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Global Indicator Initiative

Measurement is the first step toward understanding and improvement. To better understand the current state of surgical care in countries around the world, the Commission’s leadership convened a working group on surgical indicators in June, 2015. In collaboration with ministries of health, this group attempted to gather the best available information on the Commission’s six indicators for each of the 215 countries or independent economies for which data are kept by the World Bank.


These indicators assess:

  1. The geographic accessibility of surgical facilities,

  2. The density of specialist surgical providers (surgeons, anaesthetists, and obstetricians),

  3. The number of surgical procedures provided per 100,000 population,

  4. Perioperative mortality rates,

  5. The risk of impoverishing expenditure when surgery is required, and

  6. The risk of catastrophic expenditure when surgery is required.


Taken together, these can promote a better understanding of each country’s surgical system. These data provide a baseline against which improvements can be measured during the era of the Sustainable Development Goals. We hope they yield useful insights for ministries of health looking to strengthen the delivery of safe, timely, and affordable surgical care in countries of all income levels.  


We heartily thank all ministries of health and academic institutions that provided data. They are listed in Appendix 6 of the report above.

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