The Nigerian Communications Commission has stated that the National Emergency Number 112 which it instituted and superintends, is the most critical infrastructure necessary for the successful implementation of the National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance Systems (NEMSAS) recently launched by the Federal Ministry of Health.
The NEMSAS is established as a programme implementation unit in the Office of the Honourable Minister of Health.
According to the commission, the project aims to establish an Information and Communication Technology-enabled emergency medical service that is effective, efficient, timely and in partnership with the private operators in the health sector. “The objective of this new project is to increase access to healthcare, and to reduce mortality and morbidity rates in order to improve health care outcomes to all Nigerians.”
“By integrating disparate Emergency Medical Services (EMS) resources available in Nigeria, the scheme will coordinate the national roll-out of EMS, enabling services to be provided through relationship with other entities and organisations. In essence, NEMSAS will rely on many organizational partners to perform its EMS service delivery functions and the NCC’s 112 Emergency Number is going to drive the communication element of the project.
“It suffices to reiterate that the overarching vision of NEMSAS is to ensure availability of an emergency medical service and ambulance system that provides quality, prompt, effective and accessible transport and treatment services at no cost at the point of care across the country.”
Speaking at the public signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the NEMSAS project between the Federal Ministry of Health, other relevant agencies and development partners, at the Shehu Umar Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja recently, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said the Commission was delighted to provide the technology platform that will link the NEMSAS partners with those who require emergency health services.
Danbatta, who was represented at the forum by the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said that “as the national telecommunications regulator, the NCC is providing the communication ingredient for the initiative through its 112 Emergency Number, thereby allowing those in health-related emergencies to be able to reach out to stakeholders that are involved in the NEMSAS project”.
“The NCC has been at the forefront of deploying ICT to drive the implementation of various government projects and initiatives. The 112 number is at the heart of this initiative to provide a national number to Nigerians who are in need of health-related emergencies to be able to call Emergency Response Agencies (ERAs) or organisations in life-threatening situations”, Danbatta stated.
The CEO of NCC also expressed the “unwavering commitment of NCC to supporting NEMSAS’ implementation as well as similar governmental initiatives as part of the strategic programmes of improving Nigeria’s digital culture through policies instituted by our supervising Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy”.
Danbatta commended the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, other government agencies such as the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), various private sector partners and international development partners involved in the project, for giving priority to EMS in order to progress toward providing universal health coverage (UHC) to all Nigerians regardless of their locations and circumstances through the NEMSAS’ initiative.
Over the years, Nigerians in distress and life-threatening situations have used 112 emergency numbers to get succour from ERAs to ensure safety of lives and property. The role played by 112 Emergency Number particularly at the peak and vortex of Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria has been adjudged phenomenal.
Currently, there are 24 Emergency Communication Centres (ECCs) in Nigeria that are operational across different states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The ECCs are built and operated through partnerships, by the NCC as points where distressed calls by citizens terminate, from where they are routed to the appropriated emergency response and security agencies that manage such incidents.