The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international reconstructive collaborations in Africa

Calum S. Honeyman (Lead / Corresponding author), Vinod Patel, Abdelwakeel Bakhiet, Daniel R. Bradley, Fernando Almas, Dominique Martin, Mark McGurk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has catalysed a widespread humanitarian crisis in many low- and middle-income countries around the world, with many African nations significantly impacted. The aim of this study was to quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the planning and provision of international reconstructive collaborations in Africa.

Methods: An anonymous, 14-question, multiple choice questionnaire was sent to 27 non-governmental organisations who regularly perform reconstructive surgery in Africa. The survey was open to responses for four weeks, closing on the 7th of March 2021. A single reminder was sent out at 2 weeks. The survey covered four key domains: (1) NGO demographics; (2) the impact of COVID-19 on patient follow-up; (3) barriers to the safe provision of international surgical collaborations during COVID-19; (4) the impact of COVID-19 on NGO funding.

Results: A total of ten reconstructive NGOs completed the survey (response rate, 37%). Ethiopia (n = 5) and Tanzania (n = 4) were the countries where most collaborations took place. Plastic, reconstructive and burns surgery was the most common sub-speciality (n = 7). For NGOs that did not have a year-round presence in country (n = 8), only one NGO was able to perform reconstructive surgery in Africa during the pandemic. The most common barrier identified was travel restrictions (within country, n = 8 or country entry-exit, n = 7). Pre-pandemic, 1547 to ≥ 1800 patients received reconstructive surgery on international surgical collaborations. After the outbreak, 70% of NGOs surveyed had treated no patients, with approximately 1405 to ≥ 1640 patients left untreated over the last year.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic has placed huge pressures on health services and their delivery across the globe. This theme has extended into international surgical collaborations leading to increased unmet surgical needs in low- and middle-income countries. Level of evidence: Not gradable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469–474
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Plastic Surgery
Early online date5 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Africa
  • COVID-19
  • Global surgery
  • International surgical collaborations
  • Reconstruction
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international reconstructive collaborations in Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this