By Goodluck Musinguzi
The Ministry of Health has set up an ambulance station to complement ambulance services in Kampala Metropolitan Area. This is in fulfillment of the pledge by Dr. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health.
“Government is considering setting up an emergency center in Kampala from where the ambulance services will be coordinated to serve Kampala Metropolitan Area while promptly responding to all manner of emergencies wherever they occur”, Dr.Diana said in 2019.
Emmanual Ainebyoona, Senior Public Relations Officer said Naguru Ambulance Station is expected to start with over 20 ambulances from government.
Once the Ambulance Station is ready it will be opened to the public for use. We are going to deploy paramedics who are health care professionals who main role is to provide advanced emergency medical care for critical and emergent patients who access the emergency medical system. Not all ambulance personnel are paramedics.
Naguru ambulance station is a structure or area set aside for storage of ambulance vehicles and their medical equipment as well as working and living space for their staff.
Naguru Ambulance station will have facilities for maintaining ambulance vehicles, such as a charger for the vehicles’ batteries, tyre clinic and servicing of engines.
Dr. Diana Atwine said her team assessed the readiness of the Naguru Ambulance Station expected to host the emergency medical services call and dispatch center. This and other regional centers will coordinate Ambulance services in different regions of the country.
In a bid to improve Emergency Medical Services across Kampala Metropolitan Area, the Ministry of Health handed over 7 ambulances funded by African Development Bank to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
During the handover ceremony, the Under-Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mr. Ssegawa Ronald Gyagenda highlighted the multisectoral approach among Government bodies aimed to improve service delivery across the city and country at large. He noted that among many existing services to expand service delivery, procurement and effective use of ambulances were important to improve the quality of care for emergency cases by ensuring quick response during emergencies.
“The key resources for operation are human resources such as ambulance crews, fuel and maintenance of the ambulances is crucial to effectively run the ambulances” Mr. Ssegawa said. He added that in collaboration with partners, the Ministry is in the process of developing an Emergency Medical Services Policy, Standards and Strategy which will spell out the coordination of ambulances in different regions in the country.
The Acting Deputy Executive Director, KCCA then, Ms. Juliet Namuddu commended the Ministry’s efforts and entrusting the authority with the responsibility of running the ambulances across the city. “Without ambulances, it is difficult to respond to emergencies in a timely manner” she said.
Ms. Namuddu informed the public that KCCA has put in place a call center (Toll Free: 912) to enable dispatch and coordination of ambulances across Kampala City.
Speaking at a press briefing at the Ministry of Health headquarters , she said the policy will define what an ambulance is and the kind of equipment it should have.
Dr. John Baptist Waniaye, the commissioner for emergency care services hopes that the policy if approved will lower the cost of ambulance services in the country.
According to Dr. Waniaye, the cost of ambulance services in Kampala is very high and exorbitant. Ambulance transport in Kampala costs around sh150,000 while in areas like West Nile, the cost can go up to sh3m.
He noted that through the policy they will establish a district system whereby every health Centre IV has a type B ambulance. Type B ambulance has basic life support equipment.
Currently, there are 421 ambulances in the country, out of which 181 (Type B) are in government, 124 in private not for profit organizations and 116 in private facilities.
Tom Kyobe, President Association of Ambulance Professionals of Uganda, said that a standard ambulance costs about $22,000 (sh81.4m) while the more specialized ones cost up to sh500m each. In Uganda, he added, commonly used are the Type B ambulances.