J Dell, D Kahn

Abstract


Background. The global burden of surgical disease has been studied to a limited extent. Despite the proven benefits of surgery, surgical services remain poorly resourced. Contributing to this global crisis is the critical lack of data regarding available resources.

Objective. To analyse the distribution of some resources necessary for the provision of surgical care. The distribution and number of surgical resources (number of surgical beds) relative to the general resources (number of hospitals and total number of beds) in South Africa were analysed.

Methods. All hospitals in the country, including those in the public and private sectors, were contacted, and the total number of hospitals, the level of care (district v. regional v. tertiary), the total number of hospital beds, and the number of surgical beds were determined. The data were analysed according to the provincial distribution and the public v. private sector distribution relative to the size of the population.

Results. A total of 544 hospitals were included in the study – 327 in the public sector and 217 in the private sector. The public sector hospitals included 257 district-, 49 regional- and 21 tertiary-level hospitals. Nationally, there were 1 hospital, 187 hospital beds and 42 surgical beds per 100 000 population. Gauteng Province (GP), the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Western Cape had the most hospitals and GP had the largest number of private hospitals. GP and KZN had the largest total number of beds (n=29 181 and n=22 889, respectively) and number of surgical beds (n=7 289 and n=4 651, respectively). GP had the largest number of private surgical beds (n=4 837). There was a marked variation in the number of hospitals, total number of beds, and number of surgical beds among provinces.

Conclusion. This study provided an estimation of the number of hospitals, total number of beds, and number of surgical beds, and showed a marked variation among provinces and between the public and private sectors.


Authors' affiliations

A J Dell, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, and Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town, South Africa

D Kahn, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, and Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Keywords

Global surgery; Surgical resources

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2017;107(12):1099-1105. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2017.v107i12.12539

Article History

Date submitted: 2017-11-27
Date published: 2017-11-27

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