The Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNRCS) has announced the resumption of its ambulance service in Monrovia and its immediate environs to help extend assistance to residents in who often get stranded, especially at night, when emergency situations occur.
Red Cross Secretary General, Saybah Tamba told a press conference in Monrovia on Tuesday that she anticipates that the service will be of great help to the less fortunate who find it difficult to seek medical attention at night due to lack of transportation.
“This service, especially at night, will assist people that often used commercial and private vehicles, motorbikes and tri-cycles to transfer patients including pregnant women to health facilities, which sometimes delay and further endanger the lives of the patients,” she said.
Madam Tamba recently replaced Mr. Fayiah Tamba who was dismissed following reports of siphoning of funds that LNRCS’ partners sent to fight the Ebola virus in 2014. The corruption scandal, which also led to the dismissal of other top officials, has since stained the image of the humanitarian group. But things have changed since the new administration came into being.
“Significant progress has been made since we took over the new leadership of the Liberian Red Cross. And with this progress, we are steadily restoring our integrity, trust, and accountability with donors and others,” the SG said.
With this improvement, we have received the amount of US$31,000.00 from the Empress Shoken Fund for ambulance service in Monrovia and we are ready to commence operation in this regard for the benefit of our dear communities.
“Ambulances will be available and accessible to everyone in Monrovia and its environs as the need arises,” she said, adding, “the ambulance service will complement the effort of the government and partners in providing transportation that will be freely available and accessible to everyone as the need arises.”
The emergency numbers are 1919 for Lonestar subscribers and 1155 for Orange subscribers. “Your responsibility is to know the number and make a call and together we will save a life,” she said.
The Red Cross is also soliciting support from corporate institutions, and donors for further partnership in sustaining the services and reaching further. “We welcome donations in kind, especially for fuel and also in cash to compensate our volunteers on the ambulance teams.”
LNRCS SG also disclosed that the institution has also resumed services at its clinic, located at the headquarters on Lynch Street. The facility was shut down in 2014 following the outbreak of Ebola.
“Our action in 2014 was meant for safety reason and to avoid further spread of the virus at our offices. It was regrettable to shut down the facility but expedient for public safety and prevention of Ebola at the facility,” Madam Tamba said. “Nevertheless, the Red Cross was focused and determined in quickly restoring public access to our clinic.”
The Clinic has undergone general renovation and construction of additional screening facilities, new equipment procured, qualified staff including nurses, laboratory technician and a volunteer doctor recruited. It offers both curative and preventive health care services. It runs a Maternal Newborn Child Health (MNCH) service including immunization, an outpatient department/OPD and family planning, along with a diagnostic laboratory and ambulance service for timely referral of critical cases. It has a capacity to treat 100 patients a day.
“We are pleased to express profound gratitude to our partners, especially the Japanese government, the Ministry of Health, Montserrado County and District Health Teams, our Volunteers, MSF, IFRC, ICRC and business entities who provided support for the renovation and construction works and moral support to clinic project team,” she said.
“We are still in need of financial, material, drugs and medical equipment assistance,”
The facility has received and treated over 700 patients and malaria since it reopened. Typhoid, Malaria and Trichomoniasis (STDs) are prevalent cases so far.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross has also frowned on the misuse of its emblem, which has the propensity to diminish the prestige of the humanitarian organization. “We have observed the misuse of the Red Cross emblem on drug stores, ambulances, pharmacies, etc. This misuse could reduce the prestige of the emblem, jeopardize its protective function,” Madam Tamba said.
The misuse is a violation in accordance with Article 3 Section 8.1 of the Liberian Red Cross Act.
The emblem is a legally protected symbol. According to the Act, the medical unit of the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Ministry of Health and the Liberian Red Cross are the legally authorized users of the Red Cross emblem. This life-saving symbol needs to be understood and trusted by all; therefore it is crucial that the emblems be displayed correctly, Madam Tamba said, adding, “We are calling on those involved in the misuse of the Red Cross emblem to immediately desist.”