Resources and advocacy

What is global surgery at the IGS?

At the Institute of Global Surgery (IGS), we define global surgery as follows: a field that aims to understand and address the impediments to the equitable provision of safe, affordable, and timely surgical, anesthetic, and obstetric care to people and to patients worldwide, through research, education, and international collaboration.

This definition has implications:

  1. By aiming to understand and reduce the impediments to care, we take a public health approach to surgical access. We are interested in addressing the why behind these barriers – identifying them through research and lowering them through our education and implementation programmes.
  2. By addressing a lack of access wherever it occurs, we do not limit our work to any particular region. We aim instead to work where the need and potential impact is greatest. Global surgery is not simply 'surgery over there', and populations within high-income countries may be an appropriate context for study and intervention. The current focus on sub-Saharan Africa and Asia is a result of the fact that the highest burden of disease and lowest access to care is in these regions.  

We believe a comprehensive and coordinated global response to the surgical care crisis in low- and middle-income countries is required, and we wish to see increased political priority for surgical care.

Universal healthcare cannot be achieved without substantial investment in surgical care and we believe investment should be based on evidence of what works.

The following messages are drawn from our own research and experience, that of our partners, and evidence generated by the global surgery community:

  • Surgery is a team sport ­and investment is required across the entire surgical care workforce, including anaesthetists, technicians, nurses, obstetrician/gynaecologists and surgeons.
  • Training locally is vitally important to achieve high rates of surgical provider retention.
  • Where specialist surgeons are scarce, the role of the surgeon should include mentorship and supervision of other cadres of surgical provider.
  • Developing the surgical care workforce cannot be achieved without better engagement of women, encouraging more women to join the surgical care workforce, and attain leadership positions therein.

We are working to realise this future by:

  • Leveraging the respected voice of RCSI to highlight the surgical care crisis in Ireland; East, Central and Southern Africa; and worldwide.
  • Helping the voice of our partner organisations be heard on a global scale.
  • Engaging with national policymakers to ensure that our research answers questions relevant to national planning and policy and that this information is made available to policymakers.
  • Supporting efforts to bring the global surgery community together through active membership of the Global Alliance for Surgical, Obstetric, Trauma, and Anaesthesia Care (the G4 Alliance) and other initiatives.
  • Supporting Women in Surgery Africa, through the RCSI/COSECSA Collaboration Programme.

The world needs your support to advocate for global surgery. The G4 Alliance advocacy toolkit contains tools that everyone can use to get involved.

On the first Wednesday of the month at 2pm (IST), the IGS hosts the international Global Surgery Grand Rounds – a series of webinars with invited speakers who discuss different aspects of global surgery.

The aim of these Grand Rounds is widen the conversation and raise the profile of global surgery within the international development and global health space. Recordings of past Grand Rounds can be found on our YouTube channel.

Sign up to the IGS mailing list here to be informed of future Grand Rounds and other events relating to global surgery.