The Department of Health on Friday 12 June launched an innovative project in the Eastern Cape that aims to make emergency services more accessible to rural areas. The Scooter Project is a service that operates with the help of multi-purpose motorbikes that are equipped with a sidecar that patients sit in, and promises to provide improved access to rural areas where roads are deteriorating or are inaccessible for ambulances.
Scooter Project to make rural areas more accesible
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize was in the Eastern Cape on Friday to give the scooters a bash, and said that they have off-road capabilities that will allow for the transportation of patients and delivery of medication.
"Today, we launch the Scooter Project in Eastern Cape," he said on Twitter. "These multi-purpose units are extremely versatile and can transport patients or deliver medication in rural communities."
"They have off-road capabilities and are equipped with waterproofing and drip stands."
He said that the ambulances can serve a number of dynamic medical purposes.
"It can be converted to an ambulance or even a mobile clinic. This is the kind of innovation we would like to encourage across all provinces."
Watch: Mkhize takes a ride on one of the Scooter Project bikes:
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
EFF unhappy with project
Not everyone is happy with the service though, and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) member Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said that the service ironically detracted from the real concern – poor road conditions in the province.
"So instead of building roads in the Eastern Cape to access all villages and households, you went to buy scooter ambulances? Pathetic government of ANC is truly beyond repair," he said.
The Eastern Cape has risen above Gauteng as the second-worst affected province in terms of COVID-19 infections, and during Mkhize's visit he said that his department was focusing on clearing the backlog of tests in the Western Cape as well as the Eastern Cape.
"We have targeted Western Cape to deal with the backlog and we are happy to report turnaround time for tests in the Western Cape has been reduced to 24 hours. We are now focusing on this backlog in the Eastern Cape," he said.
"Thank you to the provincial health teams, and all the managers in health across the country, who are working hard to resolve challenges," he said.