Fix Eastern Cape health system or face court action, government warned

2013-09-11 14:28

The Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition has given government a month to a come up with a solution to saving the Eastern Cape’s collapsing health system.

The civil society group says it will not hesitate to take government to court if the need arises.

The group held a press briefing in Johannesburg today where it released a damning report on the state of public healthcare in the Eastern Cape.

The report contained horrific stories from patients who lost their loved ones as a result of the failing health system. It also contained affidavits from nurses and doctors who told of the allegedly inhumane conditions they were forced to work in.

Former Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob, who is also a member of the coalition, said he hoped it would not reach a stage where they would have to take the government to court in order to force it to fulfil its constitutional obligation.

“I have read the affidavits from patients and healthcare workers and they are horrendous. They bring tears to your eyes,” he said.

Yacoob said government owed it to the people to fix the systemic problems in the Eastern Cape.

“If the minister of health and the provincial MEC doesn’t do something we will be forced to seek intervention from the courts. We will be reluctant to do so but if we have to do it, it will be done,” he said.

Mark Heywood, the chairperson of Section27 – one of the civil society groups that is part of the coalition – agreed.

He said: “The intention is not to drag government to court but to ensure that the people of the Eastern Cape receive quality healthcare.”

“We have given MEC Sicelo Gqobana 30 days to come with a plan on how and when he plans to solve the problems in the health system. If he doesn’t do anything, as he often does, we will not hesitate to take further action,” he said.

The report was handed over to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi at the weekend. On Monday he met with the coalition and promised to report back to them by the end of this month.

Heywood said: “The minister was shocked (by the content).”

“He sent a team to investigate and committed to report to us by September 30 on what his team found,” he said.

The coalition includes the Treatment Action Campaign, Section27, the Rural Doctors Association, and nurses union Denosa, among others.

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