Establishing collaborations in global neurosurgery: The role of InterSurgeon

The global deficiency in surgical care has been highlighted in the past several years, through the publication of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery in 2015, the passage of WHA Resolution 68.15, and concerted efforts by advocacy organizations such as the G4 Alliance. Approximately 23,300 additional neurosurgeons are estimated to be needed to address the greater than 5 million essential neurosurgical cases that are not performed annually, most in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

However, increasing recognition of the ease and feasibility of virtual technology prompted a shift towards virtual modes of communication. InterSurgeon (, an independent, internet-based social network platform, has allowed for formal connection between global surgery advocates who may have complementary needs and resources. This manuscript aims to: 1) characterize the current progress of InterSurgeon, 2) describe lessons learned from the creation and use of InterSurgeon, and 3) discuss future directions for InterSurgeon.

Equitable, well-designed collaborations are central to progress in global neurosurgery. InterSurgeon has catalyzed collaborations within global neurosurgery across world regions and country income status. In addition to its role in facilitating traditional in person collaborations, InterSurgeon will become an increasingly important tool for connecting surgeons worldwide as virtual collaboration and augmented reality training paradigms become important components of global surgery capacity building.

Gaps in completion and timeliness of breast surgery and adjuvant therapy: a retrospective cohort of Haitian patients with nonmetastatic breast cancer

There are limited data on breast surgery completion rates and prevalence of care-continuum delays in breast cancer treatment programs in low-income countries.

This study analyzes treatment data in a retrospective cohort of 312 female patients with non-metastatic breast cancer in Haiti. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize patient characteristics; treatments received; and treatment delays of > 12 weeks. Multivariate logistic regressions were performed to identify factors associated with receiving surgery and with treatment delays. Exploratory multivariate survival analysis examined the association between surgery delays and disease-free survival (DFS).

Of 312 patients, 249 (80%) completed breast surgery. The odds ratio (OR) for surgery completion for urban vs. rural dwellers was 2.15 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.19–3.88) and for those with locally advanced vs. early-stage disease was 0.34 (95%CI: 0.16–0.73). Among the 223 patients with evaluable surgery completion timelines, 96 (43%) experienced delays. Of the 221 patients eligible for adjuvant chemotherapy, 141 (64%) received adjuvant chemotherapy, 66 of whom (47%) experienced delays in chemotherapy initiation. Presentation in the later years of the cohort (2015–2016) was associated with lower rates of surgery completion (75% vs. 85%) and with delays in adjuvant chemotherapy initiation (OR [95%CI]: 3.25 [1.50–7.06]). Exploratory analysis revealed no association between surgical delays and DFS.

While majority of patients obtained curative-intent surgery, nearly half experienced delays in surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy initiation. Although our study was not powered to identify an association between surgical delays and DFS, these delays may negatively impact long-term outcomes.

A granular analysis of service delivery for surgical system strengthening: Application of the Lancet indicators for policy development in Colombia

The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery (LCoGS) surgical indicators have given the surgical community metrics for objectively characterizing the disparity in access to surgical healthcare. However, aggregate national statistics lack sufficient specificity to inform strengthening plans at the community level. We performed a second-stage analysis of Colombian surgical system service delivery to inform the development of resource- and context-sensitive interventions to inform a revision of the Decennial Public Health Plan for access inequity resolution.

Data from the year 2016 to inform total operative volume (TOV) and 30-day non-risk adjusted peri-operative mortality (POMR) were collected from the Colombian national health information system. TOV and POMR were sub-characterized by demographics, urgency, service line, disease pathology and facility location.

In 2016, aggregate national mortality was 0·87%, while mortality attributable to elective and emergency surgery was 0·73% and 1·30%, respectively. The elderly experienced a 5·6-fold higher mortality, with 4·2% undergoing an operation within 30 days of dying. Individuals undergoing hepatobiliary, thoracic, cardiac, and neurosurgical operations experienced the highest mortality rates while obstetrics, general surgery, orthopaedics, and urology performed the largest procedure volume. Finally, analysis of operation and service line specific POMR reveals opportunities for improvement.

This granular second-stage analysis provides actionable data which is fundamental to the development of resource and context-sensitive interventions to address gaps and inequities in surgical system service delivery. Furthermore, this analysis validates the modeling underlying development of the LCoGS indicators. These data will inform the assessment of implementation priorities and revision of the Colombian Decennial Public Health Plan

Growing academic global surgery: opportunities for Canadian trainees

Global surgery has seen exponential growth over the past few years, and Canadian trainees’ interest in the field has followed. Global surgery is defined by a commitment to health equity and community partnership. Engagement with its core principles is relevant for all Canadian surgical trainees and offers a perspective into inequities in surgical access and outcomes for patients and communities, both locally and globally. Several opportunities in academic global surgery for trainees have emerged in Canada, but appear to be underutilized. This article highlights existing Canadian global surgery initiatives, including formal postgraduate curricula, research and policy collaborations, trainee networks, advocacy projects, dedicated fellowships, and conferences. We identify areas in which institutions and departments of surgery can better support trainees in exploring each of these categories during training. Canadian trainees’ exposure to global surgery can nurture their roles as future health advocates, communicators, and leaders locally and beyond.

Global Hospital Infrastructure and Pediatric Burns

Low income regions carry the highest mortality burden of pediatric burns and attention to remedy these inequities has shifted from isolated mission trips towards building infrastructure for lasting improvements in surgical care. This study aims to investigate disparities in pediatric burn care infrastructure and their impact on mortality outcomes. The multinational Global Burn Registry was queried for all burn cases between January 2018 and August 2021. Burn cases and mortality rates were analyzed by Chi-Square and multinomial regression. There were a total of 8537 cases of which 3492 (40.9%) were pediatric. Significantly lower mortality rates were found in facilities with sophisticated nutritional supplementation (p<0.001), permanent internet connectivity (p<0.001), critical care access (p<0.001), burn OR access (p=0.003), dedicated burn unit (p<0.001), and advanced plastic and reconstructive skills (p=0.003). Significant disparities were found in the availability of these resources between high- and low-income countries, as well granular information within low income regions. In a multinomial logistic regression controlling for TBSA, the most significant predictive factors for mortality were limited critical care availability (OR 15.18, p<0.001) and sophisticated nutritional access (OR 0.40, p=0.024). This is the first quantitative analysis of disparities in global burn infrastructure. The identification of nutritional support as an independent and significant protective factor suggests that low-cost interventions in hospital nutrition infrastructure may realize significant gains in global burn care. Granular information in the variability of regional needs will begin to direct targeted infrastructure initiatives rather than a one-size-fits-all approach in developing nations.

International Survey of Medical Students Exposure to Relevant Global Surgery (ISOMERS): A Cross-Sectional Study

The principles of global surgery should be taught as a part of the core curriculum in medical schools. The need for medical students to be familiar with the topic is increasing in acceptance. There is, however, a paucity of data on how medical students are exposed to global surgery. This study aims to evaluate exposure of medical students to global surgery, awareness of the key messages of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, global surgery career aspirations and barriers to said aspirations.

ISOMERS was a multi-centre, online, cross-sectional survey of final year medical students globally. The questionnaire utilised a combination of Likert-scale, multiple-choice, and free text questions.

In this study, 1593 final year medical students from 144 medical schools in 20 countries participated. The majority (n = 869/1496, 58.1%) believed global surgery to be relevant, despite 17.7% (n = 271/1535) having any exposure to global surgery. Most participants (n = 1187/1476, 80.4%) wanted additional resources on global surgery. Difficulty in providing appropriate care for patients living abroad (n = 854/1242, 68.8%) was the most common perceived barrier to a career in global surgery.

Participants believed global surgery was a relevant topic for medical students and wanted additional resources that they could access on global surgery. It is critical for medical students to become aware that global surgery is a field that aims to address inequity in surgical care not just internationally, but nationally and locally as well.

Surgical Capacity in Rural Southeast Nigeria: Barriers and New Opportunities

Background: Remarkable gains have been made in global health with respect to provision of essential and emergency surgical and anesthesia care. At the same time, little has been written about the state of surgical care, or the potential strategies for scale-up of surgical services in sub-Saharan Africa, southeast Nigeria inclusive.

Objective: The aim was to document the state of surgical care at district hospitals in southeast Nigeria.

Methods: We surveyed 13 district hospitals using the World Health Organization (WHO) tool for situational analysis developed by the “Lancet Commission on Global Surgery” initiative to assess surgical care in rural Southeast Nigeria. A systematic literature review of scientific literatures and policy documents was performed. Extraction was performed for all articles relating to the five National Surgical, Obstetric and Anesthesia Plans (NSOAPs) domains: infrastructure, service delivery, workforce, information management and financing.

Findings: Of the 13 facilities investigated, there were six private, four mission and three public hospitals. Though all the facilities were connected to the national power grid, all equally suffered electricity interruption ranging from 10–22 hours daily. Only 15.4% and 38.5% of the 13 hospitals had running water and blood bank services, respectively. Only two general surgeon and two orthopedic surgeons covered all the facilities. Though most of the general surgical procedures were performed in private and mission hospitals, the majority of the public hospitals had limited ability to do the same. Orthopedic procedures were practically non-existent in public hospitals. None of the facilities offered inhalational anesthetic technique. There was no designated record unit in 53.8% of facilities and 69.2% had no trained health record officer.

Conclusion: Important deficits were observed in infrastructure, service delivery, workforce and information management. There were indirect indices of gross inadequacies in financing as w

Assessing the global burden of hemorrhage: The global blood supply, deficits, and potential solutions

There is a critical shortage of blood available for transfusion in many low- and middle-income countries. The consequences of this scarcity are dire, resulting in uncounted morbidity and mortality from trauma, obstetric hemorrhage, and pediatric anemias, among numerous other conditions. The process of collecting blood from a donor to administering it to a patient involves many facets from donor availability to blood processing to blood delivery. Each step faces particular challenges in low- and middle-income countries. Optimizing existing strategies and introducing new approaches will be imperative to ensure a safe and sufficient blood supply worldwide.

Epidemiology of surgery in a protracted humanitarian setting: a 20-year retrospective study of Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Kigoma, Western Tanzania

There are 80 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, 26.3 million of whom are refugees. Many refugees live in camps and have complex health needs, including a high burden of non-communicable disease. It is estimated that 3 million procedures are needed for refugees worldwide, yet very few studies exist on surgery in refugee camps, particularly protracted refugee settings. This study utilizes a 20-year dataset, the longest dataset of surgery in a refugee setting to be published to date, to assess surgical output in a setting of protracted displacement.

A retrospective review of surgeries performed in Nyarugusu Camp was conducted using paper logbooks containing entries between November 2000 and September 2020 inclusive. Abstracted data were digitized into standard electronic form and included date, patient nationality, sex, age, indication, procedure performed, and anesthesia used. A second reviewer checked 10% of entries for accuracy. Entries illegible to both reviewers were excluded. Demographics, indication for surgery, procedures performed, and type of anesthesia were standardized for descriptive analysis, which was performed in STATA.

There were 10,799 operations performed over the 20-year period. Tanzanians underwent a quarter of the operations while refugees underwent the remaining 75%. Ninety percent of patients were female and 88% were 18 years of age or older. Caesarean sections were the most common performed procedure followed by herniorrhaphies, tubal ligations, exploratory laparotomies, hysterectomies, appendectomies, and repairs. The most common indications for laparotomy procedures were ectopic pregnancy, uterine rupture, and acute abdomen. Spinal anesthesia was the most common anesthesia type used. Although there was a consistent increase in procedural volume over the study period, this is largely explained by an increase in overall camp population and an increase in caesarean sections rather than increases in other, specific surgical procedures.

There is significant surgical volume in Nyarugusu Camp, performed by staff physicians and visiting surgeons. Both refugees and the host population utilize these surgical services. This work provides context to the surgical training these settings require, but further study is needed to assess the burden of surgical disease and the extent to which it is met in this setting and others.

Retrospective review of Google Trends to gauge the popularity of global surgery worldwide: A cross-sectional study

Global surgery is a growing movement worldwide, but its expansion has not been quantified. Google Search is the most popular search engine worldwide, and Google Trends analyzes its queries to determine popularity trends. We used Google Trends to analyze the regional and temporal popularity of global surgery (GS). Furthermore, we compared GS with global health (GH) to understand if the two were correlated.

This is a retrospective cross-sectional study examining Google Trends of GS and GH. We searched the terms “global surgery” and “global health” on Google Trends (Google Inc., CA, USA) from January 2004 to May 2021. We identified time trends and compared the two search terms using SPSS v26 (IBM, WA, USA) to run summary descriptive analyses and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests.

The ten countries most interested in GS were India (5.0%), the United Kingdom (5.0%), Ireland (4.0%), the United States (4.0%), Australia (3.0%), Canada (3.0%), New Zealand (3.0%), Germany (2.0%), South Africa (2.0%), and Nigeria (1.0%). GS became more popular after 2015 (2.3% vs. 1.3%, P < 0.001) and was consistently less popular than GH (1.6% vs. 45.3%, P = 0.04). The difference between GS and GH interest levels increased after 2015 (45.4% vs. 42.9%, P = 0.04). Conclusion GS is less popular than GH, more popular in high-income countries, and has become more popular after 2015 when the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery published its seminal report. The World Health Organization passed resolution WHA 68.15. Future advocacy efforts should target low- and middle-income countries primarily.