Surgical Non-governmental Organizations: Global Surgery’s Unknown Nonprofit Sector
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Charitable organizations may play a significant role in the delivery of surgical care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, in order to quantify their collective contribution, to account for the care they provide in national surgical plans, and to maximize coordination between organizations, a comprehensive database of these groups is required. We aimed to create such a database using web-available data.
We searched for organizations that meet the United Nations Rule of Law definition of non-governmental organizations and provide surgery in LMICs. We termed these surgical non-governmental organizations (s-NGOs). We screened multiple sources including a listing of disaster relief organizations, medical volunteerism databases, charity commissions, and the results of a literature search. We performed a secondary review of each eligible organization’s website to verify inclusion criteria and extracted data.
We found 403 s-NGOs providing surgery in all 139 LMICs, with most (61 %) incorporating surgery into a broader spectrum of health services. Over 80 % of s-NGOs had an office in the USA, the UK, Canada, India, or Australia, and they most commonly provided surgery in India (87 s-NGOs), Haiti (71), Kenya (60), and Ethiopia (55). The most common specialties provided were general surgery (184), obstetrics and gynecology (140), and plastic surgery (116).
This new catalog includes the largest number of s-NGOs to date, but this is likely to be incomplete. This list will be made publicly available to promote collaboration between s-NGOs, national health systems, and global health policymakers.
KeywordsCharitable Organization Charity Commission Financial Risk Protection Lancet Commission Canada Revenue Agency
The authors would like to thank Timothy Chung, Claudia Frankfurter, Celine Yeung, Laura Betcherman, Wan Jin Lee, Adrian Cozma, Sally Carver, Benedict Darren, and Bernard Ho for assistance with database screening and website review. We thank Lily Gutnik and colleagues for providing us with a list of organizations from a complementary study .
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflicts of interest
MGS has served as a volunteer surgeon with Mercy Ships and received speaking fees from Ethicon for work unrelated to this project. JGM has served as a volunteer surgeon with Operation Smile. JGM, JNR, and MGS were authors on The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery. The authors declare no other conflicts of interest.
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