Remarks by the Hon. Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba at the 100 EMS Scooters launch on 12 June 2020. Unedited.

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“We are fighting the spread of COVID-19 and most of our energy is focused on that. But that does not mean we have neglected other health issues.

This is why we are gathered here today, which is a historic day for our province and the department as we are launching the 100 EMS scooters I announced when I tabled the budget and policy speech last month.

These are not your ordinary scooters. They are specialised and have beds. We are introducing the use of scooters because for far too long we have had how our ambulances could not get to people in far-flung rural areas.

Ours is a rural province and because of its terrain, we sometimes could not get to people who desperately need medical attention, especially when it rains.

Not anymore. That will now be a thing of the past. With these scooters, we will be able to get to some of the most remote areas. We are ensuring that people in hinterlands also get an effective and efficient health care service.

Minister Mkhize we are ensuring that just because people live in rural areas should not disadvantage them. Not anymore. We are levelling the playing fields with these specialised scooters so that we do not hear horrific stories of how people’s lives might have been saved had ambulances been able to get to them.

We want everyone to have access to medical care. The Department has its fair share of challenges, that much we acknowledge, but getting to people regardless of their location should not be one of them.

It will not be one of them anymore. Even if you are in the mountainous Matatiele or Lusikisiki we will get to you. No matter how treacherous the roads leading to your village we will now be able to get to people in need of medical care.

Altronnexus, a tech company based in Johannesburg has also donated 200, 2 way radios that will be used for communication by teams in the frontline service fighting the COVID19 pandemic.

The radios, which work on a GSM cellular network, will be distributed to each district for allocation to the teams that will operate the scooters.

The radios work on the basis that teams within a district can communicate with each other as well as team leaders across districts.

We are grateful for the donation as these 2- way radios will help our teams stay in communication. This is truly the spirit of Thuma Mina and Ubuntu.

When companies like Altronnexus work with the government, we can achieve a great deal together.

Indeed, working together we can do more. We are calling on other companies to do their bit in helping us ensure we deliver effective and efficient services.

We are improving our EMS and we will continue doing that.

But ladies and gentlemen, our ambulance crews have been under siege from criminals who have targeted them. That has to end because when ambulance crews are attacked and robbed, that will disadvantage the whole community, as no one will willingly go to hotspot areas.

We have to call thugs out and report them to law enforcement agencies so that our EMS crews can continue doing what they do best: taking services to people and saving lives.

We cannot have a situation where we have no go areas. That is unacceptable. Those attacking EMS crews are our brothers, sisters and neighbours and we need to stop burying our heads in a sand but speak up when we witness such attacks. People can report to the Department or the SAPS anonymously.

Minister Mkhize has been in the province monitoring our response to COVID-19. We were in the OR Tambo District yesterday and I am happy that the Minister was happy with the work being done there. That district has turned things around and must continue with its diligent work.

But unfortunately our confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue rising and as of last night we had 7868 confirmed cases recoveries 3647 and 178 deaths.

To the families and friends who have lost their loved ones to the pandemic we are sending our deep sympathies. May their souls rest in eternal peace.

One death is one too many.

This is why we want to also call on people to continue adhering to the lockdown regulations by washing their hands with soap and water or sanitiser regularly, wear masks or cloth whenever they are in public and practise social distancing.

It is up to each one of us to stop the spread of this virus by staying at home.

We have seen how some people have put masks on their chins instead of covering their mouths and nose.

Ezinye izinto azifuni timing mzi wakuthi. Madincede sibxibeni masks ngalo lonke ixesha.

You should not be policed for you to wear your mask. This is not about “beating the system” as abanye abantu seem to think but about saving lives.

Let’s all please play our part so that our hard working and dedicated nurses and doctors will not be overwhelmed.


Source: EC MEC Health


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