VCU Trauma surgeon and researcher serves on global burden of disease panel

Sudha Jayaraman, M.D.
Sudha Jayaraman, M.D.

VCU Health surgeon Sudha Jayaraman, M.D., recently spoke on a global panel sponsored by The Lancet and The World Bank to release the results of the 2015 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study. Its data uncovers the toll of early death and disability caused by more than 300 diseases and injuries in 195 countries and territories from 1990 to the present, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. The IHME is the coordinating center for the GBD initiative.

Jayaraman, whose professional specialties include global surgery and public health, has contributed to GBD work for nearly a decade and is co-author of more than a dozen papers by the group in The Lancet and JAMA, both well respected medical journals. She was invited to speak as the only clinician at the launch, offering expertise on the medical, social and economic implications of health care in the U.S. and abroad. The GBD 2015 results were published last week in the largest issue in the history of The Lancet.

“This work contributes hard data to an effort to improve the health of people all around the world,” said Jayaraman, who has worked on projects to improve clinical care in countries such as Rwanda, Uganda and Ecuador. “It opens up local conversations on what clinicians and governments in each and every part of the world can do to help their communities.”

Findings from the most recent research show the world is in the midst of an epidemiological transition with communicable disease burdens declining but the toll of non-communicable diseases and injuries rising.

“Non-communicable diseases and injuries are a growing problem in the world, and surgery and surgeons are especially critical for addressing a number of these problems,” said Jayaraman, also an assistant professor and faculty advisor for the VCU Health International Trauma System Development Program.

Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center is the only Level I trauma center in Central Virginia nationally verified by the American College of Surgeons, the highest level of trauma center verification in the United States. It is the largest trauma center in the state by volume.

Non-communicable diseases and injuries are a growing problem in the world, and surgery and surgeons are especially critical for addressing a number of these problems.

Jayaraman is proud of the work she does at VCU and realizes it is what has positioned her to have greater impact in low and middle income countries.

“In a small way, I’m representing clinicians around the world whether or not they are engaged in the GBD work, since the results are relevant to everyone aiming to improve the care of their communities,” she said. “This [work] gives us a global sense of what we need to work on and helps us learn from effective strategies in the past. Based on such work, hopefully we can make better decisions and expect better and consistent health outcomes, and ultimately have a healthier global population which contributes to a better society.”

The event featured Richard Horton, editor in chief of The Lancet; Mark Suzman, chief strategy officer of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Christopher Murray, director of IHME; Amb. Deborah Birx from the U.S. Department of State; Tim Evans, senior director at the World Bank; Fatima Marinho de Souza, M.D., from the Brazil Ministry of Health; and Charles Wiysonge, M.D., from the South African Medical Research Council, among others.


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