HEALTH MEc under fire over boards

LIMPOPO residents have given health and social development MEC Mariam Sekgabutla until the end of this year to appoint hospital board members throughout the province.

Sowetan was yesterday inundated with calls from angry residents who threatened to plunge the province into turmoil if Sekgabutla did not heed their call to appoint board members.

The residents said that since the board members were elected in April this year, they had been waiting for Sekgabutla to officially appoint them.

The disgruntled residents said they had expected Sekgabutla to appoint the board members soon after she took over from former health MEC Seaparo Sekoati.

"We have waited for ages for the appointment of these boards but each time we consult, they send us from pillar to post," said Selabaledi Nkoana of Jane Furse in the Sekhukhune area.

"All they say is that they are still addressing some logistics."

Edmond Mbetse of the Speak Out programme in Namakgale, Phalaborwa, said they wanted the boards to be appointed so that they could have a say in the day-to-day running of the hospitals.

Mbetse said apart from acting as a mirror of the community and the health department, a hospital board also served as a link between the community and the department.

"Without this link, we will swim in a pool of confusion and become less informed on vital issues that concern our health and that of our children, " he said.

"Since April people have registered serious complaints with the Speak Out programme on issues such as hospitality, shortage of medicine, treatment and the general conduct of nurses, doctors and other hospital officials," Mbetse said.

"We are unable to address the problems because our link, which is the hospital board, has not been appointed.

"This is not a war, we have nothing against Sekgabutla, but we will soon have something against her if she does not take the interests of the people she serves to heart," he said.

Sekgabutla was not available for comment at the time of going to press, but departmental spokesperson Selby Makgotho confirmed that no appointments had been made since board members were elected in April this year.

Makgotho said the department was busy compiling a policy that would regulate all the boards in a way that would make them serve the interests of the people and that of the department with precision and distinction.

"We hope to complete the policy by the end of March," he said.