Jeff Whisenant, CEO of ReSurge International, Dr. Kiran Nakarmi, surgical outreach partner in Nepal, and Eileen Sheldon, ReSurge board member, pause for a moment during Congressional Briefing on Surgical Care and Global Need in Washington, DC.
By Eileen Sheldon
On May 10, 2016 I had the pleasure of attending the second Congressional Briefing on Surgical Care and the Global Need, hosted by ReSurge International and the G4 Alliance. It was my first experience on Capitol Hill and it was a privilege to participate in this informative event. The briefing called on congressional staffers, NGOs and other government representatives to understand the elevated need for surgical care and the impact that access to surgical care can have on the lives of people in low- and middle-income countries. Experts in the field formed a panel that was moderated by Dr. Thomas Novotny, the deputy assistant secretary for health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The panel’s distinguished speakers included Dr. Ross "Rusty" Segan, Chief Medical Officer, Global Orthopedics & Global Surgery, Johnson & Johnson and Dr. Mark Shrime, research director, Program in Global Surgery & Social Change at Harvard Medical School and member of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery.
Across the panel, speakers focused on the cost-effectiveness and the cross-cutting impacts of investing in surgical care. For instance, it was reported that 18 million people die each year due to surgically treatable conditions. Simple surgeries can treat a wide range of conditions and diseases, ranging from maternal and child health, trauma, prevention of HIV/AIDS, and even non-communicable conditions like cancer and heart disease. The financial strain of not investing in this gap could result in a $12.3 trillion loss in GDP by 2030 for low-and-middle-income countries.
ReSurge's own Surgical Outreach Director in Nepal, Dr. Kiran Nakarmi, offered a personal and moving description of how the ongoing need for surgical care in his country intensified after the earthquake one year ago. Thanks to prior investments and a commitment to training made by ReSurge, he was able to provide life-saving procedures on earthquake victims who were in dire need of reconstructive surgery. Furthermore, physical and occupational therapists previously trained by ReSurge were available to provide post-surgical care. Dr. Nakarmi and his team continue to treat those whose wounds have not healed properly.
Together, these partners are poised to improve the landscape of global health. ReSurge's history and model for building surgical capacity are certain to play a critical role in in this growth.
Eileen Sheldon currently sits on ReSurge International’s Board of Directors. With a professional background in research and planning, Eileen remains committed to volunteer work. In the past, her dedication to service has led her to Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles, where she trained and guided blind runners through various races. In October 2013, Eileen’s passion brought her to Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. Since that time, Eileen has continued playing an active role in supporting ReSurge’s mission to provide reconstructive surgery for people in the developing world.