By: Jane Sithole, MPL – DA Mpumalanga Provincial Leader
The provincial Health Department must take full responsibility for the death of eight-year-old Nompumelelo Masombuka who died from TB meningitis while being transported from Mmametlhake Hospital to Witbank Hospital in a rickety old bus.
According to the Health Department, Nompumelelo was transported in the old bus because her condition was stable but it changed while she was on the two hour trip to Witbank Hospital. The Department also alluded to a need for more ambulances but failed to take responsibility of how its own actions have resulted in the death of a child.
It is extremely unlikely that Nompumelelo’s condition was stable when she was put on the bus as statements from her own family indicate that she had already lost her eyesight due to her condition. Even in the event of her conditioning worsening on the trip, there should have been some form of emergency life support equipment that could have stabilised her but unfortunately, there was just a nurse who could do nothing more than standard CPR.
Mpumalanga’s health crisis is being felt by the poorest of the poor who have no choice but to queue for long hours just to access basic healthcare. They are also forced to use ambulances that are nothing more than shells as there is just no money to purchase the lifesaving equipment one would expect to find in an ambulance.
The DA has received multiple complaints from healthcare professionals who have had to use their own salaries to buy basic equipment for ambulances, and others who constantly have to pick up dead bodies as the shortage of ambulances results in people dying before they can get the help they need.
We will once again liaise with Health MEC, Sasekani Manzini, asking her to continue talks with Finance MEC, Eric Kholwane for the Health Department to be placed under curatorship until the Health Department’s financial crisis can be resolved. We will also write to MEC Manzini asking her to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding this matter.
Nompumelelo’s death is a direct result of DD Mabuza’s failure to act while former MEC, Gillion Mashego plundered money meant for healthcare. Mabuza protected Mashego instead of protecting the 3.8 million people who depend on the state for healthcare.
The loss of a life, especially a child that had her whole life ahead of her, is devastating when it could have been prevented had the necessary resources been available. The people of Mpumalanga deserve change under a DA-led government that will prioritise their needs.