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The Asian Australasian Society of Neurological Surgeons (AASNS), as the continental society for the Asian-Australasian region, is the world’s largest neurosurgical society. There are more than 25,000 neurosurgeons from more than 28 neurosurgical societies in Asia and the Pacific region – as we say: “We are 60% of the world’s neurosurgeons caring for 60% of the world’s population!”
Asia is big
Three out of the four most populous countries in the world (China, India and Indonesia) are located in Asia. The top six most populous cities (by metropolitan area) in the world are located in Asia. Asia is the fastest growing economic and most dynamic region in the world, and understandably, due to its vast size, there is a huge range of different cultures, environments, religious and historical ties and government systems.
Asia has many healthcare challenges
From the healthcare perspective, there are many challenges facing Asia: malnutrition and obesity, maternal mortality and population control, infectious disease control and prevention, early death and the aging population. There’s also increasing rates of diabetes mellitus and cancer. These healthcare challenges , as illustrated, involve opposite ends of the health spectrum because in Asia, poverty is often occurs the midst of plenty
This poses a challenge for many countries in Asia because government spending on public health is low and is often not focused on those who need it most. For many in the region, personal health expenses are a major cause of poverty. Asia’s health systems will need to improve in their effectiveness, efficiency, access, equity, and quality. In spite of these, the healthcare industry in Asia is expected to grow by more than 10% in the coming years, fuelled by the increasing adoption of technology, innovative healthcare access programmes and the delivery of care outside of traditional hospital settings.
Where is Neurosurgery in Asia
In the midst of all these challenges, what is the place of neurosurgery in Asia and how will the AASNS achieve its goal of helping to develop neurosurgical services in the low and middle income countries (LMICs) in Asia?
Many might think that neurosurgery, as a surgical specialty, is not basic medical care, especially in the LMICs in Asia, where less than 1/3 have basic sanitation and clean water supply, and where infectious diseases are rampant and high infant and maternal mortality rates prevail. However, Global Surgery 2030, the landmark initial report of The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery tells us otherwise. It informs that timely access to surgical care is essential to reduce death and disability from surgical conditions, and that surgical and anaesthesia care has a big role in improving the health of individuals and the economic productivity of countries.
Head trauma and hydrocephalus are bellwether neurosurgical conditions that require surgical care in LMICs, if the aims of Global Surgery 2030 are to be met. Neurosurgeons are needed to manage these conditions – they can and should do more.
Do join AASNS activities to help build Asian Neurosurgery
The AASNS, in partnership with neurosurgeons and neurosurgical societies from the Asian LMICs, can help in the development of these neurosurgical services – through education, training and teaching, as well as through educational digital platforms that will be developed in the near future. The AASNS needs the help of neurosurgeons and neurosurgical societies from developed countries within Asia and from outside of Asia, to work with neurosurgeons from the Asian LMICs to make this happen. The ability to make connections and form partnerships are what makes the AASNS unique.
New Year, New Team!
Following the successful conclusion of the 2019 Asian Australasian Congress hosted in Mumbai by Prof Basant Misra, our Past President, the new AASNS Administrative Council is ready to carry on and work towards these goals. But we can’t do it alone. Hence, I call on ALL neurosurgeons in Asia Australasia to participate in the AASNS’ activities. Wherever and whenever there are needs, get involved and help build up neurosurgical capabilities in our neighbouring countries,. Whether you are a neurosurgeon from a developed Asian country or an Asian LMIC, you have a role to play! Let’s work towards a better neurosurgical future for the people we represent!