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We are pleased to invite you to register for the upcoming Mercy Ships and Operation Smile co-hosted side event at the 77th World Health Assembly

Amplifying Synergies Between NGOs, Multilaterals, and Academia to benefit Surgical Patients

30 May 2024 at 17:00 CEST
Salon Impératrice, Hotel Beau-Rivage,
Geneva, Switzerland & Livestream

A networking reception will follow the panel discussion.

Feel free to download and share this flyer and spread the word by sharing this page with your contacts.


Please fill out the form to register either for in-person attendance or for the livestream. You will receive an email to confirm your registration.

The reason why

5 billion people do not have access to safe, timely, and affordable surgical and anesthesia care when needed and over 100 million additional surgical procedures are needed in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) each year to save lives and prevent disability.

These figures clearly demonstrate that acting alone through direct medical services is not sufficient to fill the overwhelming need for surgical and anesthesia care in low-resource settings, but will also require education, training, and advocacy.

The NGOs Operation Smile and Mercy Ships are co-organizing this World Health Assembly (WHA) side event in order to raise the voices of healthcare specialists from LMICs as well as to amplify synergies between diverse actors to improve access to safe Surgical, Obstetric, and Anesthesia care around the world.

Developing Education and Training activities will offer greatly needed improvements; but efforts to mobilize governments, multi-lateral international organizations, professional societies, aligned NGOs, and academia to remedy this dire situation through collective action can be a decisive factor.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Geneva and virtually.

An agenda will follow soon.


Our guest speakers

We are delighted to present our panelists who will discuss the challenges and opportunities to bridge the gap to surgical care across the globe.

Dr. Emmanuel Makasa

Orthopaedist and Trauma Surgeon
Executive Director of WITSSSURG & CSHR
University of Lukasa, Zambia

Dr. Salome Maswime

Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
Head of Global Surgery
University of Cape Town, South Africa

Dr. Faustin Ntirenganya

General and Onco-Plastic Surgeon
Head of Surgery Department
University of Kigali, Rwanda

Dr. Wieslawa de Pawlikowski

Pediatric Reconstructive Microsurgeon
Director of International Cooperation
Ministry of Health Lima, Peru

Dr. Lee Wallis

Emergency Medicine Specialist
Lead for Emergency and Critical Care
WHO Geneva, Switzerland

Dr. Salome Maswime is a Professor and the Head of the Global Surgery Division at the University of Cape Town. She is a pioneer and expert in the discipline of Global Surgery. She currently serves as the Vice President of Women in Global Health South Afric and Chairperson of the Health Systems Trust Board. She is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and has received numerous awards for her research contribution to science and to healthcare.

Professor Makasa is an Adjunct Professor of Global Surgery and the Founding Director of the Southern Africa Development Community’s University of Witwatersrand Regional Collaboration Centre for Surgical Healthcare Improvement (WitSSurg). He chairs the regional SADC Technical Experts Working Group on Surgical Healthcare. Prof. Makasa is a strong advocate for strengthened health systems for surgical healthcare improvement, he has mobilized, and coordinated multiple stakeholders in the clinical care, public health and development ecosystems.

Dr Ntirenganya is a consultant General & Onco-Plastic and Breast surgeon at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali and Associate Professor of Surgery and Head of the Department of surgery at the School of Medicine and Pharmacy, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Rwanda. He is engaged in global surgery and strives for universal access to quality health care, including providing high-quality surgical services to the poor. He is interested in cancer research and is working on breast cancer molecular markers and their influence on clinical presentation, progression, and outcomes in young African women.

Dr. De Pawlikowski is the Head of Reconstructive Microsurgery Unit at Instituto Nacional de Salud del Niño, – Children’s Hospital, Lima-Peru. Her clinical interests include treatment of brachial plexus injuries in children, hand surgery, and microvascular surgery. She is a founding member of the Peruvian Society of Hand Surgery and president of the Peruvian Society of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery. She is the Director General of the International Technical Cooperation to the Ministry of Health in Peru.

Professor Lee Wallis is the Lead for emergency and critical care at WHO headquarters, within the Clinical Services and Systems unit. Before joining WHO, he led emergency care in the Western Cape government of South Africa. He was the academic head of emergency medicine at the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University. Lee Wallis is the founder of the African Federation for Emergency Medicine. He published and cosigned numerous articles as an expert on emergency medicine in low- and middle-income countries


The organizing NGOs

Operation Smile

Operation Smile is a leading global nonprofit bridging the gap in access to essential surgeries and health care, starting with cleft surgery and comprehensive care. We provide medical expertise, training, mentorship, research and care through our dedicated staff and volunteers around the world, working alongside local governments, nonprofits and health systems, and supported by our generous donors and corporate partners.

Mercy Ships

Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships is a global charity based on Christian values. The humanitarian aid organization is dedicated to increasing access to healthcare in developing nations. Through the deployment of the world’s two largest civilian hospital ships, the Africa Mercy and the Global Mercy¸ Mercy Ships offers holistic support to developing nations striving to make healthcare accessible for all, including life-transforming surgeries and education and training for medical professionals.