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INTRODUCTION: In 2019, the World Health Assembly declared emergency care essential to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Few sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries have developed robust approaches to sustainably deliver emergency medical services (EMS) at scale, as high-income country models are financially impractical. Innovative reassessment of EMS delivery in resource-limited settings is necessary as timely emergency care access can substantially reduce mortality. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We developed the Lay First Responder (LFR) program by training 1,291 pre-existing motorcycle taxi drivers, a predominant form of short-distance transport in sub-Saharan Africa, to provide trauma care and transport for road traffic injuries. Three pilot programs were launched in staggered fashion between 2016 and 2019 in West, Central, and East Africa and a 5.5 h curriculum was iteratively developed to train first responders. Longitudinal data on patient impact (patient demographics, injury characteristics, and treatment rendered), emergency care knowledge acquisition/retention, and social/financial effects of LFR training were collected and pooled across three sites for collective analysis. Novel cost-effectiveness ratios were calculated based on prospective cost data from each site. Previously projected aggregate disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) addressable by LFRs were used to inform cost-effectiveness ratios($USD cost per DALY averted). Cost-effectiveness ratios were then compared against African per capita gross domestic product (GDP), following WHOCHOICE guidelines, which state ratios less than GDP per capita are "very cost-effective." RESULTS: In 2,171 total patient encounters across all three pilot sites, LFRs most frequently provided hemorrhage control in 61 % of patient encounters and patient transport by motorcycle in 98.5 %. Median pre-/post-test scores improved by 34.1 percentage points (39.5% vs.73.6 %, p < 0.0001) with significant knowledge retention at six months. 75 % of initial participants remain voluntarily involved 3 years post-course, reporting increased local stature and customer acquisition(income 32.0 % greater than non-trained counterparts). Locally sourced first-aid materials cost $6.54USD/participant. Cost-effectiveness analysis demonstrated cost per DALY averted=$51.65USD. CONCLUSION: LFR training is highly cost-effective according to WHOCHOICE guidelines and expands emergency care access. The LFR program may be an alternative approach to formal ambulance-reliant EMS that are cost-prohibitive in resource-limited, sub-Saharan African settings. A novel social/financial mechanism appears to incentivize long-term voluntary LFR involvement, which may sustain programs in resource-limited settings.

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Journal article



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Emergency, First responder, Prehospital, Sub-Saharan Africa