Lifebox in India

With generous funding from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Lifebox has a three year-grant to develop its oximetry programmes across India.


With a population of 1.3 billion and a landscape that ranges from the mighty peaks of the Himalayas to the deserts in the west – as well as a 7,000 km coastline – safer surgery and anaesthesia for all of India is a serious undertaking.

Access to healthcare is limited by a lack of resources and staff with only 0.7 physicians and 1.1 nurses per 1,000 population. Of its 15,500 operating rooms, over 7,000 lack pulse oximetry – leaving millions of people to undergo surgery at great risk.

So it will come as no surprise that India is a key country of Lifebox focus for the next three years, thanks largely in part to the generosity of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The aims of the project are to make serious inroads into the problem of unsafe surgery within India, distributing pulse oximeters alongside training.

Work kicked off earlier this year in the northeastern state of Assam, with a train-the-trainers workshop to support a faculty with local knowledge and expertise ahead of 68 anaesthetists participating in the Lifebox Training Workshop.

In August, we delivered a workshop in Bihar, alongside the Obstetrics Anaesthesia Association. In the coming months, we’ll be expanding with partnerships across four additional states: Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and southern Assam, reaching more than 500 health care providers by early next year.

Because we believe that a long-term, colleague-to-colleague approach is the only way to secure safer surgical care for all, we’re building local capacity with ongoing train-the-trainer workshops, and zonal training across the north, south, east and west.

We’re also building partnerships, trusting local experts to help us support safer care where it’s most crucially needed. Our partner organisations in India range from NGOs such as CARE, to private hospitals such as Apollo Hospitals, medical professional organisations and individual anesthetists committed to a safer future for their patients.

Please do get in touch with Lifebox if there is an area of India where you would like to develop a project.

“My trainee anaesthetist was worried about post op recovery but I assured him that the patient was sent directly to the recovery ward with a Lifebox pulse oximeter for monitoring. This gave him a sense of security and at the same time improved the patient’s safety.”

Dr Surajit Giri, Demow Rural Community Health Centre, Assam

“Through our Safer Surgery India project, Lifebox plays a vital role in strengthening professional ties between continents, regions, healthcare providers and their patients – ultimately safeguarding thousands of lives. On a personal level, it gives me the opportunity to support and serve an extraordinary country that means so much to my family. Lifebox is extremely grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for their generous support, and to all our partners for their commitment to safer surgery and anesthesia. Together we’re going to make a lifelong – and life-saving – difference.”

Dr Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, Lifebox Founder and Chair