The NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery was established in July 2017 following substantial investment (£7M) from the National Institute of Health Research Overseas Development Aid funds. The Unit is led by University of Birmingham in partnership with the Universities of Edinburgh and Warwick, along with partners from the GlobalSurg Collaborative in a number of Low and Middle Income countries (LMICs)
There is a critical need for research in surgery: surgery can be considered an umbrella discipline and improving surgical services can treat a wide variety of conditions from trauma injuries to obstructed labour and cancer. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified a substantial deficiency in the availability of surgical service across the world.
Five billion people do not have access to safe, timely and affordable surgical care. In LMICs the problem is even more acute, with 9 out of 10 people lacking access to even the most basic surgical services. To put this into perspective, each year, whilst half a million people die of malaria, about six million die within 30 days of an operation. The current good prognosis from malaria is due to the huge advances that research has enabled. The greatest benefits to the worldwide population have been seen in LMICs. Correspondingly, it can be envisioned that the impact of surgical research in these settings will be substantial.
The main objective of the Unit is to build sustainable clinical research capacity in LMICs, as well as to deliver on several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – Good Health and Well Being; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Reducing Inequalities; and Partnership for Goals. This will be achieved by establishing independent research hubs in LMICs to conduct clinical research for surgical patients. Each hub will act as an independent research centre to running clinical trials and cohort studies, and will support research training and education. In addition, the hub centre will work with other hospitals within their country, so called ‘spoke’ hospitals, supporting them to conduct trials.
Our ambition is to train front line clinicians and health professionals to deliver clinical prioritisation and research relevant to patients in LMICs, that will challenge and change surgical practice in these countries.
Working in this way, the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery will build research capacity and infrastructure in partner countries ensuring long term sustainability of high quality research, and ultimately improving surgical outcomes for patients around the world.