Day 89 – Performing Life Changing Surgeries

The Lancet: Remarkable gains have been made in global health in the past 25 years, but progress has not been uniform. Mortality and morbidity from common conditions needing surgery have grown in the world’s poorest regions, both in real terms and relative to other health gains. At the same time, development of safe, essential, life-saving surgical and anaesthesia care in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) has stagnated or regressed. In the absence of surgical care, case-fatality rates are high for common, easily treatable conditions including appendicitis, hernia, fractures, obstructed labour, congenital anomalies, and breast and cervical cancer.

WHO: Surgical care has been considered an essential component of health care worldwide for over a century. While surgical procedures are intended to save lives, unsafe surgical care can cause substantial harm.

  • the reported crude mortality rate after major surgery is up to 5%
  • complications after inpatient operations occur in up to 25% of patients
  • nearly half of all adverse events in hospitalized patients are related to surgical care
  • at least half of the cases in which surgery led to harm are considered preventable
  • mortality from general anaesthesia alone is as high as one in 150 in sub-Saharan Africa

Global Surgery Foundation: There is increasing recognition of the urgent need to upscale access to safe and affordable surgery, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). We know that Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and other health related objectives outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not achievable without ensuring that surgical, obstetrical and anaesthesia care is accessible, safe, timely and affordable. Many easily treatable conditions become diseases with high fatality rates. Watch this Video

American College of Surgeons: Operation Giving Back (OGB), the volunteerism initiative of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), serves as a comprehensive resource center where you can find information to investigate and participate in surgical volunteer opportunities. OGB provides the necessary tools to facilitate humanitarian outreach among ACS members of all specialties, at all stages of their profession, and with an emphasis on domestic and/or international service. Through a network of high-impact partner organizations, OGB directs you to volunteer opportunities that align with your skills, passions, and beliefs. Here is their list of nonprofit organizations that provide assistance worldwide.  

Mercy Ships: Globally, 5 billion people lack access to safe surgery. Children, teens, and adults suffer and die every day from treatable causes, and one child in eight will die before age 5. With the support of people like you, we deploy hospital ships to combat this overwhelming statistic. Since over 50% of the world’s population lives near a coast, our ships are the best way to reach them with state-of-the-art medical care. Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to transform lives and serve nations, one at a time. 

Mercy Ships provides a plethora of volunteer opportunities – with service commitments ranging from three months to two years. There are dozens of positions available ranging from the need for various medical personnel to those who are able to serve in hospitality and administration. Of course there are many ways to give to help transform lives, including donating to their organization.