The Ministry of Public Health has been depending heavily on medical evacuations to improve its delivery of health care. Indeed the Ministry has been using this measure to help with the reduction of maternal mortality.
According to a report produced by the Ministry, during the course of 2016 the public health sector upped its number of medical evacuation. Former Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, had informed that “the number of medical evacuations increased because of the Ministry’s position on the transfer of all high risk pregnancies from hinterland regions in an effort to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.”
For the year 2015, the Ministry recorded a total of 17 maternal deaths. The figure recorded last year was an unprecedented 12 cases. So far for this year this Ministry has recorded no deaths.
By taking full advantage of medical evacuation, the Ministry was in a better position to ensure that potentially problematic pregnancies were swiftly transferred to a location that they could be effectively attended to.
But there have been challenges associated with the execution of medical evacuation. The Ministry in its report, which outlines what occurred during the course of last year, revealed that among the challenges was the lack of preparedness of an appropriate number of kits for the variety of cases being presented.
Added to this, medical evacuations have been affected by the absence of a ‘ready team’ of appropriately trained persons to escort patients at any time during the day or night and the lack of appropriate monitoring equipment to take on board the aircraft.
The medical evacuation programme is an initiative implemented for the purpose of providing efficient and safe emergence and transportation service for critically ill patients from the hinterland regions, but not limited to same.
In 2015, a total of 185 patients, who were accommodated on 142 flights at a cost of approximately $66.6 million, benefited from the medical evacuation services. In 2016, with the exception of the month of December, a total of 255 patients benefited from the service and were accommodated on 212 flights at an approximated cost of $82.3 million. Cases included maternity complications, snake bites, malaria, gun-shot and stab wounds.
However, the Public Health Ministry has been putting other measures in place to improve regional health services. The Ministry, according to the report, had recognized that adequate infrastructure is critical for the delivery of health services across the country.
In 2016, it was reported that rehabilitation and extension works were done or were being done on several health facilities. Among these facilities were the North East La Penitence, Agricola, Lodge, David Rose, Sophia and the No. One Dispensary health centres.
Among the projections for this year, according to health officials, will be moves to have all regional hospitals staffed by specialist care services, even as efforts are made to review the human resource gaps to have specialist at all regional hospitals.
Further, the Public Health Ministry will be looking to equip and upgrade district hospitals to deliver the full suite of mandated services, the Ministry has announced. This measure will be complemented by the addition of a medical superintendent and administrator or chief executive officer at all regional hospitals as continued deployment of medical doctors remain constant to hinterland regions.
To ensure efficiency too, the measures are expected to be put in place for the provision of a national biomedical service provider to effect timely repairs and maintenance to equipment. This will be done even as keen efforts are made to sustain the monitoring of the supply and transportation of medication and medical supplies to hinterland regions.
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