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Road traffic collisions are a common cause of injuries and injury-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Basic prehospital care can be the difference between life and death for injured drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
This study examined the challenges associated with current first response practices in Malawi.
In April 2014, focus groups were conducted in two areas of Malawi: Karonga (in the Northern Region) and Blantyre (in the Southern Region; both are along the M1 highway), and a qualitative synthesis approach was used to identify themes. All governmental and nongovernmental first response organizations identified by key informants were contacted, and a checklist was used to identify the services they offer.
Access to professional prehospital care in Malawi is almost nonexistent, aside from a few city fire departments and private ambulance services. Rapid transportation to a hospital is usually the primary goal of roadside care because of limited first aid knowledge and a lack of access to basic safety equipment. The key informants recommended: expanding community-based first aid training; emphasizing umunthu (shared humanity) to inspire bystander involvement in roadside care; empowering local leaders to coordinate on-site responses; improving emergency communication systems; equipping traffic police with road safety gear; and expanding access to ambulance services.
Prehospital care in Malawi would be improved by the creation of a formal network of community leaders, police, commercial drivers, and other lay volunteers who are trained in basic first aid and are equipped to respond to crash sites to provide roadside care to trauma patients and prepare them for safe transport to hospitals.
ChokothoL, MulwafuW, SinginiI, NjalaleY, Maliwichi-SenganimalunjeL, JacobsenKH. First Responders and Prehospital Care for Road Traffic Injuries in Malawi. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2017;32(1):14–19.
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