Injuries kill more than 5 million people annually-that is nearly one out of every ten deaths globally. More than 90% of these deaths occur in the developing world. A significant number of these deaths could have been avoided had simple, cost effective surgical care and anesthesia been available. The fact remains that the poorest third of the world receives only 3.5% of the surgical care provided. We can change that.
For many people in the world, this is a reality. 2 Billion people don’t have access to the most basic, essential surgical services. Each year, more than 342,000 women die from childbirth, 5 million from injuries, and 8 million from cancer. The WHO estimated in 2011 that 1 Billion people suffer from disabilities, a significant percentage of which is from surgical causes.
Despite these compelling figures; lack of surgical care, or surgery, is not recognized as a public health problem. It is traditionally thought that Surgery is too expensive and therefore does not deserve public funding and attention.
However, there is a growing body of evidence that shows that basic, essential surgical services at the district hospital is cost-effective and compares favorably with many of the public health measures we commonly accept such as immunization for measles, treatment for HIV, vitamin A supplementation, and oral rehydration therapy.
To logically change public health discussion and action, we should encourage the World Health Organization (WHO) to take up leadership on this issue. Each year in May, all the ministers of health, which are the bodies setting national priorities in their countries meet in Geneva for the World Health Assembly (WHA). They all come together and decide the priorities the world should focus on and make a vote. Once a resolution is passed, each country is committed to setting targets and goals to prioritize the particular resolution.
I respectfully request that my country support a World Health Assembly resolution for the meeting in 2014 recognizing the importance and the need for Essential Surgery in developing countries. Essential surgeries are “Basic surgical procedures which save lives and prevent permanent disability or life-threatening complications. Such surgery should be of appropriate quality and safety, accessible at all times and affordable to the community.” Moreover, the resolution should urge member states to focus on “essential surgical interventions” and take dedicated steps to train the health workforce, whether through specialists or midlevel providers in providing such care.
By highlighting this issue, my country can bring the discussion on this important issue further. In signing this petition I am urging my lawmaking body to support this issue in a clear and dedicated way.