The Eastern Cape public healthcare system has been battling with staff shortages and a lack of resources. These shortcomings have been exacerbated by Covid-19. Hospitals in the province are full and the numbers of patients who are infected with coronavirus are increasing. What is happening there, is the result of years of neglect by the Eastern Cape government (especially the health department). Will they finally take the drastic action needed to wrest the situation from total collapse or will they continue to stand idly by whilst more people die. As it stands, the latter is proving true.
In a shocking turn of events recently, Covid-19 test kits were found dumped on the side of the N2 between East London and King William’s Town. One of the kits was labelled for Grey Hospital in King William’s Town. So far they have only released a statement saying The Department of Health has condemned the dumping of medical waste. This is not the time for statements condemning what has happened. Rather it should be the time for the national government to act and for those found responsible for the worsening crises be held accountable.
Dora Nginza hospital made the headlines last week when pictures surfaced on social media of expectant mothers lining the passages of the maternity ward, sleeping on the floors and chairs. This happened after the province spent about R10 million on rickety scooters. That R10 million should have rather been used to buy beds instead of scooters. It’s quite clear that the urgent needs in this regard were beds not scooters. This clearly shows that the government of the province doesn’t prioritise the lives of the citizens.
What is striking about this province, is that it’s the only one where health workers have been protesting about the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s). This shows that the Eastern Cape government is dragging its feet. A doctor at Livingstone Hospital in the province, speaking on behalf of colleagues, said that the facility was “critically understaffed” and that it faced difficulty in getting stock of PPEs. Six clinics in Buffalo City Metro have been shut as staff test positive for Covid-19. However the Eastern Cape Health Ministry continues to turn a blind eye to all these issues.
There have been calls for Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba to step down. This comes after her failure to act decisively in containing the spread of Covid-19 in the province. Currently she is the epitome of a negligent province that continues to ignore their people and look after their own interests.
Provinces receive the bulk of their revenue from national government in the form of financial grants yet the Eastern Cape the provincial government is using them when they are most needed. It is most probably the biggest reasons why it has the unwanted tag of the poorest province in South Africa. The Eastern Cape needs radical change. The people of the Eastern Cape should call on national government to intervene in the looting of money and maladministration that is taking place. Perhaps firing the current government officials in the province could be the final solution.