Mpumalanga Health MEC must step down to save ailing department

By Jane Sithole, MPL, Spokesperson on Health:

With more evidence of gross financial mismanagement in the Department of Health emerging, the DA has no alternative but to call on Health MEC, Gillion Mashego to do the right thing and step down with immediate effect.

MEC Mashego has failed to show decisive leadership in his department and under his watch, the condition of the Health Department has reached crisis point.

In yesterday’s Social Cluster Portfolio Committee Meeting, it was revealed that in the 2014/15 financial year, the department failed to meet even half of its set targets, it only managed to achieve 41.7% yet it spend over R8.8 billion (98.3%) of its R9 billion budget.

Click here to view report.

Under MEC Gillion Mashego’s leadership, the department continues to struggle in meeting the National Core Standards in the health facilities which remain at 0% achieved and Emergency Medical Services continues to achieve 0% of its set targets.

The Department failed to upgrade 18 hospitals as planned, due to lack of leadership and a delay in appointing key personnel as some of the reasons for their failure.

It is not uncommon to hear reports of people who have had to wait hours and sometimes even days for an ambulance to arrive after it has been called. What is alarming however is that the Department of Health has spent its entire budget for Emergency Medical Services yet it has failed to achieve even one of its set targets.

The department’s financial woes continues as they failed to spend the full R608 million that was meant for Health Facility Management and the full R543 million that was meant for payment of capital assets, bringing the unspent on these much needed programmes to almost R250 million. This gives an indication as to why so many healthcare facilities are either under equipped or are forced to operate in crumbling and dilapidated facilities.

It is becoming increasingly clear that MEC Mashego is out of his depth in his role as leader of the Department of Health. He does however have an opportunity to show leadership and admit his failure by stepping down as his continued failure to lead is wedging a gap between the people of Mpumalanga and their ability to access quality health care.

Last year, the Department was placed under curatorship but this was lifted within four months, before any improvements could be made. As such, the DA will continue its bid to have the Department’s curatorship reinstated until such time that the department makes meaningful progress in stabilising its finances and improving access to quality healthcare for all.

As long as MEC Mashego is at the helm of the department of health, the department will continue its stay in the intensive care unit and the people of Mpumalanga will continue to suffer.