Nigeria: Govt to introduce emergency medical, ambulance services

Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) on Tuesday announced plans to introduce a National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance System (NEMSAS) to enable Nigerians call for help in emergency situations.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said at a media parley and dissemination of the Nigeria Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child Adolescent and Elderly Health Plus Nutrition (RMNCAEH+N), 2021 Annual Operation Plan in Abuja that this emergency medical service could reduce mortality by 50 per cent in the country.

NEMSAS is the third Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) gateway, which addresses a serious weakness in the health system.

It facilitates physical and financial access to First Aid and healthcare, in case of life threatening emergencies of any type.

Ehanire said “The Federal Government is poised to launch the National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance System to provide prompt and efficient emergency Medical Service to the people.

“It will involve prompt response to medical distress calls of all types with first responders, transfer to facilities, assured first aid at point of care at no immediate user cost,” he explained.

The minister also said human health was influenced by several factors such as environment, family, the community, socioeconomic status, and access to information, to mention a few.

Quoting the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey 2018, he said the health indices of vulnerable populations was poor.

He identified impediments to the attainment of the desired health and wellbeing to include lack of functional and affordable health centres.

This limits physical and financial access, health care and enlightenment needed to combat harmful traditional or socio-cultural practices and strengthen the decision-making power to seek appropriate health care before, during and after pregnancy or ill-health.

“Poor awareness of hygiene and sanitation, poor choices in nutrition that omit foods like eggs, beef and fish in the diet of growing children.

“Ignorance of the benefits of modern health services and culturally determined gender role definitions, particularly impact the wellbeing of females and children in some communities.

“The deleterious practices inevitably increase susceptibility to infections, slowdown recovery from illness and contribute to preventable morbidity and mortality rates, especially among women children and the elderly,” he said were other impediments.

The Minister further stressed the need to strengthen engagement with media institutions and improve strategic communication tools.

He said this entailed working with various media platforms to drive social and behaviour change communication and influence attitudes towards Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health plus Nutrition.

“The media also plays a role in social cohesion and in reshaping norms, to become the change agent for positive health seeking behaviour.

“Despite its enormous potential, there is, unfortunately, inadequate utilisation of media platforms for dissemination of health-related information to the public by the health sector.

“Public engagement of the media by the ministry happens on a case-by-case basis, as there is no blueprint to define the process,” he said.

This, he added, resulted in missed opportunities to achieve national goals and targets relating to public enlightenment of individuals, service providers, decision makers and influencers, with regard to health and well-being.

The platform drawn from a wide cross-sector membership, which includes but not limited to, governments, parliamentarians, media, regulatory bodies, philanthropists and donors.

Others are, development organisations, academia and professional bodies, pressure groups, traditional and religious institutions, private sector, women groups, civil society among others.

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