Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

SA health bodies condemn looting and destruction of public health sector

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published Jul 19, 2021

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A number of South African health regulatory bodies together with the Department of Health have condemned the ongoing looting and violence especially towards healthcare facilities.

The health bodies said the impact of the destruction to pharmacies, clinics and other healthcare institutions is already being felt in some communities.

The joint statement was issued on Monday by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC), the South African Nursing Council (SANC) and the South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC).

“We appeal to citizens looting and destroying the healthcare infrastructure and disrupting the provision of health care to consider the long-term consequences of their actions on the health of communities,” read the statement.

The civil unrest has been ongoing since 9 July and has had a negative impact on the Covid-19 vaccination rollout as some sites at risk to damage were temporarily closed.

“In a time of a pandemic of huge proportions, such acts of violence, looting, and the disruption of service will simply fuel the fire. This is a time where medicines, including vaccines, and access to health care services are virtually obligatory. Without health care services, the requisite medicines and vaccines, we will have unnecessary deaths and cause further pandemonium, including severe damage to the economy.”

With the looting of pharmacies and healthcare facilities, the health bodies said the availability of controlled substances and medicines may endanger the heath of community members as they may be consumed without the guidance of healthcare professionals.

“We would like to urge the public to not utilise any medicines that are not accessed through authorised health care institutions. You may report such illegal activity to SAHPRA or to law enforcement agencies,” said the regulatory bodies.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter on Monday that in the coming weeks and months, the true cost of the looting will be felt especially by the poor.

“Businesses have been destroyed and livelihoods lost at a time when we are already feeling the strain one and a half years into a global pandemic. The economic damage has sapped many of the budding shoots of recovery we were witnessing just a few weeks ago,” said the President.

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