May 24, 2017

Saving Lives through Surgery: Part Two

Written by Hunter Isgrig, Digital Campaign Producer, Crowd 360

This Conversation is the second of three in a series to underscore the importance of #safesurgery. More than 5 billion people worldwide lack access to basic surgical services. Advocates, project implementers and thought leaders from around the world are convening at the 70th World Health Assembly (May 22-31), bringing to the attention of key decision makers the needs and potential collaborative solutions for funding safe surgery initiatives around the world.

Part two of this Conversation series looks at the direct implications of safe surgery on mothers and children. FHI 360’s technical expert on maternal health, Dr. Patsy Bailey, discusses this further:

Q: What role does safe surgery play in averting maternal death and disability?

“Safe surgery, both obstetric and non-obstetric, saves women’s and fetal/newborn lives.  The most recent global estimate of the number of maternal deaths per year is 303,000.  Of these, 60% worldwide are caused by four major causes: antepartum and postpartum hemorrhages, hypertensive diseases in pregnancy, puerperal sepsis and unsafe abortions.  And all four of these clinical conditions will require or could require surgical interventions. According to a World Bank study, 40% of maternal deaths could be averted with comprehensive emergency obstetric care, often equated with obstetric surgery and blood transfusion. With rapid appropriate interventions, saving the mother’s life directly affects the survival of her newborn baby and the well-being of older children.

Safe obstetric surgery means effectively treating emergency clinical conditions in an environment with high levels of infection prevention, adequate equipment, drugs and supplies for anesthesia, surgery and post-op, experienced skilled anesthetists, and surgeons or surgical surrogates such as emergency surgical officers and other associate clinicians. Safe surgery also means “do no harm” and performing surgery only when medically indicated. The rapid increase in the cesarean delivery rate, alongside the increased safety and access to surgery, has produced an epidemic of cesarean deliveries in many countries and among women of the highest economic quintiles.

Although cesarean delivery can be life-saving for the woman, the fetus, or both in certain cases, the accelerating rate of cesarean deliveries has failed to produce evidence of continued decreases in maternal and neonatal mortality or morbidity. In fact, the evidence suggests the opposite and raises significant concern that cesarean delivery is being overused.

The challenge lies in righting the inequities of access to high quality surgical care, while ensuring that all women receive the care they deserve.”



Read part one of the series >>
Read part three of the series >>