Sunday, July 3, 2022

Ambulance shortage now at crisis levels

With the Ministry of Health facing a crisis as a result of a shortage of ambulances, the Assistant Minister of Health, Gaotlhaetse Mathabaphiri, has told parliament that his ministry has engaged the Central Transport Organisation to make an exception and allow the ministry to take charge of its fleet.

Currently, the CTO is responsible for buying, maintenance and repairing of all government vehicles.

Responding to a question by Okavango MP, Bagalatia Arone, during the minister’s question time on Friday, Matlhabaphiri acknowledged that the ministry is faced with a crisis owing to a shortage of vehicles.

Many patients across Botswana, especially in rural areas, are unable to access health facilities because of the unavailability of ambulances.

Matlhabaphiri said that out of a total of 577 vehicles, 130 had been declared unusable by CTO. He also said a total of 193 vehicles were currently at different CTO depots awaiting service and tyre changes.

“We are in talks with CTO to see if we cannot manage and fix our own fleet,” he said.

The minister said that it could expeditiously fix some of their vehicles by outsourcing to reputable garages, adding that recently the ministry distributed a number of vehicles to be used across the country in primary hospitals. He said that a total of 6 vehicles were distributed across the Okavango region.

However, subsequent to that, five vehicles broke down and were taken to CTO for repair.
“The only solution is to outsource,” added Matlhabaphiri.

“In other places, we have directed district primary health centres to seek assistance from the district offices,” he said.

Matlhabaphiri said this while responding to a follow up question by MP Reggie Reatile, who had wanted to find out what the ministry is doing as a temporary measure to remedy the state of affairs.

The minister was unable to give a time frame as to when government hopes to have addressed the transport crisis within government hospitals and clinics.

Meanwhile, MP Kentse Rammidi has expressed concern that the Ministry of Health’s proposal to take over its fleet from CTO could affect the ministry’s budget and lead it away from its core business.

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