Emergency care in South Asia: Challenges and opportunities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan






Lack of emergency care; Poor health systems; Preventable deaths


One of the striking deficiencies in the current health delivery structure is lack of focus on emergency care in primary health systems, which are ill-equipped to offer appropriate care in emergency situations resulting in a high burden of preventable deaths and disability. Emergency medical systems (EMS) encompass a much wider spectrum from recognition of the emergency, access to the system, provision of pre-hospital care, through definitive hospital care. The burden of death and disability resulting from lack of appropriate emergency care is very high in low- and middle-income countries. In South Asia, health services in general, and emergency care in particular, have failed to attract priority, investments and efforts for a variety of reasons. It has to be emphasized that integrating EMS with other health system components improves health care for the entire community, including children, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups with special needs. Out-of-facility care is an integral component of the health care system in South Asia. EMS focuses on out-of-facility care and also supports efforts to implement cost-effective community health care. There is a possibility of integration of other health services and programmes with an innovative, cost-effective EMS in the region.

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