For over a decade, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been a guiding force on many issues affecting global health. Progress has been made in improving maternal health, reducing preventable childhood deaths, and in lowering the transmission rates of communicable diseases. There is also a shared understanding and awareness of the linkages between health and poverty. That being said, much work remains – both on the unfinished and continuing agenda of the MDGs and in addressing critical issues not adequately covered by the MDGs.
The lack of access to essential surgery for the world’s poor is one of the biggest global health problems that no one has ever heard of and is conspicuously absent from the MDGs and the post-2015 Development Agenda.
The disease burden in low- and middle- income counties has seen a significant shift towards non-communicable diseases and trauma. According to the World Health Organization, 2 billion people in the world have no access to basic surgical care. 180 million people globally suffer from the conditions essential surgical iInterventions can easily treat. Simply put, for the first time in history, you’re more likely to be killed by a surgically-treatable condition than a communicable disease in certain parts of the world.
The MDGs are set to expire in the year 2015, and, while the focus needs to remain on continuing to achieve progress on these goals, individual citizens and development actors alike are already thinking about what the next era of development – post-2015 – should look like.
ICES is firmly committed to ensuring that global health- and that the wellness of women and children – remain at the centre of the next development agenda, as they have been with the MDGs.
We believe that it is time to expand our sense of urgency beyond communicable and infectious diseases and to articulate specific essential surgical goals and measures for the next development agenda. We call for urgency in addressing a second global scourge: the diseases of modern times which can be easily treated through increased access to essential surgery.
Let us look with hope and determination to a time when no family grieves the loss of a mother because her labour was obstructed, where no mother suffers the pain of burying a child whose burns and wounds were not properly treated, and no one needlessly suffers a lifetime of disability from easily treatable conditions.
Tomorrow, we are engaging with UN agencies, governments, NGOs, humanitarians, and all humans alike who believe that it is time to talk about essential surgery and their role in empowering women and children in the post-2015 era. People lie at the heart of sustainable development and it is time to include them in the conversation.