Integrated Emergency Surgical Officers

surgical officers

Integrated Emergency Surgical Officers (IESO) initiative is meant for the reduction of the overwhelming maternal, prenatal and infant mortality rates and trauma related morbidities and mortalities. Thus the task shifting intended to produce emergency surgical officers capable to handle common emergency obstetric-gynecological and emergency general surgical procedures including trauma at accessible locality

Ethiopia is well known by high maternal, prenatal and infant mortality rates and trauma related morbidity and mortality.

With increasing urbanization, trauma mainly road traffic accidents result in devastating injuries and non-trauma surgical emergencies including acute surgical abdomen are wide spread and claim lives of children and young adults.

One of the millennium development goals is to improve maternal health and the target is reducing MMR by three quarters by 2015 from it 1995 level. The progress achieved yet is so small bringing doubt at the attainability the target. Greater emphasis should be placed on improved access to skilled attendance at delivery and access to emergency obstetric care.

Emergency surgical officer is a health professional qualified and authorized to perform emergency obstetrical

The MSc program in integrated emergency surgery is intended to achieve one of the millennium development goals (MDG): reducing the overwhelming maternal mortality ratio and perinatal mortality rate at the local and national level.

Target and Objectives

Target: by the end of 2015 the initiative plans to train 800 ESOs while it has 153 graduates' and 515 trainees in 11 universities and 33 affiliate sites. With the current pace of training and the sated time frame the target of will be achieved.

Objectives: To train and assign emergency surgical officers who are well equipped to handle emergency obstetric, gynecological and surgical cases at all primary hospitals and CEMOC sites.

Training Strategy

The implementation strategy of the initiative was recruiting health officers and BSc nurses who are working in health facilities for minimum of two years and train them in a three years special MSc program which is designed for producing competent emergency surgical officers who are competent to perform emergency surgical, gynecological and obstetrics. The initiative has been intended to overcome the human resource scarcity of senior specialists within short period of time especially in the rural part of Ethiopia.


The training has started in 2010 in 3 universities and 10 affiliated sites with intake of 43 students and by 2013 the training has been expanded to 11 universities, 33 affiliated sites. Up to date there are a total of 668 trainees and 153 ESOs already deployed on different regions.


The following areas have been the critical challenges throughout the program implementation period:

  • Critical Shortage of specialist physicians at potential affiliate hospitals.
  • The number of graduates outpaces the facility development which created ESOs to be deployed where it was not intended. 

Future Plan 

  • Avail one ESO in each CEMONC area that's per 100,000 population area throughout the country.
  • Develop the future career ladder of ESOs.
  •  Improve quality of the training.