Dr. James Cobey, an alumnus of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has written a column highlighting the challenges of performing safe surgery in sites that lack basic WASH — water supply, sanitation, and hygiene. Dr. Cobey received his MPH from the Bloomberg School in 1971.
Writing in the September 23 issue of Global Health NOW, Dr. Cobey points out that worldwide, one-quarter of people lack basic water services and one-fifth lack adequate sanitation services, leaving 2 billion people without access to safe, affordable surgical care. He also notes that many studies show that surgical site infections are the most costly, common — and dangerous — hospital infections. For surgeries in facilities without basic WASH, the risks are exponentially larger, making it nearly impossible to safely perform even the most basic surgeries.
Noting recent resolutions, including the World Health Assembly’s resolution announced in May that lays out steps to tackle WASH, Dr. Cobey urges strengthening health systems to make surgery, and health care in general, safer.
Dr. Cobey, an orthopedic surgeon and epidemiologist, helped start the Campaign to Ban Landmines, for which he shares the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize with Physicians for Human Rights. He is a founding board member of The G4 Alliance, an 80-member organization working in over 160 countries to advocate for global access to safe, timely, and affordable surgical care, with WASH as an integral component of surgery, obstetrics, trauma, and anesthesia. Global Health NOW is an initiative of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on October 04