Some 307 ambulances will be dispatched to the various constituencies after a commissioning ceremony on Tuesday, Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has said.
Commissioning of the ambulances was initially scheduled for January 6, 2020 but was postponed to January 28, 2020 to allow for the training of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and arrival of all the buses.
Addressing a press conference today [Sunday], Mr. Nkrumah said the ambulances were procured under government’s one million dollar per constituency initiative and will create jobs for over a thousand people.
Mr. Nkrumah said in addition to the approximately 307 ambulances, clearance has also been given for 575 EMTs to be recruited out of which 450 have been recruited.
“First of all, some 307 ambulances are being dispatched on Tuesday to the various centres. Clearance has also been given for the recruitment of 575 emergency medical technicians, out of which over 450 have been recruited and trained,” said Mr. Nkrumah.
The Minister disclosed that Tuesday’s commissioning by the President follows the completion of training of paramedics, fitting of tracking device, upon receipt of the full complement of ambulances.
He further charged the National Ambulance Service to properly maintain the ambulances for longevity.
“Government expects the Ambulance Service to maintain this investment to ensure longevity. It is further expected that this injection will be put to good use to serve the good people of Ghana and add to ongoing efforts to secure livelihoods.”
“Additionally, we encourage all to take note that the budgetary allocation of 1m USD per constituency is what is being used to fund this fleet, an indication that in addition to the other initiatives of the MSDI ministry, that IPEP program is yielding results” the Minister stated.
A few weeks ago, Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang Manu had said the ambulances parked in front of the State House will be commissioned and deployed regardless of if they have all arrived in the country
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.
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.