‘Ambulance may not come when you call’: Doctor urges private support for troubled emergency service

Source: Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | George Nyavor | george.nyavor@myjoyonline.com

An Emergency Physician at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi is calling on individuals and private institutions to support Ghana’s troubled emergency service system.

Dr. Maxwell Osei Ampofo, who is also Deputy Co-ordinator of the National Ambulance Service in the Ashanti Region, says it has become crucial for the private sector to support the government to improve the service.

He was commenting on Ghana’s failing emergency service delivery on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM on Monday.

Poor emergency service delivery across the country has come to the fore of public discourse once again following revelations that late former Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur was carried in the back of a pick-up vehicle – not in an ambulance – to the 37 Military Hospital where he died last Friday. He had collapsed at the Air Force Gym in Accra.

Across the country, there are only 56 working ambulances in active service. 

In Dr Ampofo’s region, the Ashanti Region, only three ambulances are available to cater for the over 1.73 million residents.

Related: Broken down ambulances threaten emergency service in Ashanti Region

The doctor said on the Super Morning Show that the emergency situation is so dire in Kumasi and other parts of the country that persons needing an ambulance may not even get it when they request for it and may have to be transported to the hospital in inappropriate vehicles.

“The ambulance may not show up because all may be engaged…so indeed you may not even [need to worry about how long it will take to show up] because it may even come at all. 

“That is the situation that we find ourselves and this may replicate in other parts of the country…so we need to let people understand that this is the situation so they know how they can help, corporate organisations [et cetera[,” he said.

He wants the private sector companies and individuals to prioritise the health sector in the myriad of causes they support, explaining that the emergency health situation has become “precarious”.

He wants the same commitment private institutions make to entertainment programmes extended to the emergency service care. 

“Everyday people are declaring profits, people are sponsoring beauty pageants but they don’t sponsor emergency healthcare service, they don’t buy ambulances but expect to get the same response,” he laments.

Important law

He also recommended the setting up of a law to hold emergency service providers responsible for arriving late after a call.

“Other places have set laws on response time and even transport time. In Ontario Canada for instance, ambulances are mandated to respond within 14 minutes after an emergency call and it’s based on research and it’s based on evidence…so it is not arbitrary,” he said.

He was, however, quick to add that in order for the law to make sense, the government must strive to provide enough ambulances and other complementing emergency service equipment.

 In the video below, Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II gives a detailed account of events leading to the demise of former vice president, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur.

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