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Surgery Not an Option for Majority of Global Population

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 06 May 2015
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Five billion people worldwide do not have access to safe and affordable surgery when they need it, and millions are dying from common, easily treatable conditions, according to a new report.

According to a report by the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, two thirds of the world’s population does not have access to safe and affordable surgery and anesthesia when they need it, with low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) being the hardest hit. In these countries, as many as nine out of ten people cannot access basic surgical care, including for such common surgical conditions as appendicitis, orthopedic fractures, or obstructed labor.

The commission, composed of 25 leading experts in surgery and anesthesia, took contributions and evidence from more than 110 countries, summarizing its conclusions in the report, which is titled Global surgery 2030: evidence and solutions for achieving health, welfare and economic development. The report lists statistics that adversely affect LMICs in eastern, western, and central sub-Saharan Africa, as well as south Asia. An extra 143 million surgical procedures are needed in these countries to save lives and prevent disability, according to the report.

Across the world, 33 million individuals each year, about a quarter of those who have a surgical procedure, will face catastrophic health expenditure on surgery and anesthesia. And without urgent investment in surgery, LMICs will continue to have losses in economic productivity, estimated cumulatively at USD 12.3 trillion between 2015 and 2030. But this situation could be turned around in two decades, if the international community wakes up to the enormous scale of the problem, and commits to the provision of better global surgical and anesthesia care worldwide, according to the commission.

“Surgery is an integral, indivisible component of a properly functioning health system, and all people should have access to safe, high-quality surgical and anesthesia care with financial protection when needed,” concluded the executive summary of the commission. “The purpose of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery is to make this vision a reality by embedding surgery within the global health agenda, catalyzing political change, and defining scalable solutions for provision of quality surgical and anesthesia care for all.”

The commission is chaired by John G. Meara, MD, of Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA, USA), Andy Leather, MBBS, FRCS, MS, at King’s College London (KCL; London, UK) , and Lars Hagander, MD, of Lund University (Sweden).

Related Links:

The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery
Harvard Medical School
King’s College London
Lund University

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