Every year 2.1 million people in the low and middle income countries die within 30 days post surgery, reveals a new study published in The Lancet. Researchers at the University of Birmingham say that globally the number of post-operative deaths is 4.2 million — at least 7.7 per cent of these deaths occur within 30 days of surgery while 2.97 million die each year as a result of HIV, TB or malaria.
Providing operations for all patients who need them would increase the number of global post-operative deaths to 6.1 million.
“Surgery has been the ‘neglected stepchild’ of global health and has received a fraction of the investment put into treating infectious diseases such as malaria,” said Dmitri Nepogodiev, Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham.
“To avoid millions more dying after surgery, a planned expansion of access to surgery must be complemented by investment into improving the quality of surgery around the world,” he added. Post surgery deaths are greater in number than what is attributed to any other cause of death globally, except ischaemic heart disease and stroke.
At present, around 4.8 billion people worldwide lack timely access to safe and affordable surgery and it is estimated that there is an annual unmet need for 143 million procedures in low- and middle-income countries, the report revealed.
“Surgery saves lives and can transform patients’ quality of life, but this study shows that a large number of patients die in the immediate post-operative period,” said Professor Dion Morton, Barling Chair of Surgery at the varsity. “As efforts continue to increase access to surgery around the world, there is also an urgent need for research to improve the quality and safety post-surgery.”