The ambulances are out! NPP records another first as Ghana launches its largest ever emergency fleet Featured

By Isabella Agyakwa and Nana Yaw Dwamena January 29, 2020 3249 1442 comments

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday commissioned and presented 307 brand-new, state-of-the-art ambulances to the National Ambulance Service, fulfilling a 2016 campaign pledge.

Two-hundred and seventy-five of the ambulances, which are fitted with advanced life-support equipment and tracking devices, are to be distributed across all constituencies in Ghana under the “One Constituency, One Ambulance” initiative.

The remaining 32 will go to the headquarters of the National Ambulance Service.

Revived, revamped

President Akufo-Addo declared that with yesterday’s commissioning, the New Patriotic Party government has reached another milestone – in a sector as delicate and critical to daily life as health.

It was the first NPP government, under President John Agyekum Kufuor, which initiated the National Health Insurance Scheme and set up the National Ambulance Service.

The President bemoaned the state of the service when he took office in 2017.

“In December 2015, 200 ambulances were supposedly purchased by the Mahama government, out of which only 30 arrived in the country. As though this was not enough, the 30 were declared ‘not fit for purpose because they had cardinal defects and did come with any medical equipment’.

“This was completely unacceptable and my government was determined to rectify this unhappy state of affair,” he said.

He added: “It is appropriate that the National Ambulance Service, established in the year 2004 under the New Patriotic Party government of that outstanding Ghanaian statesman, the second President of the Fourth Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, is re-equipped, retooled and revamped under another NPP-led government, this time by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.”

Other interventions

With the presentation of the 307 ambulances, the President noted, “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.”

He further said that 145 new ambulance stations will be created to bring the total to 275, ensuring that the country has “One Constituency, One Ambulance Station”.

“We promised in the 2016 NPP manifesto to strengthen the National Ambulance Service, and we are doing just that,” he declared. “The Ministry of Finance has provided financial clearance for NAS to recruit and train 1,477 emergency medical technicians. Out of this number, 577 have already been recruited with process [ongoing] of recruiting the remaining 900,” he said.

He further announced that the National Ambulance Service Bill is before cabinet and will soon be forwarded to Parliament for consideration and enactment. This will deal with funding for the NAS.

Digital dispatch

President Akufo-Addo also announced that the government has launched a digitised ambulance dispatch system to manage the new fleet, integrated with the national digital property addressing system.

Under the new dispatch procedures, all calls to the NAS will be routed through a computer system which will automatically generate the digital address location of the caller, enabling the control centre to determine straight away the nearest available ambulance to dispatch.

“It will also allow the ambulance to determine easily the nearest health-care facility suitable for the emergency,” the President said. “This system will also allow the ambulance, when dispatched, to navigate without difficulty, using the dispatch system in the ambulance, straight to the location of the caller.”

Integrated emergency

The President further explained that the dispatch management system will provide interconnectivity among the various ambulance stations and the dispatch centres. The same will apply to the dispatch centres and receiving health facilities.

He said such a system will enhance the response time of the NAS ambulances, and thereby improve patient outcomes.

The government has succeeded in establishing a single emergency number for all providers of emergency services in the country, he further said.

“I am happy to announce that, thankfully, we have merged all the emergency numbers to one number, which is 112. For any form of emergency, either Police Service, Fire Service or Ambulance Service, the number to dial on all mobile networks is 112,” he said.

Train paramedics

The President appealed to Ghanaians to ensure that the improved emergency service provided is not abused.

“We are told that 90 per cent of calls made to the providers of emergency services are … prank calls. This is not right, as it only endangers the lives of Ghanaians in need,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo gave citizens his assurance that his government will ensure that the Paramedic and Emergency Care Training School at Nkenkaasu, in the Ashanti Region, gets the necessary infrastructure to ensure that it serves its purpose of training paramedics in Ghana and West Africa. It will also serve as a refresher course centre for emergency care training of doctors, nurses and paramedical staff from across the subregion.

“I call upon all regional ministers, metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives, as well as all health officials, to provide the needed co-operation and support to make the operationalisation of these ambulances a success, and also ensure their satisfactory maintenance,” he urged.

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Last modified on Thursday, 30 January 2020 04:50


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