AFEM: An international association aimed at supporting Emergency Care across Africa
The African Federation for Emergency Medicine (AFEM) was founded to develop and advance emergency care in Africa, and represents a broad coalition of national societies, organisations, and individuals from over 40 countries. AFEM is dedicated to addressing the need for emergency care systems development and training in Africa, and has a strong history of successfully completing large projects. AFEM has set a scientific agenda designed to increase the capacity of front line providers by offering open-access emergency care training curricula for nurses, midlevel providers, and specialists and by publishing the AFEM Handbook of Acute and Emergency Care.
Definition of Emergency Medicine
As per IFEM, Emergency medicine is a field of practice based on the knowledge and skills required for the prevention, diagnosis and management of acute and urgent aspects of illness and injury affecting patients of all age groups with a full spectrum of episodic undifferentiated physical and behavioural disorders; it further encompasses an understanding of the development of prehospital and in hospital emergency medical systems and the skills necessary for this development.
Africa suffers from a disproportionately high burden of acute and emergency disease, but – with one or two exceptions – lacks dedicated emergency care systems. African countries suffer the highest rates of every category of injury; the highest rates of maternal death from acute complications of pregnancy; and the highest rates of acute complications of communicable diseases including TB, malaria, and HIV. Major international organisations recognise the critical need for emergency care; WHO data shows that HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis, and malaria combined kill 4.4 million people per year, yet injury alone kills 5.8 million. The World Bank estimates that 45% of deaths and 36% of disability in low- and middle-income countries could be addressed by the implementation of emergency care systems, and the World Health Assembly has called for all its member states to develop “formal, integrated emergency care systems.”
The development of emergency care systems builds healthcare capacity and infrastructure, as emergency care is a horizontal intervention that forms the base of a successful healthcare system. Emergency care is needed by everyone regardless of age, gender, or previous medical conditions.