Emergency care education in South Africa: past, present and future


emergency medical services
paramedic education

How to Cite

Sobuwa S, Christopher LD. Emergency care education in South Africa: past, present and future. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine [Internet]. 2019Mar.30 [cited 2022Jul.3];160. Available from: https://ajp.paramedics.org/index.php/ajp/article/view/647


There have been major changes in pre-hospital emergency care training and education in South African over the past 30 years. This has culminated in the publication of a regulation that brings an end to an era of short courses in emergency care and paves the way for the implementation of the National Emergency Care Education and Training (NECET) policy. The policy envisions a 1-year higher certificate, a 2-year diploma and the 4-year professional degree in emergency medical care. This paper aims to describe the history of emergency care education and training in South Africa that culminated in the NECET policy. The lessons in the professional development of pre-hospital emergency care education and training may have application for emergency medical services in other countries.

The migration of existing emergency medical services personnel to the new higher education qualification structure is a major challenge. The transition to the new framework will take time due to the many challenges that must be overcome before the vision of the policy is realised. Ongoing engagement with all stakeholders is necessary for the benefits envisioned in the NECET policy to be realised.





Kotze J. The role of the ambulance service as part of the health professions. S Afr Med J 1990;78:320-2.

Dalbock G. A history of ambulance practitioners and services in SA. S Afr Fam Pract 1996;17:118-21.

Fuhri P. Ambulance and emergency medical services in South Africa: where are we today? Trauma Emerg Med 1998;15:36-8.

Department of Health. Health Act No. 63 of 1977 [Internet]. Republic of South Africa; 1977. Available at: www.ehrn.co.za/download/act_health.pdf

Department of Health. National Health Act No 61 of 2003. Republic of South Africa; 2004. Available at: www.gov.za/sites/default/files/a61-03.pdf

Saner R. Prehospital emergency care [letter to the editor]. S Afr Med J 1978;53:526.

MacFarlene C, van Loggerenberg C, Kloeck W. International EMS systems: South Africa – past, present and future. Resuscitation 2005;64:145-8.

Cermak R. An investigation into recognition of prior learning within the National Certificate: Emergency Care Programme in the Western Cape. Durban University of Technology, 2016. Available at:


Health Professions Act 56 of 1974 [Internet]. Republic of South Africa; 1974. Available at: www.hpcsa.co.za/Uploads/editor/UserFiles/downloads/legislations/acts/health_professons_ct_56_1974.pdf

Emergency Care Society of South Africa. Position Statement on the Health Professions Council of South Africa’s Intention to Close the Short Course-Related Professional Registers. Available at:


Christopher L. An investigation into the non-compliance of the advanced life support practitioners with the guidelines and protocols of the Professional Board for Emergency Care Practitioners. Durban University of Technology, 2007. Available at: https://openscholar.dut.ac.za/handle/10321/121

Pillay B. A needs assessment for continuous professional development for South African advanced life support providers. Durban University of Technology, 2011 Available at: https://ir.dut.ac.za/handle/10321/728

Health Professions Council of South Africa. Form179 Accredited Education and Training Providers 2014. Available at:


Vincent-Lambert C. International perspectives: South African ambulance services in 2020. In: Wankhade P, Mackway-Jones K, editors. Ambulance Services. Springer, Cham; 2015.