DA calls on SAHRC to protect patients’ rights at Free State Psychiatric Complex
Bloemfontein - The Democratic Alliance has lodged a formal complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate the lack of healthcare services at the Kosmos Care and Rehabilitation Centre at the Free State Psychiatric Complex in Bloemfontein.
This follows several complaints received regarding the poor state of healthcare and severe human rights violations at the state healthcare facility consequent to nursing personnel being on strike due to the lack of coronavirus (Covid-19) personal protective equipment (PPE) and lack of decontamination at wards, DA whip in the Free State legislature Mariette Pittaway said in a statement on Sunday.
On July 27, upon receiving the complaints, the DA wrote an urgent letter to Free State health MEC Montseng Tsiu requesting her intervention. "Despite, the urgent nature of our communication, the DA has to date not received any feedback nor an acknowledgement of receipt from the MEC, a testament to her term in office," Pittaway said.
"It was reported to the DA, that patients had been locked in wards all day without any supervision and without food, while suffering from physical disability. Additionally, patients experienced distress from not receiving their prescribed medication and some patients were found naked, as there was no laundry service that morning. The storerooms with diapers and other consumables was locked and technical services had to be called in to cut the locks," she said.
The healthcare facility's management was made aware of the situation and the fundamental human rights violations experienced by the patients. People with mental illness were among the most vulnerable people in society due to their dependence on others for care and support.
In a reply to a written question posed in the legislature on the availability of PPE at Free State health institutions, Tsiu stated that there were no shortages of PPE in the province.
The DA regarded "the sinister acts displayed by the department and the MEC as grossly negligent and aligns itself with aspects of severe constitutional and legislative injustices". The MEC had a moral and legal duty to demonstrate leadership, which she had failed to demonstrate time and time again. The DA had also escalated the matter to the national health department for further investigation.
"The DA wish to thank the volunteers who immediately, despite the fear of contamination, took action to feed and clean the 480 vulnerable patients at the Free State Psychiatric Complex who cannot fend for themselves. We salute you and you inspire us," Pittaway said.
African News Agency (ANA), editing by Jacques Keet