Safe and affordable surgical procedures are downright inaccessible for billions, says a new study. The figures show that two-thirds of the global population has no means and access to basic surgical care. As far as the history of estimates goes, this number is over 200% more than initial predictions.
Specifics of the Study
Millions of people die every year because of treatable conditions, including simple ones such as obstructed labor and appendicitis. This happens because of the lack of access to safe and affordable surgery.
Based on the figures, around 5 billion people around the world have no access to surgical care and anesthesia when the need arises, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Annually, the shortfall of surgical procedures amounts to 143 million.
For one, only a single operation out of 20 occurs in poor countries – this despite the fact that more than 1/3 of the global population belongs to these nations. The study has also found that surgery is inaccessible for 93% of those in sub-Saharan Africa.
There is also a lack of surgical specialists in low-income countries. For every 100,000 people, there are 35 surgeons and specialists in the UK and Brazil, while the US has 36 and Japan has 17. But when it comes to poorer countries, the discrepancy becomes more obvious. South Africa only has 7 surgical specialists out of 100,000; 1.7 in Bangladesh and 0.1 in Sierra Leone before the Ebola outbreak.
The research looks at the accessibility of surgical care, not just its availability. As such, factors such as the travel time of patients to a facility, the safety of the procedure, and the affordability of the treatment for each patient are part of the study’s focus. Said study was published on the medical journal, The Lancet.
Call for Global Investment
The experts who took part in the study have called for a USD 420 billion global investment in surgical care, especially in areas that have little to no access to it.
The group points out that in 2010 alone, 16.9 million deaths – or approximately 1/3 of all deaths – could have been avoided had surgical care been more accessible to these people. After all, the conditions they suffered from were curable with surgery. The study further states that the figure is larger than the total number of fatalities from HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
The researchers wrote that if there would be no investments in surgical care, it will have a USD 12 trillion impact on the economy in 15 years’ time. The poorest countries will get hit the most, as these areas have the greatest need for better surgical care.