Surgical care is not prioritized on the global health agenda despite accounting for a third of Disability-Adjusted Life Years. To address this, the Boston Children’s/Harvard Program in Global Surgery and Social Change (PGSSC) led The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery 2030 to outline world-wide surgical priorities. One
of global health policy work, however, is moving from abstract resolutions to concrete plans.
Where We Started
In May 2015, the Zambian Ministry of Health (MOH) approached the PGSSC to help move surgery forward in Zambia. Drawing on the research and policy framework of the Commission, the PGSSC supported Zambian stakeholders, including the MOH, clinicians, and policy experts to pioneer the process of writing the world’s first National Surgical, Obstetric, and Anesthesia Plan (NSOAP).
In just two years, the visionary resolution from the Commission became a written, detailed and tangible plan for improving surgical care in Zambia. In May 2017, the Zambian NSOAP for 2017-2021 was signed into effect by the Minister of Health and is integrated into the both the National Health Strategic Plan and National Development Plan. After the success of the Zambian NSOAP, the PGSSC worked with local governments to create NSOAPS in Tanzania and Rwanda.
A major breakthrough occurred in November 2018, when the PGSSC participated with regional stakeholders and the South African Development Community (SADC), –an inter-governmental organization with a goal to further socio-economic integration, as well as political and security cooperation, among 16 southern African countries with a collective population of 300 million people and a GDP of $1.5 billion. Together, they worked to ratify a resolution that will prioritize surgical care in the region. A key pillar of this resolution is for all 16 member countries to develop NSOAPs. The PGSSC is now working at the regional level to create tools that can be used to fast-track progress, research that will support NSOAP implementation, and new collaborations with local governments in Zimbabwe and Namibia to develop NSOAP policies.
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