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Assam Lacks Advanced Life-Saving Ambulances

Assam does not have a single functional advanced life-saving ambulance (ALS) despite receiving approval for 280 such ambulances from the Center, a Union health and family welfare ministry report said. The report of the 11th Commission Review Mission was based on field visits to Assam between November 3 and 10 in 2017 by senior officials of the ministry, public health experts from civil society and academic institutes. “Despite approval given for 280 ALS and demarcation by the state as ALS and BLS (basic life support ambulance), the state does not have a single functional ALS,” said the report.

An ALS is equipped with advanced life support equipment like ventilator, ECG machine and constant oxygen and pulse monitoring system. The president of All Assam 108 Mrityunjoy Employees Association, Pranjal Saikia, said the 108 service was launched in Assam in 2008 with 180 ambulances, of which 80 were ALS. “But within two years, the equipment of these ALS ambulances became dysfunctional and there was no effort to replace or repair them,” he said. Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in June that 380 ambulances were running under the Mrityunjoy service in addition to 316 under 102 ambulance service and 235 under Adoroni service.

Highlighting the falling standard of the ambulance services, Saikia said for the past five months the state government has not supplied the basic emergency medicines to the ambulances. The report, however, praised the state for removing the shortfall of primary health centers. “Against a shortfall of 216 pre-National Health Mission (NHM), the state has now 1014 functional PHCs,” the report said. – Telegraph India