Global health experts identify essential, lifesaving surgery as the “missing piece” of healthcare in developing nations.
Nearly 5 billion people lack access to essential surgery, and injuries treatable by surgery account for more patient deaths worldwide than HIV, TB and Malaria combined.
Experts agree that global health leaders have not prioritized the issue as they should, but economics are a primary reason surgery is unavailable.
Surgeons often won’t work in the developing world because they either are not paid timely or cannot make enough to support themselves, their employees and their families. For surgeons originally from a developing nation, this reality leads them to practice where stable earnings are a foregone conclusion, almost always outside of areas with the greatest surgical need.
Often the hospitals that employ surgeons lack the basic supplies and equipment necessary for the surgeon to maintain a busy schedule. Sometimes this is by design, as hospital management may de-emphasize surgery because they believe it consumes a disproportionate amount of resources.
These realities not only prevent patients from getting basic care they need, but they also cause a “brain drain” of talented surgeons who look overseas for a better practice and pay environment.