For years, the aviation industry has used a digital archived record of every flight, allowing pilots to review and perfect their performance, thereby minimising the likelihood of errors and harm. There has never been an equivalent for surgeons, until now. Dr. Nadine Hachach-Haram discusses how embracing technology could make a difference.
COVID-19 has brought to light the substantial deficit in the global surgical workforce, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating a projected shortfall of 10 million health workers by 2030, mostly in low- and lower-middle income countries. With over 330 million procedures performed annually, surgery represents a critical segment of healthcare systems worldwide and yet, according to The Lancet Commission, more than five billion people in the world lack access to safe surgery and 18.4 million people die each year as a consequence of this. The Lancet Commission also estimates that 143 million additional surgical procedures are needed each year to “save lives and prevent disability”.
As a surgeon of over 15 years, I’ve seen firsthand the fundamental challenges that we’re facing in surgery. Statistics say that any one of us may need anywhere from five to eight procedures in our lifetime, no matter how minor or major they may be. Surgery truly affects all of us, but unfortunately, we’re facing an unprecedented crisis in surgery, with challenges affecting workforce shortages, workforce productivity, patient safety and surgical quality
Fundamentally, health systems can only function with health workers; improving health service coverage and realising the right to access the highest attainable standard of health is dependent on the availability, accessibility and quality of staff. We must collectively invest in strengthening the health workforce for equitable access to safe and affordable surgery and efforts must be made to increase healthcare workforces globally to address these staff shortages.
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