Research Article|Articles in Press

The State of Cardiac Surgery in Ethiopia

Open AccessPublished:March 08, 2023DOI:
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      Six billion people globally do not have access to cardiac surgical care. In this study, we aimed to describe state of cardiac surgery in Ethiopia.


      Data on status of local cardiac surgery collected from surgeons and cardiac centers. Medical travel agents were interviewed about number of cardiac patients that were assisted to travel abroad for surgery. Historical data and number of patients treated by non-governmental organizations were collected via interviews and by accessing existing databases.


      Patients access cardiac care via three avenues: mission-based, abroad referral, and care at local centers. Traditionally, the first two have been the main mode of access; however, since 2017, entirely local team has begun performing open-heart surgery in the country. Currently, surgical cardiac care is provided at four local centers: a charity organization, a tertiary public hospital, and two for-profit centers. Procedures at the charity center are provided for free, while in others, patients mostly pay out of pocket. There are only five cardiac surgeons for 120 million people. More than 15000 patients are on waitlist for surgery, mainly because of lack of consumables, limited number of centers and workforce.


      There is a change in the trend from non-governmental mission- and referral-based care towards care in local centers in Ethiopia. The local cardiac surgery workforce is growing but still insufficient. The number of procedures is limited with long wait lists due to limited workforce, infrastructure, and resources. All stakeholders should work on training more workforce, providing consumables and creating feasible financing schemes.

      Graphical abstract


      Glossary of abbreviations:

      RHD (rheumatic heart disease), CHD (congenital heart disease), SSA (sub-Saharan Africa), LMIC (low- and middle-income countries), HIC (high-income countries), US (United States), NGO (non-governmental organization), CV (cardiovascular), CCE (Cardiac Center of Ethiopia), MOH (Ministry of Health), CT (cardiothoracic), PDA (patent ductus arteriosus), CHFE (Children's Heart Fund of Ethiopia), TASH (Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital)