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Garreth Wood gives Oxford University lecture

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Oxford University’s Global Surgery Group invited KidsOR Chair Garreth Wood to speak to leading clinicians, researchers and students at this year’s Global Surgery course.

In line with the influential group’s remit to “work together to contribute to the provision of high-quality surgical care globally, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)”, Garreth outlined the ways in which KidsOR are working to build vital surgical capacity with partner countries around the world.

He said: “Our team works directly with local surgeons and their teams to create fully equipped Operating Rooms for children, thus enabling those teams to use their dedication and talents to treat greater numbers of children, transforming lives one operation at a time.”

The Oxford University course which was attended by surgical students from around the world – including some of KidsOR’s own scholars – sought to highlight “the massive disparity in provision of life-saving and life-changing surgical services around the world”, highlighting that “that five billion of the world’s seven billion population do not have access to safe timely surgical treatment”.

With nearly two billion children lacking access to safe surgery, Garreth added: “Grieving mothers, broken doctors and overloaded systems, teams and equipment. Children in pain and agony die because they don’t have access to proper healthcare. We would never allow this to happen in high-income countries.

“Here in the UK, governments come under political pressure for having more than four-hour-long waiting times in A&E, and yet if a child breaks their leg in a road traffic accident in Tanzania, they could be waiting three years to have it operated on. How did it get this bad? How did we allow such devastating inequalities to happen between high- and low-and-middle-income countries?”

And Garreth gave his view on how international healthcare funds should be spent on healthcare strengthening and capacity building, as only this approach “will allow nations to go beyond aid to one day having their own health workforces delivering care in their own equipped hospitals and community health systems”.

Despite a robust focus on the dire situation globally, Garreth reflected that things can and must get better. Indeed, he argued that KidsOR working alongside key partners like Oxford University and future leaders like those attending the course would be a recipe for future systematic transformation.

Garreth continued: 

“We will all have to work together to coordinate precious resources. But understand that it’s you that are the precious resources that can and will change the world. Together, we’ll need to shout loudly about the benefits of investing in surgery and the importance of clever and tactical investment in people, stuff and safe spaces.”

Garreth’s hard-hitting messages resonated with attendees. Medical student Francesca Back was one of many to find inspiration and excitement in the overarching message about building surgical capacity. She wrote on Twitter:

While Surgeon Dennis Mazingi added:

Shahnur Shah reflected sentiment elsewhere by describing the lecture as “eye opening”. He wrote on Twitter:

Student, clinicians, researchers and academic tutors like those in attendance are key to spreading KidsOR’s message that it should be local doctors caring for their own nation’s children, and we look forward to continuing to work with Oxford University.

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