Over 10 boat ambulances to serve people living on islands

The Minister for Health, Jane Ruth Aceng has said 14 boat ambulances have been procured to provide emergency services on the islands.  Aceng told Parliament that seven specialized boat ambulances are already in the country with the other seven expected September and October.

According to the minister, the boats were procured with funding from Government under the supplementary Covid-19 fund, as well as funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) and UNICEF.

She said three of the ambulances were received in February and have been tested and issued with water worthiness certificates by the Works and Transport Ministry.

She added that the boats have been deployed to serve in Amolatar, Buvuma and Kalangala, but are still stationed at the Entebbe Marine Base on Lake Victoria.
She said this while presenting a statement on the status of procurement of marine ambulances for island districts.

This followed concerns about the exclusion of Buvuma district from acquisition of boat ambulances procured by Government to manage the health crises in the island district.
The concern was raised by, Buvuma Islands County MP, Robert Migadde.

Aceng said the procurement of the boat ambulances comes under the strategy that prioritizes the establishment of the water ambulance service as a subset of the National Ambulance Service.

‘Among the types of boat ambulances are patient transport boat ambulance, emergency care/basic-life-support ambulance, mobile intensive unit/advanced-life-support ambulance, non-patient transport vehicle and medical rescue vehicle,” she said.

She cited limitations in handling the boat ambulances that include insecurity due to sharing waters with neighboring countries, as well as expensive equipment and engines that are attractive to pirates.
“We have had past experiences where boats for immunization went missing after handover in some districts. Some of them now have no engines and have been abandoned,” said Aceng.

She made an appeal to the House to appropriate a dedicated fund for the water ambulance services to cater for specialized staff and high operational costs.
“One patient transport route consumes between 200 to 500 litres of fuel. In addition, the spare parts for the boats are rare,” she added.

Migadde asked the Minister when the boat ambulance assigned to the Buvuma Islands would be operationalized saying the service of the water vessel is urgently needed by the constituents.

The Health Minister responded saying the Island is expected to have built capacity to guard the vessel by the end of October 2021.

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