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Statement by KZN Health MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo on the occasion of the launch of new Ambulances for its Emergency Medical Services on the outer fields of Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban.

14 May 2015

All protocol observed
In our Budget Presentation on 13 May 2015, I did concede that there are challenges being experienced within the Emergency Medical Services sector, mostly pertaining to employee-related issues that have recently resulted to unprotected industrial action and the damaging of state assets.

We also informed the Parliament and the public that together with the Acting Head of Department, Dr Lindiwe Simelane, I have convened meetings with all the District Management of both EMS and Forensic Pathology Services to discuss these issues with an intention to resolve them once and for all.

Today we are acting on an announcement made during the same Budget Presentation that we will be distributing 63 brand new Mercedes Benz Vito Ambulances to all the Districts as a means to further improve on the service we offer to our citizens.

Emergency Medical Services is one of the three core pillars in health service delivery standing alongside primary health care (PHC) and hospital services.

This component is very crucial in the attainment of the core outcome of our government which is to ensure “a long and healthy life for all South Africans”. These are measured in four specific areas which are:
• Improving life expectancy
• Improving mother and child health and survival
• Reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS and TB
• Improving health system effectiveness

We are a Province that is home to more than 10 million people which amounts to 21% of the population of the country. At least 80% of these people depend on public health sector for their medical and health needs.
Our Emergency Medical Service is the largest emergency medical service in the country, operating more than 300 ambulances and having more than 2 500 dedicated paramedics in its employ.

Buying new vehicles for this component does not come cheap but very necessary as Paramedics serve as a first point of entry to a health care institution.

Cutting the ribbon alongside KZN EMS provincial operations manager Muzi Mabaso, provincial head of EMS, Mr Nkatheko Sithole, and acting HOD Dr Lindiwe Simelane;

Trying his hand briefly behind the wheel of one of the ambulances


Watch Video Clip

Paramedics are usually first healthcare professionals to arrive at the scene of accident or a homestead of a sick patient and quickly assess the situation and determine the proper course of action for that individual.
It is also a function of this component to provide medical care to patient whilst being transported to a hospital or clinic.

Ambulances are thus basically a Mobile Emergency Clinic whose personnel are trained to drive it; resuscitate and/or stabilise a patient, using sophisticated techniques, equipment and drugs. Everything is done to ensure that the patient maintains his or her condition of stability during the ambulance ride.

We see investments in new Ambulances as means to enhance the working environment for this sector whose nature of work is characterised by emergency and urgency.

As a Department, we always strive to have a sufficient number of ambulances to meet the demand; hence the introduction of these new vehicles. We have a responsibility to our communities and visitors to always offer a high level of pre-hospital care by skilled and dedicated ambulance staff.

This new fleet is introduced to top up and in most cases replace the current number of ambulances that the Province has.

It will be recalled that in the year 2012 we replaced all operational ambulances with 386 new fully equipped ones. With wear and tear taking its toll, some of those have to be removed from operations due repairs that are beyond economical usage. In that lot, we also lost 20 of them due to accidents.

At a cost of R35, 5 million we have purchased and are distributing 63 VITO 116 CDI High - Roof Ambulances that have equipment to the value of R5, 6 million.
Our distribution by District will be as follows:
• Amajuba 4
• EThekwini 8
• Harry Gwala 5
• ILembe 7
• Ugu 5
• UMgungundlovu 6
• UMkhanyakude 5
• UMzinyathi 6
• UThukela 5
• UThungulu 6
• Zululand 6

We believe that with this allocation, our people’s health status will be further enhanced.
We were shocked when two of our Ambulances were attacked and burnt down at UThungulu District last month during illegal strike by paramedics. We therefore wish to make a strong appeal to our citizens to own and safeguard this property made available to assist those requiring emergency medical care.


I thank you


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