The Eastern Cape health department’s newly launched motorbikes will allow healthcare workers to travel on diﬃcult terrain to bring medical care to previously under-serviced communities.
Ministry of health spokesperson Dr Lwazi Manzi said on Saturday that government had received backlash from the public and press after the launch of the motorbikes the previous day.
Manzi said he wanted to clarify that the bikes were not in any way meant to replace ambulances.
“Basic emergency medical service protocol will not allow for this and we would not in any way support this,” he said.
“This is an intervention designed to bring healthcare closer to the people.
“One of the complaints that the Eastern Cape department of health received from rural communities is that because of lack of road infrastructure, especially in rural areas, ambulances do not reach people who are sick.”
This often resulted in members of the community having to put sick individuals in a wheelbarrow to get them to where they could meet up with an ambulance. Other sick or elderly people were forced to walk the distance.
Manzi said Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba accordingly saw these 100 EMS motorbikes as an opportunity to address these issues.
Referring to them as “scooters” during the launch on Friday, Gomba said they were specialised in that they were equipped with beds.
“These are motorbikes that are designed for off-road capabilities and the intention is for these units to be able to transport patients to the nearest clinic so that ambulances can concentrate on transporting patients from clinics to facilities offering higher levels of care,” Manzi said.
“The motorbikes [have] both sitting and supine units which are fully waterproofed so that those who cannot sit up can be accommodated. No patient will be exposed to the elements while being transported in these units.
“These units are also versatile in that they can be used as mobile clinics, mobile testing units and mobile medicine delivery units.”
The motorbikes can accommodate two community health workers to carry out functions such as Covid-19 screening and testing, as well as testing for other communicable diseases like TB and HIV, and general health issues such as high-blood pressure.
“The dignity and health of our people remains a top priority and we will continue to explore all avenues to ensure that even the poorest members of the community enjoy the right to quality healthcare,” Manzi said.