Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Health has raised concern about the mismanagement of ambulances.
According to statistics by the Ministry, there are 178 functional ambulances and 50 are run by the local governments, against a set target of 460 ambulances.
But, even the few that are available are riddled with concerns of not just poor management but haphazard maintenance which has often put the ministry on the spot.
Last week, an ambulance with a patient on board caught fire leaving three dead in Bunyangabu district, and early this year an ambulance was spotted transporting pineapples in Ntugamo district.
Speaking on Tuesday at the flagging off of six new ambulances to the districts of Ntungamo, Wakiso, Lira, Kanungu, Manafwa, and Omoro, the Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said that the government still struggles to have an ambulance per district to bridge a huge gap of emergency services in many areas.
Aceng was also concerned that the Ambulance that was given to Omoro last month is grounded. The vehicle was a donation from Enabel, the Belgian Development Agency.
Dr. John Bosco Waniaye the Commissioner of Emergency Services, says that the new ambulances have been given out with clear maintenance instructions. He explains that the ambulances should be serviced after driving for a specific mileage but also ensure that the medical equipment fixed is checked after it has been used.
According to Waniaye, maintenance checks on ambulances are supposed to be done only at the regional referral hospital workshops.
Commenting about the Bunyangabu accident, Waniaye says that they are waiting for a police report to understand what exactly happened. He disregarded claims that the fire could have been offset by an oxygen cylinder or any other medical equipment.
Waniaye revealed that they are planning a training session for both drivers and personnel such as the paramedics and biomedical engineers on safety concerns when a patient is on the move.
The ambulances were bought by the government through a World Bank loan to handle maternal health-related emergencies.