Johannesburg - Several hospitals in Mpumalanga are in a critical state and impact government's ability to provide health care, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said on Saturday.
“The SAHRC found that several hospitals in Mpumalanga are in a critical state resulting in the violation of the public's right to access health care services,” spokesman Isaac Mangena said in a statement.
“The latest findings in Mpumalanga are reflective of systemic challenges across the public health care sector that require urgent intervention.”
The commission released a statement after it completed an investigation into the state of hospitals in the province after receiving a complaint.
The complainant alleged that the provincial health department had failed in its duty to provide adequate health care services to communities in the province, said Mangena.
“It was specifically alleged that a number of provincial hospitals suffered from critical shortages of doctors, nurses and other professional personnel,” he said.
“It was further alleged that a number of hospitals did not have adequate infrastructure, doctors and facilities to serve communities in the province.”
Mangena said the investigation covered a sample of the three main hospitals in the province, Rob Ferreira Hospital, Matibidi Hospital and Bernice Samuel Hospital.
The main finding was that the situation in the three hospitals impacted negatively on government's ability to “discharge its constitutional obligation to provide health services to members of the public”.
In 2008, the SAHRC released a report on a nation-wide investigation into health care services in the country, Mangena
said the commission believed if government had responded to that report in proactive way it would have made a different finding on Saturday.
The national and provincial health departments should urgently deal with the commissions recommendations.
“Following this investigation, the SAHRC recommends that the department of health must formulate and submit no later than 31
March 2014 a well-cordinated programme,” he said.
“This must, within clearly stipulated time-frames, address the infrastructural, administrative and other challenges that undermine the right to health care in all Mpumalanga public hospitals.”
In 2008, the commission found a wide range of systemic, nation-wide shortcomings.
The recommendations included to conduct skills audits of senior management and implement appropriate interventions such as training and awareness campaigns to capacitate senior staff.
Install appropriate infrastructure for the public health care system to function optimally; and provide funding to public health facilities, particularly in rural areas of the country.
In November, the Democratic Alliance in the province wrote to the commission to investigate the state of health care in Mpumalanga.
DA provincial leader James Masango said at the time that the health department had promised to investigate the claims but the party remained doubtful.
Masango said claims included patients having to sleep in corridors and a lack of food in some hospitals, with patients having to bring their own food.