Friday 12 July

CAPE TOWN – National health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and newly appointed Head of the Eastern Cape health department Dr Thobile Mbengashe today addressed the Portfolio Committee on Health regarding plans to address the crisis in the province.

Committee chair Mr Bevan Goqwana acknowledged that the briefing had been called after the committee had seen the SECTION27/TAC report “Death and Dying in the Eastern Cape”.

Mr Goqwana said the committee needed to understand “what is happening” after reading the report. He questioned the minister and the health department on their chances of succeeding in the province when “the leadership is still the same” adding that it was “worrying”.

The Minister said that OR Tambo had special problems and was “one of the most difficult” districts, which is why they included it as an NHI pilot district. Dr Mbengashe acknowledged that the environment in the province was “very difficult”.

SECTION27 also notes a call by one of the committee members for the MEC to step down or be fired, accusing him of misleading the country. The member made the comments while the Minister was outside the meeting and he was urged by the Committee chair and other members to repeat his statement to the Minister on his return. He proceeded to repeat his call for the MEC to be fired.

SECTION27, a member of the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition, remains committed to working with both the Eastern Cape and national health departments to develop a turn-around plan for the province. The plan needs to be responsive to the challenges in the province with targets, timeframes and short, medium and long-term indicators.

The plan must be costed and budgeted for and include a sound Human Resources strategy that takes into account measures to recruit and retain health care workers in the most under-resourced areas.

The Coalition will in the next few days be providing a detailed analysis of the Eastern Cape health department’s response and later a framework for a turnaround plan for the province. The Coalition is still waiting for the Eastern Cape Premier, the provincial ANC and the Eastern Cape portfolio committee on health to respond to our requests for a meeting.

For more information contact:

Mark Heywood SECTION27 – 083 634 8806

Anso Thom SECTION27 – 082 466 7822

Anele Yawa TAC Chairperson – 073 555 8849