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Many rural areas in Africa still have high maternal and infant death rates because there are no local surgeons. Many children drop out of school because their untreated disabilities prevent them from walking the long distances to classes. Surgery can help women who suffer after prolonged childbirth or restore eyesight for the elderly suffering from cataracts. Management of congenital disabilities such as a cleft palate guarantees better nutrition for children.Emmanuel M. Makasa, a Zambian surgeon and representative to the United Nations, has been fighting for years to make surgery accessible to all people. He has a special interest in providing surgical access to rural communities in the developing world as well as helping physically challenged people lead a better life.This is the third essay in the Big Ideas series created by the European Investment Bank. Previous essays addressed water security and artificial intelligence.