Access to safe, timely and affordable surgical, anaesthesia and obstetric care in Pakistan: a 16-year scoping review

Muhammad Ashraf, Dominique Vervoort, Syeda Rizvi, Irum Fatima, Haitham Shoman, John G. Meara, Lubna Samad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Very little is known about the state of surgical, anaesthesia and obstetric care in Pakistan. Aims: This study aimed to assess the literature available on surgical, anaesthesia and obstetric care in Pakistan to under-stand the strengths and weaknesses of this care based on the domains of the framework of national surgical obstetric anaesthesia plans, namely: infrastructure, workforce, service delivery, information management, governance and service delivery. Methods: Relevant studies in English published between 2003 and 2018 were identified by searching electronic databases including PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE and Scopus. Searches of the grey literature were also done for documents of var-ious organizations. Thematic content analysis was conducted to collate, summarize and analyse the data. Results: A total of 2347 studies were identified and screened, of which 57 articles met the inclusion criteria. While na-tional-level surveys, reviews and policy documents provided an understanding of the existing surgical, anaesthesia and obstetric care services in the country, most of the studies were limited in their scope and therefore were not representative of the situation at the national level. In terms of surgical, anaesthesia and obstetric care, the health care infrastructure, availability of services, workforce, financial protection, information management and governance frameworks have failed to develop at the same pace as the needs of the ever-growing population in Pakistan. Conclusions: Our findings can be used to guide future research activities as part of efforts to strengthen the surgical system in Pakistan. Recent government initiatives hold promise for future improvement in access to surgical care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-313
Number of pages12
JournalEastern Mediterranean Health Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • anaesthesia
  • health services accessibility
  • obstetrics
  • Pakistan
  • surgery


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