Developing an Ethical Framework for Global Surgical Partnerships

Global Surgery has emerged to now encompass activities ranging from short-term surgical missions to sustained initiatives in developing health systems within a community. At the heart of these collaborations is a desire to address the unmet needs of equitable access to high-quality surgical care around the world.

While there is agreement about the presence of these needs, there have yet to be any consensus around how to best address these needs ethically and effectively. In response to this identified gap, the Office of Global Surgery (OGS) established a Global Surgery Ethical Framework Working Group to develop a framework to navigate the ethical and pragmatic considerations to global surgical care.

Since January 2019, the Working Group has been leading an international collaborative dialogue to develop key principles and themes to this framework through a series of collaborative webinars and a workshop held at the 2019 Bethune Round Table Conference.


March 7 & May 16, 2019:

March 7 Webinar

The OGS hosted two webinars in March and May of 2019 with input from the OGS's network of local and global collaborators to discuss and establish best practices for institutions, clinicians, patients, and other stakeholders to navigate real and ethically challenging scenarios often encountered in global surgical initiatives.

November 19, 2019:

In November 2019, the OGS held a third collaborative webinar to invite input from an expert panel of clinicians and ethicists on the internal validity of the domains and principles identified in the working draft of the framework. You may access a recording of this webinar HERE (WebEx Player may be required).


Edmonton, Canada - 2019 Bethune Round Table (June 6, 2019)


This in-person workshop was held in Edmonton in June 2019 as a pre-conference event to the Bethune Round Table. The workshop culminated voices of clinicians from our partner institutions around the world and produced a draft structure and core principles of an ethical framework that became a centrepiece of this year's Bethune Conference. The draft framework is a living document and will continue to evolve as the OGS and its collaborators continue the dialogue on the ethical conduct of global surgery.

Kampala, Uganda - 2019 COSECSA AGM (December 6, 2019)

OGS Team members hosted a collaborative workshop on December 6, 2019 as part of the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa (COSECSA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Kampala, Uganda. This workshop focused on the application of guiding principles identified in this ethical framework, as well as considerations for sustainability in a series of scenarios encountered during global surgical collaborations. The output of discussions were later presented by selected workshop attendees as a plenary panel discussion to all COSECSA AGM attendees. In addition to the implementation of these ethical principles, participants were also asked to assess the external validity of this framework and its applicability to real-world global surgical practice.

Get Involved

Upcoming Event(s):

If you are interested in knowing more, please contact Kaiyang Fan, Operations Coordinator for the Office of Global Surgery at