The survival rates of children born with gastrointestinal malformations are like a zip code lottery. This is stated in a web news from King’s University in London, where researchers led a prospective study of pediatric surgical care in 264 hospitals in 74 countries. The study involved nearly 4,000 children under the age of 16, most of whom were newborns, with malformations such as congenital diaphragmatic hernia, esophageal atresia and Hirschsprung’s disease.

Results was published in the Lancet and shows that the lack of safe pediatric surgical care is widespread and the differences between countries are large. The risk of dying within 30 days of the first intervention or of arriving at the hospital if no action was taken was 40 percent in low-income countries, 20 percent in middle-income countries and 6 percent in high-income countries.

Lars Hagander, chief physician and associate professor at Lund University, is one of the researchers who contributed to the study.

– Many people still feel that surgical care would be unreasonably expensive in poorer countries, but needle and thread, pain relief and bandages, IV and safe routines – it should be within easy reach everywhere, says Lars Hagander in an email from the university van Lund in connection with the publication in the Lancet.

He also notes that the WHO is now starting to open its eyes to the fact that surgical diseases play a major role in public health and that the problems have so far been insufficiently identified and prioritized.

Andrew Leather, one of the participating researchers from King’s College, also highlights this on his university’s website:

In the past 25 years, despite successful reductions in infant mortality by preventing and treating infectious diseases, little attention has been paid to improving surgical care for neonates and children, and reducing the proportion of deaths from of surgical diseases continues to increase.