Emergency and essential surgical care

About us

The WHO Programme for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (EESC) is dedicated to strengthening health systems by improving access to safe, timely and affordable surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia care, to optimize health outcomes.

The programme was established to take the lead in efforts to reduce the global burden of surgery-related diseases resulting from injuries, pregnancy-related complications, communicable and noncommunicable diseases, disasters and humanitarian crises, but which still too often lead to premature death and disability.


Our vision

Our vision is universal access to emergency and essential surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia care that is safe, timely and affordable.

Our mission

Our mission is to collaborate with global multidisciplinary and internal partners:

  • to support the development and adoption of evidence-based policies and plans to strengthen surgical services;
  • to develop best practices and standards for surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia care;
  • to strengthen education and training programmes to improve surgical services;
  • to build capacity for safe and high quality surgical care at all levels; and
  • to monitor the progress and impact of our strategies aiming to reduce the global surgical burden.

Some of the major achievements so far include:

  • introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations replacing the Millennium Development Goals and adding more surgical targets as components of universal health coverage, (SDG target 3.8);
  • approval of World Health Assembly resolution 68.15 on strengthening emergency and essential surgical care and anaesthesia as a component of universal health coverage. This resolution mandates WHO and Member States’ global actions towards the development of surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia care.

Major components of this mandate include:

  • advocacy and resource development;
  • care delivery and system development;
  • information management;
  • essential medicines;
  • expand the surgical, obstetric and anaesthesia health workforce.

Contact information

Emergency & Essential Surgical Care Programme
Service Delivery and Safety
Health Systems and Innovation
World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
Switzerland

For feedback or other enquiries please contact us at surgery@who.int.