Sustainable Development in Surgery: The Health, Poverty, and Equity Impacts of Charitable Surgery in Uganda

The recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals call for the end of poverty and the equitable provision of healthcare. These goals are often at odds, however: health seeking can lead to catastrophic spending, an outcome for which cancer patients and the poor in resource-limited settings are at particularly high risk. How various health policies affect the additional aims of financial wellbeing and equity is poorly understood. This paper evaluates the health, financial, and equity impacts of governmental and charitable policies for surgical oncology in a resource-limited setting. Three charitable platforms for surgical oncology delivery in Uganda were compared to six governmental policies aimed at improving healthcare access. An extended cost-effectiveness analysis using an agent-based simulation model examined the numbers of lives saved, catastrophic expenditure averted, impoverishment averted, costs, and the distribution of benefits across the wealth spectrum.

Population density validation