Issues of financial mismanagement and wasteful expenditure are part of the department’s daily operations.
The DA in Mpumalanga has said that the rot at the province’s health department continues despite Sasekani Manzini being the new MEC.
Manzini, who was public works MEC, replaced Gillion Mashego in July 2018 when Premier Refilwe Mtshweni swopped them, making Mashego the new public works MEC.
DA leader Jane Sithole said the state of the province’s health continued to deteriorate and this has been revealed recently in the department’s quarterly report.
In just three months, 29 cases of hospital negligence were reported and the department is being sued by the victims for millions and millions of rands.
In their report to the portfolio committee on health, the Mpumalanga department said they are faced with issues of collapsing infrastructure, staff shortages, shortage of specialists and unserviceable hospital and clinic machines.
The department also stated how expired medicine to the value of R1.1 million were stored at their depot. This is basically 53% more expired medicine than what the hospitals and the clinics together previously reported, Sithole said.
“By failing to safeguard the people’s right to healthcare as enshrined in Section 27 of the Constitution, MEC Manzini and her failing ANC are truly killing the millions of Mpumalanga residents who depend on the state for healthcare,” she said in a statement.
The department is also sitting on R1 billion debt.
While the department believes the budget cut by R88 million is making it hard for them to run a proper healthcare system, Sithole said that now is being used as an excuse by the MEC for the “systematic failures”.
She called for the department to be placed under administration “to address the gross financial mismanagement”.
“A capable DA-led government would then put systems in place to deal with the understaffed and under resources healthcare facilities so that the people can finally access adequate healthcare.
“Only a DA-led government can bring real change to this department by fighting the corruption and maladministration that has crippled it. We will also speed up the delivery of services to ensure that healthcare can be accessed by all who need it,” said Sithole.
Most of hospitals in the province are in a very bad state, with patients forced to come seek help from the dilapidating buildings.
Health MEC Sasekani Manzini has said that an amount of R50 million has been made available by the Mpumalanga government to renovate the falling hospitals.
The government has started rebuilding the Middelburg hospital but it’s not clear when construction will be completed but a lot of hospitals in the province look abandoned by officials.
Manzini said the problems faced in the province were dilapidating hospitals and “some which no longer need to be renovated but to construct a new facility”.
Manzini was in eMalahleni last week Friday to announce the construction of a hospital in the area.
The people of eMalahleni have been left without a hospital after the Witbank Hospital began being used as a referral hospital, forcing the locals to drive all the way to Impungwe Hospital.
But now the government together with mining giant Anglo American will build a new hospital in the space where the TB Hospital in Ackerville is located and will then turn the Impungwe Hospital into a TB hospital.
Health MEC Sasekani Manzini (L), eMalahleni mayor Linah Malatjie (C) and Anglo American Coal CEO July Ndlovu (R) as the sod-turning ceremony marking the begin of construction of a new hospital in eMalahleni. PICTURE BY 013NEWS/MLM.
Anglo American and another Germany company will fund the construction of the Ackerville hospital.
“The honourable Premier [Refilwe Mtshweni] gave us another R50 million to ensure that we maintain existing infrastructures,” she said when she spoke to journalists.
She said the provincial government has taken a decision to reconstruct the Mapulaneng Hospital in Bushbuckridge, Mmamethlake Hospital in Dr JS Moroka, the Bethal Hospital and Middelburg Hospital.
She said the construction of new hospitals does not mean they should abandon the existing ones, “so that is why the issue of maintenance becomes important”.
“Maintaining is an on-going thing. We are maintaining on a daily basis, and the R50 million that we got from the Premier is not enough hence we are excited when we get such sponsorship from Anglo American in assisting us either building a clinic or hospital,” she said.
“The provincial government has expressed a serious concern as the transmission of this infection seems to be moving from one area to another,” Mtsweni’s spokesman Zibonele Mncwango said.
“To date, over 1 300 cases of diarrhoea have been reported in health facilities especially within Mbombela municipality,” Mncwango said.
Water tests are currently being conducted by authorities from the eHlanzeni district municipality and City of Mbombela to determine the source of the outbreak, Mncwango said.
“Although the provincial government is not too sure where the germ seems to be coming from, citizens are meanwhile being encouraged to exercise caution by continuously wash[ing] hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet, wash hands as well as after changing baby nappies and after throwing away rubbish. They are encouraged to prepare safe food by constantly washing or peeling fruit and vegetables, cook food thoroughly especially meat and should store food in a clean and cool place,” he said.
Residents are also encouraged to pour a teaspoon of bleach into 25-litres water, mix well and wait for at least 30 minutes or to boil the water for at least three minutes before consuming.
Health officials were on the field encouraging people to look for symptoms and go to their nearest clinic.
Since the outbreak nobody has died except two people, one in Tekwane South and another in KaNyamazane who authorities suspect were killed by drinking dirty water. A bacteria called Shigella was found in their bodies by the Institute of Communicable Diseases – suggesting they were killed by contaminated water.
Feeling nausea, vomiting as well as feeling stomach cramps are just some of the signs of diarrhoea.
“The provincial government is conversely satisfied that there are no deaths related to the current diarrhoea outbreak,” Mncwango said.
“It therefore wishes to call for calm and encourages citizens to adhere to prevention while we are speedily dealing with the outbreak. We also have noted the opportunistic ill-informed rumourmongers who are intending to cause excessive public panic,” he said.
Officials say they discovered that government built a clinic in Tjakastad but is under-utilised and can now become a hospital.
The Mpumalanga health department is considering moving the Standerton TB hospital to the area of Tjakastad, near Badplaas, in the coming financial year.
This follows health MEC Gillion Mashego’s discovery that the hospital in the area was dilapidating and that interventions were needed to avert the health hazards that the hospital’s poor state is causing.
Owners of the Standerton building from whom government is renting the TB hospital at R1.2 million every year are not renovating it and recommendations by department officials have been made for government to cut ties with them and relocate the hospital as they are in breach of national health standards.
Officials said if the Standerton building was owned by government they were going to renovate it but not when they do not own it.
Now Mashego wants this hospital moved to the Tjakastad area in order for the clinic of the area to serve as the new TB hospital.
The department says the Tjakastad clinic is well-built on government land and few revamps will be needed – for around R9 million – to enable it to be a fully-fledged hospital.
Two NGOs are heading to the Tshwane High Court to force government to respect the constitutional rights of people with regard to the air pollution being caused by Mpumalanga’s Sasol and Eskom power plants.