To boost Maternal Child Healthcare (MCH) in the country, the federal government Friday launched the National Ambulance Service, with government expending over N1.1 billion in the purchase of 100 ambulances to aid transportation of women and children to health facilities where they can access care.
The chairman of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), Gen. Martin Luther Agwai (Rtd) made the disclosure during the launch of the National Ambulances Services at Kiyi PHC, Chibiri Kuje Area Council if Abuja.
The SURE-P chairman noted that the services would be implemented in 1000 facilities across the country and 250 referral hospitals in the 36 states and the FCT.
According to him a lot of the dividends of the programme had been felt in most local government saying, “as at August last year, over 1. 2 million women have received care in SURE-P facilities while 200,000 babies have been born successfully in the centres.
“These ambulances are expected to ease the transport difficulties our women and children face when trying to access care, or health personnel who have need to refer cases they cannot handle effectively”, he said.
Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Ado Muhammad said that 50% of deaths among women and children was caused by non- availability to referral services.
Muhammad maintained that the initiative was the first of its kind saying, “These should serve as the entry point for wider services to tackle the second and third delay for pregnant women and children.
As part of the need to encourage sustainability of the programme, the NPHCDA boss stated that the ambulances would be outsourced to field managers who would in turn, make sure that they were used effectively and efficiently to enhance the referral services.
Convener of the programme, Mr. Halima Alfa harped on the need to ensure continuity in the implementation of the SURE-P MCH programme, particularly in the area of referrals.
Alfa contended that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration would continue to improve maternal, child health as well as improve quality healthcare system in the rural areas.
Also, the Project Director, SURE-P MCH (maternal and child Health), Dr Ugo Okoli noted that each ambulance cost about 11m and that a 100 was purchased.
She said , “We intend to deploy them to states, and then to clusters, we work in clusters, so if we put one here it will serve the four primary health centres, we intend to put two in each state and the extras to be managed by field managers."
Meanwhile, the ambulances would be distributed across the states but would not be under the control of states nor local governments, rather under private initiatives and field managers to be supervised by the federal government.