Study Finds Need for More Operating Rooms Globally

Poorest two billion only get four percent of OR time.  The richest two billion people in the world undergo 75 percent of all surgeries performed every year; by contrast, the poorest two billion have only four percent. This is one finding of a study published recently in the medical journal Lancet.  The study, performed by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, New Zealand, Canada and the World Health Organization, points out a need for additional ambulatory surgery facilities in the United States and across the globe.

The study found that many countries do not have enough surgeons to handle the simplest surgical procedures that improve lives – cataracts, tumors, auto accidents and the like.  Additionally, the researchers found instances of surgeons who lack access to usable operating rooms.  Throughout Africa, the study found that there was just a single operating room for every 100,000 people.  In the poorer Latin American nations, there were four to 10 operating rooms per 100,000.  That number rose to 15 in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.  Eastern Europe and the wealthier Asian nations reported approximately 25 ORs for every 100,000 people.

“Conservative estimates suggest that 11 percent of the world’s disability-adjusted life years are attributable to diseases that are often treated with surgery,” such as heart and cerebrovascular disease, cancer, and injuries resulting from traffic accidents, according to the authors, who were led by Luke M. Funk, MD, of the Harvard School of Public Health.

At the same time, “the findings are consistent with other studies, and, for those familiar with overseas health work, believable,” Paul S. Myles, from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, and Guy Haller, from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, wrote in an editorial accompanying the study. “The extent of the problem is now clearer: the solution is what needs much more work.”

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