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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday handed over 307 state-of-the-art ambulances to the National Ambulance Service in fulfilment of another campaign promise to Ghanaians to help improve the country’s health delivery system.
The presentation is confirmed to be the largest single fleet of ambulances provided by any government in Africa.
Fitted with advanced life support equipment and tracking devices, the brand new ambulances were distributed to all the 275 constituencies in the country.
Presenting the ambulances at the Independence Square in Accra amidst wild jubilation, President Akufo-Addo said the medical vehicles will be managed by the National Ambulance Service and the remaining 32 will be kept at the Service’s Headquarters.
“This means that as against the scenario whereby one ambulance served approximately 524,000 people at the end of December 2016, today we have a much-improved ratio of one ambulance serving approximately 84,000 people.
“We promised in the 2016 NPP manifesto to strengthen the National Ambulance Service and we are doing just that,” President Akufo-Addo stated.
His administration is fulfilling almost all his campaign promises in just three years including free Senior High School (SHS) initiative, creation of six new regions, one district, one factor; Planting for Food and Jobs; one village, one dam; and restoration of teachers and nurses’ trainee allowances.
President Akufo-Addo reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to ensuring the realisation of an effective Emergency Medical Service system to help improve Ghana’s emergency response system.
In fulfilment of this commitment, the President disclosed that the Ministry of Finance has provided financial clearance for the National Ambulance Service to recruit and train 1,477 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).
“Out of this number, 577 have already been recruited with the process for recruiting the remaining 900 underway.
“Secondly the National Ambulance Service Bill which identifies funding sources for the National Ambulance Service is currently before Cabinet. This will be forwarded to Parliament for consideration and enacted after Cabinet approval which should be granted shortly,” President Akufo-Addo added.
He admonished that the improvement in the provision of emergency services should not be abused as it has been revealed that 90 percent of calls made to the providers of emergency services are usually pranked calls.
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 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.
Poor emergency healthcare system
Emergency healthcare system was virtually non-existent as the Ambulance Service could only boast of a handful of functioning vehicles and emergency medical technicians.
President Akufo-Addo 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.
“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”, President Akufo-Addo added.
With the distribution of the 307 ambulances and its expected creation of 4,000 jobs, Ghanaians can now heave a sigh of relief.
Provision of needed infrastructure
President Akufo-Addo assured that 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.