Saving Lives through Safer Anesthesiology Around the World

From Africa to Asia to Latin America, Lifebox is the leading non-profit organization working globally to make anesthesia and surgery safer. Lifebox-supported teams care for pregnant women facing complicated births, people injured in everyday accidents, and children born with conditions such as cleft palate or clubfoot who, with surgery, can live more productive and fulfilling lives.

The Challenge

Unsafe surgery is the world’s fastest growing global health issue. According to the Lancet, nearly 5 billion people lack access to safe, affordable, and effective surgery. Those receiving surgery in resource-poor settings face a 1000-time higher risk of complications than in high-income countries. A recent study found that an estimated 4.2 million people die within 30 days of surgery each year, the great majority in low-resource settings. Lifebox is working with the American Society of Anesthesiology to change this.

Check out how ASA resident members are fundraising to support Lifebox on our Resident Challenge page.

The Lifebox Approach

Lifebox is a pioneer working in some of the world’s most challenging environments to address unsafe surgery. We work collaboratively with partners across the world on locally-adapted solutions that enable health care workers to upgrade their tools, training, and teamwork. Lifebox tests and develops ideas, then translates the lessons learned locally into scalable solutions.

Lifebox’s flagship program developed a low-cost and low-resource-adapted pulse oximeter — an essential monitoring device that no anesthesia provider should be without. At just $250 per unit, the Lifebox Pulse Oximeter offers a low-cost, durable tool that includes reusable adult and pediatric probes, as well as training materials for self-directed learning, and access to a global network of anesthesia safety experts and champions. Since 2011, Lifebox has distributed more than 20,000 oximeters worldwide, in more than 113 countries for over 6,000 healthcare professionals and their patients.

Lifebox organizes its work around three core pillars:

TOOLS — Many hospital and health care settings across the globe lack basic equipment for safer anesthesia and surgery. Lifebox’s pulse oximeter, is an essential piece of equipment for safe operations. Lifebox’s second fit-for-purpose tool is a surgical headlight currently being developed with locally-led input into design and testing in collaboration with manufacturers.

TRAINING — Lifebox trains health professionals on multiple areas related to safe surgery and anesthesia including using the pulse oximeter, effectively implementing the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, and strategies for reducing the risk of surgical site infection.

TEAMWORK — Lifebox promotes operating room teamwork to break down hierarchies and improve communication, leading to a strong safety culture that includes everyone–hospital administrators, surgeons, anesthesia providers, nursing staff, and cleaners.

Lifebox was founded in 2011 by four of the world’s leading medical professional organizations: Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland; Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists. At Lifebox, we build our programs, monitor our impact, and assess future opportunities through an evidence-based approach drawing on our partnerships with academic researchers and professional societies around the globe, including the ASA.

Lifebox Impact