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Everything you need to know about global paediatric surgery

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Global paediatric surgery = global surgery = global health.

Yes, it's that simple.

The definitions for each are derived from it's predecessor, making the three intrinsically linked.

Global paediatric surgery is an area of study, research, practice and advocacy. It's aim? Improving access to quality, timely, affordable surgical care and health outcomes for children all over the world.

This focus extends particularly to underserved populations and those caught in crisis situations.

Why pay attention to global paediatric surgery?

Global Surgery is often tagged as 'the neglected stepchild of global health.' If that's true, then Global Paediatric Surgery, is in turn, its 'unborn child'.

In 2017, it was estimated that 1.7 billion children were living without access to surgical care. This included an astonishing 453 million children under the age of 5.

Sadly, more than 90% of these children are from low- and lower middle-income countries (LMICs).

So how does this happen?

The reasons are many.

1) Poor financial investments within surgical care systems which result in inadequate paediatric surgical workforce.

2) Poor infrastructure, such as equipment, space and information systems.

3) Under-resources supply chains.

Limited access to surgical care often results in tragic consequences: death, disability, and lives lived in pain.

Beyond being tragic, early childhood deaths and illnesses cast a shadow over a nation's socioeconomic development.

Isn't surgery more expensive than vaccines or food?

“If access to healthcare is considered a human right, who is considered human enough to have that right?” Paul Farmer.

It's true that surgery is more expensive than vaccines or nourishment for malnourished children.

But, if we acknowledge that healthcare is a fundamental human right, cost should not be a deciding factor.

Healthcare, including surgery and surgical care, is indeed a human right. Every child should have equitable and timely access to safe, affordable, and high-quality pediatric surgical care whenever they need it.

Moreover, evidence suggests that investing in surgical care systems strengthens overall health systems. Health systems should deliver both preventive and curative services, including surgery. Therefore, investing in pediatric surgical care, as well as broader surgical care, is cost-effective. Every dollar invested yields improved health and economic benefits, particularly for children whose gains will extend over many years.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC): Bridging the Gap

In many LMICs, the cost of surgery serves as a formidable barrier to accessing surgical care. Pediatric surgical diseases and care often lead to impoverishing health-related expenses, creating a financial burden on families.

This is where Universal Health Coverage (UHC) steps in as a critical player. UHC plays a pivotal role in ensuring equitable access to timely, affordable, safe, and high-quality pediatric surgical care. Including specific emergency and essential surgical care procedures, such as those for cancer, congenital anomalies, and injuries, in UHC packages is essential. This ensures that no child in need of pediatric surgical care is denied the care they require.

In summary, global pediatric surgery is an indispensable component of global health. It strives to provide equitable access to surgical care for children worldwide, emphasizing the importance of investment, healthcare as a human right, and its role in achieving Universal Health Coverage.

We need people like you to join our movement. Without a voice, surgical care's life-saving will continue to be overlooked. Lives will continue to be lost.

Investment in surgical care is key to achieving a better, fairer future, & we won't stop until safe surgery is closer for the 5 billion people on Earth living without it.

Join us. Become a Global Advocate today & be part of the solution for a better future for all.

Join the KidsOR Global Advocate Network

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