The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in Limpopo has estimated that the Department of Health would need a budget of R2 billion to solve the crisis at public healthcare facilities in the province.
The announcement was made by SAHRC Provincial Manager, Victor Mavhidula during a briefing on investigative interviews on the status of healthcare facilities in the province in Polokwane on Tuesday.
The commission conducted a five day investigative process in all public health care facilities in the province from last Tuesday until Monday and according to Mavhidula they found factors such as insufficient staff, resources and tools of trade to be contributing to the crisis. He elaborated by saying: “Vacancies are not filled in some of the hospitals, patients are served with food and medication that has expired. Patients are treated by doctors without checking their medical history because there is lack of space for files of the patients at some of the hospitals. Some of the hospitals are still using the old equipment because of the shortfall of the budget. The staff is demoralised because of the lack of support for personnel at the hospitals. Employees who have resigned, passed on and retired are not replaced, and that is a concern. Those who are acting in certain positions are not being compensated for the role they are playing. Again, acting without compensation affects their morale to deliver quality services which is a threat to human rights.”
He added that there is an inadequate number of specialists in the province’s public health service. “There is an 80% vacancy rate of specialists and that is a concern. We have one part-time oncologist in the province and that on its own is a problem. People with cancer are transferred to hospitals outside the province. The department has its challenges with regards to budget. The money allocated is not sufficient to run the department. We need warm bodies, we need vacancies to be filled at the hospitals. We are going to engage with Provincial Treasury to see if they cannot intervene in this crisis,”Mavhidula said.
The investigation process was necessitated by complaints by members of the community who are not pleased with the state of healthcare services in the province.
At the time of going to print Treasury and the Department of Health could not be reached for comment.
Story & photo: Herbert Rachuene