A hundred scooters that have been provided for health workers to do their fieldwork and home visits in the Eastern Cape received a backlash from the public. Picture: Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba/Facebook
A hundred scooters that have been provided for health workers to do their fieldwork and home visits in the Eastern Cape received a backlash from the public. Picture: Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba/Facebook

Eastern Cape scooters for health workers mocked for similarity with sitcom 'Velaphi'

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Jun 14, 2020

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Cape Town - A hundred scooters that have been provided for health workers to do their fieldwork and home visits in the Eastern Cape received backlash from the public. 

Some questioned its authenticity, meanwhile, some said government should have built roads in the Eastern Cape to access all villages and households, instead of the scooters.

A video has also been circulated on social media showing Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba on a ride testing the scooters during a launch on Friday.

The video activated people's sense of humour and was edited to include the theme song used in sitcom "Velaphi", an SABC Xhosa show about the escapades of a scooter messenger "Velaphi Mjongeni" working for an advertising agency.

Health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the department has noted with regret the misperception that has been created on social media following the launch of mobile clinics and scooters.

Kupelo said contrary to malicious reports that the department has procured the specialised scooters from overseas at R1 billion. He said the department has entered into a three-year contract with a King William’s Town company after an open and competitive bidding process. 

"The three year R10.1 million contract includes procurement and a cost was R94,000 per unit plus R6000 for maintenance. A total of 200 people were employed during the production period," Kupelo said. 

He said the department has also employed 150 additional staff who will be operating these scooters as part of their primary health care outreach programme.

"These are off-road scooters which are not part of our emergency fleet and will not ferry critical or emergency cases to hospitals but will be utilised in health education /awareness in communities during outreach programmes," Kupelo said. 

According to the department, the scooters are specialised fitted with beds, gazebos and extra chairs to allow community outreach operations. 

"As we fight this battle against Covid-19 and other diseases in the province we will continue to use innovative methods to accelerate service delivery to the people."

He said the scooters would include delivery of chronic medication to patients. 

"We regret the lack of clarity on the intended utilisation of the specialised scooters but equally wish to emphasise that, these are not part of emergency fleet hence the employment of non HPCSA registered personnel to operate them." 

Kupelo assured that emergency services would continue operating with specialised vehicles, helicopters/air ambulances and Patient Transport Vehicles operated by qualified paramedics and ambulance practitioners.

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According to a statement released by health ministry on Saturday, one of the complaints that the Eastern Cape Department of Health has received from rural communities was 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." 

According to the health department statistics, as of last night, the Eastern Cape had 9,250 confirmed cases of Covid-19, 4559 recoveries and 217 deaths.

Kupelo said unfortunately, those numbers are likely going to increase as the virus is expected to peak in the coming weeks or months.

%%%twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/ECVisit12June?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ECVisit12June pic.twitter.com/1yDObRyhM8

— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize)

@SISONKE_MD

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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