Medical Director, Brain and Spinal Surgery Limited, Dr Biodun Ogungbo has canvassed for increased advocacy on the importance of paramedics and how they can be effectively used in the nation’s health sector.
“We need to rethink the strategies we have in saving Nigerian lives and develop the system to ensure that every life matter in Nigeria. The paramedics already trained are a much-needed manpower resource waiting to be deployed,” Ogungbo said, in a statement, he issued on Monday, in Abuja.
Ogungbo described paramedics as trained healthcare professionals with the role of providing advanced emergency medical care for critical and emergent patients, who access the emergency medical system.
He said they were often the first on the scene of an emergency, equipped with the requisite training and expertise to help prevent disability and death. The medical director said they can drive ambulances, though not all ambulance drivers are paramedics, adding, “This is important, especially in Nigeria. Many of our ambulance drivers are just drivers, without any skills in life-saving techniques.
” Many hospitals, including that of yours truly, have just ambulance drivers and rely on other members of the healthcare team, especially nurses, to render emergency care, as necessary,” Ogungbo said.
” There is an urgent need for paramedics and the establishment of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in all the states of the federation. They will facilitate and complement the work of NEMA and FRSC.
“A lot of advocacy is required to explain the worth of paramedics to the Ministry of Health, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). He lamented that apart from paramedics being few in Nigeria, with limited institutions opened to their training and courses, they were also highly underutilised
“I understand that the training takes place mostly at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH). But there are also training centres in Delta, Ogun and Rivers States.
“The program was set up in 2008 and designed to churn out graduates every three years. In 2014, the Federal government increased the period of paramedics training to five years. This starts with 2 years to obtain a National Diploma, a year of field internship, and then another two years to obtain a Higher National Diploma (HND),” Ogungbo said.
Nigeria just recently graduated the first set of HND paramedics, 30 in number, he said, adding that since inception in 2008, UBTH had graduated no fewer than 130 paramedics.
“Unfortunately, most of them remain in the hospital, working in the emergency room and involved in in-hospital patient transfer services.
” The paramedics’ triage patients, help with resuscitation procedures, move patients out for investigations, and when the need arises, go out to rescue people and get them to the hospital,” Ogungbo said.
He explained that given the teeming numbers of youths in Nigeria that were still unemployed, many would gladly take up this position that empowers them to save lives.