eHealth BureauA latest study by the Harvard School of Public Health has found that while the South-East Asia region has just 2.6 OTs per one lakh population, the number is as low as 1.3 OT per 1 lakh population in India and Pakistan. What’s worse, the surgical facilities that are available don’t have the basic safety equipment necessary for safe surgery – such as oxygen monitors.Eastern Europe has the highest number of Ots, 25.1 per one lakh population, followed by Asia Pacific (high income countries) 24.3, Central Europe 15.7, Western Europe 14.7, North America and Australasia 14.3, Central Asia 11.7 and the Caribbean 10.4 OTs per one lakh population.For South Asia, which is primarily India and Pakistan, access to surgical services is extremely low, just 1.3 OTs per 100,000 people. By comparison, China and surrounding countries have double the number, around 2.6 OTs per 100,000. Middle income countries have an average of more than five OTs while high-income countries generally have more than 10 OTs per one lakh population.The study says that of the 234 million surgeries that take place around the world every year, the wealthiest third of the global population underwent 75% of them, the poorest third just 4%.Another shocking part of the study were the number of OTs which lacked basic safety equipment like a pulse oximeter, a device that indirectly measures the oxygen saturation of a patient’s blood and changes in blood volume in the skin.Around 49% of OTs in South Asia did not have pulse oximeters, compared to 9% in Europe, 7% in Latin America and just 0.2% in Asia Pacific. About 19% of operating theatres i.e 77,700 in number did not have pulse oximeters worldwide.Further, the findings indicate that one-third of the world’s population remains effectively without access to essential surgical services such as emergency caesarean section and treatment for serious road traffic injuries. Surgery has been a neglected component of public health planning and this clearly needs to change.