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Operation Health

, 128 pages

14 halftones, 3 line drawings, 1 map

April 2015



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Operation Health

Surgical Care in the Developing World


A teenage mother arrives by donkey cart to a hospital after attempting to deliver her baby in the bush. A young father faces the loss of a leg after receiving a gunshot wound that will not heal. A man walks miles to a hospital for a pain in his side caused by an appendix that burst five days earlier. Without access to surgical resources, millions of people with conditions like these become disabled or die.

In Operation Health, Adam L. Kushner argues that not only are severe medical conditions— like a strangulated hernia or obstetric fistula—treatable by surgical means in low-income countries; they are, in fact, surgically preventable. Although the World Bank estimates that 11 percent of the global disease burden is treatable by surgery, more than a quarter of the world’s population lacks access to straightforward and life-saving surgical procedures.

Operation Health makes a strong and compelling justification for adding surgical care to the global health agenda by providing an overview of dangerous but repairable medical conditions common in developing countries. Every chapter opens with a vignette by Kushner which tells the remarkable story of the patients and situations he encountered in the field. Carefully crafted case studies demonstrate the power of surgery to heal people suffering from potentially debilitating conditions, including clubfoot, obstructed labor, and broken bones.

The chapters—written by world-renowned surgical experts—cover related medical topics such as epidemiology, women’s health, cancer, and trauma in locations from Sierra Leone to Nepal, Ghana, Mongolia, and elsewhere. This detailed and compassionate book will be of great interest to medical professionals, students, public health policy makers, philanthropic donors, and those with a general interest in global health.

Adam L. Kushner is an associate in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a lecturer in the Department of Surgery at Columbia University. The founding director of Surgeons OverSeas, he has offered surgical care to patients in conflict, post-conflict, and disaster settings around the world.

" Operation Health—the first book of its kind on global surgery—will advance the field substantially. An excellent piece of scholarship, this book will appeal to surgeons and non-surgeons, policy makers and funders, and public health, medical, and nursing students."

"Makes a passionate plea for greater access to surgery and describes populations with potentially debilitating yet readily treatable conditions... Chapters are effectively written to combine human interest with essential technical detail."

"[Kushner] has weaved science, evidence, global surgery, and public health in a journalistic, readable style. In this 100 page account of the importance of surgery for global health, Kushner's editing was as sharp as his scalpel, but with the hope of good surgical outcomes for all."

"For [those] who work in surgical areas in UK healthcare this book is a must read."

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