South Africa: Surgical Care Saves Lives, but Needs Political Prioritisation and Strong Health Systems

opinion

This week a precedent-setting conference in Cape Town aims to improve access to surgery for people in disadvantaged and rural communities across southern Africa. It aims to share common solutions, identify barriers to the provision of surgical care, and create regional recommendations for stronger surgical systems.

From 15 to 17 January 2020, the Centre for Global Surgery at Stellenbosch University will host the AfroSurg networking conference for surgical care stakeholders. It will draw together surgeons, rural doctors, anaesthetists, obstetricians, public health specialists, social scientists, community advocacy representatives and service users.

Delegates from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa will discuss existing national surgical policies and interventions currently used to improve the quality and access to timely surgical care.

As a result of the conference, AfroSurg will try to create a larger stakeholder pool to lobby for greater political prioritisation for emergency and essential surgical care as a component of Universal Healthcare, thereby helping to achieve several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): decrease poverty, improve health and well-being, and reduce inequalities.

To understand why such a conference is necessary, first consider the true story of Mrs M.

Mrs M is a 65-year-old woman living in rural Eastern Cape. She sought...

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