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

Health Education, is it a necessity?

From coca to cocoa: three lessons from Peru on how farmers can leave the drug trade behind

European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, who gets it and who pays the bill?

Dozens killed and injured by new airstrikes in western Yemen, UN coordinator condemns ‘outrageous’ toll

China Unlimited and the Chinese dream

Youth employment crisis easing but far from over

The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive

Investing in rural women and girls, ‘essential’ for everyone’s future: UN chief

Further reforms in France can drive growth, improve public finances and boost social cohesion

Mental distress during the pandemic: is there a way out?

What has changed in the French politico-economic horizon

Everyone has ‘a moral imperative’ to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities, says UN chief

This entrepreneur built an island resort out of plastic waste

EU Parliament approves CETA: the EU-Canada free trade deal sees the light in Trump’s gloomy era

Civilian death toll continues to mount in Syria, UN relief chief tells Security Council

Fears for food security and the future of farming families, as Fall Armyworm spreads to Asia

Bacteria vs. humans: how to fight in this world war?

World’s human rights watchdog spotlights Afghanistan, Yemen and 12 others: Here’s the scoop

Draghi keeps the euro cheap, helps debt refinancing, recapitalization of banks and growth

Why we need a Paris Agreement for nature

How blockchain can cut the cost of new medicine

Madagascar: UN chief commends leaders, State institutions following ‘historic milestone’ election

If on a summer’s night: is UK businesses’ “new deal” the only key to the “best of all worlds”?

Soil erosion must be stopped ‘to save our future’, says UN agriculture agency

Europe’s forests are booming. Here’s why.

Batteries included: how better storage can transform renewable energy

Replacement for United States on Human Rights Council to be elected ‘as soon as possible’

MEPs back first EU management plan for fish stocks in the Western Mediterranean

Why COVID-19 could mean a new dawn for Nigeria’s manufacturing sector

Eurostat: Real unemployment double than the official rate

A major win for transgender rights: UN health agency drops ‘gender identity disorder’, as official diagnosis

Lessons from the Global Entrepreneurship Index

Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May at last week’s EU Council. Source: EC Audiovisual Services / Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Photo: Etienne Ansotte

EU leaders open “Phase Two” of Brexit talks and warn Theresa May of tougher times

This is how AI can help you make sense of the world

Boosting adult learning essential to help people adapt to future of work

Will the European Court of Justice change data privacy laws to tackle terrorism?

How can we produce enough protein to feed 10 billion people?

Greenhouse gas emissions have already peaked in 30 major cities

Commission presents EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements for signature and conclusion

Improving Italy’s capital market will boost growth opportunities for Italian companies and savers

‘Uphold human dignity’, dismantle ‘specious notion of racial superiority’ urges UN chief

The company of the future must do well by doing good

UN chief hails victory of ‘political will’ in historic Republic of North Macedonia accord

Towards a climate-neutral Europe: EU invests over €10bn in innovative clean technologies

‘Crippling to our credibility’ that number of women peacekeepers is so low: UN chief

Afghanistan: top UN official denounces ‘extreme’ suffering of civilians in Ghazni

This is how countries compare on gun deaths

Commission Work Programme 2019: Delivering on promises and preparing for the future

Sri Lankan authorities must work ‘vigorously’ to ease simmering ethno-religious tensions, urges UN rights expert

UNcomplicating the UN: a new podcast is born over coffee in New York

Stronger European Border and Coast Guard to secure EU’s borders

Commission paralysed before the banking leviathan

Malta: investigation risks being compromised while Prime Minister is in office

Industrial products: Lifting the last impediments in the EU single market

Is South Korea set to lose from its FTA with the EU?

Berlin cannot dictate anymore the terms for the enactment of the European Banking Union

Half of Eurozone in deflation expecting salvation from monetary measures

US life expectancy is falling – here’s why

Why business schools can’t “return to normal” after the COVID-19 pandemic

More women and girls needed in the sciences to solve world’s biggest challenges

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