oa Southern African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia - Paediatric perioperative morbidity and mortality : guest editorial

Volume 21, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 2220-1181
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1173



Children represent a significant proportion of the South African population, with 30% of the population aged ≤ 15 years. Globally, surgical volumes are large. An estimated 312.9 million operations took place in 2012. However, there are few data on perioperative morbidity and mortality in the paediatric surgical population in South Africa. Additionally, information is not known on the number of children undergoing surgery, who provides their anaesthesia (specialist anaesthesiologists versus non-specialist anaesthesiologists), and the quality outcomes of their perioperative care. These data are essential in order to understand current paediatric perioperative morbidity and mortality in order to develop evidence-based recommendations to improve patient outcomes. The World Health Organization (WHO) has initiated the second global patient safety challenge, "Safe surgery saveslives". This is a core set of safety standards to be applied universally. The measurement of surgical (anaesthesia) services is one of four areas that has been identified in which improvement can be made in terms of the safety of surgical care: "Routine surveillance to evaluate and measure surgical services must be established if public health systems are to ensure progress in improving the safety of surgical care". In a guest editorial in SAJAA in 2012, Prof Thomas asked the question: "What is the size of the problem of perioperative morbidity and mortality in children in South Africa?" She challenged us to address this problem. The time has come for us to accept this challenge and address these issues.

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