via City’s ambulance service in intensive care | The Herald June 25, 2014 by Moleen Machingura
Harare, with a population of about two million people, has been hit by a critical shortage of ambulances with the entire city currently being served by only three out of 14 ambulances that are required to service the city. Sources in Harare City Council told The Herald that the situation was so desperate that the sick or injured had to find their own means of getting to hospital, otherwise they risked dying at home.
“When an ambulance is called, it can take about four hours or more to arrive that is if it comes at all,” a source said.
“Because of the shortage, when an ambulance picks up a patient, it rarely drives straight to hospital, it has to pick several other patients in different areas before proceeding to the main hospital.”
Harare has 42 council clinics.
Sources said council had failed to service 11 ambulances which had broken down.
Council last bought ambulances in 2002 and most of the broken down vehicles were no longer suitable to meet the growing and changing emergency service needs of the city.
“The ambulances which we are using were bought between 1998 and 2002 during the Chanakira Commission era and they have since worn out,” a source said.
“Ambulances have a lifespan of four years only and the ones we have, have gone past their economic lifespan.”
He said although they heard about reports in the Press that four ambulances were bought using the Chinese loan facility, they had not seen any ambulance on the ground.
He said the council should prioritise public service delivery rather than buying cars for the bosses.
Last month the city council bought 50 cars worth US$2 million using the US$144,4 million loan facility secured from China. This is almost double the number of vehicles previously reported to have been purchased.
Emergency service experts say for the city to function smoothly, it needs between 24 and 32 ambulances.
When contacted for comment, council spokesperson Mr Leslie Gwindi was evasive and could not readily comment on the matter.