By Vicky Knoetze (MPL), Shadow MEC for Roads and Public Works:
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The Democratic Alliance calls on the MEC for Roads and Public Works to expedite the upgrade and resurfacing of the road to Isilimela Hospital situated in the Port St Johns Municipality as a matter of urgency.
The premier stated in his state of the province address, on 20 February that:
“With respect to rural roads infrastructure delivery, we are going to spend over R 1.3 billion on construction, maintenance and repairs to a number of our roads, including … the road to Isilimela Hospital…”
The MEC for Finance further stated in the Budget Speech that roads leading to hospitals would be prioritised.
The Portfolio Committee on Health recently carried out oversight visits and Isilimela Hospital was one of the hospitals where oversight was conducted.
Isilimela Hospital serves a catchment area of approximately 100 000 people. It is only accessible after traveling on a gravel road that is in a deplorable state for 17 kilometres. It took the committee members close to an hour to travel to the hospital.
The road further has an adverse effect on emergency medical services (EMS) accessing the hospital, as the ambulance for this area is a normal ambulance and is not equipped with 4 X 4 capability as is needed especially in the rural areas.
We were told that the condition of this road and the time it took to travel to the hospital has had a direct detrimental effect on the condition of patients who travel 17 kilometres in order to receive medical care, especially in the case of pregnant woman, children and babies.
Hospital staff noted that many fatalities and aggravation of serious injuries could have been avoided if this road had not been an obstacle in community members’ pursuit of much needed medical attention.
In a free and fair society, community members’ freedom to access basic healthcare is not compromised by the dire state of roads. The MEC must prioritize this issue.