Dept in about-turn on Pongola Hospital

2013-05-13 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Health Department has made an about-turn regarding the funding for the privately owned Pongola Hospital after it reviewed its earlier decision to turn down the hospital’s funding request.

Department head Dr Sibongile Zungu disclosed last week that the hospital had been allocated R2,3 million after the community made submissions and presentations to Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo. This funding will be only for 12 months, however.

“The submissions were such that there was a review based on them and the MEC gave them about R2,3 million,” Zungu said.

“They are accommodated only for 12 months. Beyond that we are not going to be able to continue,” she added.

Makhosazana Mdlalose of the Democratic Alliance welcomed the decision to continue funding the hospital.

“While it is admirable that this potential health crisis has been averted for the time being, one can only wonder what led to the department’s turn-around,” said Mdlalose, who had been pleading with the department to reconsider its decision.

It was reported earlier this year that the hospital faced closure after the department declined its request for allocation in the 2013/14 financial year due to budget cuts.

The Inkatha Freedom Party and DA called on the department to reverse its decision.

At the time Dhlomo said the hospital’s request for funding was turned down because it was privately owned. He said the hospital was built in 1970 by private developers, but it had ended up being funded with taxpayers’ funds for almost 40 years.

Last week, Zungu said her department was committed to improve public health service in the Pongola area, adding that the department was improving the clinic in the area and had an ambulance ready to transfer patients to Itshelejuba Hospital.

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