Background: There is increasing interest by surgeons in high-income countries to support colleagues in low-income countries to improve the provision of surgical care, particularly in rural areas. Such interest may be demonstrated by single individuals, short-term surgical missions, or establishment of partnerships. Such altruistic efforts may cause problems unless properly planned and carried out.
Methods: We reviewed the available literature and consulted widely to establish consensus guidelines for any surgeon considering participating in an initiative to improve surgical care in low-income countries.
Results: A series of recommendations is presented. These include ensuring that projects are appropriate, that there is an emphasis on training local healthcare providers in all aspects of perioperative care, that outcomes are monitored, and that initiatives work with local and regional training programs.
Conclusions: With adherence to these recommendations, we hope that future partnerships and missions can maximize their effectiveness and minimize the risks of potential harm done.