Low-income countries face the highest risk of financial catastrophe due to surgery and have made the slowest progress
Five billion people—two thirds of the world’s population—lack access to safe, timely, and affordable surgical, anesthesia, and obstetric (SAO) care, as World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim stated. Of the myriad barriers to accessing SAO care—safety, for example, or the lack of a well-trained workforce—one of the largest is financial. For patients, surgery can be very expensive. Not only can the financial burden of seeking surgical care be a formidable obstacle to those who need surgery, it can also have a devastating impact on those who are able to receive it. Over two billion people cannot afford surgery if they needed it today, and, of those who get surgery every year, an estimated 33 million of them will undergo financial hardship from its direct costs—81 million when the ancillary costs of care like transportation and food are included.