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Geospatial Mapping of Pediatric Surgical Capacity in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo



Despite recent attention to the provision of healthcare in low- and middle-income countries, improvements in access to surgical services have been disproportionately lagging.


This study analyzes the geographic variability in access to pediatric surgical services in the province of North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On-site data collection was conducted using the Global Assessment of Pediatric Surgery tool. Spatial distribution of providers was mapped using the Geographical Information System and open-sourced spatial data to determine distances traveled to access surgical care.


Forty facilities were evaluated across 32 health zones; 68.9% of the provincial population was within 15 km of these facilities. Eleven facilities met a minimum World Health Organization safety score of 8; 48.1% of the population was within 15 km of corresponding facilities. The majority of children were treated by someone with specific pediatric surgery training in only 4 facilities; one facility had a trained pediatric anesthesia provider. Fifty-seven percent of the population was within 15 km of a facility with critical care and emergency medicine (EM) capabilities. There was one pediatric critical care provider and no pediatric EM providers identified within the province. Location-allocation assessment is needed to combine geographic area with potential for greatest impact and facility assessment.


Limitations in access to surgical care in the DRC are multifactorial with poor resources, few formally trained surgical providers, and near-absent access to pediatric anesthesiologists. The study highlights the deficits in the capacity for surgical care while demonstrating a reproducible model for assessment and identification of ways to improve access to care.

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Low- and Middle-Income Countries


High-Income Countries


Democratic Republic of Congo


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Eun-Hye E. Yoo, PhD. Department of Geography, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, USA


Funding for this study provided by University at Buffalo Community for Global Health Equity Seed Funding, “Pediatric Surgery Infrastructure Development in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo”.

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Correspondence to Sarah B. Cairo.

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Cairo, S.B., Pu, Q., Malemo Kalisya, L. et al. Geospatial Mapping of Pediatric Surgical Capacity in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. World J Surg 44, 3620–3628 (2020).

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