Lack of surgical healthcare costs lives and money. Five billion people do not have access to quality surgical services at an affordable cost when needed. Still, surgical conditions account for 30% of the global burden of disease and causes the loss of 16.9 million lives every year. This is more than the number of deaths from tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria combined. The burden of surgical disease is highest in sub-Saharan Africa where access to surgery is most limited. Surgical procedures are often highly cost-effective. Conditions that result in a significant burden of disease and where surgery is an important part of the treatment should be prioritized. Groin hernia, paediatric surgical conditions and breast cancer meet these criteria.