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Innovation for patient transport in W’ Africa


Air ambulance

Air ambulance

Emergency Transport Unit (ETU) is a removable medical cabin built into a commercial aircraft to convey patients around Africa.

A recent survey conducted by Ngozi Okonji-Iweala (NOI) polls revealed only 20 per cent of Nigerians have access to health insurance and only a tiny fraction of that 20 per cent have access to medical air transport or air ambulance services.

The ETU service is changing that forever. The service aims at reducing the cost of medical air transport in Africa to as low as 10 per cent of the current price for a full ambulance service. This advanced technique is designed to save more lives across Nigeria and West Africa at a low fee.

Air ambulances are more important in Nigeria and across Africa for the following reasons:

Only one in three rural Africans have access to all-season good roads according to Africa Development Bank Group. Road accidents are the third leading cause of deaths (after malaria and HIV/AIDS) and it poses a major public health concern.

The ETU can help circumvent seasonal, hazardous roads by providing a safe and speedy alternative. In developed countries, Public Emergency services are a norm.

These services operate efficiently, often part-funded by government. In Nigeria today, widespread government funded emergency services are not optimal. Therefore, victims of medical emergencies remain stranded for longer and deteriorate, creating a greater number of patients that need specialist care.

Natural resources are the bedrock of Africa’s economy. In 2012, the Mining and Oil and Gas industry accounted for 28 per cent of the continent’s GDP. Therefore, Africa has a high percentage of offshore workers and other high risk environments, who would need rapid health care in cases of emergency.

It is worthy of note that doctor-patient ratio in the developed world is as high as 32 per 10000 while in parts of Africa it can be as low as 4 per 10000. Specialist doctors are few and spread sparsely. Rapid transport is therefore crucial to ensure that these doctors can be reached.

In a few parts of Africa, there is prevalent unrest and violent crime affecting hundreds of people. The ETU service is geared towards managing the increasing number of people with injuries from violent crimes, terrorist attacks or anti-government groups who need instant air transport to the closest specialist medical facility.

Geography creates a huge obstacle to effective patient transport. Geography dictates whether people live or die. In Africa, geography is often destiny. The ETU service is positioned to provide an essential and efficient service to thousands of patients across West Africa.

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