Health emergencies: Ogun govt deploys tricycle ambulances to rural areas

AS part of its efforts to tackle maternal and infant mortality and other emergencies, the Ogun State government has introduced tricycle (Keke) ambulances in rural areas.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kunle Somorin, on Sunday, April 16, said the state government has purchased 50 tricycle ambulances for the scheme.

The statement added that the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals donated 30 more tricycles while 10 more were donated by private donors to make a total of 90 tricycle ambulances.

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Somorin explained that transportation challenges has been a major cause of avoidable loss of lives of pregnant women and elderly persons.

According to the statement, the state government established an Emergency Medical Treatment Committee to ensure the quickest possible collaborative response to trauma and medical emergencies.

Parts of the statement read, “The committee consists of stakeholders drawn from various relevant government agencies and professional bodies including traffic, security agencies, health, media and emergency management.

“We have ensured that activation of a state-wide 3-digit 7-7-7 toll free emergency number, to notify the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) of any unforeseen situation  coupled with the integration of the national emergency number 112 in Ogun State.

“The government has integrated paramedics into the state’s emergency medical team to provide emergency care to victims at the scene of incident and on-route to the receiving facility/ hospital.

“We have incorporated the police, fire service, other paramilitary agencies, and volunteer international organisations into the EMS accordingly.”

However, the main opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party, had in 2021 accused the state governor Dapo Abiodun of a plotting to embezzle public funds when the tricycle ambulances were procured.

PDP condemned the governor’s decision to procure ‘tricycle ambulances’ in primary health centres across the state, saying it is an avenue created to divert tax payers’ money.

In a statement released by its spokesperson in the state, Akinloye Bankole, the PDP said, “As a reasonable political organisation, our great party still keeps wondering why any government, in all honesty, would keep showcasing deliberate deceit in order to appear busy in delivering dividends of responsive government to the people. Can anybody explain the possibility of an emergency bed stretcher fitting into this Keke Ambulance with full paramedics in attendance?

“Also, it is fundamentally necessary for the people to be equipped with the knowledge that the chassis of the much celebrated Keke NAPEP are not long and strong enough to carry a bed stretcher.

“For us as a party, we are convinced that the government under the watchful eyes of Prince Dapo Abiodun has, just as it has always done, supervised another flight of taxpayers’ money into some private vaults outside the state. He has again committed the state’s funds into another wasteful bazaar.”

Nigeria has one of the worst maternal and child mortality indices in the world.

According to the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (2018 NDHS), the country’s Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) is 512 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Also, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, in 2022, stated that the lack of access to healthcare is the main factor contributing to high maternal, infant and under five mortality in the country.

He said this during the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) ministerial forum on November 13, 2022 in Abuja.

In the report, NAN noted that the latest United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report titled ‘Situation of Women and Children in Nigeria’ stated that the country records 576 maternal mortality per 100,000 live births, while approximately 262,000 babies die at birth every year.

According to the report, infant mortality stands at 69 per 1,000 live births, while under-five deaths is 128 per 1,000 live births with more than 64 per cent of the deaths caused by pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea.



    Speaking about the maternal and infant mortality rate in the country, the minister said, “it is embarrassing when you go to conferences and see that your country has some of the worst indices and that’s one of the reasons why this administration is looking at extending healthcare to areas where we have problems.

    “The area where you see this maternal mortality mostly is the rural areas where they have zero access to healthcare and where you will see that in spite of preaching inclusion, many people are actually excluded from the health service delivery.

    “That’s why we are pressing for expanded primary healthcare. If you examine the causes of this high maternal mortality and also the infant mortality and the under-five mortality, you find that most of it is due to lack of access.

    “There is no hospital there. Most of the women who deliver do so without skilled birth attendants, but once you have skilled birth attendants, maternal mortality reduces drastically.”

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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