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Union: Aaron Motsoaledi downplaying crisis in health sector

Malegapuru Makgoba has called for a national health indaba to prevent the total collapse of the national Health Department.

FILE: Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Health workers union Hospersa says its disappointed that Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi simply dismissed comments made by the Health Ombudsman that the department is on the verge of collapse.

Malegapuru Makgoba has called for a national health indaba to prevent the total collapse of the national Health Department.

Motsoaledi has, however, denied this, saying the healthcare system is simply overloaded.

Hospersa's Kevin Halama says the minister is failing to see that there’s a real crisis.

“It’s very alarming to see he’s downplayed the crisis that’s unfolded in the Department of Health at the beginning of the year. Many provincial departments have collapsed. If you look at the department in the North West or the oncology crisis in KZN.”

In the North West, the provincial Health Department has been placed under administration. Johannesburg's Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital was brought to a virtual standstill after some staff members went on the rampage over unpaid bonuses.

In Kwazulu-Natal, a report by the SAHCR found that the Health Department violated patients’ rights to access to healthcare services because officials failed to comply to the norms and standards set out in the law. The report also found that the measures the department committed to putting in place to end the crisis were “inadequate and unacceptable”.

However, speaking to Eyewitness News on Wednesday, Motsoaledi explained what a collapse would mean in the sector.

“My understanding of a collapse is what happened in the North West, where health services were closed all together, where staff could not get into work, when patients were barred from going into hospital or when the depot – the warehouse delivering medicine - was closed off. That indeed was a collapse.”

He added: “When I said it’s distressed, I mentioned a number of things but the services are going on. For instance, we are still running the world’s biggest HIV/Aids programme at 4 million, which is the biggest. We are still treating all 300,000 people who have TB. Out of the 1,2 million pregnant women annually, we’re still delivering babies for over 1 million.”

Motsoaledi said that the lack of management skills have also impacted the health service.

Additional reporting by Masego Rahlaga & Shamiela Fisher.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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