By Dr Tutu Faleni (MPL), DA North West Health Spokesperson:
The Democratic Alliance in the North West has written to Premier Supra Mahumapelo, demanding that he intervene to stop R50 million budget cuts in the Department of Health this year.
The DA condemns that the North West Health Department is the most underfunded health department in the country.
Instead of finding ways to improve the already deteriorating health system, the Provincial Treasury has opted to reduce the budget by a devastating R50 million.
The Democratic Alliance in the North West believes that these budget cuts will surely lead to a decline in health care to communities in the province.
Placing the Department of Health under administration did not make any significant improvements to healthcare delivery and the situation has become so dire that some health facilities have eliminated maintenance budgets from their day to day operations. The elimination of maintenance budgets is the surest way to accelerate the decline of hospitals and clinics, machines, equipment and facilities. This is a curse that will set our healthcare system on a direct path to irreparable harm.
Many facilities are unable to replace basic but critical equipment that are needed for the daily operations of these facilities.
At some hospitals like Lehurutse Hospital in Zeerust, patients already have to buy their own blankets and night gowns, resources that should be provided to them by the Department of Health. Soon patients will have to bring their own medical equipment to hospitals and clinics as machines break and dilapidate.
The North West is a predominantly rural area and already struggles to attract health practitioners. Difficulties in attracting health practitioners and the deteriorating financial situation have resulted in low staff morale and high staff turnover.
The DA calls upon Premier Supra Mahumapelo to force a reconsideration of the Health Department budget, to source additional funding, and to include them in the adjustment budgets will be done later this year so that critical maintenance can be restored and facilities can be saved from breakdown.
The DA appeals to the Premier to engage and consult with experts in the field of health economics from outside the provincial department, where an apparent lack of expertise exist, to find lasting solutions to the deteriorating health care infrastructure in the North West Province.
In Section 27 of the South African Constitution states that everyone has the right to have access to health care services; if budgets continue to decline this right will not be worth the paper it is written on.