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Improving Access to Safe Anesthetic Care in Rural and Remote Communities in Affluent Countries

Published: March 4, 2019

DOI 10.1213/ANE.0000000000004083

Categories: General Topics

Language: English


Inadequate access to anesthesia and surgical services is often considered to be a problem of low- and middle-income countries. However, affluent nations, including Canada, Australia, and the United States, also face shortages of anesthesia and surgical care in rural and remote communities. Inadequate services often disproportionately affect indigenous populations. A lack of anesthesia care providers has been identified as a major contributing factor to the shortfall of surgical and obstetrical care in rural and remote areas of these countries. This report summarizes the challenges facing the provision of anesthesia services in rural and remote regions. The current landscape of anesthesia providers and their training is described. We also explore innovative strategies and emerging technologies that could better support physician-led anesthesia care teams working in rural and remote areas. Ultimately, we believe that it is the responsibility of specialist anesthesiologists and academic health sciences centers to facilitate access to high-quality care through partnership with other stakeholders. Professional medical organizations also play an important role in ensuring the quality of care and continuing professional development. Enhanced collaboration between academic anesthesiologists and other stakeholders is required to meet the challenge issued by the World Health Organization to ensure access to essential anesthesia and surgical services for all.