With guns blazing, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has hit back at the DA’s criticism of the Eastern Cape’s controversial medical scooters which, according to Mkhize, were never intended to replace ambulances.
Mkhize’s response to DA MP Siviwe Gwarube’s written parliamentary question, revealed that the scooter project that the Eastern Cape health department launched, did not meet the basic criteria for patient transport as an ambulance. Instead, he said the purpose of the project was to widen access to primary health care and deliver chronic medicine in remote areas of the Eastern Cape.
Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba said the motorbikes would be used by health workers to reach far-flung areas where patients end up being neglected because of the road infrastructure.
News24 previously reported that Gwarube said the “scooter scandal” was yet another indication of the ineptitude of the Eastern Cape health department leadership.
But in a statement, Health Ministry spokesperson Lwazi Manzi said they could only say Gwarube’s comments were made “out of sheer ignorance” and that Gwarube failed to read Mkhize’s 13 June statement, or that they were “intentionally made as part of cheap politicking”.
“Therefore, the sudden excitement created by Gwarube around the Minister Mkhize’s parliamentary response is misleading and clearly undermines the fact that on top of being a politician, the minister, as a medical doctor, understands basic EMS regulations and what is contained in an ambulance. Hence, his 13 June statement clearly states that basic EMS protocols would not allow for this motorbike to be an ambulance,” Manzi said.
Testing out one of the units now available as part of the scooter project! They have off-road capabilities and are equipped with waterproofing and drip stands. #ECVisit12June pic.twitter.com/1yDObRyhM8
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) June 12, 2020