KZN health and DA bickering trumps Covid-19 vaccine rollout inspection

28 April 2021 - 18:06
Umkhumbane Community Health Centre in Cato Manor on the outskirts of Durban.
Image: Supplied Umkhumbane Community Health Centre in Cato Manor on the outskirts of Durban.

The DA has identified space, or capacity, challenges at one of the health-care facilities earmarked as a Covid-19 vaccination site. 

DA shadow minister for health Siviwe Gwarube on Wednesday visited the Umkhumbane Community Health Centre in Cato Manor on the outskirts of Durban. 

The visit, which included DA KwaZulu-Natal leader Francois Rodgers and party spokesperson on health in the province, Rishigen Viranna, was a launch of an oversight tour of vaccination sites across the country to ensure that provinces are ready for the second phase of the vaccine rollout.

“The Cato Manor facility neither has the space nor capacity to be able to roll out the proposed 500 vaccinations per day as they treat nearly 800 patients every single day. There are also security challenges and major infrastructure issues,” Rogers said. 

“We need to ensure that there is cold storage capacity, systems are prepared and the staff are ready for this critical phase of the rollout process.”

The oversight was meant to begin at the Phoenix Community Health Centre but the delegation was refused entry. 

A similar incident occurred last year, and eight months later the bickering between the provincial department of health and the DA continues. 

In August, a DA delegation was barred from entering Stanger Hospital for an oversight visit. The department of health cited “restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infections, which may be acquired within a hospital setting or imported by visitors”.

On Wednesday, the DA said it was “informed it would not be permitted entry to the vaccination site, despite our having followed due process by informing KZN’s department of health of our intention to visit”.

The department of health was not immediately available for comment. 

The DA has since announced that it will explore legal action against the provincial health MEC. Rogers said the public representatives have a duty to perform oversight roles and to keep the public informed on where the government falls short. 

“This critical role was made all the more evident today when we visited the Cato Manor Community Health Centre to assess its readiness in rolling out phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccine programme. While we did gain access in this case, our inspection revealed that this facility is nowhere close to being ready for the vaccine rollout,” he said.