5 billion people lack access to surgical care

Though "surgery is an integral, indivisible part of healthcare," 5 billion people worldwide lack access to safe and affordable surgical care, according to a new commission from The Lancet. Only 6 percent of the 313 million surgical procedures each year occur in the world's poorest countries, which are home to more than a third of the world's population, and in 2010, an estimated 32.9 percent of deaths worldwide were attributed to conditions needing surgical care. These numbers not only reflect wide disparities in healthcare access, but they have major financial costs as well. Each year 33 million people face "catastrophic" expenditures to pay for needed surgery and anesthesia, and in an absence of "accelerated investment in surgical scale-up," lower- and middle-income countries will experience economic productivity loses estimated at $12.3 trillion between 2015 and 2030. To help solve the problem, the commission recommends that countries and global health organizations must track and report what it has identified as six core surgical indicators, which include specialist surgical workforce density, perioperative mortality and protection against catastrophic expenditure. Commission