DA: Statement by Mike Waters, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of health, on the public health system (23/05/2010)

23rd May 2010

The avalanche of articles this weekend regarding the Public Health system should have the alarm bells ringing within the ANC government as they clearly indicate that health care in this country is in crisis.

What we need is an open and honest debate about how we can improve the public health sector and not red herrings that the Minister is talking about such as the banning of formula milk and the capping of prices within the private health sector.

Articles that appeared in the media this weekend highlight:

That South Africa has no reserves of the H1N1 vaccine, which is especially worrying given we are entering our flu season with tens of thousands of visitors here for the football.

The government bought 1.8 million doses and they received a donation of a further 3.5 million doses giving a total of 5.3 million doses. The private sector last year had 900 000 doses of the flu vaccine and this year they have none.

The government has stated that vulnerable groups will be given priority such as pregnant women, the elderly and people with HIV. However, given we have 700 000 pregnant women and over 5 million people with HIV, the current number of doses in the country will not cover these groups.

Other articles include

• FIFA insistence that wards in designated hospitals around the country be kept half empty, which will result in long-term patients being removed, with nowhere to go.
• The Eastern Cape is running out of essential medication.
• The Letaba Hospital outside Tzaneen in Limpopo, often have monkeys entering the ­hospital and stealing food.

We also had the horrific deaths of 6 babies at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital this week and a further 11 baby deaths at the Natalspruit Hospital in Germiston.

Our public health system has become a joke, and instead of trying to deflect attention from the root causes of the problems the ANC government should start talking about them.