As an emergency physician, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of reimbursement challenges, changing health care laws, and overflowing waiting rooms. Do you ever have the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on the underlying reason why you chose emergency medicine in the first place? How often do you get to the heart of emergency medicine?
Many ACEP members have found those answers by working thousands of miles away, at Tanzania’s Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH). However, prior to 2009, no modern emergency medicine facilities or emergency medicine education program existed in the resource-challenged East African country.
That’s when the Tanzania Ministry of Health asked the Abbott Fund to create the country’s first emergency medicine department at MNH. For more than a decade, Abbott and its foundation, the Abbott Fund, have invested more than $100 million to improve health care and treatment across Tanzania.
“We needed to create an impactful and cost-effective system to teach emergency medicine to Tanzanian doctors and nurses,” said Andy Wilson, vice president, Abbott Fund in Tanzania. “Abbott Fund and the Ministry of Health had a long history of working together to successfully build health systems but we had no knowledge of emergency medicine. So we asked ACEP members for help.”
In early 2010, Wilson met with emergency medicine faculty at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Carolinas Medical Center, University of Chicago, and University of Maryland. “From that trip sprung relationships with ACEP physicians with whom Abbott Fund contracted to develop East Africa’s first emergency medicine residency, and provide both didactic instruction and clinical mentoring for residents,” said Mr. Wilson.
Today, these ACEP physicians, led by Dr. Teri Reynolds, UCSF’s director of global health and Abbott-Fund supported emergency medicine residency program director at MNH, along with their counterparts from University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, have collectively spent more than 30,000 hours training local physicians and nurses in MNH’s emergency department. The emergency department has provided life-saving care to more than 135,000 patients in its first three years. The first eight emergency medicine residency program residents graduated in late 2013 and six have their permanent government contracts to stay with the department.
“While the project’s initial scope was to open an emergency department, we knew its long-term sustainability depended on training local doctors in emergency medicine,” said Dr. Michael Runyon, director of research and global emergency medicine at Carolinas Medical Center. As part of an Abbott Fund–contracted team led by Dr. Steve Justus, Dr. Runyon helped provide the initial clinical, operational, logistical, and educational support for the new emergency department.