Sustainable Emergency Centre (allAfrica.com)

The inauguration of the Yaounde Emergency Centre by the Prime Minister, Head of Government, Philemon Yang yesterday opens an important page in the country’s health care system.

Created by Presidential Decree of July 04, 2014, the Yaounde Emergency Centre is coming into the country’s health system as a veritable panacea considering the nefarious consequences caused by the absence of such a structure in the country. It is true, almost all major hospitals in the country possess emergency health departments but many do not fully perform the services worthy of the name. The majority are ill equipped, lack qualified staff and adequate health care.

The consequences have been quite telling with many deaths recorded. Cases abound where patients needing emergency care end up in the mortuary simply because they were unable to provide the necessary finances for admission. Many of them prioritise money and sometimes when the patient’s relations struggle and provide the needed charges, the situation of the patient is gone beyond repairs. In which case, the medics earn the money for not saving the patient’s life.

These are certainly some of the drawbacks that must have pushed the Head of State to create the Yaounde Emergency Centre. From every indication, all that it takes to make an emergency centre has been provided. Financed in collaboration with the Korean government at FCFA 3.3 billion, the Yaounde Emeregency Centre is said to have been provided with ultramodern equipment. The centre has as mission to provide medical and surgical care, handle extra-hospital cases, regulate, coordinate and mobilise resources as well as provide training on emergencies and catastrophes.

The Centre equally has as mission operational participation in emergency rescue plans in collaboration with other partners in charge of civil protection. It is run by a combined medical team from South Korea and Cameroon. At the moment, the centre has as part of staff, two medical doctors and 30 other medics from Korea. The Yaounde Emergency Centre is a second category health facility.

Apart from its sophisticated and complex nature, what makes it peculiar is the condition of treatment for patients in distress. Unlike what obtains in emergency wards of many hospitals in the country, all those who will be unfortunate to be admitted in this hospital will not undergo the additional torture of having to pay charges before treatment. This however does not entail free treatment. This simply means that priority is given to the health of the patient for payment to follow later. This, in the real sense of the word, is what is called, innovation.

But this does not stop any Cameroonian in his conscience to ask a few disturbing questions considering past experiences with similar structures. In effect, it is good and even perfect to provide structures like this with sophisticated equipment but equipment alone will not do the job. What is sad about all these is the lack of the will to put the equipment to effective use. Of what use is sophisticated equipment when the staff is untrained and unwilling to work?

Generally speaking, a good emergency medical service provides treatment to those in need of urgent medical care, with the goal of satisfactorily treating the presenting conditions, or arranging for timely removal of the patient to the next point of definitive care. The term emergency medical service entails a change from a simple system of ambulances providing only transportation, to a system in which preliminary medical care is given on scene and during transport.

Potential victims will not like to hear complains of no fuel in the Ambulance to transport them; the medical personnel is not on seat; medicine is not available, no blood in the bank, etc. If these were to be avoided, then the Yaounde Emergency Centre will merit its real appellation.

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