In an editorial in this week's PLoS Medicine, the journal's editors outline five key reasons why providing basic surgical services universally should be considered a global public health priority:
The editors are encouraged by the fact that surgeons and public health professionals are now coming together to build a movement to promote surgery as a crucial tool in improving global public health.
"How can this movement now bring donors on board," they ask "given that they have so far shown little willingness to fund programs outside the traditional purview of public health?" One strategy that might help to persuade donors, they say, is to argue that surgery could play an essential role in meeting many of the 2015 United Nations Millennium Development Goals (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/), a development blueprint agreed to by all the world's countries and all the leading development institutions.
For example, trauma care, obstetric surgery, and general surgical services are essential components in reaching goal 4 (reducing child mortality) and goal 5 (improving maternal health). Surgery can even play a role in tackling infectious diseases (goal 6), since male circumcision can reduce the risk of men acquiring HIV through heterosexual sex by 60%.
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