Most county ambulances are ill-equipped, new report by MCAs shows

One of the four ambulances purchased by the Taita-Taveta County Government to improve referral services during its launch at Wundanyi in 2014. [File, Standard]

Ambulances in county hospitals have no functional life-saving machines and equipment required for emergency response, a new report has revealed.

The situation, the report shows, could lead to deaths of patients, especially from far-flung areas that require swift emergency medical response and referral services.

The report was compiled by the sectoral committee on Transport, Roads, Public Works and Infrastructure Development of the County Assembly.

It shows that the van-shaped ambulances do not have an oxygen supply, first aid kit, essential medicines, and transfer couches.

Some ambulances are grounded for lack of maintenance while others are detained in garages for lack of funds to repair them.

Other defective ambulances have been packed in hospitals, stated the report.

According to the report seen by The Standard, some ambulances have been written off while others have been vandalised due to lack of enough security personnel and perimeter walls in health facilities.

The county has 71 health facilities.

The report which was endorsed by the County Assembly last week with proposed recommendations comes at a time when the county government is still grappling with an acute shortage of staff and broken down and vandalised ambulances that have badly affected the delivery of health services in the wake of emergency and referral cases.

Joseph Mwalegha, the committee chairperson who presented the report, told the County Assembly Speaker Wisdom Mwamburi that they visited all health facilities in the county from April 3 to 5, this year.

Mr Mwalegha, who is Mwatate MCA, said the objective was to assess the status and condition of county ambulances.

“We visited the health facilities to identify and propose mitigation measures for effective operations of ambulance services and propose recommendations for consideration by the County Assembly,” said Mwalegha.

He observed that staff in charge of ambulances faced challenges  of refilling oxygen cylinders, servicing and fueling.

“The county ambulances are poorly equipped to handle critical emergencies. The vehicles do not provide comfort to patients referred to Coast General Hospital,” he noted.

Mwalegha noted the national policy guidelines on referral and ambulance services are not being followed as required.

He said poor adherence to these guidelines could result in morbidity and mortality among patients.

The MCA further noted that the county ambulances need major service.

“The insurance cover of some of the ambulances had expired and others had a third party insurance which the committee termed as a dangerous move,” he said.

The MCAs recommended that sub-county hospitals should establish assets management committees that would deal with disposal of unroadworthy vehicles.

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