Kuni Tyessi, Abuja
The Commissioner for Health, Borno State, Dr. Haruna Mshelia, has disclosed that Nigeria lacks qualified and skilled ambulance drivers for pre-hospital care and emergency services.
Mshelia stated that the term “emergency” was often linked to accidents, especially highway accidents, noting that such shouldn’t be the case as the topmost on the emergency ladder are issues bordering on child and maternal mortality. He made the remarks during the third THISDAY Policy Dialogue on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja.
The commissioner said ambulance drivers were not the everyday kind of drivers but skilled persons who should be trained on how to handle health and emergency cases. He lamented that the number of women who died daily from obstructed labour and other pregnancy-related cases were far more than people who died on the highways. Mshelia added that calling for the use of air ambulances in health facilities could be likened to flying before crawling when the foundations had not been well structured.
He said, “Whenever emergency is talked about, people begin to think that it is only about road accidents. But this is not so because the number one emergency cases are mostly maternal and child mortality.
“It is most unfortunate that Nigeria is lacking in ambulance drivers. They are usually people with skills and not simply because they can drive. They are usually trained.
“If we know the number of women that die on a daily basis from obstructed labour, we would realise that they are far more than those that die on the highways as a result of accident.”
He called for a change of policy on pre-hospital care, noting that only such political can address the problems of the health sector.