The Health Budget 2012

On April 24, I had the privilege to be present at a function where Denise Robinson MP spoke on the Health Budget.

Much of what she said was enlightening and worth repeating, so I have decided to share some of the nuggets with you here, over the next couple of days.

She began, as all of us must, by acknowledging that the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, inherited a health department that is in deep trouble. The media has highlighted some of the problems. “In the Weekend Post I read of the “Hospital of Horrors” referring to the dilapidated Elizabeth Donkin psychiatric hospital in Port Elizabeth where a disturbed patient recently committed suicide after ward conditions became unbearable because of overcrowding and other factors.There was no proper monitoring by nurses because their station had been removed to accommodate yet more patients.

Is this the mark of a country which has a Patient’s Rights Charter, a Constitution that upholds human rights, dignity and the right to a safe, healthy environment?

Why do we read of abusive, uncaring nursing staff?Can it be that their working conditions are so bad that they are demoralised and at the end of their tether?I believe that nurses at Cacadu have not been paid for January, February and March.

In some municipalities, cash collections have had to be made to buy electricity to keep the fridges in hospitals running so that the medication and vaccines for babies don’t go off.

Is this perhaps one of the reasons we have had so many tragic deaths of babies in neonatal units?

The overcrowding and lack of resources at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, horrific conditions at the Dr George Mukhari Hospital, the shortages of drugs, disprins and equipment at Baragwaneth, the deaths of 180 babies at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha, all bring shame to our nation.

What will the National Department do to wake up Hospital Management and get competent dedicated professionals into State Institutions?”

The questions that Denise Robinson raised cannot fail to trouble us all. I know that the fact that we have concerns need not cripple us. There is much being done to address the challenges we are facing, and over the course of these blogs I hope to highlight some of the amazing and positive work that is being done, so keep reading!

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