The Challenge Prize Centre is in the process of researching and designing a surgical equity prize.
One third of human disease requires surgery. And yet surgical inequity is not yet high on the agenda of international institutions, ministries of health and finance, development agencies and bilateral, multilateral and private funders.
Until recently, surgery was not recognised as a significant contributor to the global disease burden and was not a top priority in the eyes of global public health agencies.
But recent estimates from The Lancet claim that five billion people lack access to safe and affordable surgical services.
We need to change this. We believe there is an urgent need to develop more adaptable low-cost surgical tools and better system design, support and services that fit into different environments. We also need to upskill personnel, improve hospital infrastructure and build more reliable distribution and supply systems for operating theatre provision.
For this reason, we are designing a Challenge Prize as part of a broader campaign to raise awareness, leverage knowledge and expertise, and harness the requisite technical and financial resources.
5 billion people cannot get safe and affordable surgical and anaesthesia care, 90% of people in LMICs can’t even get basic surgical care – Jim Yong Kim MD, PhD 12th President of the The World Bank
Lack of action in improving surgery and anaesthesia could imperil our collective effort to realise several SDGs. For example, if access to caesarean section is not dramatically improved, it is doubtful that SDG 3.1, which calls for a reduction in the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, can be realised.
Rural hospitals often do not have running water, stable electricity sources or access to roads. Resource shortages mean that crucial equipment and supplies (such as medical oxygen) are either reused or unavailable, anaesthesia cannot be provided and hospitals depend on the help of non-specialists.
Let’s redesign surgical care in poorer countries from the ground up instead of trying to adapt the solutions found elsewhere. We should use local talent, transport links and build upon existing resources to create materials, tools and approaches to surgery that are innovative and suitable for local communities.
Seeking surgical care has disastrous financial consequences for over 80 million people and their families every year, nearly 60 per cent of who face a ‘catastrophic health expenditure’ due to non-medical costs, such as reaching the surgery in the first place.
The Challenge Prize Centre at Nesta wants to steer the discussion towards improving the access to and capacity of surgery in developing countries. Prizes are powerful tools for incentivising the creation of long-term solutions to social challenges by stimulating new enterprise and endeavour.
In this regard, we are looking to collaborate with organisations to deploy challenge prizes as a tool to foster and generate innovation to widen access to surgery and improve it’s quality in LMICs.
For more information, please contact Daniel Berman.