On 1 December 2017, the Minister of Health promulgated the Emergency Medical Services Regulations. SECTION27 welcomes the promulgation of the Regulations. We welcome further the openness of the National Department of Health to our submissions on the Regulations as an example of cooperation between government and civil society in the interests of health.

The Emergency Medical Services Regulations are a vital step in ensuring access to emergency medical services across the country. The Regulations apply to public and private emergency medical services and require licensing, minimum staffing and equipment for ambulances, and appropriate management of emergency medical services. Existing emergency medical services have one year within which to comply with the Regulations.

Access to emergency medical services remains a problem across the country. In the Eastern Cape, despite a 2015 South African Human Rights Commission hearing on EMS in the province, children and adults alike continue to face the fear that comes with the non-arrival of an ambulance when they need it most. Recent reports suggest the outsourcing of EMS in North West to private companies at huge cost while departmental vehicles remain unused in parking lots.

While Regulations alone cannot resolve the problems in emergency medical services, they provide an important guide to provincial departments and private operators alike, and a tool for health care service users and civil society to call for better services and compliance with legal requirements.

The Emergency Medical Services Regulations can be found here EMS Regulations 2017

For more information contact Sasha Stevenson at stevenson@section27.org.za.