Limpopo residents continue to suffer due to a severe shortage of ambulances

Issued by Risham Maharaj MPL – DA Limpopo Spokesperson for Health
12 Dec 2022 in Press Statements

The DA in Limpopo has written to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) requesting an investigation into the access to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the province due to a severe shortage of ambulances.

It is very concerning that the Limpopo Department of Health only has 262 Ambulances for a population of about 6 million people, despite a required ratio of 1 ambulance per 10 000 people. This means Limpopo is short of 348 ambulances.

The bleak situation is further compounded by the fact that 117 ambulances are not in use, due to accidents, repairs and maintenance. There were 56 accidents in 2022 but no disciplinary procedures or consequence management was implemented.

According to the General Household Survey, Limpopo has the largest portion of its population that uses public health facilities in the country at 85.4 % and the lowest percentage of individuals who are members of medical aid schemes at 8.2% . This means Limpopo residents are highly dependent on the public healthcare system for their ambulance and other EMS services.

In her budget speech Limpopo Health MEC, Phophi Ramathuba, committed to procure 35 emergency vehicles in the 22/23 financial year, but this is a drop in the ocean and merely papers over the cracks while failing to address the much needed investment in the province’s EMS vehicle fleet.

The severe shortage in ambulances affects EMS response times and negatively impacts on the healthcare residents receive, especially in far flung and rural areas. There are areas in Limpopo that are hours away from ambulances and one can only imagine how many lives have been lost due to the late arrival or unavailability of an ambulance.

The DA has previously raised the shortage of ambulances in areas of Limpopo with both the SAHRC and the provincial department but there seems to be a lack of political will from Ramathuba to address this.

The Limpopo Department of Health needs to ensure that the EMS have better fleet management, well-run maintenance plans for ambulances and that areas with severe shortages are prioritised for the new vehicles.

The DA believes that everyone has the right to have access to adequate health care services including an appropriate number of properly equipped ambulances in the province