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25 June 2008

Operation Smile Supports WHO Safe Surgery Saves Lives Initiative

On June 25th, Operation Smile participated in the global launch ceremony of the World Health Organization’s Safe Surgery Saves Lives Initiative.

Hosted by Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, WHO Regional Director for the Americas, the event highlighted the WHO’s new global campaign to improve the safety of surgical care. The event was attended by ministers of health and world leaders in surgery, anesthesiology and nursing joining together to focus on reducing deaths and complications from surgery globally.

During the ceremony, Dr. Randy Sherman, Operation Smile’s Chief Medical Officer, formally announced Operation’s Smile endorsement of the new WHO Surgical Safety Checklist. The list includes simple safety checks that the WHO team has shown could halve the rate of surgical complications. The list is intended to improve anesthetic safety practices, avoid infections and improve communication among members of surgical teams. Operation Smile is one of almost 200 surgery, anesthesia, nursing and patient societies formally endorsing the checklist.

Major surgery now occurs at a rate of 234 million procedures per year - one for every 25 people - and studies indicating that a significant percentage result in preventable complications and deaths.

"Preventable surgical injuries and deaths are a growing concern," said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. "Using the checklist is the best way to reduce surgical errors and improve patient safety."

Operation Smile’s involvement in the WHO Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative is part of the organization’s broader efforts to advocate for and provide high quality, safe surgery in developing countries.

For more information on the Safe Surgery Saves Lives Initiative, please see:

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