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Emergency health care delivery threatened due to broken down ambulance in Bolgatanga East District

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On Tuesday, January 28th, 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo commissioned 307 ambulances to be distributed to all 275 constituencies across the country while the rest were to be stationed at accident-prone areas and a few parked at the National Ambulance Service (NAS) headquarters as backups. 

The initiative, known as “One Constituency, One Ambulance” under the then Ministry of Special Development Initiative was in fulfilment of the New Patriotic Party’s 2016 campaign promise to help address emergency health delivery in the country.

Just like all other constituencies in the country, the Bolgatanga East constituency received a brand-new ambulance with fitted medical equipment to serve the people of the area. The ambulance has saved many lives in the district and nearby districts by transporting accident victims, pregnant women, and sick persons to the regional referral point – Upper East Regional Hospital. 

“The Bolga East ambulance, since we brought it, has helped a lot. In one instance, we were in the office and a certain man rode a bike and entered our office to inform us about an accident that occurred around the Avosco school [Zuarungu SHS]. When we got there, it was a young man that crashed into a tipper truck. We rushed in there, sent the guy to Tamale [Teaching Hospital] and the guy is ok now and living here in Bolga East,”: Boniface Ayamga, Bolgatanga East District Station Officer of the National Ambulance Service. 

Unfortunately, the emergency health delivery in Bolgatanga East District in the Upper East Region is currently facing significant challenges because the ambulance has broken down. This has resulted in delays and difficulties in providing prompt medical assistance to individuals in critical conditions since the ambulance developed a fault on May 4th, 2023. 

Since the ambulance developed a fault, residents of the constituency said they are not able to rely on timely emergency medical services anymore. As an alternative, the residents temporarily make arrangements, such as using other available vehicles or engaging the services of tricycle riders otherwise known as ‘Cando’ to ensure that emergency medical services are not interrupted. 

 On 28th March 2023, Aishetu Nsoh, a young lady in her early 30s from the Dachio community delivered her second born – a baby girl. In the early hours of Tuesday, Madam Aishetu was due for labour but her condition was so critical that health workers referred her from the community’s CHPS centre to the Zuarungu health centre. 

“I went through pain on that fateful day. I was sent to the Zuarungu Moshie CHPS centre on a tricycle. Unfortunately, when we got there, we were referred to the Zuarungu health centre. I could not stretch my legs in the tricycle because it is not like an ambulance where you could lie down. So, I sat through the journey to this place [Zuarungu health centre]. Luckily, I delivered safely when I was brought to the Zuarungu health centre.”

Madam Aaishetu spoke exclusively to A1 Radio’s Joshua Asaah at the premises of the Zuarungu health centre when she went for postnatal care service.

She had therefore appealed to the government and relevant authorities including philanthropists to repair the ambulance for effective emergency health delivery in the Bolgatanga East District. 

 Asiabono Ndeyine, a cleaner at the Zuarungu Health Centre recounted one of the near-fatal cases that occurred due to the unavailability of an ambulance service.

“Many of the situations are faced by pregnant women. Sometimes if there is a need to refer a pregnant woman in labour to the regional hospital and there is no ambulance, you can imagine the outcome. Sometimes because of the delay in getting an ambulance from another district, the woman may bleed and lose the child. It was the Nabdam district ambulance that came to the rescue of a woman in labour here just last week.”

The Bolgatanga East District Station Officer of the National Ambulance Service, Boniface Ayamga while speaking to A1 radio said the situation is affecting health delivery and the operation of the service.

“Since the vehicle went out of commission, there was a case where somebody fell from a height. There was no ambulance from Bolga East, no ambulance from Bolga Central, and the Nabdam ambulance by then was broken down. So, I advised them to use a motoking [tricycle] to save the boy’s life. I understand there was a woman at the Bolga East hospital, she was delivered and bled. I understand she lost the baby. So, if there was an ambulance, this woman wouldn’t have lost her baby”, he recounted.

Mr. Ayamga said his outfit is exploring alternative measures to address the issue. He said he had written letters of appeal to the Bolgatanga East District and other benevolent individuals and organisations for support to fix the ambulance that is grounded due to faulty injectors.

“We reported to the DCE because the ambulance belongs to the assembly. We have made a diagnosis of the ambulance and the things that are needed to bring the ambulance back on the road. I identified Endswell Pharmacy, Blue Sky Hotel, Bolga East MP, Dr. Dominic Ayine, and Honourable Mathew Silas Amoah, and we gave them letters”

In cases of accidents, injuries, or sudden illnesses, timely medical intervention is crucial in order to prevent further complications or even death. Furthermore, the lack of ambulance service currently at the Bolgatanga East also affects the ability to provide essential maternal and child healthcare services. 

The current situation of a broken-down ambulance at the Bolgatanga East District as well as other districts across the country could hamper Ghana’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 3) on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages by the year 2030.

Source: A1Radioonline.com|101.1Mhz|Joshua Asaah|Zuarungu|Ghana

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