North-West offers a taste of government’s inability to run health care

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Trade union Solidarity today said that health care in North-West Province that is failing by the day clearly shows that government is not capable of running health care services; something it now wants to roll out on a national basis.

This comes after numerous media reports indicated that the Mafikeng Provincial Hospital is only still running thanks to the services of temporary staff, while two clinics in the province already had to close their doors as a result of security problems arising from the fact that the department had failed for three months to pay the security service providers. Information seems to indicate that the situation is such that at some hospitals there are only 3 midwives to cope with 48 deliveries, while medicine shortages are paralysing the province’s health service.

According to Morné Malan, a researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute, the shortcomings and failures of public health care that are manifesting themselves in North-West are not limited to this province only. “The 2016/17 report of the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) found that out of 696 public health facilities only five met the minimum requirements as determined by this body.

Moreover, the Gauteng MEC for Health Gwen Ramokgopa, conceded that the Gauteng health care system had experienced more than 20 000 incidents of serious negligence since 2016. Recent incidents, including those at Life Esidemeni and at Charlotte Maxeke, reaffirm the disastrous trajectory public health is on,” Malan said.

Malan also said that it was inconceivable that government believes it could improve health care for all in South Africa by means of the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI). “By expanding government control over health care would simply mean that failures would happen at an even larger scale and would be more far-reaching. In fact, with the information at our disposal there is no reason to believe that South Africans would be better off under NHI at all; on the contrary, they will be much worse off,” Malan warned.

Malan said that on 21 August Solidarity will hold a crisis summit on the proposed NHI involving all interested parties. Some of the country’s leading medical and legal experts, as well as economists would participate to find solutions as far as NHI is concerned.