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The Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children and Safe Surgery 2020 officially launch the National Surgical, Obstetrics and Anaesthesia Plan Process.

The Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDGEC) in collaboration with Safe Surgery 2020 officially launched the National Surgical, Obstetrics and Anaesthesia Plan (NSOAP) drafting process by convening Working Groups in Dar Es Salaam.

The Planning process was officially launched by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health Tanzania, Dr. Mpoki Ulisubisya, and Ms Asha Verghese- Director, Developing Health Globally at the General Electric Foundation (GE Foundation) and Deputy Permanent Secretary for health at the President’s Office Regional and Local Government (PORALG), Dr. Zainab Chaula the Director of Health and Nutrition services at PORALG, Dr. Ntuli Kapologwe as well as Regional and District Medical Officers.

The need for a National Surgical, Obstetric and Anaesthesia Plan has been informed by various studies highlighting the urgent need to prioritize safe surgery in Tanzania. A study carried out using the WHO Tool for Situational Analysis to Assess Emergency and Essential Surgical Care in 2012 found that the average travel distance for patients receiving surgical care is 119 km in Tanzania.1 The Lancet Commission on global surgery recommends that by the year 2030, 80% of the population should have access to emergency surgical care within 2hrs. However, the current proportion of Tanzania’s population that cannot access surgery within two hours is unknown.

The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery estimates that at least 20-40 surgical specialists are needed per 100,000 population. Tanzania’s density of specialist surgical workforce is 0.31 physician surgeons, obstetricians and anesthesiologists per 100,000 population. Although the rural population accounts for over 70% of the population in Tanzania, many hospitals across the country have no permanent surgical or medical specialist, anesthesiologist, and/or healthcare workers with formal specialty training in emergency or critical care. Furthermore, the high expenses involved are known to delay seeking care and are often a major factor in the decision not to seek care at all. Lack of affordable, quality healthcare traps families into poverty where a third of households have to borrow money or sell assets to pay for health care.

Therefore, to address these challenges, the National Surgical, Obstetric and Anaesthesia Plan will bring together clinicians, practitioners, implementers, and policymakers to work on solutions to the current state of the surgical system in Tanzania, identify what developments are necessary for a functional surgical system as well as identify which of these should be prioritized for the next seven years. The plan aims to improve access to quality, timely and affordable services as well as coordinate the existing efforts to avoid overlap.

Five teams will be formed to discuss terms of reference around workforce, service delivery, infrastructure, information management and financing and governance. It is anticipated that this plan will be completed and launched for implementation by the end of 2017.

This collaboration between the Ministry of Health and Safe Surgery 2020 demonstrates both the public and private sectors’ continuing roles in bringing safe, accessible and affordable surgery to the citizens of Tanzania.

About Safe Surgery 2020

Safe Surgery 2020 is a partnership of governments, implementers, researchers, and advocates aiming to improve the safety, affordability, and accessibility of surgical, anaesthesia and obstetric care. Safe Surgery 2020 is made possible with support of GE Foundation, hosted by Dalberg Global Development Partners and implemented by the Harvard Program in Global Surgery and Social Change, Jhpiego, Assist International, and the Global Alliance for Surgical, Obstetric, Trauma and Anaesthesia Care (The G4 Alliance).

For more information on Safe Surgery 2020, please visit: www.safesurgery2020.org

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