In June 2021, an ambulance on Musanze – Rubavu highway lost control at the level of Busogo and hit an electric pole while injuring the driver and the medical staff, the only two people who were on board.
The ambulance was from Kibagabaga Hospital to transport patients who were on referral and passers-by rescued the injured commuters.
Two months later, another ambulance, this time in Ruhango district, with a patient-a child in critical condition, a medical staff and a caretaker on board was also involved in an accident, which ended a controversial case.
From Ruhango(Kinazi) hospital, the child was referred to Butare University Teaching Hospital(CHUB) and the ambulance overturned and ended down the hill in Ruhango sector, Musamo village.
A new ambulance was hurried from Kinazi hospital and rescued the passengers who had a safe trip for the rest of their journey.
Alas! the child died the following day.’
“The medical report established that the child died from the disease he was suffering from, not the accident,” suggested Valens Harerimana the mayor of Ruhango district who added that the child had a COVID-19 case.
Those are a few among the cases of ambulances involved in accident, but a new instructi
on from the Ministry of Health may suggest that officials have noted the problem of their safety.
In a communique issued November 10, MINISANTE saod that the ambulances are experiencing too much damages following over speeding and drunk driving.
This, the communique reads in part, put in danger the patient and their caretaker, the medical staff and the driver himself.
Given this background, the ministry imposed a speed limit for ambulances.
“The ministry of health, in collaboration with the National Police wishes to inform you that an ambulance should never exceed the speed of 80 kilometer per hour,” the communique reads in part.
“An ambulance should also abide by the road regulations including traffic signs on speed limit.”
To this effect, the Ministry further instructed health centers and hospitals “to install speed governors in ambulances within one month.”
In cases of emergencies that would necessitate quicker transport, the communique directs that the hospital, the ministry of health would work with other competent institutions to handle the case as it has been working.
The communique does not specify which other means could be used in this case, but in the past, some patients were airlifted for emergency care.
The communique prohibits a number of uses in the activities of an ambulance and those include using an ambulance in own businesses, in transport of passengers, in transport of medical staff on usual mission trip and in transport of a dead person.
The ambulance can have the dead body if only a patient died on board while on referral trip. In this case, suggests the communique, the body will be returned to the medical facility of origin.
Drinking alcohol, whichever volume is prohibited for any ambulance driver and, parking an ambulance in any other place, except a medical facility-health centre of hospital is prohibited.
The driver can only park an ambulance in a different place if only they have a permission for a valid reason.
The Ministry of health specified cases that qualify for an ambulance intervention and these include patients in critical condition, expectant mothers and people who on serious injuries who need critical attention for quick recovery.
In some cases, ambulances were seen putting on board other passengers who have nothing to do with these categories.
On October 3,2022, an ambulance involved in accident in Nyakabuye sector, Rusizi district killing a woman, her child and the baby sitter.
Wellars TUYISENGE, the husband to the deceased wife is still bereaving his whole family lost in the ambulance which had given them a ride.