Schools will be vaccine dispensing facilities.
File picture. Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize at the unveiling of six scooters. Picture, Eastern Cape Department of Health, Facebook.
Forty-five percent of the population of Eastern Cape is rural with many people having to travel about five kilometres to healthcare facilities, which is expected to pose a challenge in the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, the portfolio committee on health heard on Wednesday.
The provincial government came under fire last year for launching a R10 million scooter project to ferry patients from
deep rural areas to healthcare facilities.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize conceded the scooters did not meet basic requirements.
Briefing members of parliament, provincial health department acting head Dr Sibongile Zungu said 45% of the province’s population was rural compared to 22.7% in KwaZulu-Natal, 14% in Limpopo, 4.7% in North West, 2.9% in Northern Cape, 2.6% in Gauteng, 1.2% in Free State, 3.7% in Mpumalanga and 2.5% in Western Cape.
Zungu said schools would be vaccine dispensing facilities.
Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Siviwe Gwarube said: “The Eastern Cape has seen a high death rate because the provincial department of health has squandered money on scooters.
“You have failed to better the infrastructure and now rural communities travel for something like four hours to access
“The province has a history of systematic healthcare failures and backlogs, making it impossible to mount an effective anti-coronavirus campaign.”
In her response, Zungu said health challenges in the Eastern Cape had been “there for many years, related to the rural nature of the province, poor infrastructure and dwindling budgets.
A total of 181 532 Covid-19 cases has been reported in the province.
Presenting the Western Cape Covid-19 resurgence strategy, health department head Dr Keith Cloete said there were signs the province has entered the peak of the second wave.
“Occupancies in the Covid-19 general beds reflect the pressures, with metro hospitals at 91%,” he said.
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