CHILD LIFE FOUNDATION: EPIDEMIOLOGY OF PEDIATRIC PATIENTS PRESENTING TO A PUBLIC EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT IN KARACHI, PAKISTAN
Pakistan is a South Asian country with a population of almost 180 million people. Despite significant steps to improve national healthcare delivery over the past several years, Pakistan consistently performs poorly on many international health indicators. With infant and under-five mortality rates of 70 and 87 per 1000 live births in 2010, respectively, pediatric morbidity and mortality remains a significant problem in Pakistan.
In particular, Pakistan has been slow to develop a functional pediatric emergency medical system. With Millennium Development Goal 4 detailing the need to reduce under-five mortality rates by two-thirds before 2015, focusing on pediatric emergencies that contribute to preventable long-term morbidity and/or mortality is crucial. These issues make integrating pediatric-focused research and training into the Pakistani emergency medical system especially important.
There are few studies describing the epidemiology of emergency conditions among patients in Pakistan, and most of the available data focuses on pre-hospital care. During the summer of 2013, Stanford Emergency Medicine International (SEMI) collaborated with the Child Life Foundation in Karachi to bridge this gap. Our inaugural research project is part of a broader program that aims to build capacity amongst pediatric emergency rooms at public hospitals in Karachi. During our first phase, we are assessing the demographic and epidemiologic trends in pediatric patients who present to the emergency department at the National Institute of Child Health, Karachi, to gain a better understanding of the types and frequencies of chief complaints.
This data will aid in the development of training modules, educational materials, and practice guidelines specific to the needs of the pediatric patient population. Furthermore, by tracking outcomes, a baseline will also be established by which to measure the future impact of these training programs. In these ways, SEMIs research will fill a gap in the Pakistani emergency medicine literature by identifying the most common medical issues with which pediatric patients present to the emergency department, so that local providers can focus efforts on improving their diagnosis and treatment.