One billion people worldwide are without healthcare and one billion have minimal access to healthcare. In rural Africa caesarean section and hernia are the commonest elective surgical procedures. However, these operations are carried out much less frequently than required. For hernia sufferers, the result of this neglect is increased mortality (from strangulation) and physical incapacity (inability to work and support a family). This burden of neglect falls disproportionately on the poorest communities.
Unlike many surgical procedures, a simple, cheap 30 minute hernia operation returns the patient to full health. The modern and very effective technique is to repair the hernia with mesh. Hernia International has popularized the use of mosquito net mesh (LDPE mesh) which is very cheap and affordable, and has given excellent results in over 20,000 patients.
The lifetime risk for hernia of men is 27% and for women 3%. There are an estimated 6.3 million untreated inguinal hernias in sub-Saharan Africa. The prevalence in rural areas of Northern Ghana is more than 10 times the predicted level because of the near total neglect of hernia surgery for many years. This has resulted in many men suffering large incapacitating hernias which limit their daily activities. Every African living in a remote village can tell a story about a relative or village member who died due to the untreated complications of a hernia strangulation. In rural areas more men suffer from hernia than suffer from HIV.