“Anaesthesia and surgery go hand in hand – it is difficult to do surgery if the patient is in pain.”

Jannicke is a Consultant anaesthesiologist at Baerum Hospital, Norway, and Deputy Secretary of the  World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists. She is secretary of the European Society of Anaesthesiology, Vice Chairman European Patient Safety foundation, Past President European Board of Anaesthesiology, on the board of the European Society of Anaesthesiology.  She has participated in several international missions with the UN and Red Cross.

Why is access to safe surgery an important issue for women’s health? 

Safe surgery is important to both men’s and women’s health, but as females are the ones giving birth – a very high-risk situation – they are overall at greater risk than males.

People don’t always think about anaesthesia in relation to surgery.  Why is it essential?

Anaesthesia and surgery go hand in hand. Some form of anaesthesia is required for almost all surgical procedures, both because it is difficult to do surgery if the patient is in pain, and because pain provokes reactions in the body that are negative for the wound healing process.

What changes have you seen within access to safe surgical care over the course of your career? 

In my context, surgical care has been getting safer across the last almost 30 years. If you are a trained and experienced clinician, then you can do a lot with your eyes, ears and fingers. The major problem worldwide is the lack of trained personnel. In addition, major steps towards improved safety can be achieved by introducing simple monitors. In my setting, these devices are required for all general anaesthetics, and this is far from available globally.

Why is it important to talk about this issue?

For those that live in areas where anaesthesia and surgery is unsafe, it is important that their situation is made known. They should be invited to report their needs if they feel that it has been ignored in their setting.

For those of us who have drawn the golden ticket and live in areas where anaesthesia services are available and safe, we should share our knowledge, competence and resources with others. For some, it is difficult to know how.  Then a donation to Lifebox would be a good way to support a reliable, well documented programme to improve access to safe anaesthesia and surgery in every corner of the world.