Ali Baba Awini, the Upper East Regional Administrator of the National Ambulance Service on Monday appealed to government and NGOs in the country to support the region with ambulances.
He said the Upper East Region, with a population of about 1, 124,193, had only two national ambulances serving the entire Region, and that compelled relatives of most referred patients from hospitals especially the Regional Hospital to rely on commercial vehicles.
Some relatives of patients pay high amounts of money to commercial vehicle operators to transport the sick in vehicles which are not structured for such purposes, to their referred destinations for medical care, he said.
The Administrator also expressed worry about the use of all manner of vehicles as ambulances, saying that they were not for such purpose, and lacked equipment.
“…Before you can call a vehicle an ambulance, it must have a bed and all the necessary medical equipment and medications with trained personnel to mount it.”
Mr. Awini said most districts in the Region did not have the requisite requirements for ambulance services such as an office and residential accommodation for personnel, appliance bay and telephones, which were the requirements for ambulance service.
He said Bolgatanga, Navrongo, Sandema, Garu, Zebilla, Tongo and Chiana were able to meet the requirements, whilst the rest of the Districts could not, after several attempts.
“This narrowed the number of ambulances in the Region to only seven, presently as we speak; the Zebilla ambulance was involved in an accident and has not been replaced because we do not have ambulances.”
“Recently, the Sandema one was transporting a case from the Regional hospital to Tamale and when it got to Walewale, the whole ambulance burnt completely,” Mr Baba recounted.
He said the situation further narrowed the ambulances to five, with only Bolga and Garu functioning, and disclosed that Chiana, Navrongo and Tongo’s ambulances were broken down, “so in the whole Region for now, we have just two ambulances working”.
He said as part of measures to maintain the two in the Region, management decided that cases would not be transported beyond Tamale, so as not to overwork them.
He said in all the Regions in Ghana, only the Upper East had as low as seven ambulance stations, and expressed concern that Bawku, a referral hospital, did not have an ambulance.