Surgical care poor in developing nations: WHO

SHILLONG, Aug 22 – With an annual 1.2 million deaths on world’s roads and surgical intervention available to just 5 per cent of the population in developing countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is laying emphasis on its Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (GIEESC) Programme in India. During the just concluded three-day international meeting on disaster management here, WHO has laid emphasis on better surgical intervention to minimise death rates from injuries, especially in developing nations like India. Dr Meena Nathan Cherian from WHO, said today, Meghalaya has shown keen interest in taking WHO’s technical expertise in training its medical staff on surgical care under the GIEESC programme. A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) study found that more than 90 per cent of deaths from injuries occur in low and middle-income countries. In the poorest of nations, just 3.5 per cent of the population receives surgical care. “Many hospitals in these countries do not have a reliable supply of clean water, oxygen, electricity and anaesthetics, making it extremely challenging to perform even the most basic surgical operations,” the report said. Another WHO report, specifically on road accidents, states that an estimated 1.2 million people die each year on world’s roads. In India such road traffic death rate is estimated at 16.7 per cent per 100,000 population. Dr Cherian said, WHO is trying to impress upon different State Governments, with the help of the Union Health Ministry, to train doctors and technicians so that surgical interventions are available to the people in the rural places. “We are trying to reach to the district and sub-district levels of the country so that essential surgical care can be provided in the remote places of India,” she said. Under the GIEESC programme, there are 38 member countries, including India. In North East’s context, such programmes on surgical care have become all the more important as the region lies in a highly seismic zone and also prone to other natural calamities such as flood and landslide, which necessitates urgent surgical intervention, experts said.