Access to Essential Surgical Care in Chiapas, Mexico: A System-Wide Geospatial Analysis



Long travel times to reach essential surgical care in Chiapas, Mexico’s poorest state, can delay lifesaving procedures and contribute to adverse outcomes. Geographical access to surgical facilities is 1 of the 6 indicators of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery and has been measured extensively worldwide. Our objective is to determine the population with 2-h geographical access to facilities capable of performing the Bellwether procedures (laparotomy, cesarean delivery, and open fracture repair). This is the first study in Mexico to assess access to surgical facilities, including both the fragmented public sector and the private sector.


In this cross-sectional study, conducted from June 2019 to January 2020, Bellwether capable surgical facilities from all health systems in Chiapas were geocoded and assessed through on-site data collection, Ministry of Health databases, and verified via telephone. Geospatial analyses were performed on Redivis.


We identified 59 Bellwether capable hospitals, with 17.5% (n = 954,460) of the state residing more than 2 h from surgical care in public and private health systems. Of those, 22 facilities had confirmed 24/7 Bellwether capability, and 23% (n = 1,178,383) of the affiliated population resided more than 2 h from these hospitals.


Our study shows that the Ministry of Health and employment-based health coverage could provide timely access to essential surgical care for the majority of the population. However, the fragmentation of the healthcare system leaves a gap that contributes to delays in care and unmet emergency surgical needs.

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PGSSC receives grant support from GE Foundation for the SS2020 Program.

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Correspondence to Fernando Carrillo-Villaseñor.

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Carrillo-Villaseñor, F., Fowler, Z., Moeller, E. et al. Access to Essential Surgical Care in Chiapas, Mexico: A System-Wide Geospatial Analysis. World J Surg (2021).

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