Sindh Govt Fails To Keep Free Ambulance Service Afloat
Karachi’s first government-backed free ambulance service has been forced to suspend its operations owing to shortage of funds.
The Sindh Rescue and Medical Services was launched a year back by the provincial government. The service was touted as the first free-of-cost ambulance service in Sindh. However, a year on, the service has stopped its operations.
According to a report in Express Tribune, the Aman Health Care Services, which is the operational partner of the Sindh government in the project, stopped operating its last five ambulances due to a shortage of funds.
The service had been launched in December 2018 under a public-private partnership between the Sindh government and Aman Health Care Services (AHCS). According to the agreement, the provincial government would provide the funds while the AHCS would look over the operational aspects.
Prior to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, the AHCS ran 60 ambulances in Karachi, charging between Rs500 and Rs2,500 for each trip. The actual cost of the trips was higher and AHCS covered it through donations and sponsorships.
Following the agreement, the organisation stopped taking donations, and started providing the ambulance service for free.
The system ran into problems in June of 2019, when funds for the new fiscal year were announced; the government promised to provide Rs979 million for the next six months.
Of the allocated amount, Rs567mn was for adding 40 new ambulances, while Rs412mn was for covering the running expenses.
Till now, the AHCS is waiting for the Rs412mn that had been allocated for running the ambulances for the period from July-December 2019.
This practically means that the AHCS has no money for fuel and life-saving medicines for its ambulances. Moreover, the staff have been without pay for the last four months.
Due to the poor financial situation, AHCS cut down the number of its ambulances. The last five ambulances stopped running on Thursday. Reportedly, if one calls the rescue service, they hear a recorded message that the service has been temporarily suspended due to lack of funds.