Inside Mutua’s Ambulances… Are They Real Ambulances or Just Transport Vehicles?

February 20, 2014

machaFor years, ambulances in Kenya have been accused of being mere transport vehicles with a siren. Most of them do not even have even the most basic equipment to save lives. Their work is simply to rush the patient to a hospital.
Basically, they serve the same purpose as a matatu or personal vehicle, only this time the patient has a bed to lie on. More often than not, there is a first aid box and some painkillers but that’s about it.
Red Cross owned EMS has tried to bring some modernity and sanity to this business, but the number of their vans is limited.
This week, Machakos governor Alfred Mutua unveiled 70 ambulances for his county. The total cost for the purchase was Sh125 million, or roughly 1.79 million per van.
Do ambulances really cost that cheap?
Modern ambulance no longer have just the basics. They are simply moving hospitals with very sophisticated machines.
From a photo posted by Mutua yesterday showing the inside of one of the new ambulances, we only see the basics; a stretcher, some medication, and a machine I cannot identify. Probably there may be some oxygen masks tucked somewhere.
If the patient has suffered from a severe heart attack, is there a machine to save him? Is there an equipment for taking vital signs? Can they treat conditions such as nausea, breathing difficulties and chest pains onboard? Modern ambulances are capable of these and many.
In a modern ambulances, a single equipment can cost upwards of Sh2 million, which explains why the cost of the whole ambulance is something between Sh5 and 15 million.
That is almost 5 times the price of one Machakos ambulance.
I’m of the view that it would have been wiser to purchase 20 modern ambulances instead of 70 transport vehicles.
In any case, how many hospitals does Machakos have?

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