Recasting the role of the surgeon in Uganda: a proposal to maximize the impact of surgery on public health
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A growing body of recent evidence supports the essential role of surgical services in improving population health in low-income countries. Nonetheless, access to surgical services in Uganda, as in many low income countries, is severely limited, largely due to constraints in human resources, infrastructure and supplies. To maximize the impact of surgical services on population health in the context of Uganda’s limited surgical workforce, we propose a ‘recasting’ of the role of the surgeon. Traditionally, the surgeon has played primarily a clinical role in patient care. The demands and isolation of this role have limited the ability of the surgeon to tackle health systems issues related to surgery. Now, the clinical and educational role played by surgeons must be redefined, and the surgeon must also assume a greater role in leadership, management and public health advocacy by documenting the unmet need for surgery and the resources required to improve access to care. Policy and incentives for specialist surgeons to spend amounts of time apportioned to these roles should be developed and supported by health care institutions. Political leadership and commitment will be critical to realizing this ideal. Such a model may be applicable to other countries seeking to maximize the impact of surgical services on population health.
- Medical and Health Sciences