Ricochet News

Eastern Cape Dept of Health crippled by debt and dysfunctionality

JULY 4, 2017
Eastern Cape Dept of Health crippled by debt and dysfunctionality

The Eastern Cape Department of Health is crippled by debt and dysfunctionality and is spiralling out of control, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape claimed on Tuesday.

"Tragically, the department’s failure to fill 2 000 of the 5 000 vacancies that occurred as at the end of December 2016, is negatively impacting on service delivery and it is people who rely on state healthcare, especially at clinics, who are suffering," described Celeste Barker, MPL, the DA's Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Health.

"The DA believes that the failure to fill vacancies is an attempt by the department to offset its current financial crisis whereby accruals, including medico-legal costs of R1.4-billion, have to be funded. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is resulting in a chaotic set of circumstances."

Barker said that as an example, there have been recent incidents in which awaiting clinic patients have lost their lives:

• Mr David September passed away on 29 May 2017 after having been diagnosed by the Cannon Street Clinic in Uitenhage with an irregular heartbeat and then denied what he called "rookpilletjies" that would have dilated his arteries and possibly saved his life;

• The Herald reported the tragic death of 20-year-old schoolboy Siyabonga Jim who sought help at the Lunga Kobese Clinic on 22 June 2017 but collapsed and died in a nearby park from a condition that medical support might well have prevented;

• On Wednesday, 27 June 2017 the death of 18-year-old Yonela Nqokoto who had visited the Booysens Park clinic and allegedly left without receiving medication was reported;

• A few streets away, Sandiswa Thunyiswa gave birth to her son on a pavement after being sent home by nurses from the same clinic, who insisted she was not in labour;

• Countless reports from patients that certain psychiatric drugs are not available to them and many incidents of clinics simply remaining closed without prior warning to communities.

"This is a very, very sorry state of affairs," she said.

"The MEC for Health, Dr Phumza Dyantyi, and her department must prioritise service delivery at our clinics.

"A simple step is through well-timed, honest communication to communities by using our local radio stations to inform residents when clinics are closed, regardless of the reasons for closure.

"People’s lives are at stake. MEC Dyantyi, don't drop this ball. It will cost lives and your reputation."