New research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that the world’s estimated 60 million refugees, displaced from their homes due to conflict, persecution, or human rights violations, may need at least 2.78 million surgeries a year, something thought to be very difficult to arrange in the midst of their upheaval.
The researchers say that the findings, published May 25 in the World Journal of Surgery, shed light on something that few governments and humanitarian aid organizations plan for when preparing for a large influx of displaced persons who are far from home and often in countries where there are already great unmet needs for surgical procedures.
“We are facing the largest forced migration crisis since World War II,” says study leader Dr. Adam Kushner, an associate in the department of international health at the Bloomberg School. “And while surgery is a critical component of health care, it is often neglected in times of crisis. Without access to timely and safe surgery, many people will become disabled and many will die — outcomes that could have been prevented. What many people also do not realize is that many types of surgical care are easy to do and very cost-effective.”
The types of necessary surgeries run the gamut, from the repair of hernias and broken limbs, to C-sections and cleft lips and gallbladder removals, even stitches and burn care – any type of procedure that would be needed in any other population. In times of war, surgeries related to trauma, violence and burns may be particularly needed. The researchers could not say exactly how many refugees receive surgical care annually.