WFSA to make two statements at 69th World Health Assembly
This week the WFSA is at the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva. Dr Adrien Gelb, Chair of the WFSA’s Safety & Quality of Practice Committee, will give the following two statements on WHA Agenda Item 16.1 - Health workforce and services and 16.4 Addressing the global shortages of medicines, and the safety and accessibility of children’s medication. The WFSA hopes that this will highlight the role of anaesthesia providers on the surgical team and the importance of WHO Resolution A68/15 from an anesthesia perspective.
16.1 Health workforce and services:
“The World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) represents hundreds of thousands of anaesthesiologists in over 140 countries around the world. Last year we gave our unequivocal support to Resolution A68/15 on strengthening the provision of safe anaesthesia and essential surgery as a component of universal health coverage.
At that time we highlighted the combined elements of workforce, medications, equipment and infrastructure that not only ensure the safe provision of anaesthesia, but contribute to strengthening health systems and improving health outcomes in a manner that is affordable, life-saving and investible. In welcoming the WHO's draft Strategy: Workforce 2030, the WFSA notes the deficit of approximately 18 million health workers worldwide, largely in lower income countries. It is in those same countries that the Lancet Commission and others have highlighted the need for some 2.3 million additional anaesthesiologists, surgeons and obstetricians by 2030. We therefore urge all concerned, especially governments, not to ignore the neglected surgical patient and the neglected surgical team.
With 30% of the Global Burden of Disease amenable to surgical intervention it is essential that any human resource strategy for health focus on relevance as well as quantity and quality. Safe anaesthesia is absolutely essential for safe surgery and anaesthesiologists are essential to the leadership and desperately needed expansion of anaesthetic services in all countries.
To give just one example, Sierra Leone with a population of 16 million has just 2 anaesthesiologists for OT and ICU. France, with 4 times the population, has 5,000 times the number of anaesthesiologists. The WFSA is ready to expand our work with WHO and all Ministries of Health everywhere. Working together with our counterpart international surgical organisations and our non-physician colleagues in anaesthesia, we can promote and strengthen patient care and access to safe anaesthesia”
16.4 Addressing the global shortages of medicines, and the safety and accessibility of children’s medication
"The World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) represents hundreds of thousands of anaesthesiologists in over 140 countries around the world. Last year we gave our unequivocal support to Resolution A68/15 on strengthening the provision of safe anaesthesia and essential surgery as a component of universal health coverage.
At that time we highlighted the combined elements of workforce, medications, equipment and infrastructure that ensure the safe provision of anaesthesia. In addressing the global shortages of medicines the WFSA calls upon the World Health Assembly to highlight the anaesthetic medicines essential for safe anaesthesia and therefore safe surgery. Of particular note are ketamine and potent opioids, the availability of which can – and has - been threatened by legislation that ignores their medical value. In Low Income Countries Ketamine provides 70% of anaesthetics and is the standard for Caesarean section, a lifesaving surgery for mothers and babies. Opioids and ketamine are also essential medicines for the management of pain, an indispensable element of appropriate universal health coverage.
With millions more surgeries required to address the 30% of the Global Burden of Disease that is amenable to surgical intervention, it is essential that any plan to ensure the manufacture and supply of essential medicines includes essential anaesthetic medicines.
WFSA commends the work of the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence in helping to ensure that the medical value of anaesthetic medicines translates into sensible policy and legislation. WFSA is ready to expand our work with WHO and all Ministries of Health everywhere to clearly define the essential anaesthetic medicines. WHA must continue to ensure that decision makers understand the global health arguments for essential anaesthetic and pain medicines and the often negative effects of legislation on their availability."
For more information on the WHO Resolution A68/15 and the WFSA’s advocacy work please click here.