The Ghana National Ambulance Service has refuted claims that the service’s scanty ambulances are being used for other purposes such as conveying corpses and transporting personal effects.
This was revealed following a discussion on Ultimate Radio’s Morning Show in Kumasi, when some residents phoned in to express their misgivings about the core mandate of the service since they had seen the nation’s ambulances being used for questionable functions.
The Ambulance Service is mandated to attend to distress calls and rush victims of life threatening emergencies to the nearest health facilities. It is also equipped to offer pre-medical life saving care to patients before getting to the referral facilities. As a statutory agency, the Ambulance Service has been charged with specific roles and responsibilities to establish and operate a nationwide comprehensive Ambulance Service.
But in a discussion on the challenges facing the service, some members of the public sought to know whether ambulances could be hired for funeral purposes as they alleged that several of them had been seen carrying corpses for funerals. In another interesting revelation, a resident claimed he had seen an ambulance carrying goats and bunches of plantain, cassava and other food stuffs from nearby villages.
A Private Medical Practitioner in Kumasi Dr. Victor Deijo who called into the programme shared a personal experience, in which he claimed to have met an ambulance driver who was having a jolly ride with two young ladies. According to him, the driver refused to stop to convey accident victims to the hospital, until was pressurized by onlookers to stop. But even when he stopped, he still refused to pick the two victims who were bleeding profusely.
The Medical Doctor said it took him to stamp his authority as a medical officer by issuing out threats to the driver before he felt compelled to pick up one of the two victims. Dr. Deijo says he later realized that the Ambulance did not have the required medical apparatus to offer any first aid treatment to the patient. According to him, he could not even find a single glove to assist the victims.
In response to the claims, the Deputy chief Executive Officer of the Service, Dr. Joseph Atia Akama, contended that the ambulances were supposed to be used strictly for emergency cases and nothing more. He said reports that the service was misusing the very few ambulances at its disposal were false and that private vehicles could have been mistaken for ambulances.
“There are several types of cars that look like ambulances in Ghana and there are several buses that look like ambulances but they are not all Ghana national ambulance service vehicles. There could be instances where a car would have been imported from a different country with all the lights still on and the car painted like an ambulance but the private person can choose to use it for whatever he wants and it doesn’t mean it is coming from the National Ambulance Service”. Mr. Atia Akama contended.
Mr. Akama however expressed concern about the fact that the service is poorly resourced, adding they have been appealing to government and donors for funding to help it run efficiently but to no avail.
The Service has since its inception in 2004 migrated from Seven Stations in Three Regions to One Hundred and Fourteen stations. It has presence in every region in with two control rooms in Accra and Kumasi. It was set up in the aftermath of the May 9 stadium disaster which left hundreds of people dead at the Accra sports stadium. Dr. Akama wants the public to show some concern for their operations since government cannot bear the full cost of its operation.
“Inadequate Government funding is delayed, we don’t have any donors supporting and the public must understand that for us to give ultimate and excellent care, we should start thinking of cost sharing because the government can’t do so much but when it comes to these kind of services, we need the public to support” he entreated.
He called on all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives to see the ambulance as part of social services and accord them some attention and assistance.