MEC needs to address glaring irregularities in Health Department

2017-04-25 07:40

THE R10,5 billion medical negligence claims against the Department of Health are a symptom of the extremely poor management of this department which, together with glaring financial irregularities, is what the MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo and his national counterpart should be addressing (The Witness, March 20).

Instead of building local capacity, including new medical schools, huge sums of money have been wasted in sending students to Cuba for medical training which does not equip them for work in South Africa.

This disastrous policy, together with the employment of foreign doctors who are often unsuitable for management positions, have impacted negatively on locally trained doctors, who cannot find work.

While medical posts are being frozen it seems that increasing numbers are employed in administrative positions.

Grossly irregular procurement practices, some of which flout Treasury regulations, are gobbling up the Health budget and killing patients.

Dhlomo is begging patients not to sue for negligence, yet as MEC he bears responsibility for the irregular award of a contract reportedly worth R2,5 billion to Resultant Finance, binding the department to procure its equipment through them, which is a deal that is apparently under investigation by Treasury.

The department’s failure to service top-of-the range new radiotherapy machines at Addington Hospital is tantamount to criminal negligence.

When these were installed in 2010, the waiting time for starting treatment was two weeks, but since 2013, patients have had to join the existing queues at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital, waiting months or even years for treatment.

Countless numbers have died because they did not receive radiation early enough to stop the disease progressing and spreading.

Dhlomo’s reference to a machine at Addington Hospital treating 10 patients a day is misleading.

In 2015, a company belonging to an oncologist was given the job of servicing the machines without any tender having been advertised and awarded, and before the company was registered.

One of the machines worked briefly but neither machine is working now. It is probable that the company concerned, which is not an authorised service provider for these radiation emitting machines, has been paid millions of rand.

We believe there is a case to be made for holding the MEC, the national minister (who knows about the malfunctioning machines) and the provincial executive responsible for the pain, suffering and deaths of countless poor cancer patients.

MARY DE HAAS

POONITHA NAIDOO

Medical Rights Advocacy Network (Meran)

KwaZulu-Natal

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