What is the role of plastic surgery in global health

We may define global health as an area of research study and practice that focuses on the improvement of health and the achievement of global health equity. Plastic surgery has played a substantial role in global health. Globally there is a shortage of plastic surgeons to meet the needs of middle and low-income countries. Because of this, there have been measures put in place to provide humanitarian aid for plastic surgery in these areas. Cosmetic surgery has also been shown to have a positive effect on the economy because it delivers a great return on investment.

Surgical diseases come with a great global burden because they lead to ailments that are more serious if not dealt with in a timely manner. Conditions that are treated efficiently by cosmetic surgery procedures make up a substantial part of global surgical diseases that disproportionately affect persons in economically disadvantaged positions.

In our talks with the Calgary Plastic Surgery Centre, we uncovered that there is a growing awareness of the importance of plastic surgery on global health. Surgical conditions form 11% of worldwide disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) globally. There are approximately 2 billion people who can't access even basic surgical services worldwide. This is most often seen in the poorest parts of the world.

It is reported that even when these medical services are obtained in these parts of the world, it is frequently subpar, unsafe, and too late to be effective. The cost of these treatments also financially drains these patients. To prevent disability and death globally, there is a need for 4 million healthcare workers and 143 million surgeries every single year.

The Unmet Need for Plastic Surgery

The three categories that are most often seen by plastic surgeons are malignancy, injuries, and congenital anomalies. These contribute at least 60% of the measured disability-adjusted life-years. The greatest surgical burden comes from trauma and injuries. Injuries that come from road traffic accidents, war, and natural disasters, can destroy soft tissue nerves, tendons, and bones leaving some major disabilities if no treatment is provided.

For reduced complications and effective healing to occur, timely, simple, and reasonably priced plastic surgical interventions are needed. Procedures such as wound debridement, fracture fixation, soft tissue protection, and closures reduce surgical complications. These surgical complications would have otherwise led to permanent disability and in some cases, death.

Globally, a great portion of acquired deformities that require reconstructive care come from burns. Every year approximately 10.9 million people suffer from severe burns. Burn injuries are the fifth leading cause of non-fatal childhood injury and the 11th leading cause of death in children. These statistics occur most often in poorer regions of the world where live wires are exposed and open flames are used for cooking. When burns occur, form and function are often affected and there can be extensive scarring.

Burns frequently lead to restricted mobility, sepsis, malnourishment, and major long-term disability. For effective healing to take place, many of these burns need plastic surgical expertise such as skin grafting, burn excision, contracture release, and corrective and reconstructive surgeries. Patients also require physiotherapy and splinting for mobility and function. In developing countries, there is a greater need for operative intervention, as poverty often exacerbates the impact of these injuries.

Meeting the Need for Plastic Surgery

Efforts to enhance health and health equity are indispensable to global health. The philanthropic value of the plastic surgery field is needed now more than ever but Plastic and reconstructive surgery have had a long history of international service. With the hope of increasing plastic surgical services for persons in the developing world, over 100 plastic surgery non-profit partnerships have been established.

Missions often take the form of humanitarian operations wherein aid, expertise, and supplies a provided by a group of volunteer surgeons and medical personnel in parts of the world where there is limited to no access to healthcare. Philanthropic associations usually have organized outreach programs that are able to help with reconstructive and plastic surgeries for congenital defects including CLP repair, burns, craniofacial deformities, and trauma.

These efforts have been invaluable to the delivery of timely, safe, and high-quality surgery to patients who need reconstructive treatment in underserved communities all over the world. These surgical missions lead to swift and long-lasting change in the area of global health as well as the quality of life of patients. They are also very cost-effective and compare favorably to other ailments handled by global aid.

To sum it up

Plastic surgery has the capacity to deliver more sustainable global surgical care in the future, especially with the advancement of technology. This requires continuous efforts from plastic surgery professionals. There is also a need for greater recognition of the problems that should be handled at the policy level. When it comes to the provision of scarce resources, there must be adequate research conducted, that will these endeavors.

PHOTO: philippe spitalier, Unsplash