DA requests Public Protector to investigate shortage of health professionals

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

The DA welcomes remarks by Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela last week over critical staff shortages in Mpumalanga’s health care sector, and we firmly believe that this not only vindicates our calls for more health professionals, but also warrants further investigation.

Last week Adv Thuli Madonsela visited public health care facilities and conducted public hearings across Mpumalanga as part of her annual stakeholder dialogue campaign on government’s ability to deliver on the Millennium Development Goals. During these visits she found that staff shortages at Community Health Centres are one of the main causes why these centres do not function at their optimum, and as a result, increase the burden on public hospitals.

The Public Protector’s remarks come as no surprise, as the DA has for years been taking government to task over critical staff shortages harming health care service delivery, and called on MEC after MEC to improve the department’s attraction and retention strategy.

In a recent written response to DA questions regarding CHCs, health MEC Candith Mashego-Dlamini admitted that of the 57 centres across Mpumalanga, only 38 operate on a 24 hour basis, despite the national norms and standards requiring round-the-clock availability. She further added that 23 experience staff shortages, resulting in 20 centres’ maternity wards and equipment lying underutilised.

When one considers remarks by deputy Public Protector Adv Kevin Malunga that the Public Protector may investigate claims of maladministration, and  that staff shortages are one such example, the DA believes that Mpumalanga’s dire staff shortages should be investigated.

To this end the DA will write to the Public Protector asking for an investigation into the Department of Health, and the circumstances surrounding the immense staff shortages that caused Mpumalanga’s public health sector to go into freefall.

The people of Mpumalanga deserve access to decent and caring health professionals, and government has a Constitutional duty to uphold that basic right.