Former President John Mahama has wondered why the Akufo-Addo government is gloating over the procurement of some 307 ambulances while several hospitals started under his administration have been neglected by the current government.
“All the hospitals that were being built to improve healthcare have been brought to a standstill and instead, they are glorifying in the distribution of ambulances”, the flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) said on Thursday, 30 January 2020 when he interacted with Ghanaians on Facebook.
“Where do ambulances take sick people to?”, Mr Mahama asked.
“So, the priority is to finish the hospitals so that if an accident happens and you pick the patient, then you have a good facility to send them to. The hospitals we started have come to a standstill and yet we are distributing ambulances.
“So, you pick the person and you take them to the hospital and they say there is no bed and accident victims are treated on plastic chairs.
“I mean there is a complete loss of prioritisation”, Mr Mahama noted.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recently described as “unacceptable”, the importation of 30 “unfit for purpose” ambulances by the Mahama administration.
While inaugurating 307 state-of-the-art ambulances at the Independence Square on Tuesday, 28 January 2019 which was presented to the National Ambulance Service in fulfilment of his 2016 campaign pledge, the President bemoaned the state of affairs of the ambulance service he inherited from Mr John Mahama.
The President noted that when he took office in January 2017, the National Ambulance Service had 130 stations, 10 regional control rooms across the country, and only 55 ‘semi-functioning’ ambulances.
“In December 2015, two hundred (200) ambulances were supposedly purchased by the Mahama government, out of which only thirty (30) arrived in the country. As though this was not enough, the thirty (30) were declared ‘not fit for purpose because they had cardinal defects and did not come with any medical equipment’. This was completely unacceptable, and my government was determined to rectify this unhappy state of affairs,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo continued, “It is appropriate that the National Ambulance Service, established, in 2004, under the New Patriotic Party-led government of that outstanding Ghanaian statesman, the 2nd President of the 4th Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, is re-equipped, re-tooled and revamped under another NPP-led government, this time of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo”.
According to President Akufo-Addo, the 307 ambulances are “fitted with advanced life support equipment and tracking devices, to be distributed to 275 constituencies, i.e. 1-Constituency-1-Ambulance, to be managed by the National Ambulance Service, and the remainder of thirty-two (32) ambulances to the headquarters of the Service.”
The presentation of the 307 ambulances, the President said, means that “as against the scenario whereby one (1) ambulance served approximately five hundred and twenty-four thousand (524,000) people at the end of December 2016, today, we have a much-improved ratio of one ambulance serving approximately eighty-four thousand (84,000) people.”
Additionally, the President revealed that 145 new ambulance stations will be created, bringing the total to 275 stations, ensuring that the country has a 1-Constituency-1-Ambulance Station situation.
“We promised in the 2016 NPP Manifesto to strengthen the National Ambulance Service and we are doing just that,” he added.
Towards addressing the challenges confronting the Ambulance Service, President Akufo-Addo noted that, firstly, the Ministry of Finance has provided financial clearance for the National Ambulance Service to recruit and train 1,477 emergency medical technicians.
Out of this number, he said that 577 have already been recruited, with the process for recruiting the 900 underway.
Secondly, the President revealed that the National Ambulance Service Bill, which identifies funding sources for the National Ambulance Service is currently before Cabinet, and will soon be forwarded to Parliament for consideration and enactment, after Cabinet approval.
Thirdly, President Akufo-Addo stated that government has provided a digitised state-of-the-art ambulance dispatch management system, integrated with the national digital property addressing system, whereby all calls to the ambulance service will be routed through a computer system, which will automatically generate the digital address location of the caller to enable the control centre to determine straightaway the nearest ambulance to dispatch.
“It will also allow the ambulance to determine easily the nearest healthcare facility suitable for the emergency. This system will also allow the ambulance, when dispatched, to navigate, without difficulty, using the dispatch system in the ambulance, straight to the location of the caller,” he said.
The President noted also that the dispatch management system will provide interconnectivity among the various ambulance stations and the dispatch centres, as well as the dispatch centres and the receiving health facilities, adding that such a system will enhance the response time of the ambulances, and, thereby, improve patient outcomes.
Government, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering, has succeeded in getting a unique emergency number for all providers of emergency services in the country, with the Police Service, Fire Service and the National Ambulance Service, all, in the past, having different emergency numbers.
“I am happy to announce that, thankfully, we have merged all the emergency numbers to one number, which is 112. For any form of emergency, either Police Service, Fire Service or Ambulance Service, the number to dial on all mobile networks is 112,” he said.
The President appealed to Ghanaians to ensure that this improvement in the provision of emergency services is not abused, adding that “we are told that 90% of calls made to the providers of emergency services are usually prank calls. This is not right, as it only endangers the lives of Ghanaians in need”.
President Akufo-Addo assured that the government will ensure that the needed infrastructure is provided to the Paramedic and Emergency Care Training School, at Nkenkaasu, to help ensure that it serves its purpose of training paramedics in the country and West Africa, and also serve as a refresher course centre for emergency care training for doctors, nurses and other paramedics in the country and West Africa.
“I call upon all Regional Ministers, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, as well as all health officials, to provide the needed co-operation and support to make the operationalization of these ambulances a success, and also ensure their satisfactory maintenance,” he added.