UGANDA — Uganda has launched the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) programme in Mukono District, Central Uganda, to enhance post-crash care for road traffic injuries.

This pilot programme aims to reduce fatalities and serious injuries caused by road accidents nationwide.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is spearheading the EMS initiative, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), Makerere School of Public Health (MakSPH), and funding from the UN Road Safety Fund (URSF).

Prominent figures attended the launch ceremony, including representatives from UNICEF Uganda, MoH, WHO, MakSPH, the Uganda Red Cross Society, and the Mukono District Local Government leadership, underscoring the commitment of various stakeholders to the EMS program’s success.

The EMS initiative has set an ambitious target of lowering post-crash mortality by 30% by June 2025.

Supporting Mukono District in drafting legislation that establishes criteria for data gathering on post-crash response and investigation is one of four critical components required to achieve this ambitious aim.

It also intends to build trauma teams and equip trauma centres in healthcare facilities to ensure optimal post-crash response.

The plan will also focus on implementing training and related certificates for road users, rescue workers, and investigators

Finally, the programme will assist the district in implementing appropriate technology and equipment to provide effective post-crash response.

According to the Annual Health Sector Performance Report 2021/22, road accidents are the second leading cause of death among Ugandan youth aged 5–19.

In 2022, there was a 9 percent increase in fatalities and a 21 percent surge in serious injuries compared to the previous year, with 21,473 victims recorded.

This underscores the urgent need for a robust and efficient emergency response system, including post-crash care.

Mukono was strategically chosen as the pilot district due to its dense urban centers and four major highways, making it a hotspot for road crashes.

However, Mukono faces significant capacity limitations in its emergency response infrastructure.

By initially focusing on this district, the programme aims to address these limitations and establish a successful model for nationwide implementation.

In her address at the launch, Mukono Resident District Commissioner Fatuma Ndisaba Nabitaka, the chief guest, commended the MoH, UNICEF, and other partners for their initiative to reduce road fatalities.

She emphasized the need for behavioural change among all road users, including pedestrians, motorists, and traffic police, to prevent accidents caused by poor road usage and reckless behavior.

She also urged the police to enforce road traffic rules more efficiently.

For his part, Dr. John Baptist Waniaye, Commissioner of Health Services – Emergency Medical Services at the MoH, highlighted their collaboration with the Ministry of Works and Transport and other key partners like UNICEF, WHO, UNRSF, and MakSPH, indicating their unwavering commitment to reducing fatalities due to accidents.

He emphasized their dedication to strengthening EMS not only in Mukono District but across the country.

Commenting on the new launch, Dr. Flavia Mpanga, a health specialist at UNICEF, noted their clear goal of reducing child road traffic injuries, deaths, and associated environmental impacts.

“According to sobering statistics from the Uganda AHSPR 2021/2022, the urgent need to address this issue for the sake of young lives and the broader environmental health of our communities is important now, more than ever,” she assessed.

Dr. Mpanga concluded by stating that UNICEF is committed to collaborating with the government and partners, including procuring three ambulances, setting up a district emergency coordination structure, and supporting the training of key duty bearers on EMS with funding from the UNRSF to reduce these tragic outcome. 

For all the latest healthcare industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, and YouTube Channel, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and like us on Facebook