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World J Surg. 2012 Oct;36(10):2359-70. doi: 10.1007/s00268-012-1668-z.

Strengthening surgical services at the soum (first-referral) hospital: the WHO emergency and essential surgical care (EESC) program in Mongolia.

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University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.



Provision of surgical care continues to receive little attention and funding despite the growing burden of surgical disease worldwide. In 2004, The World Health Organization (WHO) established the Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (EESC) program, which was designed to strengthen surgical services at the first-referral hospital. There are limited data documenting the implementation and scale-up of such services. We describe the nationwide implementation of the EESC program in Mongolia over a 6 year period.


Surgical services were increased in rural areas of Mongolia using the WHO Integrated Management of Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (IMEESC) toolkit from 2004 to 2010. Fund of knowledge tests and program evaluation was done to measure uptake, response, and perceived importance of the program. Two years after the pilot sites were launched, programmatic impact on short-term process measures was evaluated using the WHO Monitoring and Evaluation form.


The program was implemented in 14 aimags/provinces (66.67 %) and 178 soum hospitals (52.66 %). Fund of knowledge scores increased from 47.72 % (95 % confidence interval (CI) 40.7-54.7) to 77.9 % (95 % CI 70.1-85.7, p = 0.0001) after the training program. 1 year post-training, there was a 57.1 % increase in the availability of emergency rooms, 59.1 % increase in the supply of emergency kits, a 73.64 % increase in the recording of emergency care cases, and a 46.66 % increase in the provision of facility and instrument usage instructions at the pilot sites.


The EESC program was successfully implemented and scaled up at a national level with improvements in short-term process measures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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