The solvable health issue that kills more than malaria, AIDS and TB

By Desmond Jumbam

In most African countries, quality surgery is only for the rich.

For decades, global health donors have understandably prioritised infectious diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS in their efforts to save lives and improve health. However, new evidence suggests that about 30% of the global disease burden (death and disability from major diseases and injuries) could be addressed surgically – including in Africa. This includes conditions such as obstructed labour, trauma from road traffic accidents, cataracts, cancers, and congenital anomalies.

In fact, surprising new data shows that poor quality surgical care or lack of access to such care now accounts for more annual global deaths than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

Globally, about two-thirds of the world’s population (five billion people) lack access to safe, timely, and affordable surgery. In sub-Saharan Africa, 93% of people lack access to surgical care, compared to 3.6% in high income countries. The solution is not just more surgery but higher quality of surgery…