Emigration of medical staff is partly to blame, leaving few models to encourage the development of the specialty and subsequently very low numbers of medical graduates entering anaesthesia training.
The consequence in many countries is a technician-based specialty with poor image, low wages, inadequate equipment and conditions that limit professional development.
The consequences for patients are also very serious, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
A recent study published in Anaesthesia showed that in Uganda there were only sufficient supplies to carry out six per cent of caesareans and 13 per cent of child surgery with safe anaesthesia.
Elsewhere in the developing world, mothers have a one in 16 chance of dying in childbirth and an even higher chance of their baby dying or being injured during childbirth.
Even in India, a country with high physician rates and some first rate services, lack of anaesthesia in rural areas is a major contributing factor to high maternal mortality rates.
Action is needed, not just at a personal level but at institutional, national and international levels according to Drs Bogod, Wilson and Walker.
Overseas development agencies need to recognise the place of anaesthesia in patient care.
The supplement has been produced as part of an international initiative by the Council of Science Editors to draw attention to the global issues of poverty and human development.
I was delighted to write the foreword for this very important supplement and hope that it will highlight the need for international action to tackle this essential area of healthcare in developing countries says The Duke of York.
|Contact: Annette Whibley|
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.