Operation Health: Surgical Care in the Developing World

At a time when medical advances all seem to require expensive technology or drugs, and developed countries struggle to fund ever-expanding healthcare budgets, it is salutary to find a book focusing on surgery in low-income countries.

This collection of essays outlines the scope for surgical interventions to treat conditions ranging from clubfoot in children to cancer and trauma in adults. Each chapter presents a case study from countries as diverse as Nepal, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Mongolia. Rather than ignoring modern technology, the authors argue that with appropriate strategies for adoption, it can bring major benefits.

After first rejecting minimally invasive surgery as unrealistic, surgeons soon came to realise that it brought benefits including shorter recovery times and reduced wound infections.

While the arrival of a surgical team from a wealthy country can result in their expertise being used for a few weeks, the long-term adoption of new techniques requires careful planning so that local surgeons can continue once the visitors have left.

A final chapter focuses on surgical education in sub-Saharan Africa. There are 168 medical schools in this region, yet many lack basic facilities. There is a pressing need to support these often struggling institutions to produce the surgeons of the future.

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