Ambulances will be commissioned on January 28 regardless of number ready – Health Minister
The ambulances parked in front of the State House will be commissioned and deployed regardless of if they have all arrived in the country, Health Minister Kwaku Agyemang Manu has said.
A ceremony to begin the distribution of the ambulances, initially set on January 6, 2020 was postponed following a request from the National Ambulance Service and endorsed by the Health Ministry.
In an interview, the Health Minister intimated that aside from labelling the available ambulances for their various constituencies, they were ready to be mobilised.
“We are labelling and we are ready to mobilise and when it comes to the 28th [of January 2020] whether all of them are here or not, what we have done…we will mobilise,” Mr. Agyemang Manu said.
There were 211 ambulances in the country before January 6, when the state said and additional 48 were expected in the country.
The remaining 48 ambulances are expected to arrive on January 18.
The Ambulance Service has said at least 96 of them have been cleared from the ports and are undergoing processes like labelling, installation of tracking systems and being comprehensively insured.
In the meantime, Mr. Agyemang Manu urged Ghanaians to be patient amid criticism over the delays in the deployment of the ambulances.
The Minister stressed that “there are inefficiencies we want to right from the beginning.”
“Let us wait a little bit. I am pleading with the nation. We are not putting them for any fanfare. We are not going to do politics and campaign with ambulances… what we want to do, let us take our time and do it more efficiently.”
The government procured 307 ambulances in total in line with a promise by the Akufo-Addo administration to improve emergency healthcare in all Ghana’s constituencies.
Backlash over delays
The first batch of ambulances arrived in September 2019 and have been parked at the State House.
During a press encounter, President Nana Akufo-Addo said he wanted all the ambulances made available before distribution to avoid any accusations of bias.
“The Minister for Special Development Initiative told me some of the ambulances were in and asked if she should distribute them and I said no, she shouldn’t. She should wait for the others to come in so that we can distribute all at the same time…Fortunately for us all of them will be in by the end of this month and on the 6th of January, I will commission them and the distribution will take place simultaneously and nobody will accuse me of favouritism, and so on. There is no justification on they being parked but if I was to send it here and not here I think you know the kind of discourse that will come.”
The Minority in Parliament accused the government of insensitivity in refusing to distribute them.
It further said the government was taking Ghanaians for granted following the postponement of the commissioning date from January 6 to January 28.
Pressure Group Occupy Ghana also expressed its disappointment with the delays saying it was a sign of gross irresponsibility.
Ghana’s 29 million population currently has only 50 functioning ambulances.
The statistics indicate that one ambulance is shared by over 520,000 Ghanaians.
This is well below the recommended population to ambulance ratio of one ambulance to 25,000 people.