Emergency medical care in developing countries:is it worthwhile?

Junaid A. Razzak1 & Arthur L. Kellermann2

Historically, global health policy emphasized multiple, vertically oriented programmes that concentrated on maternal and child health and the control of communicable childhood diseases (1). This resulted in major public health agencies focusing their support on selective programmes that address priority diseases and activities (2). Unfortunately, vertical programmes do not encourage the development of strong and efficient health care delivery systems. The weakness of this approach is most apparent during crises, such as medical emergencies or incidents involving large numbers of casualties. Fortunately, experts in global health are beginning to take a more comprehensive view of health, including the provision of emergency medical care, than was traditionally the case. Thus the World Bank’s minimum package of health services includes six cost-effective interventions, one of which is a series of non-specialized interventions for emergencies, known collectively as limited care (3). WHO and UNICEF are placing substantial emphasis on the strengthening of triage