The special SECTION27 and TAC investigative report into the collapsing health system in the Cape is a wake-up call to all concerned about the constitutional right to health and human rights.
The Black Sash commends the report for presenting us all with the human face of persistently appalling health statistics in the Eastern Cape. In the context of unacceptably high mortality and morbidity statistics, as well as poor and often non-existent interventions, it was vital that a report of this kind make visible “the people and their pictures.” We know that it is a mere glimpse of the thousands of stories that the more than 6 million people can tell about the failure of the health system in this province.
In May 2010, we helped to elicit public preference for health system reform, including the NHI, as part of a national project ( http://www.blacksash.org.za/index.php/eastern-cape). During 2011 and 2012, we worked with scores of community organisations in CMAP (http://www.blacksash.org.za/index.php/sash-in-action/community-monitoring-and-advocacy-programme) who monitored conditions in their communities, including basis health care services. From these Eastern Cape civil society leaders, we learned about the pervasive and chronic shortage of medical staff in both hospitals and clinics, the shortage of essential medicine, overcrowded clinics and long queues. We were told of people being sent home without seeing medical staff. We understood how the right to social security (and specifically disability assistance) is negatively affected by insufficient access to doctors. There was anger about persistent corruption and theft. We heard how newly born children often bore the brunt of insufficient medical supplies, as the sad life of baby Ikho so painfully demonstrates.
Since then, whilst significant work in terms national health policy has been achieved, the crisis on the ground remains in the Eastern Cape. Today, as we march with other civil society organisations to the Eastern Cape Legislature, the Black Sash has resolved, after careful consideration, to formally join the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition campaign to work together to fix the Eastern Cape Health system. We welcome the response of the Minister of Health who has announced there will be a national task team to “find corrective measures and hold people accountable for failing to deliver acceptable healthcare to our people” ( http://www.health-e.org.za/2013/09/12/task-team-probe-healthcare-meltdown/).
We consider this march as a line drawn in the sand. We must stand together against those who prevent the right to health from become a reality for all people in South Africa.
For more information, please contact:
National Advocacy Manager, Black Sash
Tel: 082 748 5621, 021 686 6952
Black Sash Eastern Cape
Tel: (041) 487 3288