The 2015 Lancet Commission on Global Surgery reported that an estimated 5 billion people lack access to safe, timely, and affordable surgical services, but the burden of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery (OHNS) conditions remains underresearched.
We know that the scope of Global OHNS disease is broad. An estimated 500 million people suffered from disabling hearing loss in 2015, placing hearing loss as the fourth leading cause of morbidity. More than 80% of people with hearing loss live in low- and middle income countries. Additionally, an estimated 4.1 million cases of head and neck cancer cases resulted in 512,770 deaths in 2016, with 67% of cases and 82% of deaths occurring in LMICs. Head and neck cancer alone will result in a global cumulative loss of $535 billion USD in economic output between 2018-2030.
Despite this preliminary knowledge, the epidemiology and impact of many OHNS conditions remains ill-defined. Sparse region- and country-level data on the burden of OHNS conditions prevents agencies, governments, and clinicians from developing appropriate interventions. Furthermore, the understanding of global OHNS workforce and infrastructure needs is essentially nonexistent, so priorities for capacity-building to reduce the morbidity and mortality of OHNS conditions remain undefined. Beyond causing avertable suffering and death, these gaps hinder progress towards global objectives like the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage.