Moving the Needle: A New Film Series on Surgical Care in Ethiopia

Our new film series, Moving the Needle, tells the stories of surgical team members at Lemlem Karl Hospital, a primary facility in Maichew, Ethiopia. The films follow the stories of Selamawit, Solomon, Dr. Reiye, Dr. Gizaw, and Shambel as they explain how surgical care has evolved at their hospital following clinical and leadership training with Safe Surgery 2020.


Surgery is an essential part of a health system. It is required to treat nearly all diseases, trauma and obstetric emergencies. Surgery saves lives and prevents disabilities. Yet today, only 1 out of every 20 people in Africa and South Asia can access surgery. 17 million people are dying each year because basic surgery isn’t available everywhere. It’s clear we won’t reach Universal Health Coverage unless surgical care is prioritized.

Safe Surgery 2020 has been working alongside the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health since 2016 to build local surgical capacity. By integrating soft skills training programs, clinical training, and infrastructure innovations, we have demonstrated that it is possible to build surgical capacity in primary hospitals. Through our collaboration with the Ministry of Health’s Saving Lives Through Surgery initiative, we have been able to share our learnings and support the government as they strive to improve access to safe, essential and emergency surgical and anaesthesia care across all levels of the healthcare system.

This World Health Assembly, we are advocating for surgical care to be prioritized as part of Universal Health Coverage. Join us by sharing our #MovingTheNeedle films on Twitter!

Ashley Eberhart