E Cape crippled by R19bn health backlog

2011-11-17 07:21
East London - The Eastern Cape health department is facing a R19bn infrastructure and maintenance backlog that is slowly crippling service delivery in the province, the Daily Dispatch reported on Thursday.

The figure reportedly ballooned over the past five years and the decline continued with the widespread neglect of already ageing and failing public healthcare centres.

This was revealed during a heated question-and-answer session between the provincial legislature’s health portfolio committee and the administration arm of the department in Bhisho.

Deputy director-general for clinical services Nomalanga Makwedini told the Dispatch that many clinics and hospitals had deteriorated so badly it would be better to “bulldoze” them and start afresh.

“Some of the medical centres need to be bulldozed outright. I mean, you visit some of these clinics and you can actually look through holes from one side to the other.”

Development and maintenance programme

In the 2010/2011 financial year, almost 70% of construction work under way at public healthcare facilities in the Eastern Cape had to be carried over to the new fiscal year.

Adding to the worsening neglect, the facilities development and maintenance programme (FDMP) failed to spend R535m from its financial plan during the past fiscal year.

From April 2010 to March 2011, the department’s eight programmes failed to spend a total of R569m of its allocated R13bn budget.

According to a committee’s analysis of the annual report, spending trends show the FDMP failed to use 38% of its R1.4bn budget.

The FDMP was expected to face the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) next week to explain the R19bn backlog.

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