Some 30 sub-standard ambulances procured by the Ministry of Health under the Mahama administration, are to be converted into minibuses and used for public transport, Mr Simon Kewura, Public Relations Officer of the Ghana National Ambulance Service, has said.
The faulty ambulances which are currently sitting idle at the Airforce Base, were part of some 200 procured by the Mahama administration.
Speaking to Moro Awudu on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Tuesday, 3 June, Mr Kewura explained that: “The then-NDC administration was supposed to procure 200 new ambulances for us [Ghana National Ambulance Service] and out of it, 30 of them arrived in batches but after we inspected them, we realised that they didn’t meet our standards as a service and as a country because the ambulances that we are using are supposed to have some basic life-support gadgets or instruments on board, but looking at the 30 that we had, this part of the 200 doesn’t meet the requirement at all.
“So, as an institution, we said: ‘No, we are going to use these ambulances to save lives, so, if they cannot save lives, then they are not ambulances, so, we decided to say no to those ambulances”.
Explaining what a standard ambulance must have, Mr Kewura said: “When we talk about a standard ambulance, it’s supposed to have some basic medical and consumable instruments on board the ambulance such as oxygen cylinders, such as AED machines, blood pressure machines, trawlers, and then well-fitted structures and a whole lot of others, but these particular ambulances, you’ll not get them”.
“Even the seat belts, even the seats for Emergency Medical Technicians that are working on board, some are not on this particular ambulances, but a standard ambulance is supposed to have these on board so that our Emergency Medical Technicians can sit down or stand and fasten themselves in the seat belts comfortably to attend to patients because when the vehicle is moving, it’s not stable, they need to also support themselves but when you look at these particular ambulances, it is not so”.
“We recommended that they should have a second look at it, so, the Ministry [of Health] commissioned Silver Star Company to investigate the ambulances and find out whether we can do something about it, so, their report indicates that we cannot use it for ambulances because it doesn’t meet the requirement.
“So, according to the committee, what they can do is to convert them into minibuses for passengers for public transport. It depends on the ministry to decide which institutions to give them to”, Mr Kewura said.
As of now, there are only 55 functioning ambulances in the whole country. “We are dealing with an average number, it could be less, it could be higher”, Mr Kewura said, adding that there are 95 ambulances which have broken down or been involved in accidents and need fixing.
“The broken-down ambulances that we have, we need to fix them and fixing them requires a lot of money because some of them have engine problem, we have to get a new engine and it’s very expensive”.
He said the Ghana National Ambulance Service needs about GHS11,000 per every improvised engine, adding that ambulances are supposed to be changed every five years.