This is a must watch video presented by TED featuring the winner of one of the prestigious TED prizes, Mr. James Nachtwey. Nachtwey is one of the most famous war photographers in the world, having documented several of the most important recent conflicts of our time. In this video, however, Nachtwey focuses on one issue that has become his most pivotal- the fight against tuberculosis and the development of multi-drug resistant TB.
I worked in a large HIV/TB clinic and the infectious disease ward of a public government hospital in Kampala, Uganda where I saw several patients suffering from these illnesses, but the pictures that Nachtwey has taken were shocking even to me. Literal skeletons. This is a must watch video– it is one man’s global cry for support, awareness, research, and action. His photographs and the full scope of the movement against XDR-TB can be found here. I highly recommend it, both from the perspective of a future physician and a current photographer. Nachtwey is innovating a new field, one I would deem “health photography”, that has the potential to start major movements for global health.
Dr. Sherry Wren, a Professor of General Surgery at Stanford School of Medicine, answers this question as she advocates for the addition of surgical care as a major facet in the global health dialogue.
Dr. Wren bullet points the following facts that elucidate the scope of inequity in access to surgical care worldwide:
234 million surgeries are done worldwide per year- only 3.5% of those are done in low income countries
90% of deaths from physical injury, avertable by surgical intervention, occur in low income countries
2 billion people worldwide (for perspective, the US population is 313 million) have no basic access to surgical care
30% of the world’s population receives 75% of the world’s operations, mostly in high income countries
The # of operations are 7x greater than the # of HIV infections (~34 million) in the world [note: while I believe it is important to compare the magnitude of diseases, it is only to emphasize the importance of surgery and not to downplay the importance of HIV)
Surgery is not explicitly part of the Millennium Development Goals, despite playing a large role in two of the goals, Improving Maternal Health and Reduction of Child Mortality Continue reading →