Electricity and generator availability in LMIC hospitals: improving access to safe surgery

Sagar Chawla, Shaheen Kurani, Sherry M. Wren, Barclay Stewart, Gilbert Burnham, Adam Kushner, Thomas McIntyre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background Access to reliable energy has been identified as a global priority and codified within United Nations Sustainable Goal 7 and the Electrify Africa Act of 2015. Reliable hospital access to electricity is necessary to provide safe surgical care. The current state of electrical availability in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) throughout the world is not well known. This study aimed to review the surgical capacity literature and document the availability of electricity and generators. Methods Using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, a systematic search for surgical capacity assessments in LMICs in MEDLINE, PubMed, and World Health Organization Global Health Library was performed. Data regarding electricity and generator availability were extracted. Estimated percentages for individual countries were calculated. Results Of 76 articles identified, 21 reported electricity availability, totaling 528 hospitals. Continuous electricity availability at hospitals providing surgical care was 312/528 (59.1%). Generator availability was 309/427 (72.4%). Estimated continuous electricity availability ranged from 0% (Sierra Leone and Malawi) to 100% (Iran); estimated generator availability was 14% (Somalia) to 97.6% (Iran). Conclusions Less than two-thirds of hospitals providing surgical care in 21 LMICs have a continuous electricity source or have an available generator. Efforts are needed to improve electricity infrastructure at hospitals to assure safe surgical care. Future research should look at the effect of energy availability on surgical care and patient outcomes and novel methods of powering surgical equipment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-141
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Electricity availability
  • Essential surgery
  • Generator availability
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Surgical capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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