Provision of prehospital emergency medical services in Punjab, Pakistan: Case study of a public sector provider

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Abstract

Background.

The availability and quality of emergency medical services in low- and middle-income countries, including Pakistan, are extremely limited. New models for prehospital emergency medical services provision have recently emerged across multiple sectors, and research on these models is urgently needed to inform current and future emergency medical services systems in low-resource settings. The objective of this case study was to provide a comprehensive description of the organizational structure and service delivery model of a public sector provider in the Punjab Province of Pakistan, Rescue 1122, with a focus on operations in Lahore.

Methods.

We used case study methodology to systematically describe the organizational model of Rescue 1122. Qualitative data were collected during an in-person site visit to Lahore in June 2013. Three sources were utilized—semi-structured in-depth interviews, document review, and nonparticipant observation. Data were analyzed according to the health system “building blocks” proposed by the World Health Organization.

Results.

Rescue 1122 is based on a legal framework that provides public financing for EMS, resulting in financial stability for the service. The organization has also reportedly taken positive steps in engaging with communities, and in coordinating across EMS, fire and rescue. We noted benefits and challenges in scaling up the service to all districts in Punjab. Finally, some areas of improvement include supply chain management and expanded data utilization.

Conclusion.

Our case study highlights key components of the model, areas for strengthening, and opportunities for further research. Rescue 1122 provides an example of a government-financed and operated emergency medical system in a low-resource setting.

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