FIve Billion Without Access to Essential Surgery

Earlier this week, The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery released its findings after years of study.

Nearly five billion people are without access to essential surgical care -- 5 billion. As one commentator said, that figure "just jumps off the page," and it should. Here's a short video from The Lancet with additional -- and shocking -- statistics:

Some other stats from the report:

  • 18.6 million people die every year because they lack access to essential surgical procedures.
  • Of that, 5.7 million people die every year from injuries alone.
  • AIDS, TB and Malaria combined kill 3.8 million people a year, far less than injuries alone.
  • Unlike infectious diseases, there is ". . . an alarming lack of global focus on widespread provision of quality surgical services . . ."
  • Of 250 million operations performed globally each year, only 3.5% are performed on the poorest one-third of the world’s population.
  • Somewhere between 11-15% of the world’s disabilities -- which can take both patients and their families out of the workforce to care for the disabled -- are due to surgically treatable conditions.

Solventas welcomes the attention that the commission's publications bring to the scope of the problem, but they also detail the sad state of affairs of broad-based, comprehensive healthcare in the developing world.


Infectious disease deaths are going down because of the concerted focus of governments, foundations and nonprofits to combat those diseases. This is a good thing, but has resulted in "silos" of care.

In some communities one can get treated for Malaria, but not for TB or a surgical disease. It all depends upon the grant or program that facility has available at the time, and when the grant or program runs out, well, you are often on your own.

It is up to all of us to pitch in and help. At Solventas, we will continue to support developing world surgeons and anesthetists already on the front lines, because without them, no one has access to surgery. At its core, this is an economic, management and human resources issue that is 100% solvable by retaining and equipping surgeons in their home countries.

As commentator Atul Gawande says in an article in The Lancet, "The first question [is] how to make a living -- the worldwide challenge of doctors who work in low-income countries." We agree, and if this problem is solved, then surgical access will follow.

Please help Solventas serve these surgeons by donating now, or sign up to learn more about the innovative ways we are addressing the surgical shortage.

Additionally, you can learn more about these statistics and view important publications by going to The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery's website.  Hats off to the commission, its members, their support staff and everyone who made this report possible.