KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Seven in 10 scheduled medical operations in Malaysia were cancelled as a result of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, according to a study by the Academy of Medicine Malaysia's College of Surgeons (CSAMM).

Its CovidSurg Collaborative study with the United Kingdom's University of Birmingham also revealed the most-affected were those for benign diseases at 81.5 per cent, followed by cancer surgery at 41 per cent and obstetrics at 26.1 per cent.

"The predicted backlog for a 12-week cancellation was 151,717 surgeries, with an 11-month backlog clearance time even if a 20 per cent increase in pre-pandemic surgery numbers is possible," said CSAAM president Dr April Camilla Roslani in a statement.

The college has also been providing regular guidance to its members on tailoring delivery of surgical services, according to individual hospital capacity, local Covid-19 epidemiology and movement control order conditions.


"This has avoided a complete shutdown of elective surgeries nationally, allowing those that need urgent surgery to be treated, thus preventing unnecessary deaths, while minimising disease transmission.

"Inter-hospital collaborations between public and private sectors have also been instrumental in mitigating the disruption to surgical services," she said.

Worldwide, 28.4 million elective surgeries worldwide are at risk of cancellation or postponement in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, leading to patients facing a lengthy wait for their health issues to be resolved.


The study, published in the British Journal of Surgery, also indicated that each additional week of disruption to hospital services will be associated with a further 2.4 million cancellations.

It collected detailed information from surgeons across 359 hospitals and 71 countries, including Malaysia, on plans for cancellation of elective surgery. This data was then statistically modelled to estimate the total number of cancelled surgery across 190 countries.

At the peak period of Covid-19 related disruption, researchers have projected that 72.3 per cent of planned surgeries would be cancelled, with most of the cancellations for non-cancer conditions.

Out of the non-cancer surgeries, orthopaedic procedures will be cancelled most frequently with 6.3 million operations worldwide over a 12-week period. It is also projected that globally 2.3 million cancer surgeries will be cancelled or postponed.