To the Editor:
Dr. Marchbein’s service as president of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières should make all anesthesiologists proud. The courageous service described in her essay1 is a stunning example of both the humanitarianism and professionalism of the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières volunteers. I agree that anesthesiology could contribute more and am happy to report that the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) founded its ASA Charitable Foundation* in 2011 to support such work. One exemplary group supported by the Charitable Foundation is Lifebox, the foundation implementing the Safe Surgery Saves Lives campaign globally.† Through a combination of introducing oximetry and use of the World Health Organization Safe Surgery Checklist, perioperative complications and hypoxemia can be reduced dramatically.2 Dr. Marchbein highlights the challenges of technology acquisition in low-resource settings. Lifebox directly addresses this problem by functioning as an intermediary between the oximeter manufacturer and the low-income facilities in need of this technology. The resulting acquisition and delivery cost of an oximeter designed for use in austere environments is $250. In its first 2 yr of operation, Lifebox distributed more than 6,000 devices under this model and provided training in safe surgery principles to more than 2,000 providers in 90 low- or middle-income countries. The leading anesthesiology organizations around the world, including ASA, are Lifebox partners and demonstrate that the humanitarian contributions of anesthesiologists are tangible and growing rapidly.
The author declares no competing interests.
Available at: www.asacharity.org. Accessed November 22, 2013.
Available at: www.lifebox.org. Accessed November 22, 2013.