SHARE EMS participates in the first CDC sponsored EMS development meeting in Kenya

October 2011 – The development of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems in Kenya has been a long road, despite much work by many NGOs, many years of local progress, steps forward by the Kenyan government, and the multitude of meetings about the need to do so and how to move forward. The need in developing countries for this level of emergent healthcare is great, more so than would be expected from a developed nation perspective. There exist many public health concerns beyond those usually related to public health in such an environment and those concerns have led the CDC to hold the first symposium in East Africa to attempt answers.

Among the many participants were representatives from SHARE EMS, the Kenya Council of EMTs (KCEMT), Kenya Red Cross and E-Plus, Saint Johns Ambulance, Kenya Ministry of Health, African Air Rescue, Ministry of Medical Services, several public and private hospitals, Physicians, Clinical Officers, Nurses and Emergency Medical Responders. Each of the participants have added much to the development of EMS within Kenya and this was an opportunity to bring many of the health sectors together in a session aimed at defining the needs, assessing options and solutions for the challenges faced, and then breaking into small group sessions to begin working out those solutions.

Of the basic components necessary for a functioning EMS system, the symposium participants worked more than 8 hours a day on those required for initial system success: Manpower, Training, Communications, Transportation, Facilities, Access to Care and Coordinated Record Keeping. Discussion also ensued about the other necessary components in a successful EMS system: Critical Care Units, Public Safety Agencies, Consumer Participation, Patient Transfer, Public Information and Education, Review/Evaluation/Oversight, Disaster Plan Development and Mutual Aid. While Kenya’s EMS system cannot be like other systems any more than they can be like Kenya’s system, much can be learned from the research and experiences of others. Issues such as finances, geography, resources, politics, logistics and current healthcare system functioning will define how Kenya’s EMS system is developed and operates. It also cannot be made and dropped in or over the existing healthcare structure. It must be understood, designed, and implemented by Kenyans, of Kenyans and for Kenyans. Additionally, it must be developed from both the bottom up and the top down with support from all involved.

Congratulations to the CDC and all those present in the development process, especially those from the KCEMT, government and other organizations and institutions. SHARE is proud to have been a partner in the development of EMS in Kenya for the past 18 years through local education, equipment donations and a variety of public health improvement programs throughout the country, and will continue to assist in the development of EMS in Kenya as a dedicated partner well into the future.

by David Violante, Director of EMS
July 2010