The G4 Alliance and essential surgery

The G4 Alliance is not like the alliances of powerful nations like the G8 or the G20 that join together to discuss how to further their common interests. Instead the G4 currently has 50 members, including Mercy Ships, and is steadily growing. Its members have joined forces not to seek the furthering of their own interests but rather to work towards improving healthcare around the world in 4 specific areas:

1) Surgery, 2) Obstetrics, 3) Orthopaedics, 4) Anaesthesia

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For those of us that live in a developed nation the thought of needing a major surgery because of an accident or illness can cause us quite a bit of concern, as we think of the possible complications of an invasive surgery under general anaesthetic. But can you imagine how much more worrying it would be if you lived in a developing nation and had no way of getting the surgery you needed to save your life?

In May the World Health Organization issued a statement recognising that essential and emergency surgery should form part of basic healthcare and should be available to people around the world. Now the G4 Alliance is working to get the United Nations to take concrete action on the issue, and as a next step towards that include access to essential and emergency surgery as part of the Millennium Development Goals.

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In the meantime Mercy Ships as a member of the G4 Alliance is continuing to work towards these goals by intensifying its training programs in Madagascar, during its second year working in this large island nation. Surgeons, Anaesthesiologists, and other medical professionals are being trained in many areas including the following six:

1) Improved techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of orthopaedic patients.

2) Essential surgical skills.

3) Improved techniques in the application of paediatric anaesthesia (reducing risk factors).

4) Better application of anaesthesia for obstetric patients.

5) Training of entire teams to provide obstetric fistula repair surgeries.

6) Training of teams to provide maxillofacial, orthopaedic and general surgeries.

The last 2 courses are particularly interesting because they involve an entire Mercy Ships surgical team working with an entire local medical team to train them in improved techniques to obtain better overall surgical outcomes and greatly reduce the risk of complications.