According to President Akufo-Addo, the 307 ambulances are “fitted with advanced life support equipment and tracking devices, to be distributed to 275 constituencies, i.e. 1-Constituency-1-Ambulance, to be managed by the National Ambulance Service, and the remainder of thirty-two (32) ambulances to the headquarters of the Service.”
Presenting the ambulances, at a ceremony at the Independence Square, the President noted that, when he took office in January 2017, the National Ambulance Service had 130 stations, 10 regional control rooms across the country, and only 55 ‘semi-functioning’ ambulances.
“In December 2015, two hundred (200) ambulances were supposedly purchased by the Mahama government, out of which only thirty (30) arrived in the country. As though this was not enough, the thirty (30) were declared “not fit for purpose because they had cardinal defects and did not come with any medical equipment. This was completely unacceptable, and my government was determined to rectify this unhappy state of affairs,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo continued, “It is appropriate that the National Ambulance Service, established, in 2004, under the New Patriotic Party-led government of that outstanding Ghanaian statesman, the 2nd President of the 4th Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, is re-equipped, re-tooled and revamped under another NPP-led government, this time of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo”.
The presentation of the 307 ambulances, the President said, means that “as against the scenario whereby one (1) ambulance served approximately five hundred and twenty-four thousand (524,000) people at the end of December 2016, today, we have a much-improved ratio of one ambulance serving approximately eighty-four thousand (84,000) people.”
Additionally, the President revealed that 145 new ambulance stations will be created, bringing the total to 275 stations, ensuring that the country has a 1-Constutency-1-Ambulance Station situation.
“We promised in the 2016 NPP Manifesto to strengthen the National Ambulance Service, and we are doing just that,” he added.
Towards addressing the challenges confronting the Ambulance Service, President Akufo-Addo noted that, firstly, the Ministry of Finance has provided financial clearance for the National Ambulance Service to recruit and train 1,477 emergency medical technicians.
Out of this number, he said that, 577 have already been recruited, with the process for recruiting the 900 underway.
Secondly, the President revealed that the National Ambulance Service Bill, which identifies funding sources for the National Ambulance Service, is currently before Cabinet, and will soon be forwarded to Parliament for consideration and enactment, after Cabinet approval.
Thirdly, President Akufo-Addo stated that government has provided a digitised state-of-the-art ambulance dispatch management system, integrated with the national digital property addressing system, whereby all calls to the ambulance service will be routed through a computer system, which will automatically generate the digital address location of the caller to enable the control centre determine straightaway the nearest ambulance to dispatch.
“It will also allow the ambulance to determine easily the nearest healthcare facility suitable for the emergency. 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,” he said.
The President noted also that the dispatch management system will provide interconnectivity among the various ambulance stations and the dispatch centers, as well as the dispatch centers and the receiving health facilities, adding that such a system will enhance the response time of the ambulances, and, thereby, improve patient outcomes.
Government, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering, has succeeded in getting a unique emergency number for all providers of emergency services in the country, with the Police Service, Fire Service and the National Ambulance Service, all, in the past, having different emergency numbers.
“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.
The President appealed to Ghanaians to ensure that this improvement in the provision of emergency services is not abused, adding that “we are told that 90% of calls made to the providers of emergency services are usually prank calls. This is not right, as it only endangers the lives of Ghanaians in need”.
President Akufo-Addo assured that Government will ensure that the needed infrastructure is provided to the Paramedic and Emergency Care Training School, at Nkenkaasu, to help ensure that it serves its purpose of training paramedics in the country and West Africa, and also serve as a refresher course centre for emergency care training for doctors, nurses and other paramedics in the country and West Africa.
“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 operationalization of these ambulances a success, and also ensure their satisfactory maintenance,” he added.