I am of the view that more fire tenders and stations are needed more than ambulances. The extent of damage caused by fire in our communities far outweighs the benefits of ambulances. Taxi drivers are there to convey sick people to hospitals when the need arises of course at a cost but taxi cabs cannot put out fire in a market, say Makola or Kejeitia market.
Imagine the level of bush fire and extent of damage done in Australia just recently with over 500 million animals extinguished because of it. We also know that majority of our people are farmers in rural areas and market people and these are areas that fires attack. The way we live in compound houses congested and build our houses close to each other in surburbs like Nima, Chorkor etc makes it a high risk for fire to attack those areas.
I am not saying ambulances are not important but I believe the next thing the government needs to look at is providing fire tenders for every community in Ghana. Our fire system must work, there must be ready source of supply of fire equipment to fight fire especially in this harmattan season. I pray the government will listen to this plea from a concerned citizen.
Another area I think the government must look at is hospital expansion in regards to the number of beds in every hospital and also building more hospitals in Ghana. If you have ambulances but patients will end up sleeping on the floors and benches at the hospital then what use does it become? I should also think that good paramedics will be trained to man these ambulances and be professional about their duties. Ambulances are not meant to carry dead bodies but to save those who are at the point of death so ambulances should not arrive at destinations late to carry dead bodies.
The public must be sensitised to give way to these ambulances on our roads. This must be intensified so driver’s will compete for road space with these ambulances as theirs are emergencies. Every driver must give way when the ambulance siren sounds. We have some unscrupulous taxi drivers, ‘trotro’ drivers and private vehicles who will not even give way at the sound of an ambulance siren. This will be an obstacle to the smooth flow of ambulance services in the country.
Ghanaians have an attitude of attaching corruption to everything. When you go to the police station to report a case, the police officer expects to be bribed, you must charter a taxi to be used to go and cause the arrest and also give the policeman something as bribe before he can attend to your case. I hope this will not be the case with the ambulance service. Whether a person is poor or rich must not be denied the ambulance service and people should not use this as an opportunity to extort money from Ghanaians, whether from officers to beneficiaries or how the fuel and maintenance is conducted for these ambulances.
Patients who use these ambulances should not be charged more medical bills than those who walked to the hospitals or clinics themselves. The government must educate us on cost if there in procuring the services of these ambulances before you have some people charging unreasonable amounts to patients. You can trust the typical Ghanaian to go in that direction of abusing every good project with corruption.
If these ambulances will have any cost at all to patients, I suggest the National Health Insurance should cover it. Patients should not be kept in hospitals after discharge because they cannot afford the ambulance bills. All these areas must be clearly dealt with.
I thank the government for paying heed to the voices of the people by providing them these ambulances but some of these issues raised must be looked at critically to ensure smooth control of these services. Then again, let us not politicise the provision of these vans because it is a necessity and the taxpayers money which any government should provide for the people.