Mpumalanga Health Department writes off over R108 million worth of medical equipment

By Jane Sithole, MPL, Spokesperson on Health and Social Development:

The DA will submit written questions to the MEC for Health, Gillion Mashego, on what equipment the Health Department has written off over the past three years, which is valued at over R108 million.

This astronomical value of write-offs was revealed in a response to a DA parliamentary question where at least R70 million was stated for the disposal of major medical equipment in the 2014/15 financial year.

Click here to view response.

According to the response, in 2012/2013 just R4.8 million worth of medical equipment was written off, and by 2013/14 the write-off value had increased to R16.8 million. In 2014/15 the sum of medical equipment disposal had increased to over R86.5 million.

The people of Mpumalanga deserve to know what equipment has been written off, from which healthcare facilities, and what necessitates these write-offs.

The DA has noted the shortage of medical equipment across the province, and on a recent oversight visit to various healthcare facilities, many healthcare professionals expressed their concerns that at times the shortage of equipment prevented them from performing the most basic lifesaving tasks.

The DA recently visited Themba, KwaMhlanga and Middelburg hospitals and found that these facilities do not have defibrillators in each ward as per the national core standard. In most instances doctors have to wait their turn in order to resuscitate patients.

The department of Health has stated that the medical equipment that has been written off will be replaced as per approved plans of the various institutions. But replacing written-off equipment delays the roll out of further and necessary equipment to health care facilities that are still waiting for necessary machines and tools of trade. This is simply not sustainable, the continual write off of medical equipment in the province threatens the entire functioning of our health facilities, compromising their ability to provide proper health care services with real life-and-death consequences.

Receiving decent health care in a fully equipped clinic or hospital is not a privilege but a right that must be enjoyed by all of Mpumalanga’s citizens. Majority of citizens in our province rely solely on public health care and it is our duty to ensure the public’s confidence in our public health care system is restored.

The DA will continue to monitor provincial healthcare facilities to ensure that they are fully equipped with the necessary vital equipment to offer the best possible treatment. The DA will work towards ensuring that measures are put in place to protect the functioning of this critical institution. The department must get to grips with this issue and make it a priority.