In answer to a parliamentary question from the DA, the Minister for Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, revealed there has been seven hospital fires between May and August 2022. This is unacceptable.
Since January 2020, 17 hospitals across the country experienced fires, and while many were extinguished quickly and with minimal damage done, these fires highlight the lack of maintenance and failing infrastructure in our health facilities.
In May 2021, two patients lost their lives when a fire started in the Covid-ward at FH Odendaal Hospital in Modimolle. One of the patients, a prisoner, was chained to his bed and nurses were unable to get the bed out of his small room, while the guard could not be found to unlock his handcuffs. The bulk of the ward was gutted by fire and severely damaged.
Carltonville Hospital lost medical equipment and PPE in a fire and the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital suffered extensive losses in both infrastructure and medical equipment in April of 2021. The repairs and recovery of losses run into millions of rands.
The DA has continually raised the declining quality of health facilities and care in South Africa, but there has been little intervention by the ANC government to address collapsing infrastructure and lack of maintenance.
Inadequate budgets, management and prioritisation of security and care of patients across the board has resulted in loss of further infrastructure and facilities, putting patients at further risk.
The ANC government clearly does not care for the plight of the poor and vulnerable and their health is definitely not a priority. They continue to push for the unconstitutional National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, yet are unable to ensure that health facilities meet the most basic of standards.
The DA’s health care policy prioritises health and the DA-run Western Cape has put this into practice by ensuring proper budgeting and management of facilities giving patients access to quality health care.