AO Foundation announces a major collaboration with World Health Organization

09. December 2018

The AO Foundation has announced a major commitment to support the launch of a World Health Organization (WHO) global initiative to improve emergency and trauma services in multiple countries around the world. More than half of all deaths in low- and middle-income countries result from conditions that can be addressed by emergency care.

The Global Emergency & Trauma Care Initiative was announced by Etienne Krug, WHO, Director, and Robert McGuire, AO Foundation President at the AO Foundation's 60th anniversary event 

The Global Emergency & Trauma Care Initiative will make simple, affordable, life-saving interventions available to ensure timely care for all people in need.

“No one should die for the lack of access to emergency care, an essential part of universal health coverage,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement. “We have simple, affordable and proven interventions that save lives. This initiative will ensure that millions of people around the world have access to the timely, life-saving care they deserve.”

The scale of the problem is daunting: each year, more people die from injuries than from contagious diseases, and the vast majority of these people are in low- and middle-income countries. At a conservative estimate, ten times as many suffer from a disability or deformity that causes pain and makes it harder for them to get out of poverty.


The chances of receiving timely treatment are much lower in countries across Africa, compared to standard response times and treatment approaches in western Europe. The effectiveness of treatment of injuries is higher than for most other illnesses. The solutions to these problems are cost-effective and affordable. Yet globally, 40 percent of financial assistance is channeled to the prevention and cure of contagious diseases, while just one percent is directed to trauma care.

This initiative offers the AO Foundation a chance to build on the efforts of its pioneering founders sixty years ago and expand its impact into new geographies. As the world's leading network of surgeons specializing in trauma and musculoskeletal disorders, the AO Foundation is perfectly positioned to be a central part of the much-needed response to this neglected epidemic.

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The launch of this initiative is made possible through a CHF 10 million grant from the AO Foundation, from its Jubilee Fund, created to mark its 60th anniversary.

A contract signing ceremony marking this significant agreement was held on-stage in the Congress Center Davos as part of an event to mark the AO Foundation's 60th anniversary. AO Foundation President Robert McGuire and the WHO's Etienne Krug participated. Speaking on-stage at the event, McGuire said “we are proud to launch this collaboration with WHO, addressing a neglected public health issue which is fully in line with our mission and expertise.”