EMERGENCY MEDICAL AND AMBULANCE SERVICES IN TANZANIA
DIAL 112 or 114 TO CALL AN AMBULANCE IN TANZANIA*:
- *These are official emergency numbers in Tanzania, but they may not connect you to adequate response capabilities so be prepared to arrange private transport
- Prehospital transport is very limited, very much dependent on region, and is typically provided as inter-facility transfers by private services where available
- Transportation between facilities is sometimes provided by the sending facility, but there are geographic and infrastructural challenges
- Not all hospitals have emergency care areas; if they do, they are often under-staffed and under-equipped, though the Emergency Medicine Association of Tanzania (EMAT) is making big strides in improving emergency care and making it a national issue
HOW CAN I CALL AN AMBULANCE IN TANZANIA?
Dial 112 TO CALL AN AMBULANCE IN TANZANIA
As reported by the Tanzanian authorities in WHO’s 2013 Global Status Report on Road Safety, 112 is the official emergency number in Tanzania, routing calls to the police department. However, consistent reports from our contacts in-country say that 112 is unreliable -– when called, it will often just “ring endlessly.” Another option is to call 114, which will connect you to the fire department, though they, too, have limited coverage and resources across Tanzania.
No, coverage by emergency medical services is limited, largely to Dar Es Salaam and other major metropolitan and/or tourist areas. A study of Kilamanjaro Christian Medical Centre, a major referral hospital in the northern city of Moshi, found that there was no evidence of prehospital care in the region. The average time to arrival to the hospital was greater than 1 hour. A minority of patients were transported to the hospital in ambulances (see Rotich 2015).
Officially, Tanzania has separate numbers for the three essential public safety and health services:
- Ambulance: 114
- Police: 112 and 999
- Fire: 115
However, we cannot independently verify the availability and access of these numbers across the country. Based on our research and contacts, Police and Fire numbers are most likely to be answered, though calls may be re-directed to call centers in different locations depending on the caller’s location.
GROUND AMBULANCE IN TANZANIA
In addition to those public agencies, a few private ambulance providers exist and work together with private clinics, including:
The Emergency Medicine Association of Tanzania (EMAT) offers emergency care training for different levels of providers. Read here for a full list of Short Courses offered by EMAT in Dar Es Salaam. The availability of trained prehospital emergency care providers (i.e., “EMTs” or “Paramedics”) is scant and documentation and/or websites detailing their existence is equally scarce.
Training for emergency physicians and nurses, however, is increasing. According to a 2012 article in the African Journal for Emergency Medicine:
“Currently at most hospitals, emergency patients are cared for in Emergency Centres (ECs) staffed with rotating personnel who are neither trained nor equipped to provide complete resuscitative care, but dedicated emergency care training projects are emerging. The first Emergency Medicine residency in the country was initiated in 2010 and will produce its first graduates in 2013. In 2011, a dedicated Emergency Nursing curriculum was introduced, and the Emergency Medical Association of Tanzania (EMAT), the first Emergency Medicine professional society in the country, was formed and ratified by the Ministry of Health. EMAT has been given a mandate to develop feasible initiatives for the dissemination of emergency care training to district and sub-district facilities. However, significant gaps exist in the capacity for emergency medical care including deficits in human resources, essential equipment and infrastructure – concurrent issues that EMAT must address within its development strategy.”
Public hospitals in Tanzania can be roughly divided into 3 groups. First are district hospitals at the lowest level of care, next are regional hospitals, and last are national referral hospitals at the highest level of care. There are also private hospitals.
In a formal review, the Tanzanian government evaluated 35 district hospitals, 13 regional hospitals, 3 special hospitals, and 4 referral hospitals. For a complete overview of the different levels of care in Tanzania along with resource and staffing requirements, see this document from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
A 2013 study that surveyed 10 hospitals found that none of the district hospitals surveyed had a triage area or emergency room. The study found a low level of emergency care training for staff across all of the types of hospitals (see Baker 2013).
FOR TANZANIAN CITIZENS
According to a 2013 post on AllAfrica.com: “DEPUTY Minister for Regional Administration and Local Government, Mr Aggrey Mwanri, has said that ambulance services are supposed to be free of charge.
FOR U.S. CITIZENS
Check with your health insurer before traveling to Tanzania to see if they cover you overseas, and to see if they cover emergency evacuation in the event of a serious health issue.
Common Emergencies in Tanzania
- ROAD TRAFFIC INJURIES – According to the World Health Organization, Tanzania has a traffic fatality rate of 32.9/ 100,000 population, compared to just 10.6 in the United States (2015)
- INFECTIOUS DISEASE – According to the CDC, the following infectious diseases are present in Tanzania:
- Malaria: CDC estimates a high risk for travelers
- Zika virus:
- Typhoid: Transmission through infected food or water
- Yellow Fever: More likely in visitors with prolonged stays
Recommended Vaccinations for Tanzania
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), different groups of travelers will require different vaccinations for travel in Tanzania:
- All Travelers:
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
- Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine
- Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
- Polio vaccine
- Your yearly flu shot
- Most Travelers:
- Hepatitis A
- Some Travelers:
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow Fever – “Country entry requirement: The government of Tanzania requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival if you are traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (this does not include the US – see complete list: Countries with risk of yellow fever virus (YFV) transmission.)
Read more about travel in Tanzania at the CDC website: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/tanzania/ (Last accessed: Aug. 7, 2017)
All healthcare related activities in Tanzania are governed by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children. However, there are no national guidelines or governance in Tanzania specifically for prehospital emergency care.
Telecommunications are regulated by Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TRCA)
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% of Seriously Injured Transported by Ambulance in Tanzania, 2013
Road Traffic Injury Deaths
(per 100,000 population)
- United States