Monday 21 to Friday 25 May 2018 71st World Health Assembly, Geneva

This proved to be yet another illuminating event and many subjects were discussed relating to Global Surgery and much useful networking took place.

It has now been agreed that implementation of Resolution 68.15, “Strengthening Emergency and Essential Surgical Care and Anaesthesia as a Component of Universal Health Coverage” will be reviewed every 2 years instead of every 3 and this so progress can be tracked and acted upon accordingly.

It must be borne in mind that only 20% of Resolutions ever come to fruition and it is imperative that Resolution 68.15 will not be one of those that fall by the wayside. Universal Health Coverage (UHC) implies that people should have access to healthcare services regardless of their ability to pay. However, somebody has to pay! Many low and middle income countries are assessing the role of national health insurance schemes of one sort or another which, in themselves are not particularly cheap to administer or support. Collecting subscriptions from the very poor who mainly, but not solely, reside in rural areas is often difficult because many live a mobile existence and not all by any matter of means, have mobile telephones etc.

To emphasise the importance of the above a Technical Meeting organised by Dr. Walt Johnson, Lead for Surgery at WHO, was held on Thursday 24th May to discuss the WHO Emergency and Essential Surgical Care Programme (EESC). The scaling up of the UHC with Surgery, Obstetrics and Anaesthesia Care is part of strengthening health systems and sustainable development.

A number of interesting and informative presentations were given.

The financing of National Surgical Obstetric and Anaesthesia Plans (NSOAPs) is based upon countries priorities and this through public and private investors such as the Global Financial Facility, the World Bank and the Africa Development Bank.

A paper was presented on the validity of collecting Global Metrics based upon their availability, comparability and utility was presented which was very revealing and emphasised that one must be circumspect when assessing such data.

The World Development Indicators that help to monitor Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) were discussed in some depth.

The implementation of NSOAP’s by Zambia, Tanzania and Ethiopia were presented which made for interesting comparisons. The development of Plans for Pakistan and Zimbabwe were also presented and a very useful discussion ensued.

The situation with regard to Obstetrics and Anaesthesia was also discussed and the day ended with an excellent presentation from Francis Omaswa on Surgical Leadership in Africa.

I attended the G4 Board and Permanent Council Meetings whilst in Geneva and details will be published on the G4 Website in due course. However, the meetings themselves were well attended and a lot of very useful debate was undertaken. There is no doubt that G4 is now firmly embedded in the Global Surgery Theatre.

I attended an Advocacy Event hosted by the G4 Alliance, GE Foundation and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health entitled Global Surgery: A Powerful Strategy for Advancing Women’s Health on Monday evening, 21 May 2018. There was a great turnout with high-level officials from leading civil society organizations, country representatives and private sector partners. The event enabled us all to explore effective strategies for improving safe surgical care and advancing women’s health as part of the sustainable development agenda.

Bob Lane
June 7th 2018