Global Surgery Day 2019

May 1, 2020

Aswan Tai (Junior Doctor, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Australia)
Tim Hall (Trainee Intern, Auckland City Hospital, New Zealand)

Global Surgery Day (May 25th) aims to spread awareness and recognition regarding the inequity in surgical access and outcomes for patients around the world. Access to health care can be defined as ‘the timely use of personal health services to achieve the best health outcomes’.1 It is a basic human right and is critical for public health, safety and economic security, which may not be provided by some countries around the world.

It is estimated that over 5 billion people worldwide lack basic access to safe surgical care, resulting in around 17 million preventable deaths each year and further responsible for ~30% of the global burden of disease.2 Moreover, the landmark Lancet Commission on Global Surgery reported that at least 4.2 million people worldwide die within 30 days of surgery every year making post-operative deaths the third leading cause of mortality (see figure below).3

Universal health coverage (UHC) has been set as an umbrella target for key global health objectives in the post-2015 Millennium Development Goal framework.4 Without the presence of surgical, obstetric, and anaesthesia care as part of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) commitments, we will never achieve quality and safe health care for all. Surgical care has been an essential component of health care worldwide for over a century. As the incidence of traumatic injuries, cancers and cardiovascular disease continue to rise, the impact of surgical intervention on public health systems will continue to grow.

Recently, the 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA) was held in Geneva and focused on the theme ‘Universal Health Coverage: Leaving No-One Behind’. Global Surgery is and should be a significant component of the health care system in every country and the importance of it has been emphasized in the WHA72 progress report.5

Although significant developments have been made in certain areas, it is vital that safe and affordable surgical, obstetric, and anaesthesia treatment remains a global priority. InciSioN hopes that through continued research, advocacy, and educational efforts we can unite and foster an international community of future healthcare professionals who are passionate about Global Surgery and motivated to help achieve timely access and safe surgical care to everyone, everywhere, by 2030.



 [1] Institute of Medicine, Committee on Monitoring Access to Personal Health Care Services. Access to Health Care in America. Millman M, editor. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 1993.

[2] Meara JG, Leather AJM, Hagander L, et al. (2015). Global Surgery 2030: evidence and solutions for achieving health, welfare, and economic development. Lancet 386(9993):569-624.

[3] Nepogodiev D, Martin J, Biccard B, Makupe A, Bhangu A, on behalf of the National Institute for Health Research Global health Research Unit on Global Surgery. (2019). Global burden of post-operative death. Lancet 393(10170):401.

[4] Vega J (2013). Universal health coverage: the post-2015 development agenda. Lancet 381(9862):179-80.