DA calls for Eastern Cape Department of Health to be placed under administration
14 June 2020
Note to Editors: Please find attached English soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP, DA Shadow Minister of Health.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize to call for the Eastern Cape Department of Health to be placed under administration in terms of section 100 (1) of the Constitution.
In the past several weeks we have seen a province with a broken health system miserably failing to deal with the rising infections of Covid-19. Reports indicate that on Friday during Dr Mkhize’s visit to the province, the Premier, Oscar Mabuyane admitted that the province is wholly unprepared for the next coming weeks.
The province continues to fail at testing, tracing and tracking which brings into the question the validity of the confirmed infection numbers.
According to reports, 359 healthcare workers have tested positive for Covid-19 in the province while there are massive issues with the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
Premier Mabuyane admitted that healthcare workers in the province were never adequately trained to deal with the pandemic spread;
There was also an admission that the province is ill-prepared to deal with the demands of the pandemic with their projections showing that they will likely run out of beds in the next coming weeks.
While various provinces will start to reach their peak at different stages as the Western Cape infections showed, the capacity of provincial health departments will determine how devastating the effects of Covid-19 will be in those provinces. Even with high infection numbers, the Western Cape has led the way in terms of testing, provision of additional bed capacity, management of PPE supply and consistent community interventions.
The Eastern Cape does not have a functioning health system. The Covid-19 pandemic found the provincial department in disarray, the infrastructure of health facility in tatters, massive vacancy rates that render the system ill-equipped to roll out health services and poor leadership from the MEC of this department.
Looking at the quality of the urgent interventions that the province is rolling out, it is clear that thousands of people will die if no drastic action is taken.
The province recently launched EMS patient transport which are essentially glorified wheelbarrows, an indication of a flailing department. Left to its own devices, the province will preside over a humanitarian crisis.
That is why national government should place the province under administration as a matter of urgency.
The relevant section of the Constitution states that a province or department can be placed under administration when they are unable to fulfil an executive obligation in terms of the Constitution. As per the Eastern Cape Premier’s own admission, the province – more so the department of health - does not have the capability to fulfill its constitutional obligations of providing adequate healthcare to all in the province.
It is important that the DoH establishes a team that will take over operations in the province in order to save lives. Failure to do so will place thousands – including healthcare workers – in mortal danger.
Issued by Siviwe Gwarube, DA Shadow Minister of Health, 14 June 2020