This special article provides an introduction to the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (EESC) program. The program was launched by the WHO in December of 2005 to address the lack of adequate surgical capacity as a global public health issue. The overall objective is to reduce death and disability from trauma, burns, pregnancy-related complications, domestic violence, disasters, and other surgically treatable conditions. The program and materials have spread to over 35 countries and focus on providing (1) basic education and training materials; (2) enhancement of surgical infrastructure at the governmental and health facility level; and (3) resources for monitoring and evaluating surgical, obstetrical, and anesthetic capacity. Additionally, a global forum for program members was established that collaborates with ministries of health, WHO country offices, nongovernmental organizations, and academia. The results of the third biennial meeting of global EESC members in Mongolia are outlined as well as future challenges.
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