68th World Health Assembly in Geneva

68th World Health Assembly in Geneva

May 18th – 26th, 2015
68th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

The Resolution 68.15 on “Strengthening Emergency and Essential Surgical Care and Anaesthesia as a Component of Universal Health Coverage” was passed unanimously at the World Health Assembly in Geneva this May.

On 18 May 2015 Dr. William Gunn, Immediate Past President made a formal statement at the WHA as follows:



Statement by Dr S.W.A. Gunn on behalf of the International Federation of Surgical Colleges on the 68th WHA agenda item 17.1: Strengthening emergency and essential surgical care and anaesthesia as a component of universal health coverage.

The International Federation of Surgical Colleges  (IFSC), the senior and  earliest surgical non-governmental organization in official relations with WHO, notes with particular satisfaction the genuine support that the Secretariat’s proposal is receiving in favour of strengthening emergency and essential surgery within global health care.

Having been discussed extensively, the rationale for this needs no further proof , and it is with pride that this Federation sees its  pioneering statements about essential surgery now  materializing. At this crucial moment of the resolution, opening up a brighter future for surgical patients, especially in developing countries,  a  glance ,backward  shows that the concept and very term of “essential surgery” emanated jointly from WHO and the IFSC back in  1977at the International Surgical Conference, an event that gains particular significance  today, and  of which  health workers  can all be proud. With this assurance, my Federation and its many surgical affiliates reiterate their commitment to transform this Assembly’s meaningful endorsement into positive action and remain at the disposal of the World Health Organization and its Member States for needed essential surgical care within an equitable universal health coverage.

Respectfully submitted.



On 22nd May 2015, Mr Robert Lane, President of IFSC delivered the following statement at the WHO Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (GIEESC) WHA Side Event.

Madam Chairman,

I should first like to congratulate Zambia and, in particular, Hon. MoH Dr. Joseph Kasonde and Dr. Emmanuel Makasa, for taking the lead with regard to this Resolution.

We have waited so long for this day, in fact since IFSC proposed the subject, 38 years ago.

Now we have a great opportunity, for all of us, led by WHO, to see that Essential and Emergency Surgery and Anaesthesia become available to all.

IFSC believes in a bottom up approach, by which I mean responding to the needs identified by low & middle income countries themselves. Each will have different needs and priorities although there may be common themes.

The implication of the Resolution, in manpower terms, is to increase capacity and that means increasing surgical Education and Training, which we in IFSC have majored on for the past 16 years in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Global Alliance for Surgical, Obstetric, Trauma and Anaesthesia Care was launched this week, of which IFSC has been a founding member. One advantage, for instance, of such an Alliance would be to provide a co-ordinated response with WHO to requests from countries for assistance and support as they themselves see fit and this, for instance, to avoid undue duplication.

Madam Chairman, for so long too many patients have died or been left disabled unnecessarily due to lack of surgery and anaesthesia care. Now we have the chance to remedy this once and for all. IFSC is in the vanguard of those organisations ready and willing to provide surgical education and training in order provide capacity in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).