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Ethiopia: Ethiopian Red Cross and municipalities join forces to boost ambulance service

15-08-2002 News Release 02/33

A three-day workshop was held in Addis Ababa from July 29 to 31 to review the ambulance manual of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS). Some 50 mayors or their representatives from municipalities across the country and 35 secretaries of ERCS branches and sub-branches with ambulance stations took part in the event.

The aim of the workshop, which was sponsored by the ICRC, was to bring together for the first time representatives of municipalities supporting the ERCS Ambulance Service and of ERCS branches in order to discuss ways and means of upgrading the life-saving ambulance network and ensuring that the National Society can continue to offer this humanitarian service to the community. The discussions focused on new guidelines and a new Ambulance Management Manual, developed and produced by the ERCS in cooperation with the ICRC.

The ERCS launched its ambulance operations in Addis Ababa in 1950. Since then, the ambulance service has considerably developed and expanded. Although there are still considerable geographical gaps in coverage, it is the only nationwide ambulance network, with 87 ambulances operating in 54 towns on a 24-hour basis. More than 250,000 people used the service in 1999.

During recent years the ERCS encountered a number of difficulties and challenges which prompted it to overhaul its ambulance programme with a view to improving quality and sustainability. The ICRC has provided two ambulance specialists to help the ERCS build its capacity in this area. Partnership with municipalities and strong support from the government and potential donors are key elements for the success of the process.