DA Mpumalanga welcomes the long-awaited 67 ambulances that the Premier received in Mbombela on Friday 20 November.
In April 2019, MEC Sasekani Manzini said that a total of 178 ambulances were operational to respond to any emergencies in the province.
However, this meant that in 12 months, the department’s fleet of ambulances reduced dramatically from 178 to 33, a shocking 81% reduction. Upon enquiry, the DA never received answers regarding the whereabouts of the 145 ambulances.
The department also “lost” two of the brand new ambulances bought in October 2019.
The DA reported in June this year that the Mpumalanga Department of Health had only 33 operational ambulances to service 3.97 million people in this province who do not have the luxury of medical insurance. That is less than one ambulance per 120 303 people.
The DA also wrote to the Premier and MEC Sasekani Manzini in June, asking them to prioritise the procurement of ambulances in Mpumalanga but, the Premier and the MEC did not respond to the DA.
The DA is concerned with the millions of rands that the Mpumalanga Provincial government departments spend on branded bags and gazebos using Covid-19 relief funds instead of using the money on things that benefit the people of our Province.
There is no doubt that the additional 67 ambulances will significantly reduce response times to distressed calls, especially around our rural municipalities such as Thembisile Hani and Dr. JS Moroka, Nkomazi and Bushbuckridge.
The DA urges the Premier to ensure that these ambulances do not gather dust in the hospital basement parking somewhere due to chronic staff shortages that are currently faced by the department.
Incidents such as the one where a three-year-old toddler died while waiting for an ambulance last week could have been prevented if response time to emergencies is reduced.
The DA will continue to put pressure on the department to ensure the people of Mpumalanga have fair access to proper health care.
Jane Sithole MPL
Note from the editor – It has been confirmed that three of these ambulances are now in Mkhondo and are ready to be used to serve the community.