20 January 2020, Geneva, Switzerland - The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is pleased to announce the official launch of the Global Surgery Foundation (GSF) at the upcoming World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos, Switzerland. The launch will take place at a special lunch-event, hosted by Brand South Africa on Wednesday, 22 January 2020 at the Brand SA Pavilion.

Globally, over 5 billion people and 90% of the world’s poor lack access to basic surgical care. An estimated 17 million people die each year from surgically preventable causes, with the greatest burden of this seen in the most vulnerable countries. Without upscaling safe and affordable surgical care, especially in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), the world will be hard pressed to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To make matters worse, the global burden of non-communicable diseases and injury is increasing at an alarming rate, completely eclipsing communicable diseases. Surgical care is the foundation of the treatment options for most of these diseases.

The urgency to move forward was clearly seen at the 72nd World Health Assembly recently. There was enormous level of support and interest for building capacity in global surgery from all levels of participants, including Ministers of Health and high-level leadership at the WHO.

Building on the current momentum, the vision of GSF is a world in which all people have access to safe and affordable emergency and essential surgery. Its mission is to facilitate the development of surgical, obstetrical and anaesthesia care systems that will ensure universal access to emergency and essential surgical care.  GSF will create a common, collaborative platform aimed at building capacity across the wide spectrum of surgical care systems, including obstetrics, paediatrics, injury and trauma, and the treatment of NCDs such as cancer. The platform will facilitate a coordinated, integrated effort to meet the unmet surgical needs, including service delivery, training and funding. This will be underpinned by world class research and knowledge sharing to examine sustainable solutions to meet this global need for surgical care, including innovative funding mechanisms to assist nations in building their surgical capacity in a self-reliant manner.

The exciting feature of this new initiative is that the start-up funding has come from Africa.  The founding donor, the Rali and Makentse Mampeule Foundation of South Africa, is eager to make a difference for their community in Africa, and in particular, by addressing the unmet needs of surgical care globally.

The GSF Secretariat is hosted by UNITAR and initial activities have already started, including the development of a mobile application on the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, preparations for National Surgical Planning and Policy Workshops in Nepal and Egypt, the dissemination of multiple surgical team training modules, and a national surgical plan implementation pilot project in Zambia. 

For more information, please visit www.globalsurgeryfoundation.org or contact Ms. Rabab Fayad, Senior Adviser, Global Surgery Foundation, globalsurgery@unitar.org.

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