Economist Intelligence Unit report highlights global need for AO principles in practice

09. December 2018

Economist Intelligence Unit report At Breaking Point: Understanding the impact of musculoskeletal injuries in low- and middle-income countries

Watch video here_The burden of injuries​On December 8, the AO Foundation celebrated its 60th anniversary​. It was founded in 1958 by a group of visionary surgeons from different backgrounds who shared one goal: tackling an issue that impacted people and economies across Europe – how fractures were treated.

When they started, fracture treatment involved three to four months in traction in hospital, and 70 percent of patients had limited mobility on recovery. The AO's founders developed an approach that transformed patient outcomes in the treatment of trauma and musculoskeletal disorders. 

Their revolutionary treatment meant that patients recovered faster, and that those who would often have been unable to return to work could again play an active role in the economy. The application of the AO's approach has had a powerful impact on people, and economies, across Europe.

Today, fractures are still the most common non-fatal injuries across the world, and over 80 percent of injury deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). A new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit​ (EIU), At Breaking Point: Understanding the impact of musculoskeletal injuries in low- and middle-income countries​​, published as part of events to mark the AO Foundation's 60th anniversary, looks at the continuing burden of care resulting from trauma and injuries in LMICs.

EIU graphic 1 and 2

The EIU estimates the annual impact of injuries in LMICs as costing USD 180.2 billion in 2016 alone. It also posits that 4.8 billion people worldwide do not have timely access to safe, affordable surgery and over two billion people have no access to surgery and anaesthesia.

The implication of these figures is clear, injuries are a neglected epidemic in LMICs, and this injury burden is increasing. Patients continue to die from medically preventable causes due to a lack of effective facility-based trauma care, and much of the disability resulting from injuries in these regions could be prevented through inexpensive improvements in rehabilitation and treatment—based on AO principles.

EIU graphic 3 and 4

As the AO Foundation celebrates sixty years since its establishment, it has identified several ways in which it can ensure that it continues to drive excellence in patient care – especially in low income countries. The AO will continue to find new ways to ensure its gold-standard education and cutting-edge research reach as wide a network of surgeons and operating room personnel as possible. In so doing, it will help ensure that patients, wherever they happen to be, have access to the latest and most effective treatment.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​