Monday, June 27, 2022

Ghana’s ambulance fiasco and sorry state of emergency services

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Elvis Adjetey
Elvis Adjetey
Elvis Adjetey is an experienced African journalist who has worked with top media brands in Ghana where he is based.
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Insensitive, irresponsible and disappointing are just a few of the numerous reactions that have greeted Ghana’s failure to distribute parked ambulances as more patients lose their lives due to the lack of the emergency vehicle.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo promised to commission the fleet of ambulances on January 6, 2020 for distribution to all constituencies following a public outcry over the matter.

But he reneged on the promise as a result of a last-minute request by the Ambulance Service.

Reasons for postponement

Ghana’s Health Minister had pleaded with the President to heed to the request by the Ambulance Service for some ‘technical issues’ to be resolved before the commissioning on January 28.

These technical institutions include -“Training of staff and paramedics on usage of the ambulances and medical equipment”; -Installation of “Tracking devices” on all devices to be able to monitor movement and effectiveness of ambulances.

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The rest include, Installation of “State of the Art digitised ICT dispatched system” to receive calls and respond to emergencies in a coordinated and streamlined manner; Establishment of ”service centers” where maintenance works will be carried out; -“Labelling of ambulances” to match beneficiary constituencies for easy identification.

The development has attracted widespread condemnation from many including the opposition party the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

In a statement the party said the reasons given by government for not releasing the ambulances are flimsy and preposterous.

“Indeed, governments heartless handling of this ambulance fiasco so far underscores the fact that President Akufo-Addo has very little regard for the lives of Ghanaians, particularly considering the snobbish remarks by the Minister of Special Development Initiatives, Hawa Koomson that Ghanaians were already dying before the ambulances were procured,” the statement added.

Ambulance politics

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In the lead up to the 2016 elections the state of the country’s emergency services was a subject of media discussions particularly the durability of some ambulances imported by the previous government.

Then candidate Nana Akufo Addo also promised to procure ambulances for all 275 constituencies.

The political fanfare surrounding the importation of the ambulances and the undue delay in distribution is not surprising in an election year.

But the question is whether that is more important than the precious lives being lost regularly as a result of the lack of ambulances to transport patients for urgent medical attention?

Ghana last year launched drone technology to supply blood and other essential drugs.

But it has proven not to be that effective yet and could even become irrelevant if it is not complemented by the provision of ambulances.

The 2018 International SOS report rated Ghana as one of the countries with the worst emergency health services.

Angry Ghanaians are waiting with batted breath to the January 28, 2020 date set by the government to have the ambulances finally distributed to their respective constituencies.

Their right to health includes the provision of ambulances and this cannot be compromised.




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