Steps from the World Health Organization headquarters on the eve of the 69th World Health Assembly, the G4 Alliance, Safe Surgery 2020, and the GE Foundation hosted an event to highlight champions for and innovative approaches to improving access to surgical care and anaesthesia worldwide.
Remarks from distinguished speakers emphasized the need for investment in infrastructure and training to improve quality and access to care, and highlighted how strengthening surgical inputs translates to stronger health systems overall. Several ministers of health spoke to specific efforts their countries are undertaking toward quantifying existing access to surgical care, and implementing programs to expand access, especially for rural populations. Themes of partnership between government, NGOs, and the private sector emerged as critical to the success of these country-level programs.
Speakers also shared personal commitments to surgery and addressing the needs of the five billion neglected surgical patients around the world:
“We will join hands together for the sake of the patient” - Mr. Bahar Idris Abu Garda, Minister of Health, Sudan
“Our words will be matched by deeds when nurses, anaesthetic officers, and anaesthesiologists work together in [Tanzania] to offer safe surgical services. That is our commitment.” - Dr. Mpoki Ulisubisya, Tanzania Ministry of Health
“The government of Pakistan is committed to improving health care delivery systems and access to quality health care services across the country.” - Dr. Assad Hafeez, Pakistan Ministry of Health
“We commit to access to safe, affordable and sustainable solutions for safe surgery 2020” - Dr. David Barash, GE Foundation
“We commit to repairing 15,000 obstetric fistula cases this year, and to ending fistula within a generation.” - Dr. Laura Laski, UNFPA
Closing the evening’s program, Ambassador Dr. Neil Parsan, acting as Master of Ceremonies, challenged attendees to write their own commitments to move the needle forward on global surgical care by reminding us all: “Our word is our bond. Our commitment is our promise.”