Guest of honour and keynote speaker, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo celebrated the 20 year partnership with the AMS and the recently launched National Lotteries Commission (NLC) funded mobile medical simulator at Durban Country Club. The AMS in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health celebrated 20 years of providing access to healthcare to the rural and urban communities of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). In what is described as one of the brilliant Department of Health initiatives the KZN aero-medical service has operated a Flying Doctor (Outreach) Service for the past 20 years in KwaZulu-Natal which now boasts one of the most comprehensive outreach programmes creating access to specialist health support throughout the Province. Starting off with one Pilatus PC 12, the first outreach clinic took place on the 8th of June 1998 at Matatiele Hospital. The notion of spreading limited specialist resources over a wider geographical area and also supporting outlying facilities through outreach services became a reality.
“KZN is an extremely mountainous and vast province. To travel from Kokstad to Durban, for instance, is about four and half hours. It’s the same with Manguzi to Durban. If you had to have a patient in Manguzi or Kokstad who has been examined and the doctors are saying he or she has poly-trauma, which means several critical injuries and bleeding, that patient can’t be assisted in a distant area. That patient needs to be connected to the machines, put in ICU, in a ventilator and receive more blood. That can only be done at a bigger hospital like Albert Luthuli. This advanced technology allows us to help patients who would otherwise have died, not to die anymore. The beneficiaries aren’t just the Department of Health, but the citizens of KZN. It is going to cause less panic… (for people) to know that even if, God forbid, I were to get into an accident in Nongoma, UMhlabuyalingana and Kokstad, I am safe because this Department is able to send this helicopter with this advanced technology to pick me up from there, and within 30 minutes I’m at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital. Our mandate is to ensure A Long and Healthy Life for All South Africans. We treat those who are ill and injured, in the far-flung areas, this is the best facility for our province” said Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo MEC for Health KZN. Images courtesy Brian Spurr.