THE Ministry of Health is responsible for paying for the lorry or hired vehicles by people transporting seriously ill loved ones to the nearest health centre or hospital.
Responding to concerns raised by villagers of Kubulau in Bua about the late arrival of ambulances daily, Prime Minister Rear Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama said villagers should not pay for the hire.
He said one of the government's intentions was to bring health services closer to the people of Fiji, and this included daily ambulance trips to rural areas.
He called for government officials' attention and reminded them that when the sick were to be transported to the health facility in the absence of an ambulance, the health department must pay for the hire of that mode of transportation.
Youth Berenado Dulunaqio said some villagers had died in the village because of the absence of ambulances to transport them to the nearest health centres.
He said they usually waited for two or three days before an ambulance arrived.
Mr Dulunaqio said it was also expensive to hire a van or private vehicle to transport sick people to the centre.
Another villager Ratu Emeri Rabaleinatosia said health officials usually informed them that it was against their policy to transport sick people in another vehicle because it did not have necessary medical equipment the ambulances had.
He said in cases of emergencies, it was the lives of the people that mattered the most and not the policy.
Rear Admiral Bainimarama said the late arrival of ambulances was also a problem in Kadavu, Lau and other islands in Fiji where the government paid for hire of vehicles by villagers.
He said the ministry had to pay for vehicles hired by people whose loved ones needed immediate health care.