Free State Health created its own pandemic

04 Jul 2022 in Press Statements

Note to Editors: Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Mariette Pittaway MPL.

The Free State Public Health system is failing residents of the Free State and becoming another victim of a failed state.

Among many other serious issues, the waiting list for orthopedic surgery is so long, it has become a human rights violation.

At the Pelonomi Regional Hospital’s Orthopaedic ward in Mangaung, patients are lying on the floor on mattresses and sitting in chairs in a waiting room for days, waiting to be assisted.  The provincial backlog, according to the MEC’s March 2022 Budget Vote, was 2 662 procedures.

The MEC of Health in the Free State has been promising for the past three years that a “marathon of orthopaedic surgeries” will be arranged to catch up the backlog.  Needless to say, this has not happened.

Patients are not only at risk of losing life or limb, many of them have lost their jobs due to long absences from work.

Mrs Willemien Landman, a widow with three children, was admitted to Boitumelo Regional Hospital in Kroonstad in December 2021 following an accident. She broke her knee disk, pelvis socket and pelvis. She was informed by the orthopaedic surgeon that she would have to get a prosthesis in her hip. Seven months later, she has been prepped and wheeled to the operating theatre several times, only to be informed that the surgery would not take place. Reasons ranged from:

  • no apparatus was available;
  • there was no sterilised equipment;
  • air conditioners were not functioning in operating theatres;
  • there was no traction bed in the theatre;
  • no ICU beds were available;
  • narcotic gas was unavailable;
  • the surgeon fell ill; and
  • a traction bed was broken

The DA has frequently brought this to the attention of the MEC of Health, Ms Tsiu, as well as the Acting HOD of Health in the Free State, Mr Mahlatsi.  No replies have been received.  I raised this issue as a member’s statement in a sitting of the Free State Legislature, only for the MEC to reply that she is not aware of any such problems at Boitumelo Hospital. I have been communicating this problem to her since March of this year.

There are several reasons for the current dire situation in the Free State Public Health sector:

  • dilapidated devices;
  • shortage of professional staff;
  • lack of leadership;
  • out of stock consumables; and
  • although some institutions have generators, many of them do not have money or credit for diesel

Here are a few examples of the “pandemic” in Free State Health Care:

  • The Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli Regional Hospital in Qwa Qwa ran out of diesel on 26 May 2022. They were informed that diesel would be sent from Welkom, Matjhabeng – 270km away.  It was alleged that local suppliers were not paid and refused to supply the hospital.
  • On Monday, 27 June, parents rushed a baby to the Pax Community Health Centre in Viljoenskroon, after the ambulance they called did not arrive.  The clinic was unable to attend to the baby as the incident occurred during loadshedding and there was no diesel for the generator.

Ironicallly, both the Pelonomi and Boitumelo Regional hospitals “achieved” Ideal Hospital Status in 2021/22!

The DA will continue to put pressure on the Department and continue to alert the MEC and the HOD to the severe state of the Free State Health Department as they seem to be oblivious to the situation.  Lives and livelihoods are being lost due to a lack of political will and skewed priorities.