THE Swedish government did not donate the 25 ambulances, it was the Ministry of Health that bought the ambulances at a total cost of US$52,550 using the United Nations system and Swedish money.
Health Minister Dr. Chilufya said the ambulances were bought using the Swedish grant donated to the ministry some time back contrary to the perception that the ambulances were bought by the Swedish government.
He said the grant was donated to the ministry to reduce maternal mortality in Zambia and that the money was allocated for different projects such as training, buying of ambulances and motorbikes.
“We do not mean to downplay the grant from the Swedish government but it must be made clear that it is the ministry that bought the ambulances, the Swedish government gave money to the ministry of health through a project, we procured ourselves,” Dr. Chilufya said.
He said the ministry made a conscious choice to use the United Nations procurement district which has its own subsidies and time frame.
“We made a conscious choice to use the United Nations procurement district which has its own subsidies, its own queues, and its own timeframe. The vehicles will only be used for reproductive health services, just to transport pregnant women,” he said.
Dr. Chilufya questioned why some people had started comparing the 25 ambulances with the 50 ambulances which government had bought at the cost of $250, 000 each when the ambulances are totally different.
He says the 25 ambulances are Toyota and will only be used for reproductive purposes while the 50 ambulances will be used for any emergency and mobile services.
“The other procurement was for emergency and mobile services. The facility had adequate height for people to operate from with life serving equipment.
“You can’t compare the two because they are far apart,” Dr. Chilufya explained.
He said the emergency and mobile ambulances had sophisticated facilities.
Dr. Chilufya said the model of the current ambulances was a Toyota while the previous procurement is a Mercedes Benz.
“We have made it clear that the 50 ambulances are not Toyota land cruiser, it is BENZ, we have also made it clear that there are intermediate life support systems there while the 25 ambulances are just ordinary vans with a bed put in there for the purpose of reducing maternal mortality,” he said.
Dr. Chilufya said it was the Ministry of Health that paid for the for the 25 ambulances.
Recently, it was reported that the Swedish government had donated 25 ambulances to the Ministry of the Health to strengthen health reforms in Zambia.