The Kenyan and Philippines Ministries of Health, in partnership with Smile Train, KidsOR, the Henry Family Advised Fund, COSECSA, the G4 Alliance, and West African College of Surgeons, hosted an event to galvanize action towards the integration of surgical care as a necessary component of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

For more than 5 billion people around the world, safe, affordable, and timely surgical and anesthesia care remains out of reach. This health crisis, which represents one of the worst inequities in health, continued legacies of poverty, gender inequality, and lack of education for millions of families around the world.

The burden of Neglected Surgical Diseases, including untreated cleft lip and palate and clubfoot, obstetric fistula, cataracts, hernia, and neglected trauma such as fractures and burns, falls disproportionately upon those living in low- and middle- income countries—particularly women and children. The potential for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to ensure surgical equity through essential interventions has created an opportunity to redefine global health.

Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Health of Kenya Hon. Sicily Kariuki, had this to say, “The Ministry of Health supports the efforts of Private Public Partnership and appreciates the efforts of the partners down the journey towards achievement of Universal Health Care.” She also added, “I take this opportunity to request all countries gathered here today and those you will reach out to later to commit towards a Global Partnership for Actions to Prevent and Eliminate Neglected Surgical Diseases.”

Dr. Mario C. Villaverde, Undersecretary of Health of the Health Policy Systems Development, Department of Health of the Philippines, stated that, “We take this opportunity to join hands with our brothers and sisters in Kenya and Mexico and with joint focus, we have embarked on a journey of hope – that of eradicating Neglected Surgical Diseases.”

Additional statements of support for access to essential surgery and anesthesia care were made by representatives from Taiwan and The Gambia. They were joined by civil society representatives including the Global Clubfoot Initiative, Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery (GICS), COSECSA, International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), UNFPA, and Smile Train.