Prof. Orgoi Sergelen is a general surgeon specializing in liver transplantation and laparoscopic surgery from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world, and Professor Sergelen has been a true pioneer in modern surgical care. Challenges of a rugged geography, serious political and financial constraints, and the large nomadic population have never prevented her from improving health care in Mongolia. Despite her naysayers, she has led several projects that are presenting impressive examples of possibilities for other low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Addressing this absence of basic surgical care, Professor Sergelen led the Mongolian World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care (GIEESC). This coordinated effort addressing absence of adequate capacity for emergency and essential surgical care services in LMICs resulted in dramatic improvements in surgical and anesthetic care capabilities in more than 300 isolated rural communities. The World Health Organization designated Mongolia as the first WHO GIEESC Collaborating Center, with goals to expand the Mongolian success regionally in Central and Southeast Asia.
In 2005, when nearly half of the population was still nomadic and only 4 percent of gallbladders were removed laparoscopically, Professor Sergelen orchestrated the expansion of laparoscopy. Now laparoscopic cholecystectomy is available in 17 of 21 provinces.
With trauma as the third leading cause of death in Mongolia, she oversaw the introduction of the Advanced Trauma Life Support® program.
Professor Sergelen led the development of lower-cost liver transplants and orchestrated inclusion for all transplantation into the government health plan in Mongolia, where liver cancer is the most prevalent cancer. This initiative improved intensive care unit capability, pathology, gastrointestinal support, and pharmacy, strengthening their overall health care system.
Professor Sergelen, truly one of modern surgery’s most impactful leaders for LMICs, has challenged the popular dogma that surgery was too expensive and instead broadened the world’s view of the impact surgery can have for all communities.