When considering surgical care in LMICs, "task shifting" is often talked about as a way to provide surgical care while additional surgeons are trained and recruited. What does this term refer to?
Task shifting involves training nonsurgeon physicians, nurses, midwives, and advanced care practitioners to provide basic surgical or anesthetic care. This may be an inevitable fact of life in LMICs and the surgeon shortage is prodigious. Task shifting in this way may allow services that were only available under fully trained surgeons to be more accessible and mitigate the significant surgeon's shortage in many LMICs. Concerns about quality of care, supervision, and the impact on surgeon's professional development remain areas of debate.
You are planning to work abroad but a colleague mentions that "surgery is too expensive" in LMICs and you should focus on providing mosquito netting instead. You disagree, which of the following answers could help you support your case.
A common question raised to proponents of surgical care in LMICs is one of cost. A number of independent studies as well as work by the World Bank and WHO show that, while nothing is free, the burden of surgical disease is so huge in LMICs and the surgical need so high that even relatively cost -effective interventions can cost -effectively reduce the burden of human disease. Compared to other public health initiates, developing basic and emergency surgical care at a district hospital level is as cost-effective, or even more so, than typical health programs such as HIV-AIDS treatment or measles immunization! Surgeons truly are the front line of global public health.
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