Take Home Messages from the 2015 WHO – Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (GIEESC) Meeting in Geneva

A Personal Account by Dr. J. Gnanaraj


The tenth meeting of the Global Initiative on Emergency and Essential Surgical care [GIEESC] had the primary objective of deciding on the roadmap for the implementation of the World Health Assembly resolution No. 68.15 of the World Health Organization [WHO]. The author was one of the representatives from the surgical workforce from the remote and rural area among the experts and dignitaries who form the GIEESC. This article gives his perspectives of the take home message from the meeting and does not in any way represent the official view of WHO or GIEESC.

  • Each year more than 234 million surgeries are carried out globally.
  • Surgically treatable diseases are among the top 15 causes of physical disability worldwide.
  • Eleven percent of world’s disease burden is from conditions that could be successfully treated through surgery.
  • The low and middle income countries are the most affected.

GIEESC pic 1


The surgical disease burden looks like a lot especially if the data shows that a tenth of all disease burdens could be managed surgically. Our experience in working in remote areas shows that many of the surgically treatable conditions are not diagnosed. With high tech diagnostic camps in the remote and rural areas in India over the last three decades, we found that 75% of the surgical patients were diagnosed for the first time during these diagnostic camps [1]. For example unless an ultrasound examination is carried out the patients will not know that he/she has a gall stone or kidney stone that would result in a cure if appropriate treatment is given. The implication is that the actual surgical burden is much higher than what the data indicate.

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