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DA accused Gauteng health of creating nutrition crisis

Late payments 'cause' food shortages at hospitals

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is one of 26 hospitals experiencing food shortages in Gauteng.
Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is one of 26 hospitals experiencing food shortages in Gauteng.
Image: Mduduzi Ndzingi

Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Pretoria lacked chicken, fish and frozen vegetables for four months at the beginning of the year, the department of health has revealed in responses in the legislature.

The facility was among 26 public hospitals that experienced food shortages in the province.

"Milk was unavailable from February to May and bread was out of stock for a week in May,” said health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko in the response. 

In the written response to DA Gauteng shadow health MEC Jack Bloom, Nkomo-Ralehoko said that the cause of food shortages were mostly due to suppliers not being paid, contracts expiring or companies not delivering. 

Two hospitals, Bronkhorstspruit and Lenasia South had to borrow food from other hospitals. 

Other hospitals that struggle with food shortages include, Charlotte Maxeke, Chris Hani Baragwanath, Edenvale, Sebokeng, Tambo Memorial, Thelle Mogoerane, Yusuf Dadoo, Bertha Gxowa, Pretoria West, Jubilee, Bheki Mlangeni Tshwane District, Carletonville, Tembisa, Tshwane Rehab, Cullinan Care Rehab, Sizwe Tropical Dise, Tara H Moross and Kalafong.  

The document also reveals that at times patients from Kalafong Hospital did not receive any meals at all.  

“This will lead to hospital-induced malnutrition in the long run. Their food shortages include dairy products, processed and frozen vegetables, fish and chicken. They only have a daily amount of R2,000 petty cash which is too little for 700 patients," Bloom said. 

Hospitals who were lucky enough not to experience food shortages include the Far East Rand, Mamelodi, Pholosong, South Rand, Heidelberg, Kopanong and Sterkfontein. Although Weskoppies psychiatric hospital said they did not have shortages, they have to do RFQs (request for quotes) and alternative arrangements to ensure food for their patients. 

Speaking to Sowetan’s sister publication, TimesLIVE last week, Gauteng department spokesperson Motalatale Modiba said the previous practice of contracting a single supplier for a broad range of items, such as dairy products, red meat, fish, bread and vegetables had been reviewed as it had proven to be the main contributing factor in inconsistent food supply. 

“The process to appoint multiple suppliers is in its final stages to ensure patient care is not compromised by service providers who lack the capacity to meet the needs of facilities,” said Modiba. 

“[The department] wishes to reassure families of patients and the public that in instances where a specific food item was unavailable, other arrangements were made to ensure sustained diet for patients. For example, items such as dumplings, mash potatoes and bread would be served in place of rice and pap, while [to replace] chicken, pilchards, macaroni and cheese, and beans would be used.” 

However, Bloom does not believe that a supplier is the problem and says late payments from the department are the cause of these problems. 

“Their non-payment problem is deep-rooted and chronic, with only 41% paid within due time according to the latest quarterly report,” he concluded. 

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