The Projected Impact of COVID-19 on Global Health Services: Taxing an Already Critically Limited Resource
Journal of Urology
INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVE:
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 4.8 billion individuals lacked access to basic surgical care worldwide, with near absence in many low-income/middle-income countries (LMICs). Global health programs work to advance universal health coverage. The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated in-person surgical care and local training to LMICs provided by these programs. The objective of this study was to project a calculated impact of interrupted International Volunteers in Urology (IVUmed) global health surgical workshops since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on patient care and training provided to partner LMIC sites.
Data from the 5 fiscal years (FY – April to March) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was reviewed. This included metrics of number patients seen and surgical cases performed, local surgeons trained, countries visited, and estimated value of service provided as part of financial impact reporting. The last IVUmed workshop was March 5-15, 2020 and concludes the FY 2020. No surgical workshops were performed for FY 2021 and FY 2022 (through October 31, 2021). The projected FY loss of productivity for each metric was calculated by averaging the 5 FYs prior to FY 2021. The total loss since the COVID-19 pandemic was then calculated by the sum of the projected FY 2021 (this value) and that of FY 2022 thus far (7/12ths of this value).
Averaging IVUmed surgical workshops over FY 2016-2020, 23 trips were taken each year to 13 countries. The average number of patients seen was 812, with an average of 564 surgical cases performed. The average number local surgeons involved in each workshop was 296. The FY average value of service was US$4,204,217.60. Projected losses for FY 2021 through October 31, 2021 (FY 2022 thus far) would be in the form of 36 trips to 21 countries. This has impacted 1,286 patients and meant the loss of 893 surgical cases. 469 local surgeons have been impacted by lost in-person training. The estimated value of service lost is US$6,656,677.86.
COVID-19 has negatively impacted the already critically limited global surgical volume in LMICs. A simple calculation of lost surgical workshops thus far attempts to put a number on the impact this pandemic has had on the IVUmed program. This is the estimate of the impact of COVID-19 on only a single global health program, with the impact likely nearly immeasurable with the universal loss of global health services being provided during the pandemic. Such estimates can try to help global health programs prepare for the potential backlog of care and training that will be faced when workshops resume.
Ching CB, Sweeney DD, Westrum AM, Burks FN, Christensen P, Costa JA, et al. The projected impact of COVID-19 on global health services: taxing an already critically limited resource. J Urol. 2022 May;207(Suppl 5):e479-e480. doi:10.1097/JU.0000000000002573.05.