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Johannesburg - Eastern Cape health MEC Sicelo Gqobana will not be available on Friday to receive a memorandum on problems in his jurisdiction, the department said.
A senior doctor would receive the memorandum from the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition at the health department's provincial offices in Bisho instead, spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said.
“The MEC is meeting the SA Medical Association in Port Elizabeth to discuss issues affecting doctors, including shortages, backlogs in terms of their benefits, and general issues affecting the provision of quality health care in the province.”
Later in the day Gqobana would open a tuberculosis hospital, he said.
The coalition was marching on Friday to push for drastic action in the Eastern Cape health care system.
Kupelo acknowledged there were problems in the department, but said it was trying to address inherited problems, such as lack of infrastructure in the former Transkei.
These problems would take time to resolve despite the department's efforts, which were hampered by funding issues, he said.
“We remain concerned about the manner in which the problems affecting health in the Eastern Cape have been distorted by the coalition.
“They need to resist the temptation of personalising these problems,” Kupelo said.
Problems in the province's health care system were among the reasons the National Health Insurance was being piloted there.
On Wednesday, Rural Health Advocacy Project spokesman Kwazi Mbatha said: “Researchers have found infrastructure problems that need serious improvement to help service delivery.”
A report compiled by, among others, Section27 and the Treatment Action Campaign, detailed stories of patients not getting help at hospitals and clinics because of a lack of medication.
It also described service delivery problems as a result of the poor state of health care facilities.
“The combination of a high vacancy rate and an out of date personnel salary system has catastrophic consequences for the delivery of health care services,” the organisations said in the report.
Kupelo said some of the problems highlighted in the report, such as medication shortages, had now been rectified.
He invited the coalition to take a proactive stance against the identified problems by presenting their ideas for possible solutions.
“Don't target politicians, target the system,” Kupelo said. - Sapa