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October 18, 2019

Aman ambulance halts operations as Sindh govt stops providing funds

Karachi

October 18, 2019

The Sindh Rescue and Medical Services has closed down its ambulance service, commonly known by its former official name of Aman Ambulance, in Karachi on account of unavailability of funds, stating that as the provincial government has failed to provide them the required funds to maintain their operations, they can no more continue with their service.

The Aman Ambulance Service was renamed as the Sindh Rescue and Medical Services in May this year after an agreement was reached between the Aman Foundation and the Sindh government, under which the Sindh government had undertaken to cover operational expenses of the ambulance service.

Those who tried on Thursday to call an Aman ambulance through its helpline 1021, heard a recorded message which said that due to unavailability of funds, the Sindh Rescue and Medical Services was temporarily not available and the ambulance service would be restored in the city as soon as the funds were provided by the Sindh government.

Employees and officials of the ambulance service said they had not been paid salaries since the last four months and the government had also not provided them funds for the fuel and other expenses. They added that the Aman ambulance was the only ambulance service that had trained medical and paramedical staff in its ambulances along with medicines.

A spokesperson for the Aman ambulance, Murtaza Kazmi, also confirmed that the operations of the ambulance service had been temporarily suspended due to unavailability of funds. He said people in need of rescue and medical services in case of emergency should approach other ambulance services being managed by various welfare organisations.

According to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was signed between the Sindh government and the Aman Foundation, the former was supposed to provide funds to the latter through another body, the Patient Aid Foundation.

However, when the Patient Aid Foundation refused to work as an intermediary between the two, the provincial government stopped providing funds to the Aman Foundation, citing legal issues.

Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho had said a couple of days ago that due to some legal problems, the government was unable to provide funds to the Aman Foundation to run the ambulance service. She, however, had added that a summary had been sent to the chief minister for his approval so that a new MoU could be signed with the foundation that would enable it to continue its operations.

Meanwhile, Adviser to the Sindh CM on Environment and Law Murtaza Wahab said the Sindh government was trying to provide a bailout package to the Aman Foundation so that it could continue its life-saving ambulance facility.

Ruling out the reports which said that the service had been permanently closed, Wahab said it was only a temporary closure and as soon as some mechanism was formed to provide funds to the Aman Foundation, the Sindh Rescue and Medical Services’ ambulances would ply again in the city.

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