HEALTH and Child Care Ministry is yet to procure the 100 state of the art ambulances for public health institutions due to unavailability of foreign currency in the country.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
This emerged during a Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) pre-budget meeting held in Harare on Thursday. Health Ministry’s chief accountant expenditure Mrs Tennis Lynette said they had planned to buy the ambulances with the money promised by the Finance Ministry in its supplementary budget presentation.
We have not yet received the money as yet although the treasury are making an effort to look into the issue,” she told this publication.
Health ministry’s Finance Director Mrs Heather Machamire said they have not found the forex yet for the ambulances.
“I think probably this report was saying 52% of the ambulance fleet is non-functional. The ambulances that were meant to be bought in 2019 have not yet been bought. We are still struggling to secure the foreign currency required. So the situation is such that what has been there, the fleet is aged,” she said.
She explained the Auditor General’s Report on Public Funds Appropriation in 2018 on the distressing ambulance situation in the country. This forced the Treasury boss Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube to allocate ZW$68 million for procurement of 100 fully equipped ambulances.
“When the auditors come in they know that at this facility we need to have three ambulances but there are three ambulances parked there, they are not working. They will just report that of the 100 percent of the ambulances in the system 52 percent are not working because we will have reported to them saying we have 100 ambulances yet only 48 of those are working.
“But these were not bought with the current budget. We have not yet been able to buy the ambulances that were meant to be bought by the 2019 budget,” said Mrs Machamire.
The Auditor General Mildred Chiri in the report revealed there are only 134 functional ambulances out of 282 which has affected the sector’s capacity to respond to health emergencies.
In order for the Ministry to promote public health it requires ambulances to provide transport to patients. As at December 31, 2018 the Ministry had 282 ambulances and out of the 282 ambulances, 134 (48%) were functional whilst 148 (52%) were non-runners. Failure to have adequate number of functional ambulances negatively affects service delivery as patients are not transported on time.
Prof Ncube in his supplementary budget presentation in August said the Health Ministry had completed the tendering process for procurement of ambulances.
“In this regard, an amount of ZWL$68 million in additional funding is proposed to complete the procurement process that targets acquisition of 100 fully equipped ambulances,” he said.