Human Rights Commission must investigate effects of surgery backlogs in SA

Issued by Lindy Wilson MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Health
29 Sep 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Lindy Wilson MP.

The DA is appalled by the Department of Health’s report presented to the parliamentary portfolio committee on health yesterday.

The report highlights the collapse of the health facilities and care in South Africa and the ANC government’s neglect of its citizens.

The DA has requested the Human Rights Commission to investigate how the surgery backlogs impacts the Constitutional rights of our people and deny their quality of life.

The backlog of orthopaedic surgeries, which include fractures, knee replacements and hip replacements, have a backlog of up to 7 years. The implications for those requiring these surgeries is huge. They are living in unbelievable pain and often cannot function optimally. Many end up having to use walking aids and wheelchairs and some have lost their jobs as a result.

Cancer patients requiring mastectomies and other cancer related surgeries will have to wait between 1 and 2 years for life saving surgeries. It is common knowledge that in order to arrest the spread of cancer, biopsies and removal of tumors and masses must be done as quickly as possible. Life expectancy of cancer patients is seriously affected by this appalling state of affairs, and those that could have good lives when treatments are done immediately, will be denied this.

Hysterectomies can take up to 2 years, cataract removals up to 3 years and the list goes on.

Section 27 of the Constitution states clearly that everyone has the right to have access to health care services, including reproductive health care. It further states that no one may be refused emergency medical treatment.

In terms of Section 9, everyone has the right to equality, including access to health care services, which means that individuals should not be unfairly excluded in the provision of health care.

Clearly, in light of the Constitution, people are being denied reasonable access to life saving surgeries and denial of quality of life in the case of orthopaedic and other critical surgeries.

Millions have been spent on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, with failed pilot projects, public hearings and the appointment of staff for the NHI, to the tune of R30 million. This money could have been used to upgrade facilities with staff and infrastructure to avoid this crisis.