Surgery’s Essential Role in Health Coverage

Sustainable development through access to surgical care 

This September the United Nations will be holding their 74th General Assembly in New York, and on September 23, 2019 they will hold a high level meeting on universal health coverage (UHC). The purpose of this meeting is to advance the cause of UHC, which means improving access to healthcare for all, as well as moving closer to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

To mark this occasion, CURE International would like to join the G4 Alliance, as well as other partners, in advocating for surgery to be recognized as an essential element of universal health coverage. With 5 billion people worldwide unable to access surgical services (according to the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery), this certainly seems to be the case. There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that surgery is not only a cost-effective way of contributing to the overall health and development of a country – it is also an essential element of basic healthcare. As underlined in the Disease Control Priorities 3, Vol. 1, “Surgery should be considered an indispensable component of a properly functioning health system and can indeed be a means for strengthening the entire system, thereby increasing the return on investment.”

As a global provider of pediatric surgical services, CURE International has an important contribution to make in this global discussion. Across CURE’s network, surgeries are performed every day. Beyond that, surgical training is taking place, which helps to build the capacity of the local healthcare system. There are also safe surgery initiatives underway, where significant investments are being made to ensure the best environment of care possible. Finally, groundbreaking surgical research is happening, the results of which will benefit both practitioners and patients across the globe. 

This series of blog posts will cover some of what is happening across CURE International’s network in order to highlight the exciting progress that is being made. Hopefully, it will also underscore the crucial role of surgery toward the goal of achieving universal health coverage and to the UN’s sustainable development goals in general.

Read the Articles


1 Mock, C. N., Donkor, P., Gawande, A., Jamison, D. T., Kruk, M. , et. al. 2015. “Essential Surgery: Key Messages of this Volume”. In: Disease Control Priorities (third edition): Volume 1, Essential Surgery, edited by H. Debas, P. Donkor, A. Gawande, D. T. Jamison, M. Kruk, C. N. Mock. Washington, DC: World Bank. p. 15.


Photo of the Josh Korn

About the Author:

Josh leads CURE's Grants Management Office. He previously served CURE in Niamey, Niger, first as a spiritual director, then as executive director of the CURE Hôpital de Enfants.

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