The Government Chief Whip, Rt. Hon Denis Hamson Obua has assured Parliament that the Ministry of Health will present a status report on the distribution of ambulances to different public health facilities in the country.
Obua made the commitment during Thursday’s plenary sitting presided over by Speaker Anita Among.
“I undertake to move the Ministry of Health to come and explain to this Parliament why Kapchorwa hospital and any other District hospitals in Uganda are not having ambulances bought by the government,” Obua said.
He was responding to a matter raised by Kween County MP William Chemonges who decried the lack of an ambulance to rescue sick people to Kapchorwa hospital.
Chemonges informed the House that in the last few weeks atleast five mothers have lost their lives while trying to give birth because of the lack of an ambulance to transfer them from lower Health facilities to Kapchorwa hospital.
A 2013 situation analysis of the state of ambulance services in the country by Uganda Red cross Society revealed that only 6 percent of patients are taken to hospital by ambulance, while more than 50 percent taken by police pick-up trucks.
A 2020 survey carried out by Makerere University School of Public Health revealed that 70% of ambulances used in the country could not offer any sort of emergency care. Most of them lacked equipment or medical supplies and trained personnel. They were found to be emergency transport vehicles but could not save a life.
According to the study, the ambulances lacked basic equipment like pain medication, vital sign monitors, an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine, a defibrillator or an intubation set used to clear blocked airways. They did not even have suction machines that remove obstructions from the airways.
With the procurement of more ambulances that are equipped to handle major emergencies, more lives will be saved. Dr. Annet Alenyo Ngabirano, an emergency physician and technical advisor on Emergency Medical Services, says that as many as 2,700 casualty deaths are avoidable with emergency service.
“From WHO statistics, if you have a well-structured emergency care system, you should avert a minimum of your emergencies from dying. In Uganda, we record around 5000 deaths on average annually. If 54 percent of these deaths were avoided, that would be a good number,” she said.