Ambulances not for personal errands while patients die – Minister chides emergency service personnel 

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent 

MASHONALAND West Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, has warned emergency services workers against abusing newly-acquired ambulances to conduct personal business at the expense of seriously-ill patients.

Her remarks come against a background of health officials, particularly from rural outposts, using ambulances to go for shopping sprees or transporting firewood and other personal goods.

She also appealed to hospitals to mobilise adequate diesel to fuel stand-by vans to ferry critically sick people.

Mliswa-Chikoka made the clarion call Tuesday during the official handover of four ambulances to Siyakobvu, Mhondoro-Ngezi, Makonde districts, and Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital.

“I wish to categorically state to the beneficiaries, Siyakobvu, Mhondoro-Ngezi, Makonde and Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital that these ambulances must be put to good use. They are for patients and not to do deals, they are not personal vehicles and must serve our communities,” said Mliswa-Chikoka.

“You need to put mechanisms to monitor and track your ambulances, perhaps you would have to put trackers.”

The minister reiterated the province must not record anymore deaths as a result of slow reaction to road traffic accidents, child birth and other emergencies.

“Service delivery hiccups related to responding to emergencies late must be a thing of the past. We are for the people and must serve them religiously and diligently,” she said.

The ambulances, she added, were in response to a clarion call by His Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, towards fulfilling the tenants of the National Development Strategy (NDS 1) aimed at ensuring improved service delivery in the health sector.

“Our government is doing this cognisant of the fact that no one and no place is to be left behind. This, therefore, has informed government to design tailor made programmes aimed at stimulating development particularly in the formally neglected and disenfranchised communities.

“These, will go a long way in improving the provincial response rate to various emergencies. We are now more than ever, assured that expecting mothers and all related emergency cases in need of special attention are ferried to specialists without delays.

“The people of Zimbabwe must embrace these programmes as we march and chant our path towards the attainment of Vision 2030 of establishing a healthy middle income society.”

Acting Provincial Medical Director, Tapiwa Dhliwayo emphasised the new vehicles contributed to overall curative services hinged on an efficient referral system, which involves having fully functional ambulances.

“The backbone of the curative health care system is a robust referral system. This requires a state-of-the-art and efficient ambulance system,” he said.

“The ambulances we have received today, have added to the quality of care we so wish to render to our patients in transit to higher levels of care.

“The equipment bestowed in the ambulances here, will help ensure our patients are stabilised and put on life support during their transfers. The nature of the ambulances, Landcruiser type, will withstand all types of terrain.”

Responding to Mliswa-Chikoka’s call to ensure the vehicles were appropriately utilised, Dhliwayo said authorities would be wary of errant emergency workers who abuse the resources.

“Every hospital shall provide us with the ambulance status report every Monday. We will not tolerate any form of abuse or misuse of these ambulances,” Dhliwayo said.