Picture: Dr Zweli Mkhize via Twitter.
Picture: Dr Zweli Mkhize via Twitter.

Eastern Cape medial scooters 'will not replace ambulances'

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Jun 14, 2020

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Bhisho, Eastern Cape - The Eastern Cape Department of Health has clarified that the scooters provided for health workers for field work and home visits will not replace ambulances. 

This follows a public backlash and media queries regarding the scooters. 

“Basic emergency medical service protocol will not allow for this and we would not in any way support this,” the department said in a statement. 

“This is an intervention designed to bring health care closer to the people. 

“One of the complaints that the Eastern Cape Department of Health has received from rural communities is that because of lack of road infrastructure, especially in rural areas, ambulances do not reach people who are sick, especially the elderly. The members of the community end up having to put an individual in a wheelbarrow or walking a long distance whilst carrying a patient until they reach a road where the ambulance can go.” 

The MEC then saw these community health worker motorbikes as an opportunity to address those instances, the department said. 

These motorbikes, which feature canopies and fold-out beds, were designed for off-road use and the intention is for these units to transport patients to the nearest clinic so that ambulances can concentrate on transporting patients from clinics to facilities offering higher levels of care.  

The bikes can also be used as mobile clinics, mobile testing units and mobile medicine delivery units, which will support the CCMDD programme. They can be ridden by two community health workers to carry out Covid-19 screening in deep rural areas, as well as general health screening and testing for other communicable diseases such as TB and HIV.  

“The dignity and health of our people remains a top priority and we will continue to explore all avenues to ensure that even the poorest members of the community enjoy the right to quality health care,” the department said. 

“It is proven that when health workers are visible in the community and bring preventative health care into the home, this reduces the burden on health care facilities and ultimately saves people from disability due to ill health or death due to uncontrolled chronic disease. This model has been highly successful in countries like Cuba.

“It is for this reason that we will continue to promote such initiatives in all provinces that work towards our goal to saving the lives and improving the health of all our people, regardless of their economic status or the area they live in".


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