Medical Expert Calls for Advocacy on Importance of Paramedics

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By Kuni Tyessi

The Chief Medical Director of Abuja-based Brain and Spinal Surgery Limited, Dr. Biodun Ogungbo has stated that there is need for more advocacy on the importance of paramedics, especially in ministries of Health, Federal Road Safety Corps(FRSC) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Dr. Ogungbo who made the call in a press statement, added that apart from the fact that paramedics are few in Nigeria with limited institutions opening to their training and courses, they are underutilised with few options.

He said even hospitals whose drivers are expected to have some skills in life saving techniques are bereft of such, adding that there in lies the nations shame and lack of understanding of the role of a paramedic.

According to him: “A lot of advocacy is required to explain the worth of paramedics to the Ministry of Health, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

“There is an urgent need for paramedics and the establishment of EMS in all the states of the federation. They will facilitate and compliment the work of NEMA and FRSC.

“We need to rethink the strategies we have in saving Nigerian lives and develop the system to ensure that every life matter in Nigeria. The paramedics already trained are a much-needed manpower resource waiting to be deployed.

“There are also teeming numbers of unemployed youth in Nigeria begging to be employed. Many would gladly take up positions that empowers them to save lives.

“I understand that the training takes place mostly at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH). But there are also training centres in Delta, Ogun and Rivers States of Nigeria.

“The program was set up in 2008 and designed to churn out graduates every three years. In 2014, the Federal government increased the period of paramedics training program to five years.

“This starts with two years to obtain a national diploma, a year of field internship and then another two years to obtain a higher national diploma (HND). Nigeria just recently graduated the first set of HND paramedics, 30 in number.

“Since inception in 2008, UBTH has graduated about 130 paramedics. Unfortunately, most of them remain in the hospital working in the emergency room and involved in in-hospital patient transfer services.

“The paramedics triage patients, help with resuscitation procedures, move patients out for investigations, and when the need arises, go out to rescue people and get them to the hospital.”