The debate over surgery and its importance as a global healthcare issue

December 3, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Join our programs and you could be observing surgery from right inside the operating theatre Surgery has traditionally not been considered essential from the global healthcare perspective. For most global healthcare organisations, surgery was thought of as an optional and extreme measure that was used only under the most compelling circumstances for diseases and illnesses where there was no other treatment option. However, the importance of surgery as a global healthcare issue has been under discussion over the past few years especially considering the dire lack of surgical options in certain developing, resource-poor countries.




Understanding the importance of surgery in global healthcare

Surgery has proven to be beneficial in several cases, from reducing child mortality to improving maternal health and reducing the incidence of numerous health complications. In certain cases such as major road accidents, domestic violence, burns, pregnancy related issues and congenital defects; surgery has often proven to be the only option available for treatment.

Several studies that have been done on surgery and global healthcare have thrown up very insightful results. Take for example the study done on the issue of cataract related blindness. Surgery is the only option to treat cataract. However, because of the high cost related to cataract surgery, many people in poorer countries have no option but to accept their fate and resign themselves to eventual blindness. The repercussions of this are manifold. It turns the breadwinners of families into dependents who deplete the family’s meagre resources, impoverishing families even more. Simply making cataract surgery more affordable could make a significant difference.

Studies have shown that improvement in the state of surgical affairs in a country would not only help reduce a variety of diseases and illnesses suffered by people but it would also help them to be more productive and help in the development of the nation as a whole.


International initiatives for surgical care

Even though organisations worldwide are acknowledging the importance of surgical procedures, there is still a long way to go to ensure that basic and necessary surgery is being provided to everyone, including developing countries and lower income groups around the world. In fact, there are still a huge number of undone surgeries and the list keeps piling up.

The Bellagio Essential Surgery Group encourages a partnership between public health sector groups and surgeons from various specialisations and asks them to come up with cost-effective treatment plans and hospital services for resource poor communities.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) has launched the Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care which is aimed at boosting emergency surgical care in order to try to reduce the number of deaths and trauma caused by accidents, pregnancy related complications, burns and acts of violence. They have also set out to try and identify various fields of medicine where surgery is essential and look for cost-effective operations in order to reduce health problems.

To make this work requires enormous resources in terms of equipment, money and trained professionals who are dedicated to the cause. For anyone looking for a way to make a difference, this is something worth looking into. The satisfaction that comes from an undertaking such as this is unparalleled.