Surgical Interventions for Congenital Anomalies

Authors: Diana Farmer, Nicole Sitkin, Katrine Lofberg, Peter Donkor, Doruk Ozgediz

The benefits of diagnosis and management of congenital anomalies (or birth defects) are addressed. They cause a staggering 57.7 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost worldwide. Heightened mortality rates in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) stem from delays in treatment caused by the paucity of trained health professionals and the frequency of home births far from medical facilities. Prevalent congenital anomalies -- anorectal malformations (ARMs), Hirschprung’s disease, omphalocele, and gastroschisis -- when diagnosed late, can result in mortality or risky surgical treatment. Clubfoot can lead to lifetime disability, social stigmatization, and decreased economic self-sufficiency. Policy changes, such as provision of free health care to children, may increase access to pediatric surgery. Uganda has instituted the Uganda Sustainable Clubfoot Care Project and helped hundreds of children. Other care has been provided for congenital anomalies by treatment centers, surgical missions, and academic partnerships. Telemedicine may increase accessibility to surgical specialists, and families may seek care in foreign treatment centers, funded out of pocket, through community fund-raising, or by humanitarian organizations.
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