Sick people in South Africa are suffering because the country’s health care services are going downhill fast. The solution to the problem cannot be found in Cuba nor in National Health Insurance (NHI). It lies with a government that really cares about its people.
Provincial hospitals have become morgues instead of places where people can recover. In spite of the Minister’s competence, his colleagues on provincial level are busy causing the deaths of patients.
Nursing staff’s hard work and commitment under difficult circumstances are commendable, but unfortunately it is not enough to turn the situation around.
The decline is not attributable to insufficient budgets, but human factors: misadministration, corruption and looting with impunity. Incompetent hospital managers are appointed in contravention of the Department’s stipulations, but there are no consequences to bear.
An example of the failing system is a six-year-old girl who was brutally raped near Kroonstad a few years ago. The police took the young girl to a nearby hospital where the nursing staff handed her a painkiller and told her that nothing was wrong.
The police could see that she was in severe pain and took her to the Bongani hospital, approximately 80km from there. There she underwent emergency surgery. What happened to her is happening on a daily basis right across the country because of incompetent and untrained medical staff.
On top of that, health administration is more worried about its own fate than about the patients’.
The solution is not National Health Insurance. A public health care system that is functioning properly, which South Africa does not have at present, is a prerequisite for such a universal health care scheme.
Health insurance will only add to the burden on the health care system and will not improve the situation.
If the problems at provincial departments are not addressed, nothing will work. The money that is supposed to go towards the treatment of patients, gets stolen. Only a government that really cares will be able to turn the country’s health care services around.
Wouter Wessels l FF Plus