’For my colleagues who work in surgical areas in UK healthcare this book is a must read.’
Title: Operation Health; Surgical Care in the Developing World
Edited by: Adam L Kushner
Publisher: John Hopkins University Press
Reviewer: Emily Kraus, ITU staff nurse, Barnet Hospital
What was it like?
This book while small, contains a powerful message. People in low and middle income countries (LMIC) are dying unnecessarily. They are dying from a lack of access to basic surgical care that we, in the western world take for granted.
What were the highlights?
Each chapter depicts a particular trouble faced by different countries. From Mongolia to Ghana each surgical issue that the region faces could easily be treated. The physical act of life-saving surgeries though is not the only concern this book aims to publicise but also the volume of trained surgeons to carry out these procedures. The book draws attention to the predicament of patients living in the most rural areas who must travel for days to seek medical help as well as those who are fighting social stigma by seeking this help.
The last, and perhaps the most important chapter is about medical student education in Sub-Saharan Africa. There are very few students who show a genuine interest in becoming surgeons. Infectious diseases, internal medicine, paediatrics and public health are the fields of choice amongst the majority of medical students highlighted in one study presented. This book states that whilst these are still important issues, injuries that require surgical intervention often account for 30% more deaths than HIV, TB and AIDS combined.
Strengths & weaknesses?
The book is heavy to process but the introduction to each chapter is by far my favourite part; the photograph and personal story. The pictures are fascinating. They transport you straight to the heart of the issue to be discussed. The author then shares a short personal tale of the time spent travelling to these countries with such warmth and sensitivity. The personal tale then stops and the author elaborates on these situations with such an abundance of statistics that even my secondary school maths teacher would shudder. Yet these statistics are truly effective in translating the message. Kushner writes that the reason these essays were compiled and published was to educate and inspire. Mindboggling as these statistics are, they authenticate the shocking nature of unnecessary deaths that occur in LMICs.
Who should read it?
For my colleagues who work in surgical areas in UK healthcare this book is a must read. You are looking after the patients suffering from conditions described in this book. Yet your patients are receiving surgical treatment. Those described in these pages often cannot afford that luxury. It was a truly humbling read.