By Langa Bodlani MPL, DA Limpopo Spokesperson on Health:
The DA yesterday met with the officials of the Department of Health to discuss issues concerning the Blouberg Health Centre. These matters were brought to us by the representatives of the Blouberg Development Forum (BDF) who were also part of the meeting. Unfortunately health MEC Dr Ramathuba who was scheduled to be part of this meeting had to cancel at the last minute due to other commitments.
At the centre of the BDF’s concerns is the downgrading of Blouberg Hospital to its current status of a health centre. This is despite the fact that this hospital was designated in a gazette in 2000 to be district hospital by former Health MEC Phaswana Moloto. In 2005 the hospital was downgraded to a health centre with no explanation offered to affected communities.
This downgrading has resulted in extreme hardships for the Blouberg communities, consisting of 125 villages, who now have to use the overcrowded Helene Franz Hospital. Some of the villagers have to travel long distances to this hospital.
According to BDF the services at this Blouberg Health are unacceptably below par. This much was admitted by the health officials at the meeting. There is currently one medical doctor to attend to patients from these many villages. When this doctor is on leave there is no substitute doctor to attend to patients. Even worse, sickly patients cannot be admitted as there is no food in stock to feed them. The X-Ray machines are broken and the filing system is in extreme mess.
The BDF has been knocking at the doors of every successive health MECs since the downgrading; sadly their plight has simply been ignored.
The health officials at yesterday’s meeting undertook to send to us and the BDF a service improvement plan for both Blouberg Health Centre and Helene Franz by this coming Friday (17 July 2015). We keenly await this.
Another important undertaking is a scheduled meeting to take place with MEC Ramathuba to discuss plans to return the Blouberg Health Centre to its prior status of being a hospital. This meeting with the MEC is scheduled to take place before month end.
An efficient health care system is fundamental to thriving communities. Our Vision 2029 for a better governed South Africa under the DA envisions an affordable and properly run health care system as one of our priority areas.
The DA will continue to take part in these engagements with the department of health to make sure that the people of Blouberg finally get improved health services, but we hope that MEC Dr Ramathuba will take forthcoming meetings seriously and not cancel at the last minute.