Global surgery and the sustainable development goals

Br J Surg. 2019 Jan;106(2):e44-e52. doi: 10.1002/bjs.11044.


Background: The field of global surgery has gained significant recent momentum, catalysed by the 2015 publication of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, Disease Control Priorities 3 and World Health Assembly resolution 68.15. These reports characterized the global burden of disease amenable to surgical care, called for global investment in surgical systems, and recognized surgery and anaesthesia as essential components of universal health coverage.

Methods: A strategy proposed to strengthen surgical care is the development of national surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia plans (NSOAPs). This review examined how NSOAPs could contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) 1, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 16 and 17 by 2030, focusing on their potential impact on the healthcare systems in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia.

Results: Due to the cross-cutting nature of surgery, obstetrics and anaesthesia, investing in these services will escalate progress to achieve gender equality, economic growth and infrastructure development. Universal health coverage will not be achieved without addressing the financial ramifications to the poor of seeking and receiving surgical care. NSOAPs provide a strategic framework and a data collection platform for evidence-based policy-making, accountability and implementation guidance.

Conclusion: The development and implementation of data-driven NSOAPs should be recognized as a powerful road map to accelerate achievement of the SDGs by 2030.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology / methods*
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • General Surgery / methods*
  • Global Health
  • Goals
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Obstetrics / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Quality Improvement
  • Sustainable Development*
  • Tanzania
  • Zambia