South Africa: Better Spending Can Transform Emergency Medical Services in the Eastern Cape


Much has been reported on alleged corruption and governance failures in the Eastern Cape Department of Health that have devastating consequences for healthcare services to those most in need. This is also true for inadequate emergency medical services (EMS) in the province. Nontsikelelo Mpulo and Thokozile Mtsolongo argue that solutions to the province's EMS woes should start with improved spending of available budgets.

A young man is stabbed during an altercation on a Saturday evening in the village of Folokwe, about 100km from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. Community members who witness the incident around 9pm, call the local ambulance base at Mqanduli, 64km from the village.

The call would go to the intermediate life support paramedic and driver at the ambulance stationed in Nqileni. The two will then make the 20-minute journey to Folokwe. Meanwhile, a villager who received First Aid training will stem the bleeding and upon arrival on the scene, the paramedic will stabilise the young man and he will survive.

This is the vision some in the community of Folokwe have of emergency medical services (EMS) in the area. In this vision, ambulance services are not just within reach, but also respond on time.

But reality...

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