The Amsterdam Declaration on Essential Surgical Care
During their time working both in LMICs and the Netherlands, a group of medical doctors were astounded by the discrepancy between the attention that was put in treating infectious diseases versus their actual burden. When talking to each other they realised they had all encountered the same issue:
LMICs are in desperate need of safe surgery.
Therefore, in 2014 a three day symposium ‘’Surgery in low resource settings, what is your role?’’ was organised by these doctors. The symposium was aimed at raising awareness of the need for surgery throughout the general population as well as in the medical and global health field. The attendees became so passionate and frustrated about the lack of surgical care in our world, that on day three an impromptu session was scheduled to draft the first version of ‘’The Amsterdam Declaration on Essential Surgical Care’’.
The final document was signed by 65 international organisations and published just before the World Health Assembly in May 2015. This drastic call for action speaks volumes to the need for surgical care many of these organisations and doctors have seen. They all struggled with the same thing:
‘’Many thousands of patients are dying unnecessarily every day because there is no one trained to operate on them. As a consequence, the death tolls of surgical conditions in low resource settings currently outnumbers the death toll of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.”
Up until 2014 our world has completely overlooked the 2 billion people that do not have access to safe surgical care. This lack of basic surgical care means that when they need help, they lose their life, live with disability or experience life-threatening complications. The Amsterdam Declaration on Essential Surgical Care advocates for a solution to this 2 billion people problem.
This declaration ended up sparking a global movement since months later in 2015, the Lancet published their own.
For information about The Amsterdam Declaration on Essential Surgical Care please look our dedicated blog post or press the button below.
What is Essential Surgical Care?
Essential surgical care can best be described as basic surgeries that are required to save lives and prevent disability or dangerous complications. Examples of these surgeries are a caesarean section and an emergency laparotomy. Basic surgical procedures as such should be affordable, safe, of good quality and available to anyone who is in need.
For whom do we care?
“…All regardless of age, gender, race, ethnic group, geographical location, financial status and political and religious affiliation
How do we deliver this care?
First and foremost, essential surgical care should be made part of the national health services. We need to support the World Health Assembly and optimise collaborations with local stakeholders and professional organisations. By training health workers, considering the allocation of surgical resources, providing surgical supplies and infrastructure, as well as developing protocols to ensure the safety of surgeries, safe essential surgical care will become the new standard.
What is GSA’s role?
We believe that listening to the needs of local health workers and working on a solution to health care improvement together is the right way to go. GSA trains and teaches local personnel, making them owners of surgical knowledge and skills. We assist but the ultimate goal is for them to have surgical independence and, thus, making ourselves redundant.
The Amsterdam Declaration on Essential Surgical Care was the first step in raising awareness of ‘’the 2 billion people lacking access to safe surgical care’’ problem. Global Surgery Amsterdam wishes to take the next step towards a 2 billion people solution.
Link to Lance Commission on Global Surgery: https://www.thelancet.com/commissions/global-surgery
Link to surgery in developing countries video:https://youtu.be/bRf8PbQgjGU