Giving Tuesday opportunity
It’s Giving Tuesday and I have some exciting news for you!
We, across Duke University, School of Medicine, Children’s Hospital, Duke Global Health Institute, are launching the
Center for Global Surgery and Health Equity.
I’d love for you to join us to launch this Center. You can watch a short video and donate here on the Center: http://dccc.convio.net/goto/dukeglobalsurgery
Y’all, I’m thrilled about this new center and would love for you to join us if you’re looking for a place to donate today on Giving Tuesday. Let me tell you why:
1.7 billion children in the world do not have access to surgical care when needed. Over 80% of that need is in low-income countries.
The MAIN predictor of going into poverty for these families is having a child with a surgical need. We found this after adjusting for income level and household size. Whoa. This is a big finding and strongly supports the need for providing surgical care for children in low-income countries. In fact, this was one of the main reasons why we went to the United Nations to advocate for surgical care being part of a universal health care plan for all. (Here’s a pic of myself and Dr. Henry Rice, one of the main leaders of the new Center and Chief of Pediatric General Surgery at Duke, at the UN. Henry is also my main-collabofriend and mentor.)
The pandemic is estimated to double the number at risk of starvation (120 to 256 million), push an additional 42-66 million children into extreme poverty and increase wasting by 50%, with the poorest countries impacted the most. In the United States, food insecurity has doubled from 10% of all US households to 23%, with children being 1.5 times more likely to bear this burden. Similar to what is seen in settings outside of the US, poorer and/or rural communities are more likely to experience hunger due to COVID-19, as they make up 87% of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity.
So, what does this mean to families already at risk of poverty?
That’s where I want to introduce you to the term of poverty trajectory.
Although we have seen strong declines in poverty over the past twenty years, poverty in the poorest communities have remained relatively the same. Simply getting people over a static poverty line is not the goal. Keeping families over that line and creating ladders to move forward away from the poverty line is. Do you see the sinking-into-poverty in the next figure? Some families get stuck in poverty and others can get out of the acute situation. But which ones? If we can figure that out, we can help families not get stuck if they are already in poverty or at the edge of a descent.
In other words, for some families already at the poverty threshold risk (see the dotted vertical line above) it will just take one event to push them into poverty - one kid gets sick, one drought, one job loss, etc. We see that here in the States too but we definitely see it globally in the poorest countries.
Many of these families have to choose between providing healthcare for one child or putting food on the table for the rest. I just can’t imagine having to make that choice but many people have to do that around the world, including the US.
This brings me to the health equity portion too. From the previous bullet points, it’s obvious that there is a vast discrepancy in access to children’s healthcare in low-income countries. There’s also a lack of doctors, surgeons, nurses, and other trained healthcare professionals in low-income countries and even more lack in the rural areas. For example, there’s less than 1 trained pediatric surgeon in Somaliland compared to several thousand in the US. Here’s a picture of my colleague and friend in Somaliland and one of the boss-lady-health workers there:
And, another picture of one of the main leaders at the Center, Dr. Tamara Fitzgerald, training and working with colleagues in Uganda. These types of partnerships are strong examples of equitable partnering with countries and move us (in the the global health world) away from paternalistic ways of doing global health. Dr. Fitzgerald is just one example of someone doing that here at Duke and highlights what the Center is about regarding equity.
And, we want to do something about that. So, we are thrilled to announce the launch of the Duke Center for Global Surgery and Health Equity within the Section of Surgical Sciences and the Duke Global Health Institute.
The aim of this interdisciplinary center is to support academic global surgery and health equity, both globally and regionally. We will support a range of education, research, and service activities, including:
To partner with collaborators in low-resource settings locally and globally on rigorous, locally-driven, high-impact initiatives to improve access to surgical care. If you look on the website with the video, you can see pictures of this partnering happening already in places like Uganda and Tanzania and Somaliland and Guatemala and Rwanda. There’s so much great work happening here.
To conduct high-quality research to understand the burden, outcomes, and economic impact of surgical care in low-resource settings
To test interventions to strengthen surgical systems and improve surgical health equity
To inform policy to address the global burden of surgical disease
To train the next generation of leaders in academic global surgery and health equity
If you are looking for a place to give this Giving Tuesday, I’d love for you to be involved. In big and small ways. Everything helps and we are certainly looking for main seed-donors to jump-start the Center efforts. But, everything helps. The last fundraiser I did last year has several hundred people giving $5 or $10 - and, friends, that adds up!
Here’s the link again to the video and donation site if you are interested: http://dccc.convio.net/goto/dukeglobalsurgery
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know we did a fundraiser last year. That money helped purchase much needed hospital equipment and COVID-related items (like gloves and masks) for our teams in Somaliland. Thank you for that! This Center expands on that work to numerous other countries to make such an impact and increase the impact through training, partnering, and research.
After 20 months of the pandemic and moving to Duke, I’m more convinced now than I have ever been that equity is at the heart of many of us that want to help. I’m beyond thrilled (humbled, honored, teary, grateful) to be part of this initiative and hope you will join me.