Tricycles replace ambulances in Luweero

A number of Health Centers in Luweero have resorted to using tricycles to refer patients to hospitals following the breakdown of their ambulances.

The affected health centers are Luweero, Nyimbwa and Kalagala.

Collectively, the three health centers cater for a population of 456,958 people across the district, according to 2014 National Housing and Population Census.

According to Dr Innocent Nkonwa, the Luweero District Health Officer (DHO), the ambulance for Nyimbwa Health Center was written off after serving for decades while ambulances for Luweero and Kalagala health Centre’s were grounded after breaking down.

Nkonwa adds that another pickup registration number LG0023 27 which was donated to Nyimbwa Health Center as temporary means of transport for health workers and patients also broke down. He says that they have since asked Non-Government Organizations to donate tricycles to help patients in case of referrals.

“We have projects like Abaagala Uganda, a local NGO which came and gave us tricycle ambulances [which] are helping us to ferry mothers from the field to the health facilities. But, Ministry of Health is coming up with a new strategy which we have discussed, and we have an input  as DHOs – of revamping the whole ambulance system, and they have put a department at the ministry which is going to be handling that,” Nkonwa said.

Recently Nyimbwa Health Center IV got a tricycle donated by Abaagala Uganda an NGO to save patients who can’t afford hiring cars for referrals.

Several area residents say that the government has not invested enough in the health sector leaving the poor people at risk of deaths after failing to acquire private ambulances services.

Abdul Kalemera, the District Councilor for Nyimbwa Sub County says that area Health Center IV receives many accident victims, many of who, cannot be saved dye to lack of transport means to evacuate them to better hospitals. He however accused the health workers of neglecting a pickup which had just a minor mechanical failure, yet it could still serve during emergencies.

Recently Ronald Ndawula, the Luweero district Chairman appealed to Katikamu North MP Abraham Byandala to buy an ambulance for his constituents to save the patients until the government intervenes. But Abraham Byandala advised the district to use part of the taxes they collect to procure an ambulance.

In 2014, the Ministry of Health established the Uganda National Ambulance Service (UNAS) to address the need for emergency pre-hospital care in Uganda.

The government intends to operationalize the service beginning 2019/2020   According to the Health Ministry, an estimated 45 billion Shillings has been budgeted for the procurement of 200 ambulances and training of paramedics in the financial year.