118 toll free number is managed through MTL
* Government losing millions because of the irresponsible pranks
By George Mponda, MANA
Assistant Director of Clinical Services responsible for the Emergency Medical Services, Dr. Yankho Luwe has bemoaned the tendency by some irresponsible Malawians, who are abusing the emergency services toll free number 118.
Dr. Luwe revealed on Friday during a District Executive Committee meeting in Dedza that over 50% of calls which are made to have been pranks.
“On average, we get 7,000 calls per month but half of these are usually prank calls whereby people are calling us begging for airtime, some just call to sing and others call and put their babies on the phone,” she said.
Luwe as the callers are not charged airtime, it was become a huge cost for government as they need to MTL close to K13 million annually for the emergency number calls.
“Pre-hospital service providers are the first to tend to patients on the scenes but this tendency of making prank calls causes those who are in dire need of the services to lose an opportunity to be assisted since the call system is clogged,” she said.
Dedza’s Network of Civil Society Organizations executive director, Heston Nalikole also deplored the irresponsible tendency, saying this was a very important service that could save a lot of lives.
In 2017, the country implemented new emergency medical services along the M1 highway from Blantyre to Lilongwe whereby in cases of accidents and sudden illnesses one should call for an ambulance using the toll free number 118.
When the call is made, trained community first responders who are close to the scene offer first aid to the patients while waiting for an ambulance to transport them to a hospital.
The programme, funded by the World Bank, is still in its pilot phase and it is operating along the M1 road and 5 kilometres off both sides of the road in Lilongwe, Dedza, Ntcheu, Balaka, Neno and Blantyre.