On May 10, 2016, the G4 Alliance and member organization ReSurge International hosted a Congressional Briefing on Surgical Care and the Global Need in collaboration with the bi-partisan Congressional Global Health Caucus This second congressional briefing was hosted to highlight the disparity in access to surgical care and anaesthesia around the world. The briefing provided an opportunity to educate congressional staff, NGOs, and other government representatives about recent findings related to the cross-cutting and cost-effective benefits of strengthening surgical capacities. Dr. Thomas Novotny, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services moderated this session which brought together panelists to contextualize the global need, and presented insights and strategies toward increasing global access to surgical care and anaesthesia.
Drawing from provider, academic, NGO and industry experiences in the global health sector, speakers highlighted themes of cost-effectiveness and the cross-cutting impacts of investing in surgical care. Providing surgical interventions to neglected surgical patients could reduce public expenditure and prevent deaths in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In fact, it is estimated that failing to invest in surgical care could cost LMICs as much as $12.3 trillion in lost GDP by 2030. Bridging the surgical care gap would help avoid 18 million preventable deaths occurring each year from surgically treatable conditions. Improving access to surgery in LMICs is vital, since only 6% of surgical procedures done each year benefit the poorest third of the world's population.
Moreover, increasing access to surgical care could help address a variety of health issues including maternal and infant mortality, cancer mortality and road traffic injuries. An estimated 830 women die every day - 99% from LMIC's - from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. What’s more, congenital anomalies such as cleft lip and clubfoot lead to severe, lifelong disabilities to children who are unable to access or afford surgical interventions. Simple, cost-effective surgical procedures lead to safer labors for women, and more productive, inclusive lives for children with congenital malformations.
Investing in surgery has proven to be cost-effective and cross-cutting; several UN Global Goals related to maternal and child health; trauma care and disaster preparedness; treatment and management of non-communicable diseases; as well as infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS will be difficult to achieve without improving access to surgical care. Panelists agreed that breaking down disease-specific silos to focus on overall strengthening of health systems and training of health workers should be the way forward. The global surgical need calls for a coordinated global response - one that requires innovation and partnership between governments, the private sector and civil society.
A special thanks to our exceptional panelists and special guest moderator:
Dr. Thomas E. Novotny (moderator), Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dr. Fizan Abdullah, Head of Pediatric Surgery, Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago & Interim Chair of the Board, the G4 Alliance
Mr. Vince Blaser, Director, Frontline Health Workers Coalition & Advocacy Advisor, IntraHealth International
Dr. Kiran Nakarmi, Surgical Outreach Director - Nepal, ReSurge International
Dr. Ross "Rusty" Segan , Chief Medical Officer, Global Orthopedics & Global Surgery, Johnson & Johnson
Dr. Mark Shrime, Research Director, Program in Global Surgery & Social Change at Harvard Medical School & Lancet Commission on Global Surgery
Ms. Asha Varghese, Director of Global Health, GE Foundation