June 15, 2024

Govt tasked to ban carrying of dead bodies in ambulances

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A section of residents of Mukono and Buikwe districts have asked the government to prevail over drivers who transport dead bodies in the same ambulances used by patients.

According to Mr Richard Tamale, a resident of Lubumba Village in Ssi Sub-county, Buikwe District, transporting of dead bodies in emergency ambulances, especially those procured by politicians, has become a trend since many of them are used as campaign tools.

 “Just imagine an emergency happening while the ambulance driver has just delivered a dead body, will the driver even have time to disinfect the vehicle? So, the government must intervene to save the situation,” he says.

Mr Adams Lubinga, a resident of Kisoga Village in Mukono District, says it is not proper to allow emergency vehicles to carry dead bodies.

He says dead bodies should not be considered as emergencies because every time this happens, motorists will not respect ambulances, thinking that they are always carrying bodies instead of patients who need emergency care.

“Often times ambulances are denied right of way by other road users such as truck drivers, simply because many are used for other things rather than carrying patients in critical condition. Sometimes they [ambulances] are carrying dead bodies or transporting people who want to dodge traffic jam,” Mr Lubinga says.

Mr Fred Kiyimba, an ambulance driver in Mukono District, admits that carrying bodies in ambulances is actually illegal, but often times they find themselves in a dilemma. 

“Some of our ambulances are procured by politicians, and voters think they’re meant to help them in all situations. For instance, if a patient dies on the way to hospital, we are compelled to stand with the bereaved family all through,” he says.

Mukono Municipality legislator Betty Nambooze, who owns two ambulances, says to avoid such scenarios, she purchased a special funeral van to assist her constituents.

“Carrying dead bodies in ambulances portrays a bad image to the general public, it scares the sick and is actually against the laws of Uganda,” she says.

Mr Everest Conrad Kayemba, a resident of Nasuuti Village in Mukono Municipality, asks the government through the Ministry of Health to train ambulance drivers and  equip them with basics in first aid and handling of emergencies. Former Mukono South MP Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga says  most times, bereaved families put pressure on politicians to allow them use their ambulances to transport dead bodies because hiring funeral service vans is expensive.

“Most of the local people cannot afford to hire funeral companies to transport dead bodies, they instead rush to ambulances for rescue,” Mr Muyanja says.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona declined to comment on the matter, referring us to Dr John Baptist Wanyiaye, the commissioner-in-charge of emergency services at the ministry who had not responded to our repeated calls by press time.

EARLIER WARNING

Last year, the Minister for Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, warned district leaders and drivers against using public ambulances to transport dead bodies, food, or officials.  According to Dr Aceng, the ambulances are supposed only to attend to emergency services such as transporting patients in critical condition to referral hospitals.

Source: Monitor

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