Safe surgery nonprofit & US lighting company partner to tackle poor lighting in African operating rooms

Urgent need to close surgical lighting gap that puts 24 million people at risk of harm each year


Safe surgery nonprofit & US lighting company partner to tackle poor lighting in African operating rooms

Urgent need to close surgical lighting gap that puts 24 million people at risk of harm each year

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA and PORTLAND, OR – 28 November 2023 – Global safe surgery nonprofit Lifebox and US LED optical technology company COAST are teaming up to provide low-cost, high-quality, durable, headlights to surgical providers in 10 African countries, reducing major risks to patient safety caused by poor surgical lighting,

Every year, an estimated 24 million patients face serious risks from inadequate lighting in operating rooms, including nerve damage, blood loss, and organ injury. Surgical providers struggle to perform safe operations due to substandard or broken surgical lighting, power outages, and the absence of functional backup generators, or even a complete lack of surgical quality lighting. Eighty percent of surgical providers surveyed across 39 low- and middle-income countries stated that inadequate lighting presented safety risks to their patients; nearly half reported frequent power outages affecting their facilities, and almost one in five recounted a direct experience of patient harm as a result.

 “As a surgical resident in Ethiopia, I know how terrifying it is when the light goes out with a patient open on the operating table,” said Dr. Natnael Gebeyehu, surgical resident at Addis Ababa University’s Tikur Anbessa Hospital in Ethiopia. “An excellent quality surgical headlight that illuminates the surgical field will completely transform our work. In low-resource settings like mine, this basic technology is long overdue.” 

Surgical headlights – used routinely in high-income healthcare settings – are an effective solution to unreliable operative lighting, but until now, the need for affordable surgical headlights suited for use in resource-constrained environments has been largely ignored: Hospital-grade surgical headlights typically cost upwards of US$ 1000 with many designed to be connected to mains power.

“Poor surgical lighting is a neglected global health problem with devastating consequences for surgical patients in low-resource settings,” said Dr. Tihitena Negussie, pediatric surgeon at Tikur Anbessa Hospital, Ethiopia and Global Clinical Director of Lifebox. “In 2023, no surgical patient should be harmed due to a lack of light. Lifebox urges headlight manufacturers to follow Lifebox and COAST’s lead and make products accessible for surgical providers in these contexts. The safety of surgical patients is at stake.”

The Lifebox Light is a durable, rechargeable, and affordable headlamp with a bright, adjustable beam to illuminate the surgical field. Surgeons testing the device report improved surgical safety including better visualization, increased accuracy, confidence, and focus, shorter surgery duration, and a reduction in patient harm. 

The high-performing industrial-grade headlight manufactured by COAST closely matched minimum specifications developed by Lifebox during engineering and field testing of commercially available headlights. The COAST device was modified and tested to enable seamless battery swaps and easier portability.

“COAST and Lifebox are natural partners, with both organizations committed to innovations that address real world problems,” said Tyler Peterson, COAST President. “We are incredibly proud that COAST’s world-class LED technology products are helping surgical providers deliver safer care and better patient outcomes across the globe.”

This groundbreaking partnership builds on collaboration between Lifebox and family-owned COAST to support essential surgical care during emergencies, including distributing personal protective equipment to surgical team members during the COVID-19 pandemic, and distributing hundreds of headlights to healthcare providers in Ukraine in 2022 and in Syria in the wake of this year’s earthquake. Lifebox and COAST are continuing work to further optimize the headlights for surgical use in low-resource settings.

About COAST: 

COAST has a track record of trusted and durable innovations, with world class LED optical technology. Founded In 1919, COAST remains family-owned and operated, now in its fourth generation. COAST has a century-long history of innovation – with COAST’S founder, Henry W. Brands, designing a salmon filet knife with a scoop on the back of the handle to improve worker efficiency for cannery workers along Oregon’s fishing docks. Today COAST produces cutting-edge portable lights, knives, multi-tools, and lighted safety gear to make people’s lives safer, easier, and more enjoyable. COAST products are designed for a purpose, built with top-grade materials, and backed by a lifetime warranty.

About Lifebox:

Lifebox is a global nonprofit that saves lives through safer surgery and anesthesia. Through tools, training, and partnerships, Lifebox addresses the critical gaps in surgical systems to make surgery and anesthesia safer worldwide. Founded by Dr. Atul Gawande and other leaders in surgery and anesthesia, Lifebox works on three core areas: anesthesia safety, surgical teamwork, and reducing surgical infection. Since 2011, Lifebox has worked in 116 countries and trained more than 12,000 healthcare providers to make millions of surgeries safer. To learn more about Lifebox, visit

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