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Surgeon-in-Chief of Boston Children’s Hospital delivers presentation on global surgical accessibility

Author: Shadia Ajam

This past Thursday, alumnus John G. Meara MD, DMD, MBA, (ND ‘86) delivered a presentation on safe surgical care worldwide.

John Meara Presenting at the "For the Planet and the Poor" Conference at Notre Dame

Meara is currently the Plastic Surgeon-in-Chief of the Boston Children’s Hospital. He is also associate professor of surgery and associate professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Since 2008, Meara has also directed the Paul Farmer Global Surgery Fellowship program in collaboration with Partners In Health. The purpose of the program is to train leaders who will further promote surgical care, education, and research pertinent to global surgery.

Meara’s presentation focused on explaining the mission of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, where he serves as a Co-Chair. The Commission consists of a group of professionals from diverse backgrounds who strive to develop and assemble the best evidence on the state of surgery worldwide, to study the economics of surgical and anesthesia care delivery, and to develop strategies for improving access.

On April 27, 2015, the Lancet Commission’s findings were published in a report, launched in London at the Royal Society of Medicine. The report, titled Global Surgery 2030: evidence and solutions for achieving health, welfare, and economic development, contained five key messages for health policy makers:

  1. Five billion people lack access to safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia care when needed.
  2. One hundred forty-three million additional surgical procedures are needed each year to save lives and prevent disability.
  3.  Thirty-three million individuals face catastrophic health expenditure due to  payment for surgery and anesthesia each year.
  4. Investment in surgical and anesthesia services is affordable, saves lives, and promotes economic growth.
  5. Surgery is an indivisible, indispensable part of health care.

The Commission’s findings have been implemented in Cabo Verde, Zambia, Madagascar, and India. In Zambia, the Commission partnered with the ministry of health to design and implement a contextually-tailored National Surgical and Anesthesia Plan based off the framework developed by the commission.

In addition to working as a co-chair for the Commission, Meara’s day is full of global surgeries, clinical medicine, and administrative duties at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“When I think about where you guys are, you’re going to start to make some more career-based decisions. Over the next 10 years, you’re going to start to weave a vocational career. You’re going to be leading NGOs in the future, don’t underestimate what you’re capable of doing. Coming from Notre Dame is hugely beneficial,” said Meara.

To learn more about the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery visit

Originally published by Shadia Ajam at on April 12, 2016.