Chief Executive of National Ambulance Service, Prof. Ahmed Nuhu Zakaria, has touted Ghana’s emergency service system as one of the best on the continent despite current challenges.

He wants critics of the country’s Emergency Medical Systems (EMS) to first acknowledge the rapid progress made by past and present governments since 2001 when an organized national emergency system was put in place.

“In the sub-region, apart from South Africa, Ghana is the next country that has an organized EMS. Not even Nigeria that is bigger than us; they have just private, scattered EMS,” Prof Zakaria said Tuesday.

He was speaking on MutlTV’s news analysis programme, PM Express – aired on the Joy News channel.

A gory road crash at Kintampo in the Brong Ahafo Region that killed over 60 passengers and injured scores two weeks ago renewed concerns for a more responsive ambulance system.

Eyewitness accounts of events following the fatal crash revealed that the injured were transported to hospitals in taxis and pickup trucks because the district ambulance was out of service.

The country’s current 165 ambulances – about 30 of which are at the workshop – coupled with an unreliable emergency service number and a handful of staff has meant the emergency response system is in a dire state.

Admitting there are challenges that need to be tackled, Prof Zakaria, however, insists there is no need for despair.

“Looking at where we started, from zero [ambulances] to 7, from 24 to 130, definitely it is an improvement. In terms of staff from 57 to 200 to now 1,700 there is an improvement,” he said.

He wants debate about how to improve the system to take cognizance of the fact that there are ongoing efforts to ensure the country’s emergency service system is consistent with international standards.

“What I want us to accept is that if you visit anywhere in the world, they will tell you that even the spate at which we have grown is even faster than the UK and US. Our EMS system is in the right direction,” Prof Zakaria told show host Nana Ansah Kwao IV.

He appealed to volunteers to come forward and assist regular emergency service staff since that is one of the best ways to see rapid progress of the system.