Innovation, collaboration, sustainability were common themes of discussion at the first annual "Extreme Affordability: Innovative Solutions of Surgical Care" conference hosted by the Center for Global Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Focusing on providing affordable surgery globally, this conference called together surgeons, policy makers, bioengineers, anthropologists and non-governmental organization leaders to discuss the need and accessibility of surgical care to the international community.
Mark Harris, M.D., co-founder of the International Anesthesia Education Forum writes about his experience at the conference, “I am left with a sense of enthusiasm, optimism and community. There are so many people from different fields and countries collaborating and using innovative approaches to the myriad problems facing the low resource world.”
Speakers from around the world shared their perspectives on these current themes of global health and surgery. Keynote speaker, Clayton Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, discussed the decentralization of healthcare providers and technology to develop affordable and sustainable healthcare in resource-limited and rich settings Christenson is regarded as one of the world's top experts on innovation and growth.
With a pattern recognition-based concept, Christensen's message was well-received by conference attendees.
"The speakers were thoughtful and captivating which was no small feat!" Rhiana Menen, resident with the East Bay Surgery Program at UCSF, commented. "I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this wonderful conference. As someone early in my career but very much trying to incorporate an emphasis in global surgery, I now have a much better idea on how to proceed and have made some invaluable contacts."
As one of the few non-governmental organizations presenting at the conference, IVUmed was able to share its perspective on global health. Josh Wood, executive director, provided an in-depth look at how to develop and sustain global partnerships for dynamic change in an economical and efficient manner.
During his presentation, Wood explains, "When you start to become aware of surgery, how much need there is and the potential we have to relieve that need, it may seem overwhelming; but there are extensive opportunities, especially if programs are carried out in a sustainable manner so we can get more bang for our buck."
A staggering one million African infants are estimated to die in the first 4 weeks of life and there are only 24 urologists for the 9 million people living in Haiti. With these, and other outstanding statistics, the developed world recognizes a preventable epidemic. Through technology and innovative collaboration, these leaders are truly developing a paradigm shift in global health.
Discussing the role of surgery in global health, Steve Alder, Chief of the Division of Public Health at the University of Utah, comments, "You have to talk about the elephant in the room; is it the scalpel or the syringe?"