Menbeu Sultan Mohammed, Finot Debebe yayehyirad, Aklilu Azazh Tumebo


Back ground: Emergency medicine (EM) is one of the most rapidly developing medical specialties in Africa. After just 8 years since its introduction in Ethiopia, there were 22 qualified emergency medicine specialists and 2 pediatric emergency specialists in the country. The aim of this study was to qualitatively assess the status of emergency medicine and the challenges and opportunities of working as an emergency physician in Ethiopia.

Methodology: An interview and a videotaped focus group discussion involving 17 selected participants were done in December of 2016. The data was transcribed, translated and analyzed by identifying the most common themes that emerged.

Result:  All the participants agreed the field of emergency medicine is rapidly expanding in Ethiopia. Six themes were identified as challenges: The undeveloped state of the emergency medical system, the disorganization prevalent in emergency rooms, an undefined scope of practice, problems with acceptance of the specialty, poor continuity of care, and an unsatisfactory remuneration. Meanwhile, the increasing attention given by the government and the demand for pre-hospital and in hospital emergency care were identified as future opportunities for growth of the specialty.

Conclusion: Emergency medicine in Ethiopia faces multiple challenges as it is a new field in a resource limited setting. The challenges range from problems with acceptance to difficulties of patient disposition. In order to overcome these challenges, government level support and advocacy work among health sectors, physicians, and medical associations is imperative.


Key words: Emergency medicine; new specialty; Ethiopia


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