Hospital Association of SA joins call urging Health Minister to exempt all hospitals from load shedding

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla. File Picture: Ofentse Ramaboa

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla. File Picture: Ofentse Ramaboa

Published Sep 29, 2022


Durban — After days of calls for Eskom not to load shed hospitals and clinics, the Hospital Association of South Africa (Hasa) has urged the Minister of Health to enable relief from load shedding to all hospitals.

Hasa, a representative organisation for most of the country’s private hospital groups, welcomed recent media-reported responses from Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla to requests to exempt hospitals from load shedding.

In a statement, Hasa said that according to reports, Phaahla recognises that load shedding is making patient care and hospital operations extremely difficult and has undertaken that his department will assess the situation, and he will this week offer proposals to alleviate the impacts of the energy crisis on medical centres of care.

“Load shedding occurs throughout the country, in areas where both private and public hospitals operate. Therefore, both public and private facilities are affected. Consequently, care for vulnerable patients in both sectors is being adversely affected in many ways,” Hasa said.

The association said that both public and private hospitals suffer many of the same challenges because of load shedding, including:

Multiple institutions in some areas suffer load shedding simultaneously, and access to care for some in those areas is being eroded.

There is large-scale degeneration of equipment.

Operating costs are rising exponentially: generator maintenance, diesel costs, storage, and security all contribute to this.

Most of all, without lights, providing care for the most vulnerable is onerous and is becoming more so as the lights are off for several hours a day and night, every day during this latest cycle of cuts.

“For these reasons, Hasa urges the Minister of Health to advocate for relief from load shedding for all acute care hospitals at the very least, but also preferably for day clinics and community clinics around the country,” Hasa said.

Earlier this week, the National Department of Health issued a statement on the challenges of load shedding and exemption of health facilities.

It said that Phaahla had been concerned for some time with this matter of load shedding with the hope that it improves, but it has gotten worse to higher stages of 5 and 6 as it impacts the provision of health care services across the country.

Spokesperson Foster Mohale said Phaahla ordered the director-general, working with provincial heads of Health Departments, to finalise the assessment of the impact already in the past week.

In the meantime, Minister has been engaging with the relevant authorities and entities, including the Minister of Public Enterprises, Eskom and municipalities, on the processes to be followed in order to exempt health facilities from load shedding.

Additionally, the Minister has been working on alternative, additional sources over-above the generators, which are not meant for prolonged outages, to seek an additional supply of power to be considered for installation in the health facilities to complement the generators as part of the energy mix.

On Friday, Phaahla will give a comprehensive report on the impact and the intervention measures during the media briefing.

Daily News