Public health professionals who work in the developing world have long focused on defeating infectious diseases, and recently have widened their focus to include chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But access to quality surgical care remains a large and unmet need. HSPH’s Michael VanRooyen urged the audience at the Nov. 5 conference, “The Role of Surgery in Global Health,” held at the Harvard Club of Boston, to consider surgery as part of the basic right to health. HSPH’s Atul Gawande and Paul Farmer also spoke at the conference.
Gawande said he believes that the minimum number of operating rooms needed to provide adequate surgical services is five per 100,000 people. Three billion people live in areas without this capacity, and two billion people live without access to even one operating room per 100,000 people.