Minister Mkhize confirms Eastern Cape Scooters are not suitable ambulances
9 July 2020
In a reply to a parliamentary question posed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) on the suitability of the ‘Scooter Ambulances’ as a form of patient transport, the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has confirmed that these scooters do not meet the basic Emergency Medical Services (EMS) regulations.
The reply goes on further to state that these R10 million glorified wheelbarrows which have been procured with public money will only be used to deliver medication in rural parts of the Eastern Cape. This is in direct contradiction to what was said when the initiative was launched on the 12th of June where it was stated by the Eastern Cape Health MEC, Sindiswa Gompa, that these were meant to ferry patients from rural areas to the nearest health facilities.
Mkhize further confirms that the province did not consult the National Department of Health (NDOH) on the specifications of these scooters but have since been advised that the fall foul of the regulations governing patient transport.
This week, the Bid Adjudication Committee in the Eastern Cape committed to investigating the awarding of the tender to the supplier of these scooters. This is in addition to the investigation the DA has requested for from the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to look into the rights of patients who would have to be subjected to this inhumane transport.
The DA will submit this response from the Minister to the SAHRC as supplementary evidence in the investigation they have committed to doing.
If the NDOH now backtracks from the initial purported function of the scooters which Minister Mkhize personally endorsed, it begs the question why R10 million is being spent of a chronic medication distribution system. What is the point of the first aid equipment, drip stands and the stretcher attached to the scooter?
This Scooter Scandal is yet another indication of the ineptitude of the Eastern Cape Department of Health leadership. The MEC has recently argued that the department is bankrupt, yet R10 million can be wasted on scooters which will gather dust in some warehouse. All the while, the province is failing to mount a decent response to the Covid-19 crisis. There is a critical shortage of staff, insufficient bed capacity ambulances in some areas, underscored by the rising number of infections and deaths.
The call for the Eastern Cape department of health to be placed under administration in accordance with section 100 of the Constitution has become urgent. If Minister Mkhize does not act to operationally manage the province, there will be avoidable loss of lives.
Issued by Siviwe Gwarube, DA Shadow Minister of Health, 9 July 2020