Jigsaw Director appointed as Co-Chair of the Lancet Commission

    Wednesday, June 01, 2016

    Professor John Meara, Jigsaw Foundation Director, has been appointed as Co-Chair of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery. John undertook some of his training at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and was later Head of the Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery Unit at the RCH. He subsequently moved to Boston as Head of Plastic Surgery at the Boston Children’s Hospital and is now Professor of Global Health at Harvard.

    The Lancet Commission addresses topics of major importance in public health. The Commission on Global Surgery was formed to assess the unmet need for surgery in the developing world and how Governments might act to address those needs. The Commission identified wide disparities in the availability of basic surgical care between countries. Up to 5 billion people do not have the access they need to surgery for trauma, cancer or complications of childbirth. Many barriers were identified which limit people’s access to surgery including a lack of adequate training of surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses, a lack of physical resources, inadequate or non-existent transport to get to hospitals where surgery is available and a lack of money to pay for surgery when they get there. In many countries, if just one member of a family develops a medical condition which requires an operation it can plunge a whole family into poverty.

    The Lancet Commission did not just identify the problems but began the important work of developing solutions. The Commission found that there is a cost to a country’s economy of not having adequate surgical treatment. Because surgery can lead to dramatic and permanent improvement in health, there are real long term economic gains from providing surgical services, and developing countries who invest in surgery should see a positive return on that investment. The Commission developed concrete recommendations on how programs can be implemented which will help to redress the imbalance in surgical health care.

    The Commission found that ‘Universal access to safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia care when needed saves lives, prevents disability, and promotes economic growth’.

    To learn more about the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery visit the Commission website at www.lancetglobalsurgery.org.