Health, DAFF and DTI to brief Parliament following DA request

On Wednesday, 28 March, the Departments of Health (DoH); Trade and Industry (DTI) and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) will brief Parliament in a joint sitting on the Listeriosis crisis, following a request by the DA.
This meeting follows an announcement by Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, earlier this month that traces of the Listeria bacterium have been identified at Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken factories. Despite the traces of Listeria at Enterprise and Rainbow facilities, we still cannot be certain of the primary source of this outbreak.
To date, more 180 people have sadly lost their lives. It is clear that the Department of Health cannot fight this outbreak on its own and we require a multi-industry approach to prevent a further loss of life. The three departments must use this joint sitting to address the following concerns:

  • What plans are in place to dispose of the contaminated meats;
  • What measures have been implemented to monitor and contain the further spread of the of the bacteria;
  • Whether the DoH has rolled out public education campaigns at schools and venders;
  • Whether hospitals and clinics have contingency plans in place to treat suspected cases of Listeriosis;
  • What plans DTI have put in place to monitor imports and exports of animal products; and
  • Whether DAFF has proper mechanisms for testing of live animals and animal products in place?

For the past few months, the DA has been engaging with experts across the Health, Trade and Agriculture industries who have raised concerns regarding the government’s reaction to this outbreak and the implications of this outbreak on food and job security.
The DA awaits this joint meeting and we trust that the relevant departments will brief Parliament on the collective work done to combat this outbreak effectively and what plans have been put in place to ensure that we do not have a repeat of this outbreak again.

Listeriosis: DA requests joint meeting of Health, DAFF and DTI committees

The DA has written to the Chairpersons of the Portfolio Committees on Trade and Industry; Health and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to request an urgent joint sitting on the Listeriosis crisis.
On Sunday, the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, announced that Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken have been identified as the sources of the current Listeriosis outbreak. While traces of the Listeria bacteria have been identified at Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken factories, we still cannot be one hundred percent sure that the bacteria has been contained.
There still is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety among the public, as the entire process to find the source of the Listeriosis was long and vague.
This outbreak has claimed more than 180 lives and the total number of infections currently stand at more than 900. According to the World Health Organization, South Africa’s Listeria outbreak is believed to be the largest-ever outbreak.
It is for this reason why the DA has requested this joint meeting, the public needs reassurance by all the relevant stakeholders will ensure that the Listeriosis outbreak will be addressed with the necessary urgency.
Minister Motsoaledi will also be making a statement in Parliament tomorrow and we urge him to us this opportunity to ease concerns and address the following key issues regarding the Listeria outbreak:

  • What plans are in place to dispose of the contaminated meats;
  • What measures have been implemented to monitor and contain the further spread of the of the bacteria;
  • Whether his department has rolled out public education campaigns at schools and venders;
  • Whether hospitals and clinics have contingency plans in place to adequately treat suspected cases of listeriosis; and
  • Pledge his commitment to find multi-departmental solutions.

The Minister needs to show decisive leadership and bring all the necessary role-players on board to fight this outbreak.
If the Departments of Trade and Industry, Health and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries fail to find urgent and holistic solutions to combat this outbreak, South Africa could potentially face serious financial implications, possible job losses; and potential food insecurity.
The DA has long maintained that there should be stricter guidelines for international food imports and that a national food control agency should be created in order to ensure the safety of South Africans.

Minister Motsoaledi must ensure drastic measures are followed by the food industry

Following repeated requests for an update on the Listeriosis outbreak, the DA welcomes Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi’s announcement today that the source of this virus has been traced.
The Minister confirmed that the source of the present outbreak is the food from Enterprise food production in Limpopo. The DA also welcomes the subsequent move by National Consumer Commission to issue all the companies involved with safety recall notices and that they be suspended from exporting their goods.
The National Consumer Commission (NCC) has in terms of Section 60(2) of the Consumer Protection Act this morning issued the manufacturers concerned with safety recall notices.
Section 60(2) of the Consumer Protection Act states that: “If the NCC has reasonable grounds to believe that any goods may be unsafe, or that there is a potential risk to the public from the continued use of or exposure to the good and the producer or importer of those goods has not taken any steps required by an applicable code contemplated in subsection the Commission, by written notice, may require that producer to”.
Minister Motsoaledi must now investigate and ensure that there are strict measures in place for the food industry to curb the spread of the world’s biggest Listeriosis outbreak.
The outbreak, which has already claimed 180 lives, is set to become the worst documented in global history. Since July 2017 the total number of infections stands at 915 countrywide.
Polony has been identified as a definite culprit, however there is a risk of cross contamination. This means that processed foods and other prepared meat products must be avoided, even from companies that are not being recalled.
People at high risk include pregnant women, neonates (first 28 days of life) very young infants, elderly persons and people with weakened immune system due to HIV or TB infections.
The public deserves to know which specific processed meats to throw away, and how to discard of it safely – without creating another health hazard.
The DA calls on Minister Motsoaledi to ensure these companies are thoroughly investigated for their role in this crisis and that drastic measures are followed by the food industry to ensure safety of unsuspecting consumers.

Minister Motsoaledi has no answers or update on world's largest Listeriosis outbreak

Today in Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, said that he cannot release the latest statistics on Listeria-related cases or deaths because he has not yet met with stakeholders due to “events in government and Parliament”.
The DA has repeatedly asked for an update on this crisis and has been met with silence. It clear that the reason for his silence is that he has no answers.
The Minister confirmed that these vital meetings on the outbreak were postponed due to “events in government and Parliament” in the run-up to SONA and former President Zuma’s refusal to step down.
Essentially the Minister was playing politics while our country is in the grips of the world’s largest Listeriosis outbreak.
Currently, there are 872 reported cases of Listeriosis across the country, and more than 160 people have lost their lives. According to reports, 57 people lost their lives last week alone.
Time is running out and Minister Motsoaledi must immediately address the nation and present the public with crucial information regarding Listeriosis. To date we still do not know the source of the deadly Listeria bacteria, nor do we have any clarity on the Department’s plans to combat the outbreak and inform citizens on preventative measures.
This outbreak has far-reaching consequences across various sectors, including the food and agriculture sectors. It is simply not good enough to sit by and wait for this crisis to solve itself.
We need strong and decisive leadership from the Minster. Services to our people cannot come to a halt purely because of political uncertainty in certain parties.

Minister Motsoaledi has no answers or update on world’s largest Listeriosis outbreak

Today in Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, said that he cannot release the latest statistics on Listeria-related cases or deaths because he has not yet met with stakeholders due to “events in government and Parliament”.

The DA has repeatedly asked for an update on this crisis and has been met with silence. It clear that the reason for his silence is that he has no answers.

The Minister confirmed that these vital meetings on the outbreak were postponed due to “events in government and Parliament” in the run-up to SONA and former President Zuma’s refusal to step down.

Essentially the Minister was playing politics while our country is in the grips of the world’s largest Listeriosis outbreak.

Currently, there are 872 reported cases of Listeriosis across the country, and more than 160 people have lost their lives. According to reports, 57 people lost their lives last week alone.

Time is running out and Minister Motsoaledi must immediately address the nation and present the public with crucial information regarding Listeriosis. To date we still do not know the source of the deadly Listeria bacteria, nor do we have any clarity on the Department’s plans to combat the outbreak and inform citizens on preventative measures.

This outbreak has far-reaching consequences across various sectors, including the food and agriculture sectors. It is simply not good enough to sit by and wait for this crisis to solve itself.

We need strong and decisive leadership from the Minster. Services to our people cannot come to a halt purely because of political uncertainty in certain parties.

Health Department fails to trace 82% of Listeriosis patients

Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi’s revelation that his Department has traced only 18% of Listeriosis patients is shocking. Minister Motsoaledi must urgently brief the public on his plan to track down the other 82% of patients to establish the full extent of this looming national crisis.

The Minister confirmed that while 727 people have contracted the infection, only 134 of these patients have been traced so far. It seems odd that the Department knows how many cases of Listeriosis there are but are unable to trace those diagnosed.

The DA’s thoughts are with the families of the 61 patients who have died after being infected and are very concerned that the Health Department has not still been able to establish the exact source of contamination.

Tracing the other infected patients must be prioritised as these people may be key to finding the source of the infection and to preventing any further loss of life. It is an indictment on both the Health Department and the ANC for their failure to step up efforts to end these infections.

Further, this outbreak may have a negative impact on the local food producers as some countries, such as Rwanda, have banned the import of various foods from South Africa. This could lead to further import bans from other countries and could have a devastating effect on the economy and jobs.

Minister Motsoaledi must immediately trace the other infected patients and establish what the source of this outbreak is in order to prevent any further loss of life.

KZN Oncology crisis: Minister Motsoaledi must place KZN department under administration

The DA will submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to the Department of Health, to gain access to the letter with recommendations that the Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi sent to the KZN Premier, Willies Mchunu.
The DA is gravely concerned with Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi’s refusal to place the severely failing KZN Health Department under administration, following the oncology crisis and the chronic lack of accountability for the unnecessary loss of lives.
In a reply to the DA’s oral question, the Minister stated that he will not place the KZN Health Department under administration.
The DA rejects this without question and will continue fighting for the National Health Department to urgently intervene as it has become clear that the KZN Health Department cannot correct itself.
The first step to turn this dire situation around, is to relieve the Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo of his duties as he has dismally failed the citizens of KZN  by allowing the healthcare services to deteriorate under his watch.
KZN is currently faced with major problems in oncology, nephrology, pharmacology, maternity, urology, mortuary services and Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS). There’s an array of serious challenges being experienced by the province such as:

  • the extreme staff shortages;
  • a lack of functional health technology machines due to the KZN Health Department’s failures to fulfil its obligations;
  • and serious human resource and procurement issues which the Minister had confirmed.

These are but some of the reasons that MEC Dhlomo, as the head from which all the failure in the Health Department emanates, must be removed immediately.
It was revealed in a report by the Ministerial Task Team that visited four KZN hospitals from 13 – 15 November 2017 that: “…and in likelihood other hospitals and health facilities in the province the rights of patients to have access to health care services are indeed being violated”.
This report further revealed that 80% of medical negligence cases are resulting from poor systems and practices with the majority of those affected being children and women.
Minister Motsoaledi must take the plight of South Africans seriously and hold those responsible for this entire crisis accountable.
The DA will continue putting pressure on the Minister and the Health Department in order to ensure there is improvement in the KZN Health Department and that every citizen receives adequate health services.

Minister Motsoaledi must explain massive 38 000 vacancies in public health system

The DA will write to the Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi to demand an explanation as to why he has failed to ensure a massive 38 000 vacancies in the public healthcare system are filled, which has been exposed in a reply to a DA Parliamentary question.
These vacancies directly impact the delivery of proper healthcare to South Africans and cannot be allowed to continue.
It is a clear indictment on Minister Motsoaledi and the ANC-government for their ineffectiveness at putting the needs of the people first and above their own internal party politics.
What is more alarming is that these vacancies place extra burden on the existing medical personnel, who are under-staffed and already work long hours.
It is, therefore, possible that there is a connection between these vacancies and the fact that billions have been paid out in medical malpractice cases.  Another Parliamentary reply revealed that a staggering R2.6 billion has been paid out for claims for wrong diagnosis, botched operations, botched amputations, anaesthetic deaths, uninformed consent and large amounts of obstetrics, gynaecology and maternity claims.
This points to a chronic failure by Minister Mostoaledi to carry out his mandate to ensure South Africans get the healthcare that they deserve.
The shortage of specialists and nurses is one of the root causes of the crisis that is causing public healthcare facilities to collapse.
Minister Motsoaledi must prioritise the filling of these 38 000 vacancies if he is at all serious about improving the public health system.

Irregular expenditure at National Health Laboratory Service increases by R990 million

According to the National Health Laboratory Service’s (NHLS) Annual Report, irregular expenditure increased by R990 million in just one year. Even more shocking is fact that its deficit increased by R2.2 billion over the same period, from a surplus of R273 million the previous year, to a R1.9 billion deficit.
The DA will write to the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, to demand that he provide a detailed plan of action to address the serious financial problems at the NHLS as a matter of urgency as these revelations could have devastating consequences for people’s lives.
Minister Motsoaledi must also provide this plan of action in no less than one month as this gross mismanagement of the NHLS’s finances no puts the lives of the more than 80 percent of South Africans who rely on it to diagnose HIV/Aids, Malaria, Cancer and Tuberculosis (TB).
A failure to produce this plan would be a damning indictment on Minister Motsoaledi for neglecting this looming crisis.
Included in the irregular expenditure are the following shocking figures:

  • R575 million paid despite the contracts expiring; and
  • R195 million spent on payments to suppliers with no contracts in place at all.

The NHLS is obviously in serious financial trouble and questions must be also be asked about it financial management and how it got to such serious levels in just one year.
The NHLS plays a vital role in the South African public health through epidemiology, surveillance and outbreak response activities. The majority of our people rely on the NHLS to provide them with pathology services in order to determine whether or not they have life-threatening and possibly contagious diseases.
The DA will not sit back and watch as the NHLS is run to the ground and threatens the lives of our people who have no other alternative to turn to.

#KZNOncologyCrisis: Motsoaledi admits MEC Dhlomo’s mismanagement to blame

Today, during the Portfolio Committee meeting on Health, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi admitted that the ongoing KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) oncology crisis was due to the severe lack of human resources and procurement issues.
The time has now come for the Minister to do the right thing and remove MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo from his position. The MEC clearly does not care about the sick and vulnerable who depend on him.
As the MEC, it is his responsibility to ensure that hospitals under his supervision have the necessary skilled human resources to operate live saving machinery.
However, during the meeting today, MEC Dhlomo dodged accountability and shifted the blame to anyone and anything, in an attempt to sugar coat the tragic reality of his failing leadership.
MEC Dhlomo simply cannot sugar coat the deaths of hundreds of people due to his mismanagement.
There must be justice for those who lost their lives. And the DA demands that heads must roll for this crisis, as it’s abundantly clear that the MEC failed cancer patients in KZN due to his gross mismanagement.
During the proceedings, Minister Motsoaledi also announced urgent intervention by the National Department of Health. The Minister proposed that a task team be established to oversee the improvement of oncology services in KZN. Although we welcome this promise by the Minister, it is too little too late.
The truth is that the Minister had been aware of this crisis since 2014.
The DA reiterates the finding from the South African Human Rights Commission report: “The Commission cannot find that the Respondents complied with their obligation to provide access to health care services to cancer patients.  Accordingly, the Department of Health, both nationally and provincially failed to take reasonable measures to progressively realise the right to have access to health care services in the KZN province”.
Minister Motsoaledi must act urgently to address this crisis and act immediately to hold the MEC to account.  There is no other option, he must be dismissed for his role in this crisis.