Safe Surgery 2020

The Need

  • 5 billion people lack access to safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia care.
  • 16.9 million estimated yearly deaths from conditions needing surgery.
  • 143 million more surgical procedures are needed each year to save lives and prevent disability.
  • 2+ million more skilled surgical providers needed worldwide by 2030.

Program Description

The Safe Surgery 2020 (SS2020) Initiative is a group of partners, led by the GE Foundation and including Assist International, Dalberg, JHPIEGO, and Harvard PGSSC, seeking to improve access to surgical care in some of the world’s most challenging health contexts. The initiative focuses on three pillars:

  • Leadership Development trains and mentors surgical teams to identify safe surgery gaps in their facilities, seek the resources they need, take action to improve surgical outcomes and share their experiences.
  • Innovation drives new solutions to top-priority surgical gaps in low- and middle-income countries by finding and supporting innovators with funding, training, and mentorship.
  • Elevating Ideas enables sharing of best practices, innovations, and insights by building a body of evidence on how to improve access to safe surgery and sparking national and global conversations.

Assist International leads the innovation pillar on behalf of the Safe Surgery 2020 initiative. Our innovations for Safe Surgery 2020 include:

Facility Accelerator Fund (FAF)

  • Program: The Facility Accelerator Fund (FAF) is designed to support partner health facilities address identified gaps in surgical capacity. Small grants provided by the FAF allow clinical teams to address a self-identified barrier to providing safe surgical services.
  • Our Role: Assist International develops, implements, and manages the FAF program, providing infrastructure improvements and life-saving equipment.

Perioperative Enhancement Project (PEP)

  • Program: The Perioperative Enhancement Project (PEP) provides health facilities with the key medical equipment needed to provide safe anesthesia and monitor patients.
  • Our Role: Assist International developed, implemented, and managed the PEP program, ensuring that health facilities get high-quality equipment best suited for their healthcare context.

Biomedical Engineering Training Program (BMET)

  • Program: The BMET program provides comprehensive skills training for qualified biomedical technicians through education, practical and professional experiences, and mentorship to maintain and repair medical equipment at program hospitals.
  • Our Role: Assist international designs, manages, and implements a variety of BMET training and healthcare equipment management solutions.

ImPACT Perioperative and Anesthesia Care and Training (ImPACT) AFRICA

  • Partners: Kijabe Hospital (Kenya), Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the Center for Public Health and Development (Kenya), Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC), the Regional Health Bureau of Amhara, the Regional Health Bureau of Tigray.
  • Program: ImPACT AFRICA brings ImPACT AFRICA tools – a proven suite of in-service, pre-service, and simulation training material – to teaching hospitals. The ImPACT AFRICA program improves the safety of anesthesia and perioperative care by enhancing education and training for anesthesia providers. Since 2014, the ImPACT Program has trained 631 people in Kenya and Ethiopia.
  • Our Role: Assist International helps solidify partnerships, designs the program to coordinate with national priorities around anesthesia training, builds infrastructure, manages in-country personnel, provides program management and logistical support for the ImPACT AFRICA program.

Project ECHO

  • Partner: Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes)
  • Program: Project ECHO is a robust tele-mentoring platform that provides continuous medical education, guided practice.
  • Our Role: Assist International used Project ECHO’s innovative telementoring system to develop and implement the first Safe Surgery and Anesthesia Care ECHO program. In collaboration with our partners, we provide low-dose, high- frequency follow-up on content from the other Safe Surgery programs, increasing sustainability while connecting practitioners to peers and mentors.

Touch Surgery

  • Partner: Digital Surgery
  • Program: Touch Surgery is a cognitive-task tool that trains surgical providers in the steps needed to perform and deliver safe surgical care. The objective of the Touch Surgery program is to improve the technical and cognitive surgical skills of surgical providers by providing medical officers with a detailed and accurate way to practice their surgical skills in a low-risk setting.
  • Our Role: Assist International has partnered with Digital Surgery to introduce and implement the Touch Surgery app in LMICs. This effort includes tailoring Touch Surgery content to meet the specific needs of surgeons in LMICs and conducting clinical and technical training sessions for surgeons using Touch Surgery procedures.

Safe Obstetrics Anesthesia Training

  • Partner: WFSA (World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists)
  • Program: WFSA in-service training programs increase the capacity of all levels of anesthesia providers to deliver safe anesthesia care for patients experiencing life-threatening obstetric conditions.
  • Our Role: Assist International partners with WFSA to provide trainers with the simulation tools, training support, and logistics needed to equip anesthesia educators and providers with obstetric anesthesia care best practices.

Sterile Processing Education Charitable Trust (SPECT)

  • Partner: Sterile Processing Education Charitable Trust (SPECT)
  • Program: SPECT provides education, training, and mentoring in selected hospitals. The program focuses on decreasing the risk of infection by improving the knowledge and practices of sterile processing techniques.
  • Our Role: Assist International identifies the lack of sterile processing and sterile techniques in target hospitals and provides management and logistical support for sterile processing training programs.


  • Countries Impacted:
    1. Kenya
  • 1998 health workers trained
  • 233 health facilities impacted
  • 40 million + catchment population served


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