The Surgical Accredited & Trained Healthcare Initiative (SATHI) project demonstrates how community healthcare workers (CHWs) with merely 8 y of formal schooling and training for a short period can reduce unmet surgical needs.
A pilot study was carried out in the slums of a metropolitan city in India to know the effectiveness of a SATHI in reducing the burden of unmet surgical needs. In total, 12 730 people from 3000 households were included in the study for a duration of 6 months.
We found 10% surgical needs (n=293) out of which 57% had unmet surgical needs. Out of total surgical needs, about half of the needs were cataract and abdominal, followed by extremities and chest conditions. SATHIs were able to convert 99 patients (60%) from unmet to met needs, who underwent surgery/treatment. The conversion from unmet to met among all surgery needs was highest for abdominal conditions (29%) followed by cataracts (17%).
SATHIs with short training can reduce the burden of unmet surgical needs. SATHIs were able to convert a significant proportion of unmet to met needs by trust building, facilitating access to healthcare and ensuring post-operative adherence. Scaling up could help in the achievement of equitable healthcare across India.