28 million elective surgeries may be cancelled worldwide: how non-COVID-19 medical care is suffering

surgery

(Artur Tumasjan

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Emma Charlton, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • 28 million elective surgeries across the globe may be cancelled during 12 weeks of peak disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Study indicates that each extra week of disruption is associated with 2.4 million cancellations.
  • 38% of global cancer surgery has been postponed or cancelled.
  • Backlog could take 45 weeks to clear.

COVID-19’s long-lasting impact on our health could include more than 28 million cancelled or postponed operations, creating a backlog that will take the best part of a year to clear. And the number could be even worse if lockdowns continue for longer, according to a new study.

Using data from surgeons in 359 hospitals across 71 countries, CovidSurg Collaborative researchers, including those from the University of Birmingham, created a statistical model to estimate the total number of cancelled elective surgeries during 12 weeks of peak disruption in 190 countries. Their result was 2,367,050 operations per week.

Elective surgery cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 is causing a surgery backlog that will take many months to clear.
Image: CovidSurg

These numbers are likely to worsen for each additional week that the lockdown or restrictions continue, underscoring how COVID-19’s widespread scars on health go beyond the direct impact of the virus. The United Nations has already warned that pregnancy and birth services will probably suffer, and some mass vaccination campaigns have been temporarily suspended.

“Cancelling elective surgery at this scale will have substantial impact on patients and cumulative, potentially devastating consequences for health systems worldwide,” says Aneel Bhangu, a consultant surgeon and senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham.

“Delaying time-sensitive elective operations, such as cancer or transplant surgery, may lead to deteriorating health, worsening quality of life, and unnecessary deaths.”

Most of the cancellations are operations for benign disease, the research shows. Globally, 81.7% of benign surgery, 37.7% of cancer surgery, and 25.4% of elective caesarean sections would be cancelled or postponed, the research shows.

Estimates of cancelled operations.
Cancelled operations due to COVID-19’s strain on healthcare services.
Image: CovidSurg

It also predicts that it will take around 45 weeks to clear the backlog of operations, if countries increase their normal surgical volume by 20% after the pandemic.

Around the world, the cancellation or postponement of routine procedures risks widening the gap in access to health services.

Disadvantaged and marginalized people face worsening health inequalities as a result of the difficult choices made by UK NHS hospitals in response to the pandemic, separate research in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine showed. That’s because emergency departments, which have seen steep declines in attendances, are often used by vulnerable people, including the homeless and migrants.

These groups often lack access to the technology or broadband that would allow them to utilize online or remote consultations. Many health practitioners resorted to seeing patients virtually as social distancing measures were put in place, but that raises challenges for rural areas.

The authors of the CovidSurg Collaborative report said governments should already be thinking about recovery plans and strategies to get back to normal levels of surgical activity, highlighting the economic and societal costs of not doing so.

They said that more research is needed in this area, since their work was based on several assumptions. Even so, dangers remain.

“There is a risk that delayed treatment of benign conditions as a result of pandemic-related cancellations will lead to deterioration in individual patients’ conditions, increasing disability and reducing their ability to work,” the researchers wrote. “This will lead to substantial societal costs.”

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Digital Single Market: Cheaper calls to other EU countries as of 15 May

What my transgender child can teach us about the workforce of the future

‘I don’t like to give up’: veteran UN envoy reveals how two decades of quiet diplomacy gave birth to North Macedonia

How studying genetics and lifestyle can shape a healthier MENA region

Faith can overcome religious nationalism. Here’s how

28 million elective surgeries may be cancelled worldwide: how non-COVID-19 medical care is suffering

Myanmar: Conflict resolution at ‘total standstill’, military commanders must answer for crimes against humanity

UN chief ‘deeply concerned’ by military escalation in northwest Syria

Here’s how business needs to change for a new decade

18th EU Eco-Innovation Forum in Barcelona shows the way for Europe’s new Environmental policy

Election 2019: New, Updated seat projection for new Parliament

European Business Summit 2013: Where Business and Politics shape the future

A Sting Exclusive: “Consumer expectations for the 2015 UN summit on climate change”, Director General of BEUC Monique Goyens outlines from Brussels

The Indian case: health policies need to keep pace with public health literacy

UNICEF urges all countries to provide ‘Super Dads’ with paid leave

EU leaders prepare timetable and structure for EU budget negotiations

Western Balkans: MEPs take stock of 2018 progress

ACP-EU Post-Cotonou: A Joint Parliamentary Assembly is non-negotiable

Decisive international action needed to end Israeli occupation: UN rights expert

The “Colombo Declaration” adopted at the World Conference on Youth 2014

Trust in OECD governments back at pre-crisis levels as governments seek to be more open and engaged

How electrification will make the world more inclusive

Rohingya crisis: EU strengthens humanitarian support with €10 million

A new leadership agenda for private equity

Iraq: Over 150,000 children endangered by ‘freezing’ temperatures, warns UNICEF

Somalia advancing towards ‘inclusive and peaceful future’ for women, deputy UN chief

EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: third annual report shows continued vital and tangible support for refugees and their host communities

Is decentralization a panacea for development?

‘12 million’ stateless people globally, warns UNHCR chief in call to States for decisive action

Fight against money laundering and terrorist financing: Commission assesses risks and calls for better implementation of the rules

Towards a European Republic

EU unveils plan to accelerate Capital Markets Union ahead of London’s departure from the bloc

5 Ways Companies Can Progress More Women into Leadership Roles

The revenge of the fallen

The European Sting @ the European Business Summit 2014 – Where European Business and Politics shape the future

4 ways digitisation can unlock Africa’s recovery

Brussels Vs. Google: The €1 bn EU fine and the US response

Mental Health: In Times of COVID-19

Terrorism diverts resources from ‘much-needed’ development to ‘costly’ security, warns UN envoy for Central Africa

Markets are more sensitive to Greece’s woes than Merkel

How tech is helping the agriculture sector curb carbon emissions

UNESCO food and culture forum dishes up fresh serving of SDGs

‘Building back better’ – here’s how we can navigate the risks we face after COVID-19

How Africa’s women can drive the 4IR forward

‘Disaster resilient’ farming reduces agriculture risks, yields economic gains, says new UN agriculture agency report

India can soar in the robot age. This is how

Urgently address ‘defining challenges of our time’, to empower youth worldwide, top UN official tells forum

Hackers can use public USB chargers to steal personal data. Here’s what you need to know about ‘juice jacking’

How fintech is setting Southeast Asia’s SMEs free

DR Congo: Insecurity and attacks mean Ebola will keep spreading, warns world health agency

Facebook-Cambridge Analytica: MEPs demand action to protect citizens’ privacy

Can self-charging batteries keep us connected for ever? A young scientist explains

Intergenerational, intercultural, interactive – The 2015 edition of JADE’s Generations Club: Transforming Europe into an entrepreneurial society

Paris, Rome, Brussels and Frankfurt to confront Berlin over growth and the Athens enigma

This is the critical number that shows when housing breaks down

5 charts that show renewable energy’s latest milestone

Is the West gradually losing Africa?

Meet the man who drove from the Netherlands to Australia without visiting a gas station

Why a cash-free future might not be as close as you think

Here’s what travelling could be like after COVID-19

More Stings?

Advertising

Trackbacks

  1. […] via 28 million elective surgeries may be cancelled worldwide: how non-COVID-19 medical care is suffering… […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s