Ambulances scarce in rural Eastern Cape

An image of the front end of an ambulance
The Limpopo health department is struggling to provide much needed ambulances.
Zenzile Metele says her mother died near the main road, where emergency workers had told them to wait for an ambulance (File photo)

On 31 October, Kholiswa Nkume went into labour in Hombe village outside Lusikisiki and called an ambulance. It never came.

“Calling an ambulance was just a joke because it never came,” Nkume told OurHealth. “I had no money to hire a bakkie, the form of transport we know in our area.”

“Now, I am grieving the death of a child I carried for nine months but could not hold in my arms,” she added. “If this goes on, many people are going to lose their loved ones.”

Zenzile Metele says she lost her mother due to a lack of ambulances in the area after the diabetic woman’s blood sugar spiked.

“She was a chronic (patient) with sugar diabetes but that day (her blood sugar) was at a level it had never reached before,” Metele said. “We called an ambulance but did not get one.”

“She died near the road where we were told to wait,” she told OurHealth.

The women’s stories come as OurHealth recently reported about the death of an OR Tambo District toddler that her mother, Yolisa Ngeseki, also ascribed to a shortage of ambulances and poor care.

O.R. Tambo Emergency Medical Services could not be reached for comment.


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