Chery South Africa through their branches in Pinetown and Umhlanga has partnered with the SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) as the official vehicle sponsor for the rural health outreach programme in KwaZulu-Natal.

Last night (06 February 2024) the AMS KwaZulu-Natal base took delivery of two vehicles that will form part of their integral ground support rural health outreach units. One Chery Tiggo 7 Pro and one Chery Tiggo 8 Pro will now be the official ground support vehicles that transport specialists and allied healthcare workers to outlying areas to provide specialist services to the communities. One vehicle will be stationed at Greys Hospital in Pietermaritzburg and one will be stationed at the AMS operational base at King Shaka International Airport.

In KwaZulu-Natal, there is a significant disparity in access to medical specialist healthcare between urban and rural areas. Access to healthcare, including medical specialist care, is a basic human right and is guaranteed by the South African constitution.

The rural health outreach programme offered by AMS in collaboration with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, aims to facilitate access for specialists and allied healthcare workers to remote regions, ensuring prompt treatment at health facilities in close proximity to patients’ homes. This service is provided via the AMS Pilatus PC 12 emergency fixed-wing aircraft and ground support units.

“We are thrilled about our collaboration with Chery and deeply appreciate the support from Chery Pinetown and Chery Umhlanga in helping us deliver this essential service to the KwaZulu-Natal community. Partnerships like these play a vital role in fulfilling our purpose of ensuring equitable access to healthcare. The real contribution that these vehicles will have on the programme is one of touching the lives of rural communities in such a way that it contributes directly to changing and saving the lives of ordinary South Africans who otherwise would have to travel long distances at great expense to seek healthcare,” said Farhaad Haffejee, CEO of AMS. “The impact Chery has had in the SA market is quite evident when looking at how phenomenally well the Chery brand has done over the last year. Chery is now putting directly back into the South African community by supporting rural health outreach”, Haffejee added.

“Chery South Africa is committed to community upliftment, and what better way than to work with our dealer partners to make a difference in the lives of those in need”, says Ferial Khan, Regional Marketing Manager, Chery South Africa.

The rural health outreach service in KwaZulu-Natal started in June 1998 and successfully delivered healthcare to rural communities for 22 years before it was terminated. The AMS re-launched this service in June 2023 and while funding is a critical need to sustain this operation, the impact it has had in this short time with very limited resources has been significant. “When we then decided to relaunch outreach in this Province with the understanding that funding was going to be a challenge, it was for no other reason except that we fully understood what the withdrawal of the programme meant to communities of rural KwaZulu-Natal. In understanding the financial constraints of the KZN Department of Health, we relaunched outreach with the full intention of ensuring that the KZN Department of Health continues to remain an equal, guiding partner in the delivery of services to their patients whilst we take direction from the Department of Health in terms of prioritising and resolving some of the service delivery backlogs and issues being experienced. We will continue to explore funding from the private sector to ensure the sustainability of the rural health outreach programme. We welcome corporates to reach out to us for discussions on partnership opportunities and join us in making a meaningful impact on the healthcare of all South Africans” Farhaad Haffejee added.

The sponsored vehicles will ensure that the ground support unit can access areas that have limited access by aircraft and are in close proximity to the supply of doctors. The sponsored vehicles will ensure that the on-the-ground services are offered five days a week (Mondays – Fridays) to the communities it serves and will enhance AMS’ ability to reach remote areas and provide critical medical care to those in need. This ensures that the most marginalised communities in the peripheral and remote areas can access the same health benefits as citizens in the urban setting.

“We all see and read about BRICS at a political and macro-economic level, but for me, this is BRICS in action on the ground where there is a tremendous, tangible contribution to social impact. It is hopefully the first of such initiatives by the now-expanded BRICS nations towards rural health outreach and we thank you Chery South Africa for being the trailblazers. Your contribution by initially sponsoring two vehicles via the Umhlanga and Pinetown dealerships will go a long way to ensuring that the AMS meets its purpose of enabling equitable access to healthcare for all. Thank you, Chery SA, Chery Umhlanga & Chery Pinetown for your foresight and contribution towards social impact programmes in KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa. Your support is appreciated. We wish you only the very best of success as you continue to grow your brand in South Africa and continue to smash new car sales records. As the AMS we look forward to strengthening our partnership with Chery SA, to continue to make a difference to our communities, and to drive this road to success with you,” Haffejee concluded.

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