Sick department

2008-06-14 00:00

KwaZulu-Natal’s MEC for Health Peggy Nkonyeni appears to have much more to answer for than merely persecuting rural doctor Mark Blaylock for lese-majesty in consigning her image to the dustbin. She has now delayed the release of an official inquiry into the Manguzi Hospital and extended the remit of the investigation to include the entire Umkhanyakude District. There seems little doubt that personal rather than professional concerns are at the root of this sniffing-out process.

Her personal pique might just be forgivable were she heading a well-run department. However, this is far from being the case. Her department, together with the royal household, has been singled out as the province’s worst spenders. Despite having overspent its budget by R1,2 billion in the last financial year, the provincial Health Department has a shortage of 3 067 doctors and specialists — 32% of the national total. It would seem that the money used to fund the commission of inquiry could well have been more usefully spent recruiting suitably qualified staff and trying to undo the damage done by the MEC’s ill-considered and fatuous comment that rural doctors are motivated by profit.

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