Noncommunicable diseases account for 38 million deaths each year, and approximately 75% of these deaths occur in the developing world. The most common causes include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases, and diabetes mellitus. Many adults with acquired cardiothoracic disease around the world have limited access to health care. In addition, congenital heart disease is present in approximately 1% of live births and is therefore the most common congenital abnormality. More than one million children in the world are born with congenital heart disease each year, and approximately 90% of these children receive suboptimal care or have no access to care. Furthermore, many children affected by noncongenital cardiac conditions also require prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Medical and surgical volunteerism can help facilitate improvement in cardiothoracic health care in developing countries. As we move into the future, it is essential for physicians and surgeons to be actively involved in political, economic, and social aspects of society to serve health care interests of the underprivileged around the world. Consequently, in developing countries, a critical need exists to establish an increased number of reputable cardiothoracic programs and to enhance many of the programs that already exist. The optimal strategy is usually based on a long-term educational and technical model of support so that as case volumes increase, quality improves and mortality and morbidity decrease. Humanitarian outreach activities should focus on education and sustainability, and surgical tourism should be limited to those countries that will never have the capability to have free-standing cardiothoracic programs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine