Spotlight on surgery

Improving surgery in low resource settings was the focus of local and global attention at the Lancet Commission Meeting on Global Surgery held in Freetown from 19th-21st June 2014.

The three-day conference hosted by King’s College London and Lund University drew commissioners and advisors from 28 countries including several representatives from King’s Health Partners.

While discussions addressed the need for surgery through a health systems strengthening framework globally, the Freetown setting provided much of the local context for discussion and generated significant momentum for the country’s need for strengthened surgical care.
The meeting gained the support of Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma who met with 10 of the commissioners to pledge his support to advocate for the work of the Lancet Commission at the United Nations and amongst other heads of state.

Mr Andy Leather, Co-chair of the meeting and Director of The King’s Centre for Global Health, highlighted the importance of the Commission in promoting the work of King’s Sierra Leone Partnership. “This meeting has focused attention on the need for better surgical care in low resource countries. As partners working with Sierra Leonean surgeons, we are delighted that the country’s need for post-graduate surgical training could be brought to the President’s attention through this forum. We are grateful for his commitment to address the needs of his people by training surgeons for Sierra Leone within Sierra Leone“. said Andy.

Doctor T.B Kamara, Chief of Surgery at Connaught Hospital in Freetown and a key partner to the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership was also one of the commissioners at the meeting. He is also positive about the importance of holding the Commission in Freetown and the significance of what it has achieved for surgery in the country.

“The Lancet Commission meeting accomplished what is beyond our expectations. At the start of this process, I alone was the voice of the Lancet Commission in Sierra Leone but it now has the enthusiastic engagement of a much wider community, from surgeons to policymakers. We gained the attention of the President who is committed to advocating for global surgery and he made a commitment to postgraduate training in surgery in Sierra Leone. This has given momentum to passing the parliamentary bill we need to establish a post graduate surgery training programme“. said Dr Kamara.

The Commission will culminate in the publication of a 20,000 word report that will provide a reference for governments, policy-makers, international bodies and other stakeholders to engage in concrete action. The key findings and priority actions will facilitate the development, implementation and evaluation of surgical policy to promote the delivery of surgical services worldwide.