According to a new study, nearly 4.2 million people around the world die annually within 30 days of surgery– more than those who die from HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.
The prestigious medical journal ‘The Lancet’, in its research, found that half of the post-operative deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). The research published says there is also a significant unmet need for surgery in LMICs.
Of 4.2 million deaths, 7.7 per cent of all deaths globally occur within 30 days of surgery. This figure is greater than that attributed to any other cause of death globally except ischemic heart disease and stroke, they said.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK believe that if operations were provided for all patients who need them, the number of global post-operative deaths would increase to 6.1 million.
The researchers, in a statement, said the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery identified that 313 million surgical procedures are performed each year. They, however, said little is known about the quality of surgery globally, as robust postoperative death rates are available for only 29 countries.
The study was done with available information to estimate how many people around the world die after operations — based on surgical volume, case-mix and post-operative death rates adjusted for country income.
Dmitri Nepogodiev, a research fellow at the University of Birmingham, said “Surgery has been the ‘neglected stepchild’ of global health and has received a fraction of the investment put in to treating infectious diseases such as malaria”.
“Although not all postoperative deaths are avoidable, many can be prevented by increasing investment in research, staff training, equipment, and better hospital facilities,” Nepogodiev said.
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Surgery saves lives and can transform patients’ quality of life, but this study shows that a large number of patients die in the immediate postoperative period.
The research team is of the view that expanding surgical services to address unmet need would add another 1.9 million post-operative deaths in LMICs each year.
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 LMICs.