SA at work: R1.6bn shot for Eastern Cape health

2014-02-16 14:00

Healthcare in the Eastern Cape has been thrown a R1.6?billion lifeline to fix and build new facilities.

The provincial department of health says the money will be used for hospitals, clinics and community health centres. Spokesperson Siyanda Manana said the OR Tambo district would be the major focus because there were so many dilapidated structures in that area.

He said the district was “like no other” from an infrastructure point of view. “There are also high maternal deaths in that area due to the challenges of infrastructure, so we are trying to curb that and make the district which has these unique challenges work,” Manana said.

But he promised other areas of the Eastern Cape would not be neglected.

This is how the department plans to use the money:

  • Upgrading Zithulele, Bambisana, St Barnabas and Sulenkama hospitals;
  • Constructing a psychiatric unit at St Barnabas Hospital;
  • Constructing a community health centre in Flagstaff;
  • Rehabilitating St Lucy’s, Canzibe and Isilimela hospitals;
  • Rehabilitating and refurbishing 40 clinics over a three-year period; and
  • Constructing 17 clinics that will be built from scratch.

The investment has been greeted enthusiastically by members of the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition, which released a damning report about the state of healthcare in the province last year.

In a petition handed to the provincial government, the coalition?–?which includes civic movements, nurses and doctors?–shared affidavits detailing the alarming conditions in many Eastern Cape facilities.

This week Anele Yawa, the national chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign, said the organisation welcomed the money being set aside, but was concerned that it largely focused on the OR Tambo district.

“We are concerned about health facilities in the entire province, not only in one area of the province.

“So as much as we clap hands and welcome the initiative from government, we are left asking: What about other parts of the province where public healthcare facilities continue to be appalling?”

Kholiswa Tota, Eastern Cape provincial secretary of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA, described the budgetary boost as a victory.

“We are excited. We want to see change, but we only pray that they implement what they are promising. “If they implement these, our nurses will be able to have some confidence and have a sense of pride knowing they are working under conditions which are fit for human beings.

“This is long overdue and we are glad that our efforts are paying off,” Tota said.

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