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02.10.2008 General News

Committee on Emergency Medical Services Inaugurated

By Ghana News Agency
Committee on Emergency Medical Services Inaugurated

Accra, Oct. 2, GNA A 25-member committee has been inaugurated to ensure that emergency services were improved to respond to the mass casualty incidents, lower mortality, reduce disability and prevent other adverse health conditions as a result of everyday injuries. The committee, chaired by Dr. Ahmed Nuhu Zacharia, Director of the National Ambulance Service and tasked to oversee emergency medical services in the country will also ensure that efforts were made to strengthen provision of trauma and emergency care for timely and effective health care delivery. Mr Abraham Dwuma Odoom, a Deputy Minister of Health who inaugurated the committee said a significant burden of diseases in Ghana was caused by time sensitive illnesses and injuries. He noted that, provision of timely treatment during life threatening emergencies was not a priority for many health systems in developing countries and the "response of our health institutions to medical and surgical emergencies was one of the poorest quality health care delivery issues".

He explained that, health staff reacted electively to all emergency situations due to a serious system failure in the service making trauma and emergencies a concern to all, even to the recently sixteenth World Assembly held in Geneva, hence the inauguration of the committee to address the concern. Mr Odoom urged committee members to work hard and ensure that emergency service care was improved to bring relief to the people. The committee comprised representatives from the three teaching hospitals, Ghana Health Service, the 37 Military Hospital, the Police Hospital, National Road Safety Commission, St. John Ambulance and other emergency service consultants.

Ms Salimata Abdul Salim, Acting Chief Director of the Ministry who said emergency care in health institutions was a challenge in health care delivery urged all stakeholders to pool resources together to ensure that emergency care was given priority attention to save more avoidable deaths.

Dr. Zacharia explained that inappropriate, delayed and absence of emergency care contributed to the numerous avoidable deaths and that care in the community, care during transportation, and access on arrival at the receiving health facility were the only three components to overcome the factors most commonly implicated in preventable mortality. He noted that the National Ambulance Service, which started in 2004, had improved tremendously increasing its patients from about 800 to over 8000 in 2008.

Dr Zacharia said though the ambulance distribution was not even, efforts were being made to increase its distribution. At the moment, Greater Accra region has six ambulances, five for Ashanti, four for Eastern, two for Central, two for Volta and one each for the rest of the other regions. He said as part of efforts in ensuring that avoidable deaths were prevented, communities around accident prone areas were given training in first aid to attend to domestic and highway accidents before medical attention was sought. Dr Zacharia reminded Ghanaians that, all the mobile phone networks, MTN, OneTouch, Kasapa and Tigo have activated their networks to enable all the three emergency lines -ambulance, fire and police be called on them where and whenever the need arises.