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Cases of COVID-19 are rising quickly on the African continent. A critical element of any health system response to such a surge of active cases is the existence of functional emergency care systems. Yet, these systems are markedly underdeveloped in African countries. This short letter reviews the key role emergency medicine plays in epidemic disease response and actions that ministries of health can take now to shore up gaps in emergency care capacity to avoid needless death and suffering of COVID-19 patients.
This review systematically explores the current available evidence on the effectiveness of interventions provided to first responders to prevent and/or treat the mental health effects of responding to a disaster.
A systematic review of Medline, Scopus, PsycINFO, and gray literature was conducted. Studies describing the effectiveness of interventions provided to first responders to prevent and/or treat the mental health effects of responding to a disaster were included. Quality was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) criteria, and the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklist.
Manuscripts totaling 3869 met the initial search criteria; 25 studies met the criteria for in-depth analysis, including 22 quantitative and 3 qualitative studies; 6 were performed in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); 18 studies evaluated a psychological intervention; of these, 13 found positive impact, 4 found no impact, and 1 demonstrated worsened symptoms after the intervention. Pre-event trainings decreased psychiatric symptoms in each of the 3 studies evaluating its effectiveness.
This review demonstrates that there are likely effective interventions to both prevent and treat psychiatric symptoms in first responders in high-, medium-, and low-income countries.
Following two decades of armed conflict in Liberia, over 95% of health care facilities were partially or completely destroyed. Although the Liberian health system has undergone significant rehabilitation, one particular weakness is the lack of organized systems for referral and prehospital care. Acute care referral systems are a critical component of effective health care delivery and have led to improved quality of care and patient outcomes.
This study aimed to characterize the referral and transfer systems in the largest county of Liberia.
A cross-sectional, health referral survey of a representative sample of health facilities in Montserrado County, Liberia was performed. A systematic random sample of all primary health care (PHC) clinics, fraction proportional to district population size, and all secondary and tertiary health facilities were included in the study sample. Collected data included baseline information about the health facility, patient flow, and qualitative and quantitative data regarding referral practices.
A total of 62 health facilities—41 PHC clinics, 11 health centers (HCs), and 10 referral hospitals (RHs)—were surveyed during the 6-week study period. In sum, three percent of patients were referred to a higher-level of care. Communication between health facilities was largely unsystematic, with lack of specific protocols (n=3; 5.0%) and standardized documentation (n=26; 44.0%) for referral. While most health facilities reported walking as the primary means by which patients presented to initial health facilities (n=50; 81.0%), private vehicles, including commercial taxis (n=37; 60.0%), were the primary transport mechanism for referral of patients between health facilities.
This study identified several weaknesses in acute care referral systems in Liberia, including lack of systematic care protocols for transfer, documentation, communication, and transport. However, several informal, well-functioning mechanisms for referral exist and could serve as the basis for a more robust system. Well-integrated acute care referral systems in low-income countries, like Liberia, may help to mitigate future public health crises by augmenting a country’s capacity for emergency preparedness.
KimJ, BarreixM, BabcockC, BillsCB. Acute Care Referral Systems in Liberia: Transfer and Referral Capabilities in a Low-Income Country. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2017;32(6):642–650.
Western media coverage of the violence associated with the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq has contrasted in magnitude and nature with population-based survey reports.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent to which first-hand reports of violent deaths were captured in the English language media by conducting in-depth interviews with Iraqi citizens.
The England-based Iraq Body Count (IBC) has methodically monitored media reports and recorded each violent death in Iraq that could be confirmed by two English language media sources. Using the capturerecapture method, 25 Masters' Degree students were assigned to interview residents in Iraq and asked them to describe 10 violent deaths that occurred closest to their home since the 2003 invasion. Students then matched these reports with those documented in IBC. These reports were matched both individually and crosschecked in groups to obtain a percentage of those deaths captured in the English language media.
Eighteen out of 25 students successfully interviewed someone in Iraq. Six contacted individuals by telephone, while the others conducted interviews via e-mail. One out of seven (14%) phone contacts refused to participate. Seventeen out of 18 primary interviewees resided in Baghdad, however, some interviewees reported deaths of neighbors that occurred while the neighbors were elsewhere. The Baghdad residents reported 161 deaths in total, 39 of which (24%) were believed to be reported in the press as summarized by IBC. An additional 13 deaths (8%) might have been in the database, and 61 (38%) were absolutely not in the database.
The vast majority of violent deaths (estimated from the results of this study as being between 68–76%) are not reported by the press. Efforts to monitor events by press coverage or reports of tallies similar to those reported in the press, should be evaluated with the suspicion applied to any passive surveillance network: that it may be incomplete. Even in the most heavily reported conflicts, the media may miss the majority of violent events.
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