Private medical and dental practitioners are drawing attention to what they say is struggling emergency medical service 15 years after its establishment.

President of Society of  Medical and Dental Medical Practitioners of Ghana, blames the situation on lack of political will to pass a National Ambulance Service law.

In a communiqué issued at the 41st Annual General Meeting in Kumasi, Dr Isaac Morrison stated that a legal framework will help fill a major gap in the country’s healthcare system.

“The National Ambulance Service should be urgently passed to ensure the sustainability of the emergency medical service and the use of properly fitted and equipped ambulances,” he added.

The May 9, 2001 stadium disaster in Accra prompted then President John Agyekum Kuffuor to set up the National Ambulance Service in 2004.

It was tasked to provide timely and comprehensive pre-hospital care to persons in road traffic, domestic, industrial Accidents and other emergencies.

However, a 2014 survey showed 19% of the country remained uncovered by the service.

“In many places, the ambulances were found to be non-operational. As at June 2018, about 29 million Ghanaians shared 55 operational ambulances,” Dr Morrison noted.

He believes increased training of personnel, including the private sector, is crucial for effective implementation of the service.

“There must be an equitable geographical distribution of skilled emergency care providers and healthcare facilities staffed and equipped to handle critical care patients when handed over by the emergency medical team nationwide.”

“Government should encourage public-private partnership in the provision of emergency medical care,” he added.

Dr Morrison believes patient neglect due to unavailability of relatives to pay for services is avoidable if NHIA covers the cost of the first 24 hours of care.

He spoke at the society’s conference under the theme,” Medical Services in Ghana: History, Current Situation and Challenges.”

President of Ghana Medical Association, Dr Frank Ankobea, urged the government to find money to pay private facilities which cater for accident victims

“Private medical Practitioners play a critical role in the provision of emergency medical services but are often neglected in resource allocation from the central government in this regard. I call on the government to explore financially sustainable means of reimbursing all health care facilities for care provided to accident victims within the first24/48 hours, ’ he noted.

Negative perception about ambulances as meant for the dead, high cost of fuel and service charges account for low patronage.

Ghana Association of Quasi-Government Health Institutions believes addressing such challenges will improve services.