about plastic surgery and global health

by nadine on May 19, 2011

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If this were your hand, severely deformed from a previous burn injury,  you would want access to a plastic surgeon.

When considering the major disease control priorities in developing countries, the paucity of plastic surgeons is often ignored as a significant concern for health care delivery.  However, the current estimate of the global burden of surgical disease is 11-15% of the total global burden of disease.  And of this, 66% is attributed to injuries, malignancies, and congenital anomalies, three areas in which plastic surgical expertise are commonly required.

So, although not necessarily seen as a major player in issues related to global health, plastic surgeons are uniquely qualified to decrease the burden of surgical disease afflicting people in low and middle income countries as well as to decrease years of life lost due to disability from these treatable conditions.

complicated leg wound with soft tissue loss

Unfortunately, there is a significant shortage of plastic surgeons in many areas of the world.  The populous countries of China and India only have ~1.5 plastic surgeons per million people, while many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have far fewer and sometimes none in the entire country (in the United States there are ~6 per million people).  A challenge shared by all countries is that these specialists are concentrated in urban areas, far from the populous rural areas where much of the burden lies.

Where this website fits in:

The purpose of this website it to bring information regarding practical plastic surgery concepts and techniques to health care providers working in areas with little or no access to plastic surgeons.

This blog will offer short discussions on various plastic surgery topics.  Please send me questions or recommendations for topics you would like discussed.  Or if there is information you would like to share, please contact me and I’ll post it here.


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