Global surgery efforts

This section will introduce some of the initiatives at the global level to improve the delivery of surgical care to children in less-developed countries.

Photo credit Tessa van der Willigen


Alliance for Surgery and Anesthesia Presence (ASAP Today) recently changed its name from the Global Burden of Surgical Disease Working Group and advocates for safe surgery and anesthesia worldwide.

The Bethune Round Table on International Surgery meets annually in Canada to discuss surgical issues in the developing world, including surgical education and research.

Bellagio Essential Surgery Group was formed in 2007 by leaders in Africa and elsewhere; the BESG collects data about the prevalence of surgical conditions and advocates for projects to increase access to surgical care in Africa.

The Commission on Smart Global Health Policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) drew together a group of experts from various fields to publish a report on how to solve the challenges facing global health:  “A healthier, safer, and more prosperous world.”

The Global Health Delivery (GHD) Project runs a collaborative platform ( where health care implementers share proven practices, connect with colleagues, and find resources they need to improve health outcomes in resource-limited settings.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Program provides substantial funding for research in health issues in developing countries, primarily in infectious diseases.

The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, is a group of experts in a variety of disciplines pertaining to Global Surgery, commissioned by The Lancet to generate a collaborative effort to advance this rapidly growing field.  The Commission process is led by a group of 25 commissioners and a team of affiliated researchers who gather in a series of three structured meetings, and culminating in a 25,000 word report that will provide a tangible reference point for governments, policy-makers, international bodies, funding agencies, academic institutions, professional colleges, healthcare providers, and local communities to engage in concrete action.  The key findings and priority actions will facilitate the development, implementation, and evaluation of surgical policy to promote the delivery of surgical services worldwide.

The Alllance for Surgery, Obstetrics, Trauma, and Anesthesia Care (the G4 Alliance) is an advocacy-based organization dedicated to building political priority for surgical care as part of the global development agenda.  The G4 Alliance is committed to advocating for the neglected surgical patient and is driven by a mission of providing a collective voice for increasing access to safe, essential, and timely surgical, obstetric, trauma, and anesthesia care.

The World Health Organization Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care:  GIEESC is a global forum that convenes multidisciplinary stakeholders representing health professionals, public health experts, health authorities and local and international organizations.  Established in December 2005, the GIEESC has grown to include over 2300 members from 140 countries which collaborates to share knowledge, advise policy formation and develop educational resources to reduce the burden of death and disability from conditions that could be treated through surgery.

The Harvard Program in Global Surgery and Social Change advocates for universal access for safe, affordable surgical, obstetrics and anesthesia care when needed.  They currently work in 11 countries with a strategy of Global Surgical Systems Strengthening through Research, Advocacy, and Implementation Science, using the Framework of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery.  PGSSC aims to Produce Leaders in Global Surgical and Health Systems through Research, Advocacy, and Care Delivery. Through the Paul Farmer Global Surgery Fellowships and Research Associate positions, it aims to empower surgeons, surgical trainees and medical students around the world with the skills they need to improve the health of some of the world’s most impoverished people.  Their research focuses on surgical and health systems strengthening that is measurable, transparent, and locally-driven. 


Background Information

Surgery and Global Health, a Powerpoint presentation by CUGH, gives a background perspective on surgery as a public health issue, disparities in surgical care, and efforts to meet manpower needs.

Developing World Trauma, a Powerpoint presentation on the Global Health Education Consortium website, gives an overview of trauma in developing countries.

Distribution of health workers by level of health expenditure and burden of disease, WHO regions

Worldmapper is a website with interesting cartograms (compare public health spending with population for an interesting visual representation of the disparities in health care delivery between wealthy and poor nations)