By Lillian Sopera Keneqa – EMTV News, Port Moresby
St John Ambulance has been forced to reduce its Central Province operations. This decision was reached by the National St John Council following a delay by the National Government to release its funding allocation of K10 million for St John Ambulance.
The Chair of the Council Madam Jean Kekedo is now asking the National Department of Planning & Monitoring to release the funding as soon as possible.
She said, “The council appreciates the commitment by Health Minister, Sir Puka Temu last year, to include St John Ambulance in this year’s budget, but they need the first quarter funds to be released to sustain the ambulance operations.”
St John has remained operational in the last seven months because of donor support from businesses and community but it has come to a point where this is not sustainable any longer.
Madam Kekedo added, “Until this situation with funding is resolved, I have reluctantly directed our Chief Executive to focus our efforts on corporate fee-paying customers including members of the ambulance service scheme.”
Madam Kekedo went on to say, “The last thing we want to do is restrict the ambulance service to those that need us most. There has been a 110% increase in calls for ambulance help. From 3,500 calls in 2017 to 8,000 in 2018, and even more this year. Just in the first two months, St John has already received and responded to a total of 1,500 calls.”
About 20 percent of the work St John Ambulance does is attending to child birthing emergencies, where the greatest impact is mostly in Central Province.