Parked ambulances a sign of irresponsibility – Occupy Ghana ‘disappointed’ in government
Pressure Group, Occupy Ghana, has described as irresponsible the decision by the government to defer the distribution of some newly purchased ambulances at a time when the vehicles are urgently needed in the country’s hospitals.
According to the group, although it applauded the government when it announced the purchase of over 300 ambulances to augment the country’s fleet of ambulances, it has been left wondering why the ambulances have been parked in the wake of concerns over a shortage of ambulances in the country.
Describing the decision as “a mark of gross irresponsibility,” Occupy Ghana called for the immediate distribution of the ambulances to enhance emergency healthcare services in the country.
Ninety-six out of the 307 newly procured ambulances have arrived in the country with 46 currently parked at the State House awaiting distribution, while the remaining are yet to be cleared at the port.
Although the Government has assured that it will take delivery of all the ambulances by the end of the year, it said the distribution of the ambulances to the various districts will commence in January 2020.
But in a statement, Occupy Ghana found the decision worrying, wondering why “in light of the fact that the country has so few working ambulances, these new ambulances would be left idling before the State House instead of being out in the constituencies being used to save lives.”
“We did applaud the government for its response in making these ambulances available in the first place, but we equally express our disappointment that the ambulances since arrival have been inactive.
“Thus we ask these questions because these ambulances just sitting there while people are dying is a mark of gross irresponsibility and paints a vivid picture of lack of completeness in the thinking that went behind acquiring the ambulances in the first place,” the statement added.
The absence of adequate ambulances in the country’s hospitals has been a worry for the citizenry for years, with the National Ambulance Service also bemoaning the lack of resources to enable it to effectively deliver on its mandate.
Recently, a woman escaped death after she gave birth in the middle of the road in Dambai in the Oti Region due to the absence of an ambulance to convey her to the nearest hospital.
Occupy Ghana’s concerns follow calls by the Minority side on Parliament’s Health Committee for the immediate release of the ambulances at the State House.
Addressing the media in Parliament, Ranking Member on the Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh said it is wrong for the ambulances to be parked for months when they are needed in communities to help save lives.
“From the time these ambulances were parked till 2020, do you know the number of people who would die because they could not get access to ambulances? I do not know whether they do not understand emergency purposes…We are calling on the President to immediately distribute the ambulances available so they can serve their purpose,” he said.
Meanwhile,Ministry of Special Development Initiatives has responded to the questions asked by pressure group, OccupyGhana over the government’s delay in distributing ambulances parked in front of the State House.
OccupyGhana, which is disappointed by the delay, is demanding from the government an outline detailing its action plan on the operationalisation of some 98 ambulances it has acquired.
Describing it as gross irresponsibility, the group, in a statement, wondered why the ambulances were left idling in the wake of concerns over a shortage in the number of working ambulances in the country.
But the Ministry, in a release to provide answers to the questions posed by Occupy Ghana insisted that there is a need for adequate preparations before the ambulances are officially released in January 2020 as scheduled.
Here are the Ministry’s responses to Occupy Ghana’s questions
Q- Are there plans afoot to set up a central command centre or is the National Ambulance Service going to be the de facto Command Centre?
Response: The Ambulances will be managed by National Ambulance Service and they already have command centres in all the former 10 regions of Ghana.
Q – Are these receiving points going to be command centres or just places where the ambulances are housed?
Response: The receiving points are Ambulance stations which receive calls from dispatch centres (command centres) and respond to emergencies.
Q – Is there bed management in place to allow the ambulance drivers to take patients to facilities that have available beds?
Response: The Ambulance stations link up with health facilities during patient transport to know where beds are available to send patients. This is done through the dispatch (command) centres. The MSDI is also in the process of procuring 10,000 hospital beds to health facilities in the country.
Q – Will the ambulances be equipped with suitable mapping technology to help them find patients?
Response: The mapping technology is being worked on for easy patient location by the NAS.
Q – What plans have been made for constituencies with no hospitals? Where will their emergency cases go?
Response: Cases from constituencies without hospitals will go to the nearest district hospital or regional hospital.
Over 500 paramedics to complete training to operationalize ‘parked ambulances’
The Ministry also says over 500 paramedics will soon complete training to manage the ambulances parked in front of the State House ahead of their official release in January 2020.
It further argued that the government has spent a fortune in purchasing these facilities and as such it’s only proper that measures are put in place for the effective management and sustainability of the ambulances before distribution starts.
In the statement the Ministry said:
“Over 500 Paramedics to manage the Ambulances are expected to complete their training at the National Ambulance Service before the year ends. In fact, the first batch will graduate next week Friday. It’s instructive to note that, the Ambulances are just not parked but rather there are a plethora of activities taking place to ensure that, proper management structures have been put in place before distribution which is just two months away.”
Breakdown of Ambulances
According to the Ministry, the government has procured 307 ambulances with 96 already in the country. Out of this number, 48 are yet to be cleared at the port.
The 48 that have been cleared at the port are parked at the State House and are undergoing registration and installation of trackers for proper monitoring of their movement when they’re finally distributed.
About 40 more of the ambulances are on the high sea heading to Ghana with an expectation that the remaining ambulances will all arrive by the end of the year.
Receiving points to receive the ambulances are being set up in all the 275 constituencies.