Background: Trauma represents a significant and increasing challenge to health care systems all over the world. This study aimed to evaluate the trauma care capabilities of Botswana, a middle-income African country, by applying the World Health Organization's Guidelines for Essential Trauma Care.
Methods: All 27 government (16 primary, 9 district, 2 referral) hospitals were surveyed. A questionnaire and checklist, based on "Guidelines for Essential Trauma Care" and locally adapted, were developed as situation analysis tools. The questionnaire assessed local trauma organization, capacity, and the presence of quality improvement activity. The checklist assessed physical availability of equipment and timely availability of trauma-related skills. Information was collected by interviews with hospital administrators, key personnel within trauma care, and through on-site physical inspection.
Results: Hospitals in Botswana are reasonably well supplied with human and physical resources for trauma care, although deficiencies were noted. At the primary and district levels, both capacity and equipment for airway/breathing management and vascular access was limited. Trauma administrative functions were largely absent at all levels. No hospital in Botswana had any plans for trauma education, separate from or incorporated into other improvement activities. Team organization was nonexistent, and training activities in the emergency room were limited.
Conclusions: This study draws a picture of trauma care capabilities of an entire African country. Despite good organizational structures, Botswana has room for substantial improvement. Administrative functions, training, and human and physical resources could be improved. By applying the guidelines, this study creates an objective foundation for improved trauma care in Botswana.