The birth of a new era for Emergency Care in Kenya!

“Simplification, Unification and Coordination” were the three words that came up over and over during the first Emergency Care Symposium, organized by the Emergency Medicine Kenya Foundation that took place on June 29th and 30th 2017.

For a first occurrence, the event was a success in rallying an experienced and diversified crowd with 30 speakers and more than 400 attendees representing:

  • Emergency Doctors and Nurses from main hospitals throughout the country
  • Ambulance providers along with EMT and Paramedics
  • The Ministry of Health
  • Health care insurers
  • International Emergency Care organizations
  • Other health care service providers and facilitators

The Symposium was the occasion to acknowledge and promote the key steps that have been taken in the last year to recognize the importance of Emergency Medicine in Kenya.

The first one is the release of the Health Bill 2007 enacted by the Parliament of Kenya. The goal of this Bill is to ensure that every Kenyan get access to the highest standard of emergency care. Indeed, the Bill asserts:

  • the right to emergency medical treatment” including pre-hospital care
  • the duty for all healthcare providers, whether in the public or private sector, to provide such emergency treatment”

The Bill also engages the Ministry responsibility to:

  • “Establish an Emergency Medical Treatment Fund for emergencies to provide (...) supplementary financing”
  • “Provide policy and training, maintenance of standards and coordination mechanisms”

Secondly the creation of an Emergency Medicine diploma recognized by the Medical Practitioners and Dentist Boards as well as the Clinical Officers Council. This will hopefully encourage more practitioners to specialize and improve the overall quality of emergency care treatment.

Finally, NHIF has rolled out a new emergency services package in partnership with the Red cross to provide fully covered ambulatory services. NHIF members can now call the toll free number 9911 to request an ambulance at any time of the day.

Even more important, the Symposium was the unique opportunity to gathers hundreds of healthcare stakeholders that will get to define the future of Emergency Care in Kenya. From all the inspiring testimonies that were heard during the Symposium, one sentence from Eric Swaleh (International Association of Emergency Managers) resonates strongly “Systems are not perfect but work perfectly”. While it seems unachievable to solve every issues in the next few months, there is a clear convergence on the immediate need for a proper Emergency Care system that:

  1. Enhances Emergency Care education and training to increase the chances of saving lives at every step
  2. Simplifies and democratize the access to Emergency Care for everyone from pre-hospital treatment to in-hospital admission
  3. Creates unique standards covering Emergency Care training, equipment checklists and patient treatment to ensure every Kenyan receive the best quality Emergency Care
  4. Builds a dedicated Authority organization to regulate Emergency Care and enforce the above standards
  5. Improves overall coordination of all healthcare services providers both in the public and private sectors to reduce inefficiencies and gain precious life-saving time
  6. Develops a rigorous Emergency Disaster Response program that coordinates with every resources needed and that can be quickly implemented in any unfortunate event
  7. Pushes for more data collection to continuously measure progress and provide feedback loops for sustained improvements
  8. Raises more funding to set up better healthcare and transport infrastructure especially outside of Nairobi

The final piece of advice that we will take with us while leaving the Symposium come from Dr Ayesha Edwards from Nairobi Hospital “Emergency Care need to work as a team for the best outcome”.

Here at Flare we are committed to be part of this team, part of this new system that if built collectively and intelligently will be saving thousands of Kenyan lives every year.

To achieve that, additional questions will need to be answered. At Flare, we are eager to understand the following:

  1. Would the Emergency Medical Treatment Fund support private facilities to stabilize patients from any financial background?
  2. How will the private ambulance companies be engaged in this new system?
  3. How can we hold ourselves collectively liable with milestones and targets to be achieved?

What about you? What are your concerns? What are other topics you would want to see addressed? We would love to hear more about it, so we can all look for answers and keep the momentum going.

Julia Cormier

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