The Vanderbilt Global Surgery Initiative (VGSI) is a trans-institutional commitment to global surgery and includes research, education and training, and service components. As the global epidemiology of disease has shifted from communicable disease to noncommunicable disease (NCDs), the largest contributions to disability and premature death are cardiovascular disease, cancers and trauma. Surgery plays an important role in the prevention, mitigation, treatment and palliation of each of these disease groups.
In low and middle income countries (LMICs), the burden of noncommunicable disease is growing as urbanization expands, progress is made in maternal and child health and infectious disease control, Western diets displace healthier indigenous diets, marketing of tobacco products is increased, and LMIC populations age. Trauma is ever-present in the face of expanding automobile usage, civil unrest, unsafe home cook stoves, and a myriad of other threats. Due to a variety of factors, most LMICs simply lack the capacity to provide reliable anesthesia, emergency services, obstetrics or surgery to those in need. Supporting sustainable capacity building in LMICs through education and training, research and service is critical. Vanderbilt University is able to provide this support and guidance through its wealth of accomplished educators, researchers and faculty committed to global surgery. Moreover, Vanderbilt is superbly positioned to engage its surgery and trauma, anesthesiology, biomedical informatics, global health and policy, engineering, and business management expertise in a unified initiative to further the teaching and research elements so vital in responding to these global challenges. Whether for trauma and cancer prevention, early diagnosis and affordable therapies, or training of both U.S. and foreign nationals, global surgery is an important element of Vanderbilt's education and research objectives.