SICOT Project - "Let’s Pledge to Give"
SICOT President - Coimbatore, India
Greetings from SICOT.
SICOT is the largest and truly International Orthopaedic Association of the world with members from nearly 127 countries. I am glad that our Society is growing from strength to strength. Our annual meetings are improving steadily not only in attendance but also in quality and standards. Although the primary aim of SICOT is to promote academics and learning amongst its members, it should also serve as a vehicle to carry the best of modern orthopaedic surgery to those who deserve it most. It would be fruitless if we improve in academics and techniques but the benefit does not reach the patients who need it. The rich expertise and experience of SICOT members should reach those who deserve the best of orthopaedic care but who cannot afford it.
Towards this end, I propose that SICOT initiates the project - ‘Let’s Pledge to Give’, where every SICOT member would be encouraged to offer his/her expertise free of charge to at least one deserving patient every year. The motto will be ‘Be a blessing to one patient this year’. This will be a novel programme that will increase the value of SICOT to the society around the world and will also have a tremendous public relations value.
The logistics and economics of health care delivery are very different in different parts of the world and hence the modus operandi of this project will have to be different in different regions. In many European countries like Germany and Scandinavian countries, free health care delivery is accessible to all and so this programme may have less impact. However, in most countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America the applicability of this programme is real and huge. Every day, surgeons in these countries come across patients with severe orthopaedic problems often at the end stage of the natural history of the disease, neglected mainly because of lack of resource or insurance cover. There is a great opportunity for SICOT members to make a real change in the lives of such patients.
Surgeons worldwide seek opportunities to do charity and philanthropy travelling across the world. However, this is neither time nor cost effective. This programme is unique in that it will allow surgeons to perform charity at their place of work in their day to day practice. The scope of charity can range from just ‘surgery free of surgeon’s fees’ to ‘entire treatment being free’. Many surgeons work in circumstances where they can exert a significant influence in the hospital set-up where they have worked for many years. They may be able to negotiate a free service for one or two patients every year.
Scope of ‘Charity’
As there is a wide variation in the health care delivery model across the world, the scope of charity will also have to vary. This will include:
The entire treatment free - This will be applicable to a majority of countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and even some countries in Europe. Here all charges including hospitalisation, surgeon’s fees and implants will be made free. Obviously this is very challenging to the surgeon and can be done only in scenarios where the surgeon has a significant influence in the setting of his practice. Many SICOT members are practising in hospitals for many years and have contributed immensely to the growth of the institutions. They are quite influential with the management of the hospital and have considerable say with the industry people. It would be possible for them to have permission from their administration to waive charges for just one patient a year. They can also involve industry partners who may willingly provide implant or prosthesis for one case every year. In every country, there are many social service organisations such as the Rotary, Round Table, etc., who may also be enthusiastic partners and generate the required funds. In our experience a lot of partners can be generated once they know that the surgical team is willing to operate free.
Surgeon’s charges free - There are health care models where the surgeon may not be able to obtain a complete waiver of the hospitalisation and the implant charges. Sometimes, the patient’s insurance cover may not allow a high-cost complex surgical procedure to be performed. In such scenarios, it would still be a great help to the patient if the surgeon’s charges can be made free. Very often, the surgeon’s charges range from 20 to 40% of the entire cost and subsidy of this may help the poor patient substantially.
When do we start?
The kick-off date was 1 April 2018. Each SICOT member can operate one or more patients free and communicate it to the SICOT Head Office. SICOT will maintain a website accessible to members where such free surgeries are registered. The pre- and post-operative pictures of patients can be loaded on our website and publicised in our newsletter and online journal. This will act as an incentive for other SICOT members also to do the same.
I thank you in advance for your enthusiastic support for this project. I believe that most of the SICOT member surgeons are already performing many charitable surgeries. I hope that this project allows us to make SICOT more useful to society.