Global surgery is NOT international surgery. It’s not about doing a bunch of hernias in Central America during an “active holiday”, or helping out after a game safari trip to Kenya. Global surgery is about equity and justice, and about decolonizing healthcare in resource-limited settings. Global surgery is…
“the art and science of surgical practice in pursuit of excellent patient care through the mitigation of the inequity in the distribution of worldwide surgical resources”PCSA Presidential Address. Schecter WP. JAMA 2015
With this definition in mind, what are the aims of global surgical research? For much of its short life to date – officially debuting with the monumental 2015 Lancet Commission on Global Surgery – the discipline occupied itself primarily with “advocacy research”, focused on documenting the major inequities in surgical care globally. This might be called the “its very bad!” research platform.
By the turn of the past decade this documentation task has been largely accomplished, transitioning to implementation projects like the massive NSOAP effort led by the Harvard-based PGSSC, and large-scale implementation science projects in LMICs. This might be dubbed the “let’s fix it!” platform. The most contemporary challenge is focused on who the “us” is in these efforts, and the intentional decolonizing of global surgery. This is reflected in South-generated and/or -led initiatives such as the Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery and South-South partnerships such as COSECSA and PAPSA.
Our part in global surgical research
At CommisurLab, we believe that building research capacity is equivalent to the dismantling of the last colonial walls in global surgery – by removing the academic dependency of LMIC players on Northern research capacity and resources. We enact this in several ways:
- The Jean-Martin Laberge Fellowship in Global Pediatric Surgery: a research fellowship designed for pediatric surgeons from LMICs, offering them supervision in Master or PhD degree programs designed around projects in their own setting, identified and implemented by them;
- key involvement in multiple global surgical projects and programs, such as COSECSA, GICS, PAPSA, MercyShips, PAACS, and BethanyKids; and
- fostering student research in global surgery in partnership with the MUHC Centre for Global Surgery.