What is Minister Phaahla’s plan to assist hospitals not exempt from load shedding

Issued by Michele Clarke MP and Lindy Wilson MP –
08 Dec 2022 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

The DA has been inundated with calls and messages from hospitals and clinics that are being severely affected by the current bout of load shedding.

Despite the strides that have been made in the exemption of certain hospitals from load shedding, little seems to have been done in ensuring that other public health facilities are able to cope with the continuous rolling blackouts.

The DA has written to the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, for an updated list of hospitals exempted from load shedding. The Department of Health gave Eskom a list of 213 hospitals, of which 76 had been exempted so far.

The Minister also needs to take us into his confidence regarding the progress on the R100 million project that would exempt a further 25 hospitals by building the required infrastructure, as well as why three hospitals were seemingly cut from the project as an earlier answer to a DA parliamentary question revealed that 28 hospitals would form part of the project.

South Africa has 3 741 public hospitals and clinics, and while the DA supports and encourages the Minister’s efforts to exempt those 213 hospitals – and we appreciate that it is by no means as easy as flipping a switch – the country cannot sustain public health care with the majority of our health facilities beholden to the whims of a failing power utility.

The Minister must reveal his detailed plan to assist each and every hospital and clinic in the country. Energy experts have warned that South Africa’s energy crisis is a long way from over with reports yesterday that we are on the brink of stage 7. It was further calculated that South Africans had to endure 4 months of blackouts this year.

The fact that the Department of Health only started scrambling to exempt hospitals from load shedding in September this year is an indictment on government. While the DA has tried to place the many serious concerns plaguing the public health sector, including the detrimental impact of load shedding, on the parliamentary portfolio committee of health’s agenda this year, the ANC members has insisted that the focus should be on pushing the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill through Parliament.

Despite the ANC’s best efforts to distract the public from their overwhelming failure to provide quality health care with a Bill whose failures have already been exposed by experts and stakeholders, the DA will continue to hold them accountable on load shedding – as well as staff and stock shortages, surgery backlogs, crumbling and dangerous infrastructure, broken and outdated equipment, lack of consequence management for corruption and maladministration, and the many serious concerns regarding the NHI Bill.