[GEEF 2021] Featured Session on Safe & Affordable Surgery
The Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development (GEEF) was held online at Yonsei University on February 4-5, 2021. It is an annual international event, organized by the Institute for Global Engagement & Empowerment (IGEE), the Ban Ki-moon Foundation for a Better Future, and the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens(BKMC), where all stakeholders, including global leaders and experts, convene to collaborate towards accomplishing the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
GEEF 2021, as the cornerstone for fulfilling the mission and vision of Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), was organized under the theme of “3Ps(Peace, Prosperity and Partnership) Beyond Security,” focusing on the need for facilitating global partnerships, multilateralism and sustainable development.
Among the 10 sessions highlighting digitalization, global health, and education crises as well as the SDGs, Yonsei Institute for Global Health(YIGH) organized a Featured Session with the title of “Safe & Affordable Surgery : Strategic Plan to Achieve Equitable Access to Surgical Care in the Asia Pacific Region.” The moderator Shinki An, Director of YIGH, led the discussion with 4 panelists on how safe and affordable surgery fits in a sustainable health system, especially in the Asia Pacific region.
COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the significance of a strong and resilient health system in maintaining health and sustainability. Such health system is achieved through equitable access to safe and affordable surgery. Ifereimi Waqainabete, Minister of Health and Medical Services, Republic of Fiji, emphasized that it is essential to provide adequate healthcare services despite the challenges caused by the pandemic and natural disasters.
Surgery saves the lives of millions of people every year and improves their quality of life. Medical personnel trained for surgical procedures improve the quality of medical care, and logistics systems designed to maintain surgeries enable a stable supply of medicines. Yet, 5 billion people do not have access to safe and affordable surgical care. This issue is most prominent in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where 9 out of 10 people are unable to access true surgical care, resulting in surgery avertible deaths and disabilities. John Gerard Meara, Professor of Surgery at Harvard University, pointed out the importance of surgery fitting in healthcare as an equal participant, as an added benefit, to a holistic health care system.
Recognizing the importance of safe and affordable surgery, the World Health Organization Regional Committee Meeting for Western Pacific received the approval of the Action Framework for Safe and Affordable Surgery from all member states in October 2020. Tae Soo Kim, Executive Director of Export-Import Bank of Korea, highlighted the importance of global cooperation in the health sector to move toward the future of Co-prosperity. Hyunwon Kim, Director General of Climate Crisis & Pandemic Response Department of Korea International Cooperation Agency, also asserted the need for planning a mid to long term pathway and roadmap to eventually achieving the affordable and safe surgery, which is best implemented through international cooperation.
The speakers shared insights from the perspectives of a member state, an academic, and multilateral development agencies. Specific action plans that need to be enforced in order to achieve equitable access to safe and affordable surgery were laid out in the session.
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