Global Neurosurgery: the role of WFNS Foundation

The World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) is the largest neurosurgical organization gathering more than 49.000 neurosurgeons belonging to almost all existing neurosurgical societies worldwide, created in 1955 to promote neurosurgery camaraderie among neurosurgeons. In 90’s beginnings, the visionary leadership of professor “Pepe” Martin-Rodriguez and professor Madjid Samii made possible the creation of the WFNS Foundation; its mission can be defined as an improvement of neurosurgical care in developing countries (education, training and, intraoperative neurosurgical technology), with the vision to become the worldwide leader neurosurgical organization in the promotion of education and neurosurgical care in that countries. It is essential to mention the name of professor Armando Basso, who exemplarily created the modern and current Foundation structure that nowadays is helping thousands of patients and neurosurgeons.

The Executive Board governs the WFNS Foundation (seven persons, three of them being the President, Secretary, and Treasurer of WFNS). Also, it has the support of the Advisory Board, composed of a group of neurosurgeons who enthusiastically contribute to WFNS Foundation goals. A few years ago, a strategic plan was devised considering the Foundation’s activity based on three pillars: Education, the development of a network of training centers, and the provision of neurosurgical equipment to developing countries. Recent publications (1–6) have pointed out the current unmet needs in developing countries, hence the interest of WFNS Foundation to comply with the context and definition of Global Neurosurgery (“the clinical and public health practice of neurosurgery with the primary purpose of ensuring timely, safe, and affordable neurosurgical care to all who need it”).

Global Neurosurgery: The Unmet Need

Globally, the lack of access to basic surgical care causes 3 times as much deaths as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. The magnitude of this unmet need has been described recently, and the numbers are startling. Major shifts in global health agenda have highlighted access to essential and emergency surgery as a high priority. A broad examination of the current global neurosurgical efforts to improve access has revealed some strengths, particularly in the realm of training; however, the demand grossly outstrips the supply; most people in low-income countries do not have access to basic surgical care, either due to lack of availability or affordability. Projects that help create a robust and resilient health system within low- and middle-income countries require urgent implementation. In this context, concurrent scale-up of human resources, investments in capacity building, local data collection, and analysis for accurate assessment are essential. In addition, through process of collaboration and consensus building within the neurosurgical community, a unified voice of neurosurgery is necessary to effectively advocate for all those who need neurosurgical care wherever, whenever.