OPINION: ‘Healthcare workers right to march’

DEAR Editor,-

The DA welcomes the announcement that South African Medical Association (SAMA) healthcare workers will march on May 5 in protest against the shocking decline of health services in the province.

While KZN’s Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo has made every attempt to deny that problems exist, he cannot escape from damning claims by healthcare workers’ themselves which have exposed both him and his department.

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SAMA members have every right to be aggrieved. The DA is aware of the numerous instances where the MEC has threatened them with being fired if they so much as talk to the media.

This high-handed and peremptory approach is common, as is the victimisation, which is adding insult to their dreadful working conditions.

The DA has for a number of years challenged the MEC and his senior officials on the state of the DoH. The naked truth is that KZN has a severe shortage of medical staff, broken equipment at numerous facilities, crumbling infrastructure and a shoddy medicine supply system. This while curable cancers are becoming incurable.

Staff and patient security is also being compromised with a psychiatric patient allegedly murdered by another patient. Meanwhile, queues are becoming longer and doctors and nurses are being forced to work longer hours, a situation which inevitably leads to burn-out, the risk of more mistakes and ultimately dissatisfied patients.

Instead of dealing with these crises, the MEC’s most recent response was to attempt to ridicule the DA during a sitting of the provincial legislature. This to the amusement of his ANC colleagues who were present.

If anything, this has highlighted just how little the ANC cares about the suffering of the people of our province while it clings to a failed cadre deployment system.

While the march next week is of the utmost importance and the right of everyone who will be marching, the DA calls on workers not to compromise the already severe inadequacies of the department.

It can be just as effective even if only ten healthcare professionals attend since they will be representing every health sector worker and every patient who is a victim of a service that is falling apart.

The right to proper healthcare is enshrined in our country’s constitution and the DA in KZN is committed to working with SAMA to ensure that the MEC is held accountable. As the political head of KZN’s health department, the buck stops with him.

DR IMRAN KEEKA, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson Health

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