Surgical care is a cost-effective, cross-cutting public health service that is critical for strengthening health systems, health workforces, and health security; for advancing maternal and child health; and for treating NCDs, trauma, infectious diseases, and congenital issues.
The World Bank has identified essential surgical care as one of the most cost-effective health interventions available and a health priority that is within reach for countries around the world. Building surgical capacity benefits an entire health system, empowering the health workforce, stimulating the economy, and contributing to healthier, more productive populations.
Moreover, the cost of inaction is too great. Without investment in strengthening surgical systems, LMICs face a projected loss in GDP of $12.3 trillion by 2030. Without safe, timely, and well-integrated surgical services at the community level, the economic burden of accessing essential surgical care can be devastating. As many as 81 million people become impoverished by seeking lifesaving surgery each year, burdened by disproportionate out-of-pocket costs and the additional expense of traveling long distances or taking time away from work.
Surgical care is an essential component of resilient health systems and primary health coverage. Health targets for maternal and child health, health workforces, NCDs, and health systems strengthening cannot be achieved without access to safe, timely, and affordable surgical care. Essential surgical care is an important preventive, diagnostic, and curative strategy for a cross-section of disease conditions and illnesses. Furthermore, increasing access to safe surgical care further contributes to global health security by stimulating economic growth and national stability, encouraging foreign investment, and fostering regional stability.
Surgical interventions have a transformative impact on the lives of millions of patients and their families each year. With surgical care, a traffic-accident victim can return to work and feed his family; a child with a repaired cleft can go to school and lead a normal life; and a woman with a repaired fistula can return home to her village. Integrating surgical care into existing health systems is a proven, cost-effective strategy that can save millions of lives each year, greatly contributing to economic productivity, gender equality, and poverty alleviation.