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Over 10 million people die yearly from infectious diseases due to poverty. What is often forgotten is deaths in the developing world need not always be attributed to an easily communicable disease.

The focus on infectious diseases and their prevention has shifted the global healthcare dialogue into complete abandonment of equally important diseases that cause premature death. What of cancer in the third world? Does it not exist there also? We often forget that this disease attacks anyone–rich and poor. Over 7.6 million cancer related deaths occur annually worldwide and 36 percent of these deaths are in the developing world.

Cancer comes in a variety of forms and is often treatable with surgical procedures, but over two billion people in the developing world don’t have access to any form of surgery. Physical injuries and maternal death are almost never regarded in global healthcare programs. For example, in 2012 over 60,000 injury related deaths occurred solely in Africa. Globally, over 529,000 women die yearly during labor. The deficit of surgeons in developing nations means that there cannot be any emergency c-sections to save a mother’s life.

These issues are not given attention due to the false perception that modern surgery is expensive and too technologically advanced for nations that are economically unstable.  Surgery should be available to all who need it and without it there will never be progress in the field of population health. Just as surgery has gradually developed since the 19th century to the quick life-saving procedures of today, global healthcare must also evolve and incorporate this solution to stop deaths by the thousands.

Maybelline Martez

Sources: Huffington Post, UNICEF, WHO
Photo: University of Houston