Govt bans public ambulances from transporting corpses

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja (holding flag) flags off the ambulances at the Ministry of Health headquarters in Kampala yesterday. Centre is the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng. Photo | Abubaker Lubowa

What you need to know:

  • The new ambulances were purchased by the government with support from the government of Japan, World Bank, and Global Fund, among others.

The Ministry of Health has banned government ambulances from transporting dead bodies.

Speaking at the handover of 116 type B ambulances to various constituencies in the country at the ministry’s headquarters in Kampala yesterday, Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary at the ministry, said the government ambulances should only be used to transport patients in need of life support.

“I have had people come to my office to take dead bodies. I want to categorically say it here that our ambulances are equipped with expensive equipment and [are] not [meant] to transport bodies. We now have private service people [who] can handle [transporting dead bodies],” Dr Atwine said.

The new ambulances were purchased by the government with support from the government of Japan, World Bank, and Global Fund, among others.

Dr Atwine said the ambulances will strengthen the emergency health care system and reduce the mortality rate in the country.

“The reason we are focusing on these services at this time is that we know that the top 10 causes of mortality in our country are related to emergencies, either accidents or maternal emergencies,” she said.

She added: “The World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown that the functional emergency health care system can reduce mortality by 54 percent in low and middle income countries.”

The permanent secretary warned ambulance drivers against misusing the vehicles such as using them to smuggle items, especially in the border districts.

Dr Atwine said the number of ambulances in the country is increasing and that the government is looking for more funds to ensure that they are operational.

The Prime Minister, Ms Robinah Nabbanj said the national ambulance system is key in saving lives and ensuring the prompt delivery of medical assistance.

She said 64 percent of the constituencies and all regional referral hospitals now have type B ambulances.

“The availability of ambulances in these constituencies will play a crucial role in saving lives during medical emergencies such as accidents, childbirth, among others,” she added.

The prime minister said the government is taking the necessary steps to ensure that there is 100 percent coverage of ambulances across all constituencies and districts to improve the emergency health system.

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the minister of Health, said the government is committed to improving national ambulance services which consists of land, marine, and air ambulances.

She noted that the country currently has both land and marine ambulances and hopes to purchase the air ambulances by next year if resources allow.  

Dr Aceng noted that although the country has made progress in improving emergency services, there is still a shortfall of 116 ambulances at constituency level, eight at national specialised institutions, and seven at regional level, among others.