Looking beyond physician surgeons: How to build capacity for global safe surgery

GE Foundation Chief Medical Officer David Barash for The Huffington Post:

Imagine being unable to access surgical treatment for life-threatening and disabling conditions like an emergency Caesarian section, maternal hemorrhage, congenital abnormalities, breast and cervical cancer, and others. This is the unfortunate reality for 5 billion people globally who lack access to safe surgery. Though this would never be acceptable in the United States or other developed nations, it’s one of the most critical problems people in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) face today.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) March bulletin dissected global disparities in access to safe surgery. Despite the fact that surgery is on the rise globally, only 30% of these operations were performed in LMICs - where 71% of the world’s population resides.

The inaccessibility of safe surgery is particularly evident in the context of maternal and child health. Although emergency obstetric services account for nearly 30% of all procedures in low-expenditure settings, in Africa, only 6% of maternal wards have proper anesthesia training for Caesarian section or post-partum hemorrhage treatment.