The Ministry of Health has received 19 ambulances through the World Bank funding to 19 hospitals across the country that are being renovated under the Uganda Health Systems Strengthening Project (UHSSP)
By Alfred Wandera
The Ministry of Health has received 19 ambulances through the World Bank funding to 19 hospitals across the country that are being renovated under the Uganda Health Systems Strengthening Project (UHSSP).
This was revealed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Asuman Lukwago, in an interview with New Vision at Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo, on the sidelines of East, Central and Southern Africa (ECSA) Health Community conference that closed Tuesday.
UHSSP is aimed at delivering the Uganda National Minimum Health Care Package (UNMHCP) to Ugandans, with a focus on maternal health, newborn care, and family planning.
It is also meant to fund the renovation of selected health facilities to ensure basic functionality of the facilities and scaling up services for maternal care.
Lukwago noted that the ambulances will offer pre-hospital emergency services to people in emergencies on their transit to hospitals. The ambulances are set to be unveiled next month.
"The ambulances were purchased using the World Bank loan that was obtained in 2011. They were bought last month. Among the hospitals that will receive an ambulance each are Nebbi, Moyo, Iganga, Kiryandongo, Mityana, Entebbe, Nakaseke, Moroto, Mubende and Yumbe," said Lukwago.
Lukwago added that 50 Pickups were recently distributed to hospitals and health center IVs across the country in a move aimed at improving working conditions for health workers and ensuring easy access to health care by Ugandans.
He noted that 10 more ambulances are to be purchased through financing from the African Development Bank (ADB) that will serve Kampala including Mulago National Referral Hospital that is currently undergoing major facelift.
However, Lukwago said there is an ongoing inventory taking process by a selected multi-sectoral committee including officials drawn from the Ministry of Health, Police and private health providers to ascertain how many more ambulances to buy to beef up the already existing ones in the country.
"We propose that since the country has about 230 constituencies, the inventory taking process should help us in allocating the available vehicles optimally. We want to allocate one ambulance per constituency. The process should reveal which areas are under-stocked and which ones have more than the required so that we can redistribute them," said Lukwago.
He added that under the current operation where ambulances are attached per hospital, drivers tend to misuse them especially when they are not in use by running their own errands.
He said an ambulance per constituency will be optimized and will help combat misuse by errant drivers who have made it a habit to do business using public resources.
Lukwago noted that the ambulances will be linked to a telephone system for easy access and monitoring to rescue accident and trauma victims.
"Ambulance crew will be trained on handling emergencies to save life. They will serve as mobile hospitals and care service centers. We are contacting Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to see whether we can get an emergency code for ambulances like 112 where one can call and the ambulance crew would answer to see how to help," said Lukwago.
Commenting on the deadly Ebola, Lukwago said the ministry has so far mobilized 100 health workers ready for deployment to West Africa to reinforce efforts of combating the deadly disease.
"We recalled some retired health workers when we were mobilizing staff to West Africa. We had got only 54 health workers out of the required 100 staff and we recalled the retired doctors that are willing to work in West Africa. Our doctors are ready to go to West Africa but we are still waiting clearance from the African Union," said Lukwago.
Ebola has so far claimed over 9,268 lives in six West African namely; Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the US and Mali.
Govt receives ambulances for 19 hospitals