GOVERNMENT has procured a fleet of 100 new fully equipped ambulances that are set to be deployed to healthcare facilities throughout the country.
The first batch of the specialised vehicles is set to be delivered in August, with each province receiving between eight to 10 ambulances when all have been delivered later this year.
The procurement was finalised last week, with the first batch of 50 expected in August. All the vehicles are set to be delivered by November. Zimbabwe currently has a fleet of 134 functional ambulances and 148 which are non-runners.
The country requires a ground fleet of at least 200 fully equipped ambulances and a handful of air ambulances for medical emergencies where the distance does not allow for use of a road ambulance.
Government set aside $590 million in this year’s National Budget for the procurement of the life-saving vehicles.
Ministry of Finance and Economic Development spokesperson Mr Clive Mphambela told The Sunday Mail that an ambulance supply deal has since been concluded between a foreign supplier and the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
“The contract between Ministry of Health (and Child Care) and the supplier was signed this past week,” he said.
“In terms of expected delivery, the supplier should deliver the first batch of 50 ambulances within three months from date of contract.
“The second batch will be delivered three months after delivery of the first batch.
“So, if all goes according to the agreement, the country should expect the first 50 units by end of August 2021, with the other 50 ambulances expected by end of November 2021.”
A study on emergency and ambulance service commissioned by Government in 2018 established that owing to the shortage of ambulances, nearly 30 percent of road traffic accident victims die before reaching a healthcare facility.
The study also established that transit time for patients in ambulances ranges between four to five hours, leading to unnecessary loss of life.
All Government ambulances, the study revealed, lacked basic equipment including oxygen, delivery packs for pregnant women in transit, resuscitation equipment, masks, intravenous lines for drips, intravenous stands and trolleys.
The study recommended that all 63 districts in the country’s health system should have at least two functional ambulances and qualified personnel.
Ministry of Health and Child Care is in the process of establishing an ambulance services directorate that would ensure every part of the country has access to ambulances for emergency services.
Speaking at a recent event in the capital, Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, said the new ambulances will be deployed to all district, provincial, central hospitals and selected tollgates along major highways.
Procurement of the vehicles, he added, was the first step in Government’s programme to stablish an effective ambulance system that was focused on attendance to emergencies and disasters.
“Casualty collection is a key capability in modern public health systems designed to mitigate effects of pandemics such as Covid-19, endemic-prone diseases, disasters such as Cyclone Idai, communicable and non-communicable diseases, maternal emergencies and road traffic accidents.
“The guaranteed availability of purpose-built patients’ transport goes a long way in the reduction of mortality rates in the country,” he said.
Government recently received 20 ambulances and ancillary medical equipment donated by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the government of India.
Presenting the 2021 national budget, Finance and Economic Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said: “In this regard, the NDS1 provides a commitment to revamp the public health infrastructure, covering upgrading and construction of health facilities, installation of medical equipment, procurement of ambulances and utility vehicles.” Sunday Mail