05/05/2015 – Health Budget Vote 16

May 5, 2015

Health, Speeches

Health Budget Vote 16.

Cheryllyn Dudley MP ACDP​

TUESDAY 5 May 2015

14:00 – 16:30 (NA Chamber)

Hon Minister, the ACDP would like to use this opportunity to raise the issue of state prison health where there is one professional nurse for every 195 inmates and one doctor for over14 thousand prisoners! According to the World Health Organisation – the prison population needs access to more doctors than the general population as they tend to suffer more illness than people who are not in prison.

For example – the prevalence of TB and multidrug-resistant TB in South African prisons is estimated to be between three and seven times that of the general population as overcrowding and lack of ventilation promote increased transmission.

In fact both the HIV and TB epidemics are made worse by the chronic shortage of health and other workers in prisons. With Correctional Services being unwilling or unable to fill the required posts – a lack of staff often means inmates are stuck in their cells for 23 hours a day with no security official to escort them to the pharmacy to collect essential medication.

According to Sonke Gender Justice, an organisation that advocates for access to medical services in prisons – in the 2012-2013 financial year, 652 inmates died of what was categorised as ‘natural deaths’ but a great many of these deaths were in reality, related to TB and/or HIV. Being sick in our prisons is a death sentence for too many.

The ACDP calls on the department of Health to work with the department of Correctional Services to ensure relevant vacancies are filled with trained and capable staff – and that oversight and accountability structures are established and monitored.

Another area of concern for us is that problems of governance in the Eastern Cape continue to impact negatively on the health sector and health standards continue to decline. Why is it taking so long to sort out these issues which result in many resignations of doctors and specialists, shortages of stocks and poor maintenance like non-functioning lifts. At Dihlabeng Hospital, for example, only four out of twenty medical officers that existed in 2012, remain. Reports say only emergency procedures are being performed and surgery patients are turned away. The bottom line is – patients are dying from a lack of staff and medication. Many hospitals are said to be teetering on the brink of collapse, barely managing.

Hon Minister, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) said last year that the success of your second term, might be defined by the extent to which you are willing to have underperforming MECs challenged or replaced – while we hold you responsible for performance of MEC’s we realise their placement and removal is largely out of your hands – is there a need for such replacements?

“The ACDP would like to thank you Hon Minister for the unequivocal stand you have taken in opposing assisted suicide.”

The ACDP will support this budget which continues to face many challenges.


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