by Andrew Louw – DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
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Date: 16 January 2019
Ailing health services in the Northern Cape have just deteriorated even more, as Namaqualand finds itself with a broken down ambulance service.
The motor vehicle license of the single ambulance in the Richtersveld, has expired. In effect, the emergency vehicle is rendered unroadworthy and may not be utilised until the paperwork has been updated.
Due to the non-functioning state of this very ambulance, a four-year-old boy from Alexanderbaai could not be transported to the nearest hospital for medical attention after he broke his arm last week. A patient suffering from gangrene, could also not be transported by the state, from Garies to Springbok, and had to rely on a DA MPL to get him there.
The license of the emergency response vehicle in Khai Ma municipality as well as that of an ambulance in Kommagas, have apparently also expired. Meanwhile, the ambulance that services 17 towns in and around Kamiesberg, was in an accident two weeks ago. The ambulance was replaced by an old vehicle that is missing a door because of the poor condition of the roads. On top of this, the emergency vehicle in Vioolsdrift was written off in 2015 and has not been replaced since.
The situation in Namaqualand is aggravated by the fact that the ambulance service is hiring an unsuitable control room from the municipality. This set up is unsuitable and fails to address the poor radio communication transmission in this area, making it even more difficult for people to access emergency medical services.
In addition to these challenges, the Northern Cape Health Department has still not managed to address the dire shortage of emergency workers in the area, leaving those who are employed, desperately overworked. In effect, where ambulance services still exist, the staff must provide a single-crew ambulance service, which renders them mere ambulance drivers, making it impossible for them to care for patients and transport them to hospital at the same time. This is a threat to patients’ lives. It also places emergency workers in a precarious position, making them vulnerable to medico-legal cases.
There are also no patient transporters available to assist residents of the widespread and impoverished Namaqualand area to access health care. Furthermore, no new uniforms have been purchased for EMS workers since 2015.
In effect, preventable tragedies, as a result of poor decision making by officials, have become synonymous with the failing ANC’s health department. Not long ago we saw a critical situation whereby there was no ambulance available to transfer a young child with a life threatening brain injury, from Upington to Kimberley Hospital.
Emergency services in Namaqualand and the Northern Cape have come to symbolise the broken ANC. Under the leadership of four different ANC MEC’s in the course of five years, the ANC has failed to address the inefficiencies that plague the health department. The ANC’s new-dawn under Cyril Ramaphosa, will not change this.
The failing ANC is detrimental to everyone’s health. Another five years with them in power, will cause health services to flatline. The only way to resuscitate health care and all other services, is to hold the failing ANC accountable and vote them out.
Only change under a DA-led government will ensure that all citizens receive proper healthcare and that the emergency fleet is adequately maintained, unlike the broken ANC that can never be repaired and must be written off at the ballot box.
DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
082 383 6914
079 226 0991