The Health Ministry has hinted it is to receive 275 new ambulances from the Special Development Initiative Ministry.
The revelation, which is a good one, was made by the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry, Robert Cudjoe.
But The Chronicle is not happy that Ministry failed to disclose when exactly the ambulances will be delivered. We are not happy, because, in the midst of crises, there are sweet assurances and nothing concrete is done.
The discussion on inadequate ambulances in the country has been rekindled following the sudden death of former Vice President Amissah-Arthur, who collapsed at the gym last Friday.
Reports suggest the ailing former Vice President was conveyed to the 37 Military Hospital in a pickup vehicle, because there was no ambulance available.
The Chronicle is worried that Ghana, with a population of over 30 million, currently has 155 ambulances, 100 of which have broken down. The remaining 55 are stationed in various parts of the country to offer emergency health responses and basic life support.
The National Headquarters of the Ambulance Service in Accra has only four ambulances. The statistics indicate that one ambulance is shared by over 520,000 Ghanaians. And, that, to us at The Chronicle, is suicidal.
The Chronicle understands that the primary role of all ambulance services is emergency pre-hospital medical care, although they generally provide both emergency response and patient transfer on behalf of the health sector.
They provide easy access to health services, particularly, out of hours, and contribute significantly to telephone triage and telephone health services through sophisticated communications infrastructure.
In recent times, it has become apparent that increasing health system pressures cannot be resolved only by adding resources, but must also be addressed with new methods of service delivery.
The ambulance service is ideally placed to be part of the first line in the continuum of health care, and can significantly contribute to ‘treat and transfer’ or ‘treat and leave’ programmes.
If ambulance services can develop towards an out-of-hospital clinical care service, rather than merely pre-hospital clinical care, it could substantially add to the functionality of the health care system in the country.
This could be through a more efficient transfer of patient information; more efficient movement of patients; an ambulance service with a public service – rather than profit driven – philosophy; and patient treatment regimes, consistent with the broader health system.
By effectively integrating ambulance services into the health system generally in the country, their respective strategic agenda are aligned, increasing efficiency, and providing an opportunity for an ambulance service, with its relevant expertise, to influence the outcome of ‘health’ initiatives.
From the foregoing, The Chronicle would like to stress that we must hurriedly procure enough ambulances to augment our health delivery system.
However, we would quickly add that it is not just about procuring many ambulances, but by ensuring that ambulance services are enhanced to save lives.
Once again, we wish to ask, when are the ambulances coming?