Gambling with lives

It is common knowledge that Soweto's Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital is almost buckling under the weight of multiple problems .

It is common knowledge that Soweto's Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital is almost buckling under the weight of multiple problems .

Not only are these problems perennial but also reflective of our ailing health system that has left in despair those who sorely depend on public healthcare.

That its staff still perform their duties with a measure of dedication even under the most trying of circumstances is something of a miracle.

Symptomatic of the organised chaos in which the hospital operates are a myriad problems that confront staff daily - such as staff shortages, lack of equipment and strenuous working conditions.

Thus, yesterday's Sowetan report of a botched hip operation involving a 77-year-old woman at the hospital - which would have surprised a few, if any at all - underscores the hospital's parlous state.

It is the greatest irony that one patient, Magdeline Mvimbi, today counts herself lucky to emerge alive from the hospital - the very place she thought would bring her relief for a troublesome hip.

But the bizarre - if not comical - incident at the institution saw her being cut and immediately stitched up without the operation being completed.

This after the doctors were forced to abandon the operation after they discovered that the right equipment was not available.

Needless to say, this exposed her to infection which could result in serious complications in future. Why the equipment was not tested before the operation boggles the mind.

Mvimbi's experience sharply contrasts with the provisions of the Patient's Charter, which guarantees citizens prompt and efficient healthcare at all state-owned institutions, but compromises its integrity.

The whole episode smacks of extreme unprofessionalism that can only be mitigated by the dismissal of the hospital's top management.

Bara is ranked both the best academic hospital in this country and the largest public healthcare institution in the world.

Yet its ramshackle healthcare delivery belies it international standing.

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