Motsoaledi must answer for health equipment shortages
Patricia Kopane, Shadow Minister of Health
17 July 2012
Minster of Health Aaron Motsoaledi must explain to Parliament what steps his department is taking to address the acute hospital equipment shortages around the country that are endangering patients’.
Reports, site visits and whistle-blower information indicate that the provincial health departments in Limpopo and Gauteng are experiencing widespread shortages of equipment after they have ignored requisition orders and failed to pay service providers for the maintenance of critical equipment. Both these departments are currently under the administration of the National Department of Health (DOH).
The following hospitals in Gauteng are reportedly experiencing problems with equipment:
- The Natalspruit hospital’s only CAT scanner has been out of order since September last year. CAT scanners are used to diagnose diseases and injuries;
- at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital four scanners often break down; and
- scanners at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital is also routinely out of order.
Whistle-blower reports and site visits have revealed the following challenges in Limpopo:
- The Lebowakagomo Hospital x-ray film processors, used to develop diagnostic images, are in disrepair and mobile x-ray equipment used to assess vulnerable patients has been down since November last year;
- the Letaba Hospital closed their x-ray department, leaving patients unattended, because radiography machines have not been serviced for the past two years;
- at the Gakgapane Hospital in the Letaba Municipality there were shortages in basic infrastructure such as beds and x-ray machines; and
- at Zebedelia Hospital new born babies can only be bathed with cold water as a result of a broken geyser.
Minister Motsoaledi must start taking responsibility for what is fast becoming a widespread crisis in our health system.
I will be submitting a series of parliamentary questions to Minister Motsoaledi to determine the nature of medical equipment shortfalls across the country. In addition, I will request that the Minister be called before the Portfolio Committee on Health to outline plans to address these unacceptable shortages.
On Thursday, I will be visiting hospitals in Limpopo together with Desiree van der Walt, DA Limpopo Health spokesperson, to assess the conditions faced by patients in that province. This will be the first in a number of site visits to assess equipment and personnel shortages at hospitals around the country.
The provision of quality basic healthcare services is essential if we are to offer all South Africans the opportunity to live lives that they value. Minister Motsoaledi needs to answer for the equipment shortages in hospitals all over the country and tell us what he is doing to resolve the problem.