Emergency Medicine Facts
According to the World Health Organization, many countries have no emergency access telephone number to call for an ambulance or no trained ambulance staff. Many hospitals lack dedicated emergency units and have few providers trained in the recognition and management of emergency conditions. These gaps result in millions of avoidable deaths every year.
Globally, the burden of disease due to road injury has decreased significantly since 1990, but this decrease is largely in high-income regions, with the reverse trend occurring in low and middle-income countries.
NO EMERGENCY FACILITIES
Inadequate access to emergency medical care and resulting avoidable deaths and disability in low and middle-income countries could be addressed through pre-hospital and facility-based emergency care systems.
PROXIMITY TO HOSPITALS
In a survey on access to emergency healthcare in Africa, 32 (67%) of the 48 countries surveyed did not meet the international target that 80% of the population should live within a 2 hour travel time of a hospital, and in seven countries less than 50% of the population met this criteria. Adequate access to emergency care requires affordable services by trained providers, available medications and supplies, and referral systems.
GAPS IN ACCESS
The striking gaps in access to quality emergency medical care underline the importance of expanding physical access to hospital emergency services as part of a strategy of universal health coverage.
Globally, approximately 30% of women of childbearing age do not have acceptable access to emergency care.
ESSENTIAL HEALTH SERVICES
In 2017, the World Health Organization and World Bank estimated that at least half the world’s population did not have access to the full spectrum of essential health services, including emergency care. Inequitable access to emergency care has been magnified during the pandemic, including inadequate access to vaccines for most of the world’s population.
Lack of access to basic pre-hospital and in-hospital emergency care means that illness and injury, which are easily treated in countries with full emergency care systems result in needless deaths and long-term disability for millions of people, and this disproportionately affects children.
THREATS TO THE EMERGENCY CARE WORKFORCE
Inadequate safety in the workplace, whether through design of facilities without due attention to infection prevention and control, inadequate access to personal protective equipment, or lack of support for workers who suffer occupational stress, burnout and psychological distress due to their work; or, through targeting of facilities and personnel during violent conflict situations in contravention of basic international protocols, remains a threat to the provision of emergency care.