Emergency Medicine Training Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review

Ann Glob Health. 2020 Jun 16;86(1):60. doi: 10.5334/aogh.2681.


Background: Despite the growing interest in the development of emergency care systems and emergency medicine (EM) as a specialty globally, there still exists a significant gap between the need for and the provision of emergency care by specialty trained providers. Many efforts to date to expand the practice of EM have focused on programs developed through partnerships between higher- and lower-resource settings.

Objective: To systematically review the literature to evaluate the composition of EM training programs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) developed through partnerships.

Methods: An electronic search was conducted using four databases for manuscripts on EM training programs - defined as structured education and/or training in the methods, procedures, and techniques of acute or emergency care - developed through partnerships. The search produced 7702 results. Using a priori inclusion and exclusion criteria, 94 manuscripts were included. After scoring these manuscripts, a more in-depth examination of 26 of the high-scoring manuscripts was conducted.

Findings: Fifteen highlight programs with a focus on specific EM content (i.e. ultrasound) and 11 cover EM programs with broader scopes. All outline programs with diverse curricula and varied educational and evaluative methods spanning from short courses to full residency programs, and they target learners from medical students and nurses to mid-level providers and physicians. Challenges of EM program development through partnerships include local adaptation of international materials; addressing the local culture(s) of learning, assessment, and practice; evaluation of impact; sustainability; and funding.

Conclusions: Overall, this review describes a diverse group of programs that have been or are currently being implemented through partnerships. Additionally, it highlights several areas for program development, including addressing other topic areas within EM beyond trauma and ultrasound and evaluating outcomes beyond the level of the learner. These steps to develop effective programs will further the advancement of EM as a specialty and enhance the development of effective emergency care systems globally.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Education, Nursing
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Program Evaluation