Hospitals to be kept half full for 2010

2010-05-11 00:00

PATIENTS who rely upon KwaZulu-Natal’s public health service will have a rough ride during the Fifa World Cup, as Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo has been reported as saying that designated hospitals must be half full in preparation for the tournament.

A Sunday publication reported that Dhlomo said designated hospitals for the tournament must not do any elective surgeries such as ulcers and hernias for the duration of the tournament.

Reacting to the statement about keeping hospitals half full in preparation for a possible large-scale medical crisis, the Democratic Alliance’s KZN health spokesperson John Steenhuisen criticised KZN health officials for compromising the provincial health service.

It has been reported that designated hospital wards are to be freed to cater for tourists, in terms of Fifa guidelines. Apparently Fifa has assisted the national Health Department with funds to prepare for the tournament.

National health spokesperson Charity Hadebe would not confirm or deny the funding claim.

She referred The Witness to health national co-ordinator for 2010 Phumzile Kedana, who referred the reporter to Fifa.

Steenhuisen said KZN has a poor basic health track record, and that a ban on all elective surgeries during the tournament will add to an existing four-month backlog in health services.

He said while the World Cup is set to bring massive economic benefit to the province, it should not be at the expense of something so crucial.

“Of extreme concern are the conflicting reports that the public are receiving. Fifa is alleged to have provided the national Health Department with funding to provide for additional resources during the World Cup, yet no one has claimed to have seen any improvements in hospitals,” said Steenhuisen.

In response to Steenhuisen, KZN health spokesperson Chris Maxon said the MEC was talking about the rationalisation of services to enable hospitals to cater for emergency cases as well as the general population demands on healthcare delivery.

“This will require that we designate hospitals for dealing with specific healthcare demands.”

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