Health Department shuts down critical health services in Mpumalanga

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written an urgent letter to Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni, asking her to intervene after Health MEC, Gillion Mashego, shut down Siyabuswa Community Healthcare Clinic (CHC) in Dr J.S Moroka Municipality.

The DA has been calling for MEC Mashego to address chronic staff shortages at various healthcare facilities across the province, but when the Siyabuswa community voiced their concern with the lack of staff at the facility, MEC Mashego thought it was better to close it than to hire more staff.

The MEC has now asked the community to use other clinics, however the nearby clinics are already overcrowded and not coping with their current load, patients are now forced to walk as far as 26km to get to a clinic while they are sick.

Chronic staff shortages have plagued MEC Mashego’s department for many years. The MEC’s latest decision makes us wonder if he is simply going to resort to shutting down understaffed facilities simply because his department doesn’t have a plan on how to address the issue of staff shortages?

The community of Schoemansdal in Nkomazi Municipality are still waiting for a response from the MEC regarding the memorandum that they handed over to the clinic in a peaceful protest on 21 May 2018. Is the MEC waiting for something to go wrong before he responds to this community or will he be shutting down this understaffed CHC too?

By publicly stating that he decided to shut down the CHC because the community was unhappy about the staff shortages demonstrates yet again that access to healthcare for the poor is certainly not a priority for him. The health department’s budget for the current financial year states that “the department will not be able to appoint additional staff, which includes absorption of community service doctors and bursary holders nor will the department be able to appoint additional staff for new and upgraded facilities”.

The DA calls on Premier Mtshweni to intervene so that the Siyabuswa CHC, Schoemansdal CHC and other healthcare facilities are not shut down due to MEC Mashego’s failure to do his job. The poor who rely on public healthcare bear the brunt of a non-responsive ANC-led government that often leaves them to fend for themselves.

Media Enquiries

Jane Sithole, MPL
DA Mpumalanga Spokesperson on Health
082 854 9711

Dumisile Masuku
Provincial Communications Manager
079 873 7590