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Systematic literature review of the barriers and facilitators of frugal innovation for surgical care in low-income and middle-income countries


Objective Globally, 5 billion people lack access to safe surgery and annually, only 6% of surgeries occur in low-income countries. Surgical frugal innovations can reduce cost and optimise the function for the context; however, there is limited evidence about what enables success.

Design A systematic literature review (SLR) was performed to understand the barriers and facilitators of frugal innovation for surgical care in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Data sources Web of Science, PubMed, Embase at Ovid, Google Scholar and EThOs were searched.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Inclusion criteria were original research in English containing a frugal surgical innovation. Research must be focused on LMICs. Studies were excluded if the content was not focused on LMICs or did not pertain to barriers and facilitators. 26 studies from 2006 to 2021 were included. The GRADE tool was used to assess overall review quality.

Results Results were analysed using the modified consolidated framework for implementation research. The lack of formal evidence regarding frugal innovation in LMICs was the most reported barrier. The adaptability of frugal innovations to the context was the most reported facilitator. The limitations of this study were that most frugal innovations are not included in formal literature and that only English studies were included.

Conclusion Frugal surgical innovations that are highly adaptable to the local context hold significant potential to scale and positively affect healthcare access and outcomes. Furthermore, supporting formal research about frugal innovations is important when aiming to innovate for health equity.

  • Global Health
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative
  • Public Health

Data availability statement

Data is available in the OSF data repository and can be accessed here:

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