MEC Must Investigate Infant’s Tragic Death

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition.

The DA is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of an infant at the Themba Hospital last night, and calls on the MEC for Health, Dr Clifford Mkasi to investigate why the hospital did not have sufficient contingency plans in place to deal with and extended power electricity cut.

Power was cut to the Hospital at around 14h00 yesterday due to Eskom performing routine line maintenance. The hospital was notified in advance and was told that electricity supply would only be restored several hours later. It is alleged that maintenance staff informed hospital management that there was not enough diesel fuel to run the back-up generator for an extended period, only to be told that the diesel supplier had not yet been paid by the health department.

At around 19h00 the generator ran out of fuel, plunging the hospital into darkness until shortly after 22h00. According to sources it was during this time that an infant, who was in an incubator in the paediatric ward, tragically passed away.

While the power outage may not have been the direct cause of the infant’s death, it raises more questions than answers, and MEC Mkasi must investigate. Why, for example, was this particular infant, and other patients, not evacuated to another hospital, and why did the health department’s procurement department not ensure that diesel suppliers were paid?

To this end, I will write to the MEC and ask him to establish why the hospital, after being notified of a power outage, failed to prepare its back-up power supply system, and whether the three hours without electricity played a role in this tragic and unnecessary death. I will also ask MEC to establish whether any other patients passed away during this period, and whether it was as consequence of the outage.

I will also submit written parliamentary questions to MEC Mkasi and ask him to explain the following:

· Themba Hospital’s contingency plans in the event of power outages, including patient evacuation and transport plans to other hospitals should they occur;

· The minimum required diesel fuel reserves;

· Who the diesel suppliers are and if they are paid up in full; and

· A comprehensive service and maintenance log for the hospital’s back-up electricity supply system.

The people of Mpumalanga deserve a caring and competent health care system, free from incompetence and negligence. MEC Mkasi must deliver quality service.

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