Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has congratulated the Eastern Cape Department of Health for the procurement of 100 motorbikes to transport patients to clinics.

Speaking in East London, Dr Mkhize expressed hope that other provinces could follow the example and make use of these scooters. He says they appear to be a cheaper and more efficient form of patient transport.

The Minister also noted that the department has added 40 new ambulances to its fleet.

In this video below, Minister Mkhize launches the motorbike service in the Eastern Cape:

The initiative by the Eastern Cape Department of Health is the first of its kind. The department hopes the 100 motorbikes will improve its capacity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

Patients will have a quicker way of getting medical help with the motorbike service

The province is largely rural with many areas inaccessible with standard ambulances.

“What I found to be quiet nice is the innovation about it, that it can in fact be converted into an ambulance that can carry someone who needs additional health to be brought to an area where it is easy to access ambulances and in addition, it can also be used as a mobile clinic for one person so it could be a health worker, a nurse or a public nurse who could be walking around in various parts of the country. Therefore they could actually set up a small post where they could look at people and assist them,” says Mkhize.

Possible expansion in semi-urban areas is also on the cards.

In the video below, Mkhize expands on how the motorbikes will assist the COVID-19 battle:

The manufacturer of the bikes say their product is effective over terrain where ambulances struggle. Brian Harmse of FABKOMP says there are different applications for the motorbikes.

“There’s a picture that was taken somewhere in the Transkei where an old man was in a wheelbarrow to try and get him to the clinic, so this is the solution to that dynamic, the units are cheap enough. We have the ambulance version so the patient can lie down and can be strapped down on the mattress, there’s a waterproof cover so if it does rain you can cover the patient completely, there’s also a drip holder on the unit itself,” says Harmse.

Two-way communication devices were also donated to the Department of Health. Sanjay Maharaj from Altron Nexus says it will make communication possible anywhere. “We here today in the Eastern Cape to sponsor 200 two-way communication devices. We are in sponsorship together with Hitera one of the leading two-way manufacturers in the world and Alton, Altria is one of the leading ICT companies in South Africa so we very happy to donate.”