Healthcare Leaders Develop Strategies for Expanding National Surgical, Obstetric, and Anaesthesia Plans in WHO AFRO and EMRO Regions

World J Surg. 2019 Feb;43(2):360-367. doi: 10.1007/s00268-018-4819-z.


Background: Worldwide, five billion people lack access to safe, affordable surgical, obstetric, and anaesthesia (SOA) care when needed. In many countries, a growing commitment to SOA care is culminating in the development of national surgical, obstetric, and anaesthesia plans (NSOAPs) that are fully embedded in the National Health Strategic Plan. This manuscript highlights the content and outputs from a World Health Organization (WHO) lead workshop that supported country-led plans for improving SOA care as a component of health system strengthening.

Methods: In March 2018, a group of 79 high-level global SOA stakeholders from 25 countries in the WHO AFRO and EMRO regions gathered in Dubai to provide technical and strategic guidance for the creation and expansion of NSOAPs.

Results: Drawing on the experience and expertise of represented countries that are at different stages of the NSOAP process, topics covered included (1) the global burden of surgical, obstetric, and anaesthetic conditions; (2) the key principles and components of NSOAP development; (3) the critical evaluation and feasibility of different models of NSOAP implementation; and (4) innovative financing mechanisms to fund NSOAPs.

Conclusions: Lessons learned include: (1) there is unmet need for the establishment of an NSOAP community in order to provide technical support, expertise, and mentorship at a regional level; (2) data should be used to inform future priorities, for monitoring and evaluation and to showcase advances in care following NSOAP implementation; and (3) SOA health system strengthening must be uniquely prioritized and not hidden within other health strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • General Surgery*
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • National Health Programs*
  • Obstetrics*
  • Pregnancy
  • World Health Organization