India has Just 1 Operating Theatre Per 1L Population
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04 July 2010
by Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India
It’s a strange dichotomy. India, believed to be home to 1.26 lakh millionaires, has just one operation theatre per 1 lakh population.
A latest study by the Harvard School of Public Health has found that while the South–East Asia region has just 2.6 OTs per 1 lakh population, the number is as low as 1.3 OT per 1 lakh population in India and Pakistan.
What’s worse, the surgical facilities that are available don’t have the basic safety equipment necessary for safe surgery –such as oxygen monitors.
Speaking to TOI, senior author of the study Dr Atul Gawande admitted that “half of the operating rooms in India lack functioning oxygen monitors.” Eastern Europe has the highest number of OTs per 1 lakh population –25.1 –followed by Asia Pacific (high income countries) 24.3, Central Europe 15.7, Western Europe 14.7, North America and Australasia 14.3, Central Asia 11.7 and the Caribbean 10.4 OTs per 1 lakh population.
South–East Asia comes right at the end of the heap with 2.6 OTs. The worse are Oceania at 1.9, sub–Saharan Africa (central) 1.2, sub–Saharan Africa (east) 1.1 and sub–Saharan Africa (west) 1. Even some regions classified as low middle according to economic wealth, just like South–East Asia, had greater number of OTs.
Dr Gawande said, “For South Asia, which is primarily India and Pakistan, access to surgical services is extremely low –just 1.3 OTs per 100,000 people. By comparison, China and surrounding countries have double the number –around 2.6 OTs per 100,000. Middle income countries have an average of more than 5 OTs while high–income countries generally have more than 10 OTs per 1 lakh population. So we have a long way to go to really meet the basic needs of the population in India for surgical services.”
The team says that of the 234 million surgeries that take place around the world every year, the wealthiest third of the global population underwent 75% of them, the poorest third just 4%.
Published in the ‘Lancet’ on Friday, the study says that more than 2 billion people worldwide do not have adequate access to surgical services. WHO says one in every 25 people are undergoing a surgery at any given point of time.
Shockingly, more than seven million people across the world suffer from preventable surgical injuries every year. One million patients even die immediately after the surgery, making safety of patients during surgery a substantial public health concern.
Another shocking part of the study were the number of OTs which lacked basic safety equipment like a pulse oximeter, a device that indirectly measures the oxygen saturation of a patient’s blood and changes in blood volume in the skin.
Around 49% of OTs in South Asia did not have pulse oximeters, compared to 9% in Europe, 7% in Latin America and just 0.2% in Asia Pacific. About 19% of operating theatres –77,700 –did not have pulse oximeters worldwide.