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Health Minister Bemoans Road Accidents Rate in Nigeria

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Takes Delivery of 31 Ambulances From Japan

…Babatunde Opalana 

Minister of Heath, Prof. Isaac Adewole has said that high rate of road traffic accidents in Nigeria has become a re-occurring phenomenon with increasing number of morbidity and mortality, describing it as the 2nd highest source of violent death in the country after Boko Haram Insurgency.

He backed his assertion with statistics from the Federal Road Safety Commission road that Nigeria is among the countries with the highest road accident rates in the world, having 5,400 deaths in 12,077 road crashes in 2015 and 18,353 people injured in road crashes between 2009 and 2013 and the World Health Organisation report in 2015, that 1 in every 4 road crash deaths in Africa occur in Nigeria, having a higher death toll than malaria.

“It is known that 90% of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low and middle-income countries; with low-income countries having an annual road traffic fatality of 24.1 per 100,000. Also, Nigeria loses about 80 billion Naira annually to road accidents.”, he said.

The minister while taking delivery of 31 Nissan Jeep Ambulances donated by the Japanese government to the Federal Ministry of Heath on Friday, said in response to this ugly trend, the Federal Ministry of Health for the first time in 2016 produced a robust Policy on Emergency Medical Services including the use of Ambulance.

He said,”The Policy links emergency services personnel, trauma pathways, Integrated National Ambulance Service System, and the toll-free 3-digit number 112, to government agencies in the business of emergency services. This is to be coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Health. The policy further delineates roles and responsibilities of agencies involved in emergency response to eliminate interagency rivalry and ensure interoperability and synergy among agencies.

“The private sector will participate in PPP arrangement in driving the implementation of Ambulance services.  The effective implementation of this policy will ensure an improved healthcare system that is needed for economic and social development. We shall leverage on Universal Health Coverage for access to EMS services.”

Furthermore, he said the ministry under his leadership has also developed a comprehensive guideline for effective coordination of ambulance services among all first responders such as Federal Hospitals, SMOHs, NEMA, FRSC, FFS, NPF, NSCDC, NCC, Nigeria Armed Forces, Private and Voluntary organisations in the country.  The National Ambulance Services guideline is to be used in conjunction with the national policy on Emergency Medical Services to coordinate responses for Pre-hospital care and Patient transportation services.

“The Private Sector will participate in a PPP arrangement to drive the implementation of the National Ambulance Services in accordance with the rules described in the national policy on Emergency Medical services

Expressing sincere gratitude to the Japanese Government, Prof. Adewole said the donation is an outcome of the note-verbal agreement signed by the Federal Government represented by the National Planning Commission now Ministry of Budget & National Planning and the Japanese of Government represented by the Japanese Embassy on the 30th September 2014.

“Though the process started over 4 years ago, I am glad that it is being concluded in my time. I am aware that the 31 Ambulances that is being handed over today is the first phase, and that another additional 12 ambulances will be handed over to us by 2018, as the second phase. We are highly appreciative of the Japanese Government for its benevolent gesture to the Federal Ministry of Health and indeed, the health sector in Nigeria.

“This move by the Japanese government has provided the opportunity to strengthen greater collaboration and partnership between our two countries. With this kind gesture, our bilateral tie is further deepened. This gesture will contribute immensely in supporting the Federal Government’s efforts in strengthening the National Emergency Response Programme (NERP) of the Federal Ministry of Health. Although we need a pool of ambulances dedicated solely to the NERP, the provision of these ambulances to our Tertiary Heath Institutions across the states will ensure that emergency cases requiring ambulance services will be promptly delivered.

“I understand that the Japanese Government will be providing not only the ambulances but also the training on the effective management of the ambulances. We are optimistic that the knowledge gained from the exercise will enhance the performance of the trained nurses and drivers for effective emergency service delivery”, he added.

 He commended the Japanese Government for supporting the health sector in Nigeria not only in this aspect but in other areas of health such as Polio eradication, Maternal and Child Health Programme, Community health projects, the North-East Agenda, supporting training of health professionals and others.

The minister assured the Japanese Government that the ambulances will be maximally utilised for the purpose intended, stressing that the Federal Government of Nigeria has continued to demonstrate its commitment to strengthening the National Health System in various aspects and the support received today is complementary in no small measure to the national health agenda.

The Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Sadanobu Kusaoke said the ambulances are the latest example of a series of Japanese Government’s aid projects in the health sector which he said is a follow up to the TICAD VI declaration last year.

Health, as the essential component of the concept of human security, he said, is among the top priorities in Japans relation with Nigeria, stressing that Japan has maintained her focus on Nigeria’s health sector by providing various primary health care facilities for rural communities through Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project and supply of advanced medical equipment for secondary health care centres.

The Ambassador promised delivery of 13 more ambulances to the Ministry in due course.

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