Background: Access to surgical services is emerging as a crucial issue in global public health. "Effective coverage" is a health metric used to evaluate essential health services in low- and middle-income countries. It measures the fraction of potential health gained that is actually realized for a given intervention by integrating the concepts of need, use, and quality.
Methods: This study applies the concept of effective coverage to surgical services by considering injuries and obstetric complications as high-priority surgical conditions in low- and middle-income countries.
Results: Effective coverage for both is poor, but it is less well defined for traumatic conditions compared to obstetric conditions owing to a lack of data.
Conclusions: More primary and secondary data are critical to measure effective coverage and to estimate the resources required to improve access to surgical services in low- and middle-income countries.