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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

SAHRC laments lack of improvement in areas of EC health care

29 October 2021

The South African Human Rights Commission lamented the lack of improvement in some areas of health care in the Eastern Cape despite directives issued three years ago.

The Commission held its second monthly media briefing on Friday, to highlight issues of focus for the SAHRC.
Chairperson, Bongani Majola, said members of the Commission visited the Eastern Cape with the lowering of the Disaster Risk Level to Level 1, as a follow-up to a visit in 2018 when concerns were raised about staff shortages and the poor or inadequate emergency medical services, among others.
He said he, the SAHRC’s provincial manager, Advocate Loyiso Mpondoa, and senior researcher spent a week in the province from 17 October, visiting mostly rural health facilities.
“The Commission wanted to monitor the state of health care facilities especially in rural settings to see what improvements had been affected by the provincial government regarding the right to have access to health care,” he said.
Majola said the SAHRC delegation also engaged with the MEC for Health, Nomakosazana Meth, and raised a number of concerns.
“We pointed out that we had raised the concern about staff shortages when we last visited in 2018 and that the situation appeared to have deteriorated in many hospitals that we visited.”

“We could not understand why the department was experiencing such staff shortages when its cost of employment budget accounted for 82% of the total budget of the department,” Majola said.
He said there had been “no visible improvement to the province’s provision of access to EMS (Emergency Medical Services).
“Ambulance shortages are a recurring issue in the province. Ambulances that are used to serve communities in rural communities have to travel long distances and endure harsh road conditions,” Majola added.

He said this and other factors resulted in the provincial Department of Health not only being non-compliant with the norms and standards but “also violating the right to access emergency health services for many.”
Majola said the SAHRC suggested that it is important for the government to reconsider the norms and standards, which he said were set without considering the geographical vastness of rural provinces or the socio-economic challenges of rural populations.

The SA Human Rights Commission also noted that a significant portion of the health budget in the Eastern Cape was consumed by medico-legal claims that are filed, sometimes with success, against the provincial Department of Health for the negligence of its professionals in rendering medical services to patients.

Source: GroundUp

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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