By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government through its Ministry of Health (MoH) has assigned eight new ambulance vehicles to Maguindanao, a component province with incidence of flood and armed atrocities spawning sporadic human displacements.
Local officials form the recipient rural health units (RHUs) symbolically received the ambulance cars from Dr. Bashary Latiph, newly installed MoH minister, in a ceremony here on June 2, according to the Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO).
Dr. Latiph has urged the recipient RHUs officials and their elected community leaders to use the ambulance vehicles exclusively for health and medical-related emergencies, citing persistent public complaints against unabated use of government-supplied for whimsical purposes.
“The ambulance service will be the first point of care for the patients from home, from RHU, from accident sites sometimes, to the referral hospitals. They are tasked to provide first aid,” Dr. Latiph was quoted as saying.
All the ambulance unit have been equipped with vital emergency medical gadgets including oxygen cylinders, heavy duty stethoscopes, folding stretchers, scoop stretchers, automatic external defibrillators, nebulizers, portable suction machines, examining lights, and aneroid sphygmomanometers, among others, the BIO said.
The eight recipient-RHUs included those of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Buluan, South Upi, Datu Paglas, Shariff Aguak Rajah Buayan, Talayan, and Buldon, it was learned.
The number brought to 20 ambulance units already turned over to the region’s four other provinces — eight units for Lanao del Sur, three units for Basilan, six for Sulu, and three units for Tawi-Tawi, the MoH and BIO said.
The ambulance units were procured under the Health Facility Enhancement Program (HFEP) 2019, and the MoH has already distributed a total of 27 ambulances and one sea ambulance across the region, both agencies said.
The MOH has reportedly turned over on May 18 several ambulances, medical equipment, and financial assistance to various recipients under the Bangsamoro Transition Authority’s (BTA) Transition Development Impact Fund (TDIF) project cohesively prioritized by interim Parliament members.
The MoH-procured ambulance units are distinct from similar emergency vehicles acquired recently by the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) for assignment to selected areas in BARMM, including the 63 barangays in North Cotabato now forming part of the regional autonomy. AGM