It is an established fact that the core mandate of National Ambulance Service (NAS) is to provide efficient and timely pre-hospital emergency medical care to the sick and the injured and also transport them safely to health facilities.
It is against this background that The Chronicle is upset with the insistence of the Chief Executive of the National Ambulance Service, Prof Ahmed Nuhu Zakaria, that ambulances are fueled mainly for road traffic accidents, but when it comes to inter-hospital transfers, an amount is requested as “fuel support”.
Prof Zakaria is reported to have admitted that his officers demanded GH¢600 from the husband of a pregnant woman, 30-year-old Augustina Awortwe, before agreeing to transport the patient.
So our question is; if the NAS exists to provide emergency services among others, why should there be a demand before the provision of an emergency service?
We are shocked to hear Prof Zakaria defending the NAS that although their services are supposed to be free, resource constraints have led them to charge patrons to cater for fuel.
In his wisdom, he describes their conduct as ‘standard practice’. That to us at The Chronicle is way below the belt.
How does Prof Zakaria feel after the pregnant woman who died whilst in transit due to the delay on the part of the officers of the Ambulance Service?
Is Prof Zakaria telling the whole world that because of GHc600 a pregnant woman should die?
We find it weird for the NAS to be demanding payment before providing emergency services. To be charitable to the service, we would say that their so-called ‘standard practice’ as espoused by Prof Zakaria is most unfortunate.
The Chronicle would like to ask another question; if the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) were to be demanding ‘fuel support’ before responding to calls to fight fire, can we imagine what fire would have done to us as a nation?
To say the least, the action of the NAS was most regrettable and we would, therefore, call on stakeholders to urgently find an alternative to the ‘standard practice’ of demanding for ‘fuel support’ before emergency services are provided.
We further call on the bipartisan committee constituted by Parliament to investigate the death of the pregnant woman, to ensure that their recommendations are followed to the letter.
We cannot allow some so called ‘standard practices’ being implemented by state agencies to kill innocent citizens. As a country we must value lives, because a prosperous and productive nation requires healthy people.