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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Reclassify Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital: SAHRC

13 June 2022

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) wants the troubled Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg, which is a regional hospital, reclassified as a tertiary hospital.

The commission's Gauteng head Buang Jones said reclassifying the hospital may help solve its problems.

He and human rights officer Sithembiso Mdlalose visited the hospital on Monday .

Last month paediatric gastroenterologist Dr Tim de Maayer blew the whistle on “horrendous conditions”, saying in an open letter published by Daily Maverick: “I wish you could come to our unit and see doctors trying to intubate children and administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation by their mobile phone’s torch as the power has failed again. Or the cold neonate whose incubator went off with the loss of power [from load-shedding].

“I wish you could come and explain to parents that their child needs an urgent computerised tomography scan of the brain, but he’s going to have to wait since our scanner has been broken for nearly three months, Chris Hani Baragwanath is overflowing and Charlotte Maxeke has had crucial parts of its scanner stolen.”

On Twitter, he wrote: “This letter is not a political statement. Instead, it is a plea. This hospital, with its current staff but without its infrastructural and supply issues, could be the envy of private hospitals. Our children deserve it.”

 The letter earned the doctor a suspension.

On Monday, the SAHRC held a meeting with senior staff and the CEO of the hospital Dr Nozuko Mkabayi. They also visited the neonatal intensive care unit

Doctors at the NICU told the commission staff members were overstretched and space for patients was limited.

Jones said the commission’s concern was the plight of patients who received healthcare services at the hospital.

He commended De Maayer for speaking out in the public interest when he exposed the challenging conditions at the hospital.

“But [it is important] to also call for the reclassification of this hospital from regional to a tertiary hospital so that they are allocated enough budget. At the moment the budget they have is inadequate to address the challenges they are facing.”

The hospital was addressing the issues raised by De Maayer and would provide the commission with a report.

“We will look at the report. We also intend to establish a monitoring mechanism through which the commission will receive regular updates from the hospital and other roleplayers such as Joburg Water, City Power and the department of infrastructure development in Gauteng.

“Issues of equipment are still a challenge, backup generators and issues of water outages. We are going to engage the new head of the department of health to attend to some of the issues,” he said.

The CEO had attempted to address some of the challenges after she joined the hospital in 2021, some of which dated from before her time.

    It was a painful meeting. [The CEO of Rahima Moosa hospital] \was dismissive, she didn’t understand that our process is meant to enhance accountability to ensure that there is responsiveness on the part of the hospital to provide quality healthcare to patients

Buang Jones, SAHRC Gauteng head

On his interaction with her, which happened behind closed doors, Jones said: “It was a painful meeting. She was dismissive, she didn’t understand that our process is meant to enhance accountability to ensure that there is responsiveness on the part of the hospital to provide quality healthcare to patients.”

The commission would continue to monitor the hospital on a regular basis to ensure that the promised remedial action was taken.

On Friday the Gauteng department of health reinstated De Maayer to his post.

His suspension shocked the medical fraternity and prompted a show of support for him.

The suspension was lifted after health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi met Mkabayi, the head of the department of paediatrics and child health Professor Ashraf Coovadia and De Maayer.


The South African Human Rights Commission.

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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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