Patricia Kopane MP
DA Shadow Minister of Health
It is clear that critical hospital equipment shortages in Limpopo are endangering the lives of patients and infringing on their right to have access to health care services.
Minster of Health Aaron Motsoaledi must spend a day walking in the shoes of Limpopo hospital patients and frustrated doctors who do not have access to basic essential hospital equipment and take cognisance of the human costs of this crisis.
Today, my colleague and I from the Limpopo legislature, Desiree van der Walt MPL, visited the Lebowakgomo, Zebedelia and WF Knobel hospitals in Limpopo.
We assessed first-hand the conditions faced by patients and staff.
We discovered that reports and whistle-blower information indicating that hospitals in Limpopo are experiencing widespread shortages of equipment were indeed the tip of an iceberg.
Our site visit revealed a number of critical challenges in Limpopo. At the Lebowakgomo Hospital, where it is alleged that X-ray machines cannot be fixed because the service provider is owed R70 000 since 2009, we found that:
* The only two X-ray film processors, used to develop diagnostic images to determine a patient’s treatment plan, have been in disrepair since November;
* the only three portable X-ray equipment machines, used to assess vulnerable patients such as those on life support, babies in incubators and ICU patients, have been down since November;
* the only C-Arm, used to visualize internal organs and long bone structures necessary for orthopaedic assessment and surgery, has been out of order since October, meaning no orthopaedic operations can take place; and
* the ICU has not had a working telephone for two years.
At the Zebedelia Hospital we confirmed that new-born babies have to be bathed with cold water as a result of a faulty geyser, which has not been repaired since 2007.
We did not have the opportunity to visit the WF Knobel hospital; however, reports indicate that the radiography department has collapsed, requiring patients to be transported to other hospitals, with delays further endangering patient’s lives.
These life-threatening equipment shortages are a result of ignored requisition orders and failures to pay service providers for the maintenance of critical equipment. It also impacts negatively on the hospitals’ training capacity.
The Limpopo provincial health department is currently under the administration of the National Department of Health. Minister Motsoaledi must show leadership and familiarise himself with the situation on the ground to turn around what is fast becoming a widespread crisis in Limpopo.
We challenge Minister Motsoaledi to spend a day in the hospitals in Limpopo to assess the conditions faced by patients in the province and address the life-threatening equipment shortages.