Uganda public ambulances fail to take off



Uganda National Ambulance Service that is meant to provide emergency pre-hospital care to the public has failed after two years of its launch, reports the Daily Monitor.

18 ambulances were flagged off in 2015 to begin a journey that will lead to better public health care after a team of researchers concluded that road traffic crashes will be the eight leading cause of death and disability by the year 2030. 90 percent of the road traffic injury deaths will occur in developing countries, of which 80 percent will happen in pre-hospital setting.

The Ugandan government under an initial plan unveiled in January 2014, 100 ambulances were to be purchases at a cost of $157million over a five year period beginning with the financial year 2014/2015.

“The ambulances will be fitted with modern technology where surgery can take place and an emergency telephone number known to people in case of need. The ambulance would reach the survivors in 10 to 20 minutes depending on the location,” said a government doctor during the launch.

Initial batch of about 100 medical workers, ambulance drivers and crews had to be recruited and trained. The staff had their contracts cancelled during government restructuring and those that theirs expired were never renewed.

Many of the ambulances are parked on grounds after due to lack maintenance service blamed on lack of funds. The Emergency number for modern ambulances for a toll free communication system, is not working.

The Ugandan government is working on a National Emergency Care strategy that will see a National Ambulance System with ambulances in strategic areas coordinated by a command Centre instead of hospitals running them.

As it stands less than 5% (patients) arrive by ambulance because few exist and these are mostly privately owned and prohibitively expensive. Furthermore, one in three patients arrive at Mulago (main hospital in the country) beyond the first hour after the injury, the ‘‘golden hour,’’ during which expedient treatment would greatly increase survival according to research.