File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Gang-related violence is putting pressure on the Western Cape health budget and resources.

With 71 murders having been reported in the province over the past two weekends, overburdened hospitals are struggling to cope. 

Quite simply, more health-care resources are needed to contend with the high crime and murder rate as the demand increasingly outstrips the supply.

To make matters worse, the provincial budget has been reduced by R9 billion over the past three years, which is impacting negatively on the provision of health services.

This was stated on Tuesday by Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo at the signing of the Presidential Health Compact to strengthen the health system.

Treating a gunshot wounds could cost up to R25 000 per patient, she said, which doesn't include the length of stay in hospital and related medical intervention costs. The gang-related violence is also responsible for backlogs on post-mortems at mortuaries. 

"The provincial budget cuts the health department has faced over the last three years has meant that the number of staff available at hospitals is less than the number of people who require medical services," Mbombo said.

"When you look at bailouts that Treasury gives to state-owned enterprises, you'll never hear of a bailout for the health department and, because of budget cuts, health facilities cannot afford to employ more people to assist with overburdened staff."

Mbombo also welcomed the signing of the Presidential Health Compact by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

"The Health Compact has the potential to improve equity, quality of care and access to care. In order for the Presidential Health Compact to succeed, we believe that the focus should be on establishing strong provincial health systems and local competency to ensure that there are no limitations to accessing health care for any individual."

On Monday, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde indicated that 46 people had been murdered over the weekend, which included 21 shootings and 20 stabbings, which is an increase from the 25 murders recorded the previous weekend.

Cape Times