Global study, Health News, ET HealthWorld

by Rahul Devi

In 2021, nearly 400,000 deaths in India were classified as accidental deaths, with road crashes being the leading cause. Over the past four years, more than 700,000 people have been killed in road crashes. These alarming statistics highlight the urgent need for improved emergency medical care systems in the country.

A report by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2020 revealed that well-established trauma care systems can significantly reduce deaths and serious disabilities resulting from road crashes. However, the availability of such care is limited in India. According to the Vital Statistics of India data released in 2020, approximately 45% of the total fatalities during the year died without receiving any medical attention. A report by NITI Aayog and AIIMS published in 2021 also highlighted deficiencies in the availability of essential equipment and medicines in district hospitals.

To assess the current state of emergency medical care in India, SaveLIFE Foundation, in collaboration with the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s TrustLaw Network, conducted a global study that examined the legal provisions and systems in place for emergency medical care in various countries. The study included both developing and developed nations, such as the US, Germany, England and Wales, Malaysia, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Pakistan, and South Africa. The prevalence of legal guarantees and grassroots systems in India was also investigated and included in the report.

The study focused on five key aspects of emergency medical care: the availability of guaranteed/statutory right to emergency medical care, the existence of separate federal and state laws and guidelines, the funding for emergency medical care, mechanisms for regulating referrals at hospitals and trauma care centers, and specific guidelines for addressing traumatic injuries on highways.

The report found that high-income countries like Australia and Japan have partially written statutes guaranteeing the right to emergency medical care. These countries have well-established universal trauma care access systems to ensure a robust emergency response framework. The US, England, and Wales also have written statutes to ensure universal access to trauma care. In comparison, most developing countries, including India, have enshrined trauma care in their statutory provisions but still need to improve their systems.

Despite court judgments recognizing the importance of emergency medical care as a fundamental right, India has not yet standardized emergency medical care across the country. The 2021 report by NITI Aayog and AIIMS revealed concerning numbers, such as 98.5% of ambulance runs transporting only dead bodies and 90% of ambulances functioning without any equipment. These findings emphasize the need for urgent improvements in emergency medical care systems in India.

Piyush Tewari, CEO and Founder of SaveLIFE Foundation, highlighted the need for a legislative framework to establish standards and systems for emergency medical care. He referred to the example of the Right to Education Act, which has spurred the creation of systems to ensure quality education in the country. The report aims to initiate discussions among stakeholders to prioritize saving lives and improve emergency medical care in India.

In conclusion, the study conducted by SaveLIFE Foundation and Thomson Reuters Foundation’s TrustLaw Network sheds light on the need for enhanced emergency medical care systems in India. The report compares the legal provisions and systems in place for emergency medical care in various countries, highlighting deficiencies in India’s current system. Urgent reforms are necessary to ensure that every citizen has access to quality emergency medical care and reduce the number of deaths caused by road crashes in the country.

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