Ambulance and not Hearse, Right? Nana Sifa Twum

The government this week commissioned and distributed three hundred and seven ambulances to the National Ambulance Services (NAS) to augment its fleet.

It is said to be the biggest government intervention in respect of the provision of pre-hospital care facility in Africa.

The President of the Republic Nana Addo Danka Akufo-Addo at the national parade grounds, the Black Star Square, handed over one ambulance each to all 275 constituencies in the country, meaning every Ghanaian now has access to pre-hospital care, emergency healthcare, if you like.

The rest of the ambulances are to be stationed at identified accident prone sites along the country’s highways while a few will be positioned at the national headquarters of the NAS as backups.

One hundred and forty-five new ambulance stations need to be put in place to ensure the smooth operations of the service in the constituencies. For now, there are one hundred and thirty- two station since 2016, a situation which undermines effective emergency and medical response in the country, according to the Chief Executive Officer of the NAS, Prof. Ahmed Nuhu Zakaria. Reports also have it that currently there are only fifty-five serviceable ambulances in the country.

Hundreds of people have been recruited and trained as paramedics specializing in ambulance operations to man the facility.

Each of the ambulances is costing the tax payer one hundred and thirty-three thousand dollars. By simple calculation, the nation is spending nearly forty-one million dollars on the medically equipped vehicles. Though on a higher side due primarily to procurement procedures and insurance measure, it is money well spent.

According to the Minister for, Special Development Initiative, Mavis Hawa Koomson, the amount for each of the ambulances includes all procurement processes and insurance. “Each of the ambulances cost $133,000 with two years warranty and full premium insurance being handled by a local company” “She noted.

The Ghanaian living everywhere in the country has been much closer to such an important facility which has eluded them for all these years. “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,”

Two ministries, the Ministry of Special Development Initiatives and the Ministry of Health are responsible for this feat for Ghana. Ministry of Special Development because, it is one of the major social interventions efforts by the President and by extension, the New Patriotic Party and Health because it’s all about the health of the good people of Ghana.

The commission and distribution ceremony was so huge bringing together all people from all walks of life. All the highly placed political figures from almost all political front attended. The President, his Vice, The Chief of Staff, The Speaker of Parliament as well as the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs were all present, depicting the importance the government attached to the feat.

Some people have spoken about the pomp and pageantry associated with the event which was also carried live on all major radio and TV stations in the country, claiming it was not important and that it was a waste of time and resources.

Others have a divergent view, stressing the urgent need for such high profiled event to mark a huge stride into highly achieved emergency healthcare which appears to be the first on the continent.

Again, they argue that it was a political campaign promise and that, there was the need to announce the honoring of the promise just as the way it was promised. They intimated that people of Ghana must be aware what was promised has been honored.

“If you are able to keep a promise when you know in your heart that it is the right thing to do” is a good thing to do” This is an old saying which fits well with this. We know too well that half of promises people say were never kept, but they made them anyway, and that is why we say “promises not honored were never made”. Not that they were never made but once such promises were not honored, we consider them as not made at all. People turn to disregard the person who has failed to honor a promise as well as the promise itself

“Don’t ever promise more than you can deliver, but always deliver more than you promise. A promise must never be broken”

This promise honored has brought joy and relieve to many a Ghanaian especially the members of the ruling party more particularly those among the top hierarchy including the Minister for Health. He noted at the commissioning event “During the deployment of the drones, I took a lot of bashing from the Parliament and other media platforms who complained that we don’t have ambulances but we are deploying drones to fly blood and other medical supplies. But I kept on telling people that the President will deliver on his promises. Mr. President, you have justified my explanation,”

Today, almost every Ghanaian has access to ambulance. Huge public funds have been used to procure these. The next line of thought and action will therefore be a strict maintenance culture and sustainability that have been the bane of this country. It is good to know that parliament will work towards a sustainable funding of operations as emergency health services cannot be a cash and carry affair.

Mr. Agyemang Manu in a brief statement at the ceremony noted and warned his colleague minister and MPs not to try in any way to impose any other means of the use of the vehicles. This admonition is cogent and timely. In many cases people in the helm of affairs and with power and authority have unduly used their positions to order the misuse of state facilities.

These are ambulances and must be used solely for their intended purposes. Ambulances are medically equipped vehicles which transports patients and NOT the DEAD to treatment facilities, such as hospitals in some instances, out-of-hospital medical care is provided to the patient.

They are used to respond to medical emergencies by emergency medical services in our case, the National Ambulance Services. For this purpose, they are generally equipped with flashing warning lights and sirens. They can rapidly transport paramedics and other first responders to the scene, carry equipment for administering emergency care and transport patients to hospital or other definitive care.

There should be no way these ambulances must be hijacked by any person or group of people to their selfish interests. They are not to be used as hearse. They are essentially, ambulances and their uses are chiefly for emergency health care activities and not for the dead. In fact, it is for the living and his healthcare.

The activation of the national emergency helpline to coincide with the distribution of the ambulances is also a good start. The misuse of the line and the ambulances must go with severe punitive measure to deter people from doing so.

Ghana has stepped on the right direction in this respect and must go ahead undistracted.

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