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More than 4 million post-surgical deaths globally

Friday February 1st, 2019

More people across the world die within 30 days of surgery than from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined, UK research has revealed.

Analysis by researchers at the University of Birmingham NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery found that globally 4.2 million people die every year within 30 days after surgery, with half of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

This compares to the 2.97 million who are estimated to die each year from the three diseases, they say in a research letter to The Lancet.

The research team, which examined available information to estimate how many people around the world die after operations - based on surgical volume, case-mix and post-operative death rates adjusted for country income, also highlighted an unmet need for surgery in LMICs.

They claim that if operations were provided for all patients who need them the number of global post-operative deaths would increase to 6.1 million.

Dr Dmitri Nepogodiev, research fellow at the University of Birmingham, said: "Surgery has been the 'neglected stepchild' of global health and has received a fraction of the investment put in to treating infectious diseases such as malaria.

"Although not all postoperative deaths are avoidable, many can be prevented by increasing investment in research, staff training, equipment, and better hospital facilities. To avoid millions more people dying after surgery, planned expansion of access to surgery must be complemented by investment in to improving the quality of surgery around the world."

Professor Dion Morton, Barling chair of surgery at the University of Birmingham and Director of Clinical Research at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, added: “This study shows that a large number of patients die in the immediate postoperative period. As efforts continue to increase access to surgery around the world, there is also an urgent need for research to improve the quality and safety of surgery."

Lancet 1 February 2019

Tags: Flu & Viruses | General Health | UK News | World Health

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