Let’s go fishing together: a focus on collaboration at the Royal Society of Medicine’s meeting on global surgery, anaesthesia and obstetrics

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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Five billion people do not have access to safe, affordable surgical and anaesthesia care when needed, 143 million additional surgical procedures are needed in low and middle income countries (LMICs) each year to save lives and prevent disability.1 The current state of global access to surgery is dire, not only is not enough surgery being carried out, but the health systems to support it are woefully inadequate.

Following the launch of The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery on 27th April 2015, the Royal Society of Medicine yesterday hosted a conference on ‘Global Surgery, Anaesthesia and Obstetrics: Shifting paradigms and challenging generations’. This exciting and thought provoking meeting brought together surgical practitioners, students and educators to focus on the key messages of the commission and how to prepare the next generations of surgical teams to engage in global health.

The challenges include the over-specialization of current surgical training, which limits the clinical preparedness of surgeons for work in conflict zones and catastrophe (as discussed by David Nott, Consultant General and Vascular Surgeon at Imperial College NHS Trust); the lack of formal career path in global surgery and the facilitation of appropriate student training and placements (an issue addressed by Ged Byrne of Health Education England) and the problems arising in disaster situations from the influx of well-intentioned but often under-prepared or inappropriately skilled medical staff, highlighted by Nobhojit Roy (Chief of Surgery and Public Health Specialist, BARC Hospital, Mumbai).

The power of fishing

Professor Roy proposed a rota of visiting surgeons to ensure year-round high quality coverage, extending the proverb ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’ by saying that ‘we need to go fishing together’ by engaging in co-ordinated volunteerism and collaboration. He also made the critical point that collaboration must also extend to research in global surgery. He presented a striking analysis of the proportion of papers published on ‘disasters’ which focus on work carried out in LMICs, emphasising the inequity in published research output from these regions. We couldn’t agree more.

A little something from us

In support of this year’s Royal Society of Medicine Global Health conference, we are delighted to announce that the following collection of six recent RSTMH global surgery papers has been made freely available until 05 May 2015.

The papers are a mix of original articles, reviews and commentaries, published in both Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and International Health. With Professor Roy's comments on equity of authorship in mind, the articles we have chosen happen to be mostly derived from collaborations between authors from HIC and LMIC institutions, or LMICs alone, which is largely representative of the types of studies we publish. We hope you find these papers useful and interesting; we're keen to share them as widely as possible until 05 May, so do please pass the links on to your colleagues. Before you do, how about:

A little something from you?

We are currently inviting submissions of original research papers and systematic reviews in global surgery, anaesthesia and obstetrics. We work hard to support our authors who trust us with their work; take a look at all the reasons to publish with us. And now, back to those freely accessible papers.

Exploring hydrocoele surgery accessibility and impact in a lymphatic filariasis endemic area of southern Malawi

Michelle Stanton, Emma Smith, Sarah Martindale, Square Mkwanda and Louise Kelly-Hope

Transactions April 2015


Surgical patients travel longer distances than non-surgical patients to receive care at a rural hospital in Mozambique

Michelle Faierman, Jamie Anderson, Americo Assane et al.  

International Health January 2015


Surgical site infection rates in 6 cities of India: findings of the International Nosocomial Infection Control Consortium (INICC)

Sanjeev Singh, Murali Chakravarthy, Victor Rosenthal et al.

International Health December 2014 (online)


Vision 2020: moving beyond blindness

Susan Lewallen, Van Lansingh and R.D. Thulasiraj

International Health September 2014


Abdominal echinococcosis: outcomes of conservative surgery

Anshuman Pandey, Abhijit Chandra and Shakeel Masood

Transactions May 2014


Explaining differences in maternal mortality levels in sub-Saharan African hospitals: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Ana Montoya, Clara Calvert and Veronique Filippi

International Health January 2014


1. Meara JG, Leather AJM, Hagander L et al. Global Surgery 2030: evidence and solutions for achieving health, welfare, and economic development. The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery April 2015.









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