By Dr Imran Keeka, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Health:
NEWS reports that cats are causing a major disturbance at Emause hospital in northern KZN – including eating patients’ food – have been brought to the attention of the DA.
We have also received unconfirmed reports of similar incidents at Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.
This is extremely disturbing.
Not only is this type of activity completely unacceptable in a place of healing, it also exposes already vulnerable individuals to a multitude of diseases which can be spread from cats to humans.
These include Toxoplasmosis, cat scratch disease, salmonella, campylobacter, giardia and cryptosporidium, roundworm, ringworm and, the most lethal of all, rabies.
Furthermore, there is documented evidence that TB can spread from cats to humans. This after two people were found to have developed active TB after close contact with cats following an outbreak involving nine animals in the UK in 2013.
Equally concerning is the response by management at Emause hospital, who have chosen to shift the blame to KZN’s Health department rather than taking urgent and serious action themselves.
This shows a severe lack of commitment to eradicating the problem. That they have further chosen to racialize the matter is shocking.
The DA will today write to KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo. We will request his intervention as a matter of urgency in order to prevent any complications, in addition to the irritation these stray animals are causing.
We will also insist that the MEC report back to the KZN Health portfolio committee as to why it has taken so long to address the problem.
The delivery of high quality basic services which includes health services is the right of every South African. Patients’ wellbeing should be the first priority for any hospital management and in this instance they and the department should be showing high levels of concern and care. Clearly this is not happening.