The Minister of Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has announced that all ambulances categorized as Type A will soon be banned from carrying patients.
Dr. Aceng who was at a donation function to receive three ambulances from Enabel, the Belgian Development Agency, said once the Emergency Services Policy that was recently passed by cabinet comes into force, they will only allow ambulances starting with Type B as the basic required vehicle to offer ambulance services.
Currently, Type A ambulances are considered transport vehicles that cannot offer any medical care to injured persons. The new basic acceptable Type B ambulance that is being mooted by the Ministry costs about UGX200 Million.
Type B ambulances should be fitted with equipment to offer oxygen therapy, nebulization, monitoring of vital parameters, and automatic external defibrillation for diagnosing life-threatening heart beating.
Aceng cautioned the district leaders against using the ambulances to transport food, bodies, or even officials to meetings.
She said while they have been donated specifically to the districts of Omoro, the vehicles will be stationed at Gulu Regional Referral hospital to allow easy coordination.
The minister explains that as per the new guidelines, they are setting up regional coordination systems which allow the vehicles to be regionally serviced and run to ensure efficiency as they are also setting up a call and dispatch center.
Tom Vanneste, the Enabel Uganda Resident Representative, said the donated ambulances to Amuru, Omoro, and Nwoya districts fit the new requirements by the ministry and that their equipping and upgrade were done in Uganda.
The three ambulances that cost UGX780 Million are expected to transport acutely ill and injured patients both from the community and lower health facilities to referral centers.
Vanneste says they zeroed on the Acholi sub-region after their assessment found a few functional ambulances in the area and yet the available ones were not properly equipped to support life, something that often led to stories of pregnant mothers and children dying in transit.
Dr. John Bosco Wanaiye, the head of the Emergency Services Division in the ministry says that government plans to procure 500 Type B ambulances that will be circulated equitably across the country.
In addition, they will procure 20 Type C ambulances, five boat ambulances, and aeromedical services that will be run by the Police and Army. Type C ambulances are those where a patient will be able to get advanced life support aboard including a minor lifesaving surgery.
Currently, there’s only one Type C ambulance in the whole country being managed by the Uganda Heart Institute.
Lately politicians especially Members of Parliament have been donating ambulances as one of the ways to attract political support. Most of these have been Type A and haven’t been of much help as they have been used to transport officials and foodstuffs instead of patients.