Surgery is an important intervention to sustain human life through its ability to cure disease, heal fractures, avert maternal death, and provide comfort for those suffering. However, surgical care is unevenly delivered throughout the world. More surprisingly, we have little knowledge about the adequacy and quality of surgical resources globally. The Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Surgery and Public Health, a joint program of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, seeks to remedy the knowledge deficit, to provide direction for stakeholders, and direct improvement in public health related to surgical care. To the end of raising awareness of the issue of disparities in surgical care in the United States and the world, an invitational conference on Disparities in Surgical Care: Access to Outcomes was conceived. The Symposium brought together experts from around the world to critically examine this challenging problem. Surgeons, other clinicians, administrators, and health services researchers came together to develop approaches to translate research into practice to address disparities in access and outcomes in surgical care. The synergy of population-based research and clinical practice may allow the surgical healthcare team of the near future to implement strategies to achieve health equity, an important dimension of quality, in surgery.
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