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World needs more surgery - analysis

Monday April 27th, 2015

Millions of people are dying world-wide because they do not have access to basic surgical procedures, according to an analysis today.

As many as a third of all deaths in 2010 could have been prevented with surgery, according to the report in The Lancet.

Appendicitis, fractures and obstructed labour are among the conditions that kill some 16.9 million people a year, according to Swedish and British experts.

The world's health care systems need to perform another 143 million surgical procedures a year - almost 50% more operations than currently, researchers say.

Some 313 million operations a year are undertaken - but just 5% are performed in the poorest countries, members of a Commission on surgery reported.

Andy Leather, of King's College, London, one of the researchers, said: "In the absence of surgical care, common, easily treatable illnesses become fatal.

"The global community cannot continue to ignore this problem - millions of people are already dying unnecessarily, and the need for equitable and affordable access to surgical services is projected to increase in the coming decades, as many of the worst affected countries face rising rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and road accidents."

Dr Lars Hagander, of Lund University, Sweden, added: "Too many people are dying from common, treatable surgical conditions, such as appendicitis, obstructed labour, and fractures.

"The problem is especially acute in the low- and middle-income countries of eastern, western and central sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia."

Royal College of Surgeons president Clare Marx said: "A programme of high-quality training tailored to local needs, particularly in low and lower-middle income countries, will be vital if we are to reverse these statistics.

"In addition to this, strong leadership needs to come from within the surgical community at a local, national, and international level to improve surgical care, education and training, and meet the needs of patients worldwide.”

Lancet 27 April 2015 [abstract]

Tags: Europe | General Health | Internal Medicine | UK News | World Health

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