THE new Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi says the situation at public hospitals is not yet at crisis point; it's only "a serious challenge".
One must wonder how politicians see things, and what it would take to declare the situation a crisis.
Nurses and doctors in the public sector are overworked, underpaid, unappreciated and stressed. Imagine being operated on by a doctor who has been working for 36 hours non-stop? The infrastructure is falling apart. And the honourable minister says it's not a crisis.
The picture of the shocking state our public health system was confirmed by a recent report by the Human Rights Commission.
Those of us who have some experience with the public health system have known for a long time that a patient needing serious medication is likely to walk away with a panado from a government hospital.
Democracy didn't change the apartheid healthcare system, all it did was to make sure that a few blacks with money and those who are lucky to be on medical aid get access to private healthcare which is essentially for most whites and the few rich blacks.
The poor endure the situation where there is one doctor for about 3800 patients; this is three times worse than what the United Nations recommends.
Poorer countries have done better than us. Essentially it means if you have no medical aid you are standing in a queue of about 4000 people when sick.
Doctors are said to be 50percent underpaid. It's shocking to know that some earn as little as R8000 a month.
When I grew up doctors were respected and generally well paid, because even the apartheid government knew that these people performed an important function in society. Our government is offering doctors a 5percent increment on their salaries. This is an insult.
Our government does not care for the wellbeing of our people, if it did the first thing they would have done is to sort out our healthcare system.
The promise of health insurance for all seems like a little trick. The state of chaos, neglect, and disarray in our health system calls for urgency by all of us.
What I can't understand is this - why are we allowing the poor doctors to fight this battle alone? Where is society's solidarity in action for better healthcare for all?
This whole health sector saga got me thinking. Why would we spend R75million on the inauguration of our president? Is this not wrong-headedness? Is this not like buying two identical Lamborghinis on credit? Or renting a hotel suite for R100000 a month when you have no house?
Newspapers report that our president's daughter has also spent about R400000 on her 27th birthday party recently. Okay, it's her money and surely we South Africans subscribe to the idea that "it's your money, eat it the way you want".
At the party people ate raw fish and other expensive but strange things which would make you puke.
Are we a sick society or is it just me missing the picture?
lBolekaja is Yoruba for Come down, let's fight!