Why surgery?

Improving access to life saving surgeries in Africa is no easy task but according to a study recently published by the medical journal the Lancet, 16.9 million lives (32.9% of all deaths worldwide) could be saved if basic surgical care was available worldwide and Africa is the region most affected by the lack of resources. That’s four times as many lives compared with those lost to Aids, Malaria & Tuberculosis combined!

The study also says that at least 77.2 million disability-adjusted life-years are lost each year because basic surgery is not available. That figure is designed to represent the combined loss caused by premature death and temporary or permanent disability and is designed to help represent the loss of productivity caused by these untreated illnesses.

Additional surgeons per 100,000 of population required to cover essential surgery

Additional surgeons per 100,000 of population required to cover essential surgery

As the worldwide lack of access to basic surgical care mostly affects middle and low income families the impact is heaviest on the people who can least afford it, and causes even more hardship for families in developing nations already struggling to make ends meet. The cost in lost productivity plunges affected families and entire nations even further into poverty.


The surgical capacity of the government healthcare systems in Africa needs to be dramatically improved. For example of the few surgeries that are provided in Sierra Leone only 40% of those are provided by the government facilities compared with 54% that are provided by NGO’s and 6% by private healthcare services. There is still a lot of work to be done!


Here is a video from the Lancet explaining the situation: