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Does SA have enough money to fix public healthcare?

On Wednesday, Eyewitness News revealed how a pregnant woman was trapped inside a toilet at the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Vosloorus for more than an hour while in labour.

Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital in Vosloorus. Picture: Facebook.com

JOHANNESBURG - As Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku works to restore faith in the public healthcare system, concerns have been raised about whether there is sufficient money and capacity to refurbish hospitals on time and within budget.

On Wednesday, Eyewitness News revealed how a pregnant woman was trapped inside a toilet at the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Vosloorus for more than an hour while in labour.

Yoliswa Jiyane’s experience is just one of many highlighting the poor state of healthcare facilities.

The provincial Health Department has set itself a target of ensuring that all its hospitals comply with safety standards by the end of 2019/2020 financial year.

Masuku has a tough task ahead, with hospitals in desperate need of refurbishment and security upgrades. He said plans were in place to fast track the process of ensuring the majority of hospitals comply with safety standards.

“We have a plan with the MEC of infrastructure on how we’ll fast track the processes.”

However, the DA’s Jack Bloom believes Gauteng hospitals won’t be compliant for many years to come because there's not enough money.

“The estimate is R6 billion. The Health Department is applying for R1.6 billion and I don’t think they’ll get that from Treasury.”

In the last financial year, the province's hospitals received notices of noncompliance for various serious issues.

WATCH: The trauma of South African public healthcare

This comes as Parliament’s portfolio committee on health took the debate on the National Health Insurance (NHI) to coastal provinces.

The committee heard submissions from experts and communities that depended on state healthcare.

Medical professionals in the Northern Cape told the committee that government hospitals needed a complete overhaul.

They said there were several infrastructure shortcomings in the current healthcare system that needed to be addressed before the implementation of the bill.

Communities told the committee that government must focus on fixing run-down health facilities and ensure it implemented strategies that would improve service delivery.

The DA’s health spokesperson Wendy Philander believes that centralising health functions would cripple the sector.

“It is very important that we realise how the Health Insurance Bill will affect future medical care.”

In the coming weeks, the committee will conduct public hearings on the NHI Bill in Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Additional reporting by Jason Felix.

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