Government’s plan to commission and distribute some 307 ambulances to the 275 constituencies on Monday, January 6, 2020, may have suffered another setback.
This is because the National Ambulance Service (NAS) has, through the Ministry of Health, written to the President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo to request for the process to be postponed.
A letter written and signed by the Ambulance Service’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Ahmed N. Zachariah, which is in the possession of adomonline.com, made the request, stating five reasons why the planned commissioning and distribution should be halted temporarily.
The five reasons contained in the letter show that a number of preparatory activities which should have been completed prior to the commissioning and distribution of the ambulances are behind schedule.
The reasons cited in the 31st December letter by the Service include a lack of training for staff and paramedics on the use of the ambulances and medical equipment.
As part of the procurement of the 307 ambulances, the manufacturers through the Suppliers are supposed to provide user training for the ambulances and medical equipment onboard. However, this training could not take place as scheduled by the manufacturers because they could not travel to the country before the end of the year due to the holidays season, the letter stated in part.
The letter, however, said the Service had scheduled another date for the manufacturer to provide the training in reference.
The new dates scheduled for the training area in the weeks of the 13th and 20th of January 2020. This training shall comprise of the paramedics being trained on the usage of the different types of equipment in the ambulances while drivers are being trained on the operations of the new ambulances including how the dispatch and tracking systems work. It is vital to provide adequate training to staff before handing over the ambulances, Dr Zachariah requested in his letter.
Another reason for which the Ambulance Service says it is making the request, according to its letter, is the need to have what they described as “state-of-the-art digitized ICT Dispatch system” which will allow the routing of calls through a computer system which will automatically generate the digital address location of the caller to enable control centre easily determine the nearest ambulance to dispatch.
The said state-of-the-art digitized ICT Dispatch system when ready, will allow ambulances to easily determine the nearest health care facility suitable for an emergency and allow the ambulance, when dispatched, to easily navigate using the system to the location of a caller.
It will also provide interconnectivity among the various ambulance stations and the dispatch centres as well as the dispatch centres and the receiving health facilities. This will enhance the response time of the ambulances and thereby improve patient outcomes, the letter explained.
As it stands, however, the said system is yet to be completed but as its completion is integral to the kind of service the NAS intends to give going forward, it finds it necessary for same to be completed before the commissioning and distribution exercises are carried out.
According to the Ambulance Service, tracking devices which are being installed in the ambulances to check abuse of their usage are still ongoing and will be completed in the third week of January hence the need to wait for that process to be completed.
The other reasons contained in the letter are the delay in the completion of the Service Centres and the Labelling of the Ambulances.
According to the letter, both processes will be completed by the third week of January the NAS finds it prudent to wait for their completion.
Since all the above issues are being addressed before the commissioning of the ambulances to ensure an efficient and effective emergency response, we strongly recommend that the Commissioning is postponed to the 28th of January 2020 by which time all these issues would have been resolved, the letter recommended.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang Manu through who the letter was written, has added his voice to the request, saying having engaged them and listened to the reasons for the request for the postponement, I would like to add my voice for their request to be granted.
Until this request from the NAS service, deep throat sources within the government had given the indication that the President was going to commission the ambulances for distribution on January 6, 2020.
It is not clear whether the president will grant the NAS’ request and postpone the same to January 28, 2020.