EC Health Department responds to Human Rights Commission Report

In response to the crisis in healthcare provision within the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition was established. In March 2015, following oral and written submissions (including submissions from the EC Health Crisis Coalition members), the South African Human Rights Council released a report on Emergency Medical Services which was submitted to the provincial Department of Health for response.

This week (13 April 2016), the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition received the Eastern Cape Health Department’s response to the South African Human Rights Council’s report on Emergency Medical Services. The Coalition welcomes the opportunity to engage with the document ahead of the Eastern Cape Provincial Health Summit scheduled for 15 April 2016 at Turnbull Park in East London.

The EC Health Crisis Action Coalition consists of a number of member organisations and focuses on a number of aspects of healthcare provision with the aim of improving services in the Eastern Cape. These focus areas include:

  • Facilities – The poor quality of facilities hampers health care delivery with a lack of electricity, running water and inadequate space, the buildings often falling apart.
  • The availability of medication and supplies/supply chain management – Stock outs and shortages of essential medicines and medical supplies are rampant with supply chain management throughout the health care system in a state of chaos, directly impacting patient care.
  • Human Resources – The combination of a high vacancy rate and an out of date personnel system has catastrophic consequences for the delivery of health care and it frequently takes at least six months for an appointment to be confirmed if at all, with employees not paid.
  • Management – There is no proper management and the day-to-day functioning of health facilities goes unattended, with chronic under-staffing; facilities falling into disrepair; equipment going unrepaired and new equipment not obtained.
  • Transport and Emergency Medical Services – Patient transport and EMS are entirely absent in many places and insufficient in others with patients waiting hours for an ambulance that at times do not arrive.
  • Equipment – Equipment shortages and faulty equipment are rife with reports of TB Hospitals without x-ray machines and busy clinics with only one blood pressure cuff.
  • Staff accommodation – Many facilities have no or poor quality and insufficient accommodation and in some no electricity or running water. and the accommodation is filthy and run down.
  • Rehabilitation and home based care –Some facilities have no budget for rehabilitation supplies, making preventative and home-based care impossible.
  • Budgeting and expenditure – Underpinning many of the challenges are the chronic failures in the effective mobilisation of the budget.