Emergency medical services (EMS) are a critical but often overlooked component of essential public health care delivery in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Few countries in Africa have established EMS and there is scant literature to provide guidance for EMS growth.This study aimed to characterize EMS utilization in Harare, Zimbabwe in order to guide system strengthening efforts.We performed a retrospective chart review of patient care reports (PCR) generated by the City of Harare ambulance system for patients transported and/or treated in the prehospital setting over a 14-month period (February 2018 - March 2019).A total of 875 PCRs were reviewed representing approximately 8% of the calls to EMS. The majority of patients were age 15 to 49 (76%) and 61% were female patients. In general, trauma and pregnancy were the most common chief complaints, comprising 56% of all transports. More than half (51%) of transports were for inter-facility transfers (IFTs) and 52% of these IFTs were maternity-related. Transports for trauma were mostly for male patients (63%), and 75% of the trauma patients were age 15-49. EMTs assessed and documented pulse and blood pressure for 72% of patients.In this study, EMS cared primarily for obstetric and trauma emergencies, which mirrors the leading causes of premature death in LMICs. The predominance of requests for maternity-related IFTs emphasizes the role for EMS as an integral player in peripartum maternal health care. Targeted public health efforts and chief complaint-specific training for EMTs in these priority areas could improve quality of care and patient outcomes. Moreover, a focus on strengthening prehospital data collection and research is critical to advancing EMS development in Zimbabwe and the region through quality improvement and epidemiologic surveillance.
View details for DOI 10.5334/aogh.3649
View details for PubMedID 36043040
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9374015