The Need for Global Standardization in “Essential” Surgical Procedures
For decades, global health initiatives have overlooked this statistic and neglected to implement universal training standards for basic surgical treatments. This lack of standardization is felt most significantly in nations with the lowest performing health indicators: low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
In wealthy nations, easy access to commonly performed procedures such as a Cesarean Section or appendectomy are expected by the population. But over 95% of the population in LMICs lack access to basic surgical care. This means as many as 4.8 million people worldwide are unable to obtain a simple, life-saving procedure.
In March 2015, the World Bank released a financial analysis which found that investments in a small number of basic surgical procedures would be highly cost effective and could save more than 1.5 million lives per year. The report included a list of 44 “essential” surgical procedures in a variety of disciplines2. However, in order to ensure universal access to these basic procedures, appropriate and adequate training must be universally available to surgical clinicians.
A small number of medical centers exist in Africa and other developing regions to provide care for conditions such as obstetrical fistula, cleft lip and palate, prostatic hypertrophy, and vaginal and urinary bladder prolapse. The current capacity to treat and train more doctors is overwhelmed by the volume of cases in need. Furthermore, such treatments are challenging and medically complex. Until recently there were no texts or even written standards of treatment. As such, unique and advanced training methods must be developed to implement this curriculum.