Government to procure more than 200 ambulances

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After last month’s tragic Chibombo road traffic accident which left more than 50 passengers dead, Government plans to procure more than 200 ambulances to boost emergency response during accidents, Health Minister Joseph Kasonde has said.

Dr Kasonde was speaking during a Chibombo accident stakeholders’ review meeting at the National Malaria Control Centre in Lusaka this week.

It has been noticed that emergency response at accident scenes was still poor and raised a high risk of victims dying at accident points.

The 200 ambulances to be equipped with basic and advanced life support machinery would be distributed in all the districts countrywide.

This is amidst increasing accidents in most parts of the country.

Also on cards was to improve aero-medical services by the Zambia Flying Doctor Services (ZFDS) to efficiently evacuate the injured by air.

“The setting up of national, provincial and district emergency response teams and centres will improve response time and the teams will be thoroughly trained in emergency response. The need for appropriate and reliable transport in emergency response can’t be overemphasised,” Dr Kasonde said.

He said his ministry would create a trauma rescue service that would respond to emergency cases resulting from accidents.

Officials from the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA), security wings, and health institutions attended the review meeting.

The meeting was aimed at reviewing the performance of emergency response during the Chibombo accident and map out a stronger approach to respond to future calamities.

Dr Kasonde said Government had a passion to increase emergency health services and as such trained paramedics would manage the rescue services.

He said pre-hospital care of trauma victims was needed by improving on response time and by providing such care at the site and in transit up to the referral facility.

To this effect 139 staff had been trained in critical care while 69 were trained in trauma management in all the provinces.

His ministry planned to establish a command and communication centre which would improve coordination and communication in an emergency situation.

Dr Kasonde said emergency health services had been non-existent with no trained personnel to transport victims which had resulted in poor emergency response systems due to poor communication.

According to a RTSA’s report of 2012, the country recorded an average of 1, 200 fatalities from road accidents annually and 80 percent of these occurred in Lusaka.

In 2011 RTSA recorded 1, 670 fatalities, in 2012, a total of 2,265 fatalities were recorded indicating an increase of about 26% in the number of fatalities from road traffic accidents.

It was for this reason that Government had seen the need to streamline the emergency preparedness and response with full participation of all stakeholders including the private sector.

And acting director mobile and emergency health services, Chabwera Shuma said if all emergency needs were in place, the number of deaths in the Chibombo accidents could have been reduced.

Dr Shumba said it was for this reason that the ministry saw the need to intensify emergency needs for the country to mitigate the number of emergency deaths.

And Government yesterday told parliament that it will soon procure motor vehicles for all police stations across the country.

Minister of Home Affairs Deputy Minister Winfridah Kasembe noted that government wants to enhance and easy the operations of the police.

Ms Kasembe said this in response to a question by Mwinilunga Member of Parliament Steven Katuka who wanted to know when government will provide a motor vehicle to Mwinilunga Police Station for operations.

The Deputy Minister said once government procures the vehicles they would be distributed immediately to the police stations.

Ms Kasembe said once the vehicles are distributed government through her Ministry expects the vehicles to be used for their intended purposes.

And Ms Kasembe pointed out that Mwinilunga Police Station has a vehicle which is operational but was currently going through maintenance.

She however said that an additional vehicle will be procured and provided to enhance productivity at Mwinilunga Police Station.

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