Prioritising and mapping barriers to achieve equitable surgical care in South Africa: a multi-disciplinary stakeholder workshop

Background: Surgical healthcare in South Africa is inequitable with a considerable lack of resources in the public health sector. Identifying barriers to care and creating research priorities to mitigate these barriers can contribute to strategic interventions to improve equitable access to quality surgical care. Objective: To use the Four Delays Framework to map barriers to surgical care and identify priorities to achieve equitable and timely access to quality surgical care in South Africa. Methods: A multi-disciplinary stakeholder workshop was held in Cape Town, South Africa in January 2020. A Four Delays Framework (delays in seeking care, reaching care, receiving care, and remaining in care) was used to identify barriers that occur at each delay and the top 10 priorities for intervention. Barriers were categorised into overarching themes and schematically mapped. Results: Thirty-four stakeholders including health service users, health service providers, and community members participated in this exercise. In total, 34 barriers were identified with 73 connections to various delays. Specifically, 14 barriers were related to delays in seeking care, 11 were related to delays in reaching care, 20 were related to delays in receiving care, and 28 were related to delays in remaining in care. The highest priority barriers across the delays were Lack of service provider’s knowledge, training and experience, and Limited surgical outreach. The barrier Lack of decentralised services was related to all four delays. Barriers were interconnected and potentially reinforcing. Conclusions: This workshop is the first of its kind to generate evidence on the delays to surgical care in South Africa. Mapping crucial interconnected, potentially reinforcing barriers, and priority interventions demonstrated how a multifaceted approach may be required to address delays to access. Further research focused on the identified priorities will contribute to efforts to promote equitable access to quality surgical care in South Africa.
Barriers to care; priority setting; surgery; health systems; South Africa