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Isabella Busa, a medical student at the University of Oxford, shares her recently published article written with Dr Shobhana Nagraj as part of the Global Surgery Special Study Theme.

Female surgeon in blue PPE

According to the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, 143 million additional surgical procedures are required each year to address unmet need in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Expanding the participation of women in surgery represents a crucial and logical way to alleviate this global surgical burden, as it is currently reported that there are only three female surgeons for every one million people in these countries. 

In our commentary article we discuss the underrepresentation of women in LMIC surgical workforces, arguing that the issue if self-reinforcing. While on the one hand, change requires sufficient numbers of female surgeons to initiate it, on the other, women can only start to enter the surgical workforce once they are safe, healthy, and motivated enough to do so. This in turn depends on the presence of female surgeons to advocate for their female patients and empower future generations of young girls. 

We address the barriers that prevent women from pursuing a surgical career and discuss how these differ in LMICs. For example, where in high income countries gender biases and motherhood penalties can limit the career progression of female surgeons, traditional cultural attitudes to female education can be more obstructive in LMICs. 

We go on to explore the benefits of including women in surgical teams and criticise currently proposed solutions to the female underrepresentation in surgery as being irrelevant to the problems faced in LMICs. Rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ fix, the diversity of challenges faced by women in surgery globally calls for similarly varied solutions. 

This analysis may help inform how best to expand the participation of women in surgery and alleviate the wider global surgery burden. 

You can read our article in full in BMC Human Resources for Health

Global Surgery Stories

The ethical impacts of international medical electives on local students and patient care

Magdalena Chmura, a former Student Rep of OUGSG and current Foundation Year doctor shares a paper recently published with Dr Shobhana Nagraj.

Supporting exams and training in Ethiopia

Professor Kokila Lakhoo was recently invited to the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) as an external examiner for the Paediatric Surgery Fellowship Exams. In addition to the exams contribution, Professor Lakhoo and colleagues ran the BAPS HG neonatal skills course and a research seminar for beginners and advance participants. Read the full report below.

Our contribution to the Francophone Africa meeting in Cameroon

Professor Kokila Lakhoo reports on the Francophone Africa meeting in Cameroon from 25 to 30 November 2023, which was represented by 10 central African countries. As well as giving a keynote speech and various talks, Professor Lakhoo and colleagues ran the BAPS HG neonatal skills course, Oxford Global Surgery research seminar and a BAPS-Oxford laparoscopic course.

Children’s Surgical Course for regional hospitals in Tanzania

Professor Kokila Lakhoo reports on her latest visit to Tanzania, the first country in Africa chosen by Oxford University Global Surgery Group to host its new Children's Surgical Course.

OUGSG members run OX5 for Oxford Children's Hospital

Two of our Oxford University Global Surgery Group (OUGSG) members, Professor Chris Lavy and Dr Shobhana Nagraj, completed the OX5 Run on Sunday 20 March 2022 for the Children’s Centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

Our experience with the 10-Group Robson classification system in Egypt to analyse its high caesarean section rate

Dr Bismeen Jadoon, a Healthcare Researcher and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, discusses caesarean section rates in Egypt.