By Goodluck Musinguzi
Some Members of Parliament were the first to test and feel the state of the art boat ambulances bought by Ministry of Health to answer the outcry of communities living in areas surrounded by water.
Dr Charles Ayume, Chairman Health Committee led the team including the shadow health Minister and MPs of Kalangala, Buvuma and Namayingo districts to the UPDF marine base at Port Alice in Entebbe.
MPs had gone to inspect the newly acquired ambulances boats by Ministry of Health. This Military base is a holding facility as the boats are delivered in-country so that government doesn’t incur any marina costs.
7 of the 15 boats are in-country and will be delivered to the user communities like islands districts, National Medical Stores will retain one for delivery for medicines & supplies.
The modern boats are in good working condition & fitted with two 250 horse power petrol engines, a 600ltr tank, GPS, communication systems, sonar depth detectors and emergency resuscitation equip like oxygen cylinders, stretchers, defibrillators, patients monitors, BP machines etc.
According to Dr Charles Ayume ,the MPs appreciated but observed the delay in deployment to user districts yet there is urgent need, capacity building, local content and maintenance. Projected annual fuel and maintenance costs of 15 boat ambulances is equivalent to 300 road ambulances. The capacity of endpoints has to be built to handle the inward referrals.
The boats will also provide emergency services to aqua sports and tourism supporting development of the Lakes.
A few voices had claimed that the boats were missing causing anxiety among leaders and people who have waited for these facilities since Independence.
Ministry of Works and Transport will clear them before being allowed to operate on Uganda’s lakes.
Ministry of Health was credited for taking a bold decision that will impact communities in the Islands positively.
HEALTH COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENT INSPECT 7 HIGHLY SPECIALISED BOAT AMBULANCES AT THE MARINE BASE IN ENTEBBE
By Goodluck Musinguzi
Ministry of Health developed an Ambulance System that is supposed to ensure quick evacuation of patients that require urgent medical attention. The country requires 460 ambulances both in hospitals and highways. However, communities living on the islands in the lakes have cried to government for the same facilities.
Dr Diana Atwine, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health says this component of emergency remained under-funded for some years until when Covid19 pandemic emerged. The Ministry decided to budget for highly specialized boat ambulances to cater for the lakes.
7 Highly Specialized boat ambulances have been received at the UPDF Marine base in Entebbe waiting for clearance that is done by Ministry of Works and Transport and training of personnel to handle them. Along the way some Members of Parliament and media started speculating that boat ambulances were not bought or were stolen.
Ministry of Health allowed the Members of Parliament to access and inspect these boat ambulances because they pass budgets that buy these equipment.
By press time we could not get the statement of Dr Charles Ayume , the Chairman Health Committee of Parliament who led the delegation. UPDF is safely protecting the boat ambulances awaiting distribution.
Earlier we updated on the subject of boat ambulances the first in Uganda.
The Ministry of Health has received 4 more highly specialized boat ambulances from the manufacturers to help strengthen emergency care services for communities staying on Islands situated in water bodies in Uganda.
“We ordered for 14 Highly Specialized boat ambulances that will be deployed on water bodies in Uganda. We received the first consignment of 3 boat ambulances in February 2021 and the second consignment has been received in August”, Dr Diana Atwine said.
Dr Diana Atwine, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health says the boat ambulances will not be taken to districts yet as they have to be issued with water worthiness certificate that allows them to operate in the country.
4 out of the 11 more boat ambulances expected have been delivered at the Marines pier in Entebbe. This will make a total of 14 boat ambulances to respond to health emergencies in island communities.
Yesterday we updated on the first three boats that are ready for deployment.
Ministry of Works and Transport has tested 3 highly specialized boat ambulances bought by Ministry of Health to strengthen emergency care services on water bodies in Uganda. They have been issued with water worthiness certificate that allows such boats to operate in the country.
The 3 boat ambulances will be deployed in districts of Amolatar , Buvuma and Kalangala. Dr Diana Atwine , the Permanent Secretary says they had prioritized boat ambulances in the budgets before Covid19.
“When the Country was locked down the communities staying around the water bodies found it difficult to access healthcare services. We budgeted for many boat ambulances, the first consignment reached in the country in February 2021”, said Dr Diana.
For security reasons the boats had to be properly marked, train the personnel who will use them. These boats will improve maternal health care in the hard to reach areas.
Emergency response on water bodies is going to improve so that incase of disasters people don’t die if all they need is emergency medical services.
Some districts in Uganda that are surrounded by water bodies include Kalangala, Buvuma, Jinja,Buikwe, Masaka, Hoima, Buliisa, Ntoroko, Mukono and Namayingo. Others are Kaberamaido, Kaliro, Kamuli, Rakai, Mpigi, Mayuge, Nebbi and Kasese.
The boat ambulances will boost other investments done by Uganda Police and Uganda People’s Defence Forces on water bodies. The forces have been using their boats which do not have the necessary equipment to offer emergency health services.
Emergency Preparedness and response on water bodies in Uganda has been boosted with boat ambulances. Health workers using these boats will have the best equipped intensive care unit in each boat that can be used to save patients.
Some people have been doubting that Uganda will ever buy boat ambulances. Dr Diana Atwine says the Uganda National Ambulance Services that was launched in 2015 has been boosted with many ambulances. The launch of these boat ambulances will be announced soon.