Take stock Mr Minister, and heal SA

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

South Africa's health system is bed ridden, sick and in need of a cure.

This much has become clear notwithstanding Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's statements on Tuesday that public health was merely experiencing overcrowding, long waiting times and diminishing quality at some hospitals.

Motsoaledi was at pains to point out that the healthcare system was still able to provide treatment to 4.2 million people with HIV, care for 300 000 tuberculosis patients and had improved care for pregnant women with the MomConnect mobile application.

But a report by the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) showed that only five of the 696 hospitals and clinics it inspected in 2016/2017 complied with norms and standards to achieve 80% "pass mark".

The OHSC is a statutory body charged with assessing the quality of hospitals and clinics.

In recent months Motsoaledi has been hopping from one crisis to another from North West to Gauteng where health workers shut down hospitals and turned patients away, raising a myriad of complaints including poor hospital management.

The North West health has since been placed under administration.

Yesterday it was reported that the SA Committee of Medical Deans has called for more provinces to be put under national administration and for public hearings into the state of healthcare to be conducted.

The committee warned of the risk of an even more severe shortage of specialist doctors. This was on top of another crisis of oncology that emerged in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this year. There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence of healthcare trauma told daily by this newspaper and others from Free State to Gauteng and beyond.

Motsoaledi's passion and desire to build an equitable health system that benefits all, especially the poor, cannot trump the rights of those at the receiving end of poor services.

We accept there have been many improvements in making quality healthcare accessible to more South Africans since 1994, especially the poor. But this is not the time for one to blow their own trumpet when healthcare is collapsing under their watch.

It would do Motsoaledi a world of good to acknowledge his failures and work on improving.

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