Global neurosurgery is defined as the clinical and public health practice of neurosurgery with the primary purpose of ensuring timely, safe, and affordable neurosurgical care to all who need it.
Why is it important?
More than 5.2 million patients suffering from neurosurgical conditions go untreated each year – traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and stroke-related conditions account for around 60% of these conditions. Moreover, individuals in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are disproportionally affected. Southeast Asia and Africa account for more than 80% of all unmet neurosurgical needs with deficits of approximately 2.5 million and 1.9 million surgical cases, respectively.
What is the Global Neurosurgery Initiative?
In response to the unmet neurosurgical burden, the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change (PGSSC) at Harvard Medical School created the Global Neurosurgery (GNS) Initiative in 2018. The GNS Initiative exists within the framework of the PGSSC; therefore, the initiative focuses on research, policy, and advocacy within global neurosurgery. Prior research from our group has produced metrics about the global burden of neurosurgical pathologies and has also provided estimates about the global neurosurgical workforce density. Previous policy work includes the creation of the “Comprehensive Policy Recommendations for Head and Spine Injury Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries” and the “Comprehensive Policy Recommendations for the Management of Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus in Low- and Middle-income Countries”. In addition, the GNS Initiative collaborates with a wide range of organizations, such as the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) and the National Institute for Health Research Global Health Research Group on Neurotrauma.
What are we doing now?
A list of our current activities is listed below.
We continue to work with our partners in Mbale, Uganda to improve pediatric neurosurgical training. For over 20 years, Dr. Benjamin Warf has collaborated with CURE International and other local partner to sustainably grow this training program.
We are also involved with the Global Neurosurgery Committee (GNC) of the WFNS. Members of the GNC are involved in a plethora of activities to improve neurosurgical access through a system-level approach. One example includes the dissemination of the aforementioned policy recommendations to ministries of health, NGOs, and other LMIC partners.
Since November 2021, we have hosted a virtual webinar series called the Global Neurosurgery Grand Rounds. These session are meant to address important topics within the field of global health and global neurosurgery. Videos of past sessions are made available online if you are not able to join us live.