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16 February 2018

Hospersa is calling upon the newly appointed President Cyril Ramaphosa to give adequate attention to the various failures in public health care when delivering his very first State of the Nation Address (SONA) this evening.  The Union shares its hopes that the President will address the core problems surrounding public health which has reached new lows at local government level where structural problems are exacerbated by poor management, corruption and maladministration.

Following former President Jacob Zuma’s resignation on Wednesday night, incoming President Ramaphosa will now deliver the State of the Nation Address (SONA) this evening.  The SONA comes at the time when the much talked about resignation of his predecessor [Jacob Zuma] remains in the horizon while a new dawn in governance is being ushered in by the governing party.  Despite this transition, government still has a duty to address the many challenges faced by the South African public which includes unemployment, a declining economy and access to basic services like health care, quality education, water and sanitation.

 Hospersa is requesting President Ramaphosa to address the serious problems faced by the public service, in particular public health care. Health is one of the most basic and crucial services to be provided by the state, and in our country it is estimated that more than 85% of the population are dependent on public health facilities.  Still, the conditions and capacity at most public health institutions are often found wanting, while the combined effect of poor decision-making and corruption only exacerbates the structural challenges even more.

“To say that public health care is in ICU is no exaggeration,” said Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines.  “Health care workers continue working in a depleted public health care system operating on skeleton staff due to a moratorium on the filling of vacant funded posts.  The public health care system is also characterised by gross Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) violations as well as looting of the public purse through nepotism, shady procurement and maintenance deals by cadre deployees,” added Desfontaines.

President Ramaphosa has made no secret that his administration will seek to root out corruption in all government departments and entities.  It is at local government level where corruption and maladministration remains a thorn in the flesh resulting in many communities to bare the brunt of poor service delivery.  Depleted buildings and incident of gross OHS violations are a sad reality in many public health facilities.  The embattled Department of Health also faces an escalating medico legal bill whereby a recent arbitration hearing into the death of over 140 Life Esidimeni patients could see the department paying millions to affected families.

“Hospersa and President Ramaphosa share the same views around eradicating corruption and maladministration,” said Desfontaines.  “We [Hospersa] made key resolutions in our 2013 National Congress and have a clear mandate from our members to address the various issues related to poor management and corruption, staff shortages and OHS in the public service.  It is yet to be seen whether the President will act decisively against officials found to have abused their power in office at the expense of deserving communities,” added Desfontaines.

“Also of great importance is the issue of the National Health Insurance (NHI).  Since its introduction in 2012, there has been a snail’s pace approach from government on its full implementation.  Hospersa is on record as being in support of the NHI as an ideal.  However, it is important to ensure that public health institutions first reach a level of basic functionality before such a system can ever be successful,” argued Desfontaines.

“The President’s first SONA must provide input on government’s plans in addressing the many problems faced by the country in particular public health.  He must capture the imagination of health professionals who work long hours to serve communities on a daily basis with little support from government.  He must also restore hope that his administration will be able to resuscitate a collapsed public health care system riddled with corruption, maladministration and poor management,” concluded Desfontaines.



Total words (excluding heading):  665

 For interviews please contact Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines – 083-321-4427.

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