R19bn backlog cripples province’s health

2011-11-17 07:12

The Eastern Cape department of health is facing a R19-billion infrastructure and maintenance backlog that is slowly crippling service delivery in the province.

The Dispatch Online reported today that the figure reportedly ballooned over the past five years and the decline continued with the widespread neglect of already aging and failing public healthcare centres.

This was revealed during a heated question-and-answer session between the provincial legislature’s health portfolio committee and the administration arm of the department in Bhisho.

Deputy director-general for clinical services Nomalanga Makwedini told the Dispatch on Tuesday that many clinics and hospitals had deteriorated so badly it would be better to “bulldoze” them and start afresh.

“Some of the medical centres need to be bulldozed outright. I mean, you visit some of these clinics and you can actually look through holes from one side to the other.”

In the 2010/2011 financial year, almost 70% of construction work under way at public healthcare facilities in the Eastern Cape had to be carried over to the new fiscal year.

Adding to the worsening neglect, the facilities development and maintenance programme (FDMP) failed to spend R535 million from its financial plan during the past fiscal year.

From April last year to March this year, the department’s eight programmes failed to spend a total of R569 million of its allocated R13-billion budget.

According to a committee’s analysis of the yearly report, spending trends show the FDMP failed to use 38% of its R1.4-billion budget.

The FDMP was expected to face the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) next week to explain the R19 billion backlog.

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