Push for more focus on emergency medical care

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 12:48 |
President of the African Federation for Emergency Medicine Dr Benjamin Wachira during the 5th African conference last month. Photo/PD/Viola Kosome

As the country continues to grapple with increasing cases of Covid-19, experts now want the government to give more attention to the field of emergency  medicine.

Experts opine this would help build and improve response to future health emergencies.

The field is yet to gain a footing in the country, but has the potential of changing health outcomes for patients.

Calls for emergency medicnie come as the pandemic continues to expose the huge gaps in critical care and emergency with systems struggling to cope up with the high demand of critical care.

The push to have the country embrace emergency medicine is gaining currency in a bid to ensure emergency systems are established. A section of medics  are of the opinion that  focus on the sector is critical in helping save lives.

Dr Benjamin Wachira, the president of the African Federation for Emergency Medicine and an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Aga Khan University said the country is in the right direction in establishing emergency medicine.

The government is banking its hopes of transforming the field through the Emergency Medical Policy, which is expected to run between 2020 and 2025.

“Well-established emergency care systems are used daily to handle regular emergencies and thus are well established to respond to disasters.

If the above infrastructure had already been in place, Kenya would be in a better position to handle the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dr Wachira.

Medic claimed implementation of the policy will help boost the war against diseases such as maternal and child health to help reduce mortality rates in the country.

The government estimates that non-communicable diseases and trauma as a result of  road accidents also contribute to about 10 per cent of deaths in the country.

However, healthcare professionals  are optimistic that a huge investment and recognition of emergency medicine could be crucial in helping avert the trend.

Dr Wachira, who is also the brainchild of Emergency Medicine Kenya Foundation, an organisation dedicated to ensuring timely, accessible and quality lifesaving emergency care underscored the need to implement policies aimed at improving emergency health.

“The Kenya Policy of Emergency Medical Care should be implemented in all the counties and we need to have a single short code emergency access number like 719 where in case of an emergency, Kenyans can call the number to get an ambulance,” he said.

Critical facilities 

Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the lack of preparedness for emergency services as  hospitals struggled to care for their patients.

A senior medic at the Kenyatta National Hospital who sought anonymity  told People Daily there is need for hospitals to have in place critical facilities such as piped oxygen and ventilators for general operations.  

The doctor, who is also among those that have been championing for the adoption of emergency medicine, also challenged the government to establish a public ambulance system that can be used by all Kenyans.

“There is a need to develop a public ambulance system and emergency departments across the country.

They should be well identified, resourced and standardised to ensure they provide timely, accessible and quality lifesaving emergency care,” said the medic.

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