The government has earmarked sh608.2 billion for implementing the Emergency Medical Services Policy and Strategy for the next five years.
The Emergency Medical Services – EMS is a department under the Ministry of Health that seeks to increase access to on-scene emergency medical care and the proportion of emergency patients receiving ambulance response within one hour to 50 per cent. EMS also seeks to increase the availability of quality emergency medical services in all government health facilities up to Health Center III’s.
Dr John Baptist Waniaye, the Commissioner of Emergency Medical Services –EMS in the Ministry of Health told URN in an interview that funding shall come from the government, Global Fund, World Bank, KOFIH, ENABEL, Malteser International, CHAI, CDC and Seed Global Health, among others.
According to Waniaye, they have developed a first aid curriculum that shall be used to train first responders to scenes of road crashes including a traffic police officer, Village Health Team –VHTs and other people of goodwill. He revealed that every Health Center III shall have two health workers specialized in emergency health care who will liaise with the first responders in handling the cases.
Waniaye says that the government intends to buy 460 ambulances that will be staged to every County, Regional Referral Hospitals. He says that they will establish 16 call and dispatch centres in the major government health facilities.
According to the 2018 statistics from Makerere University School of Public Health, at least 9,000 people in Uganda die annually due to road crashes. Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that the mortality rate resulting from road crashes stands at 4 per cent out of 10 top medical emergency conditions in Uganda.
At Gulu Regional Referral Hospital Accident and Emergency Unit, 10 to 15 trauma cases are registered daily. The majority are victims of road crashes. However, the response has remained a challenge due to inadequate staff, equipment, and medical supplies.
Dr Joyce Anena Oyet, the in-charge of the Accident and Emergency Unit at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital who also doubles as the Emergency Medical Services Officer at the hospital, says that the timeliness and the manner, in which a patient is evacuated for emergency care determines he/her survival.
According to Anena, the government’s initiative to establish emergency medical services comes in handy in saving lives.
Ivan Ojok, the Speaker of Gulu City East Division Bodaboda Association revealed that many of their colleagues have perished in road crashes this year. He revealed that as one way of mitigating deaths due to road crashes among their members, they are imposing fines on those found riding while drunk.
From January to October this year, 27 Bodaboda riders perished in road crashes in Gulu City, according to reports from Gulu East and West City Division Boda –Boda Associations.