Mpumalanga Health Department Continues to Ignore SAHRC Findings and Remedial Action

The Mpumalanga Department of Health seems to be flagrantly ignoring the South African Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC) findings and remedial action after ActionSA laid a complaint to the commission.

ActionSA laid a complaint to SAHRC and submitted a memorandum to the Mpumalanga Health MEC, Sasekani Manzini, about the dilapidated state of facilities at Shongwe Hospital.

In October last year, ActionSA raised concerns regarding the following:

  1. Lack of proper hygiene inside both wards and general waiting areas which includes dirty windows, corridors with spider webs, and dirty floors.
  2. Poorly maintained infrastructure with pipes leaking, causing hazards for both staff and patients.
  3. Sub-standard food prepared for patients.
  4. Poorly equipped and not enough emergency vehicles.
  5. Hospital corridors which are not roofed with patients, therefore, being exposed to the elements.
  6. Lack of air-conditioning and fire hydrants in the hospital.
  7. Inadequate record keeping of patients while patients themselves have to wait long hours to receive files.
  8. Poorly maintained gardens and lack of grass cutting around the hospital.
  9. Medicine shortages for patients.
  10. Poor staff working conditions, especially for nurses.
  11. Poorly maintained infrastructure,

The SAHRC visited Shongwe Hospital, and the department agreed to deal with the challenges of infrastructure decay with a promise to provide a detailed plan to the Commission.

Numerous letters have been written to the Department of Health and the MEC to provide a plan and those letters have, to date, been ignored. This shows the arrogance by MEC Sasekani Manzini and her department shows the lack of respect to the institution that protect our democracy.

ActionSA, last week, finalized a policy suite that would see to it that nurses would get better treatment and better compensation for their work. It also committed an ActionSA government to providing better working conditions so that the health and well being of our people can be better tended to.

The SAHRC and ActionSA will be visiting Shongwe Hospital on 21 September 2023 at 11am, to check progress since the department refused to provide the report to the Commission.

Regrettably, the Mpumalanga Department of Health continues to fail both patients and staff at Shongwe Hospital. All the issues of inadequate provision of medication, inadequate infrastructure maintenance, that include unsanitary ablution facilities and recruitment of additional essential staff remain unresolved despite the deadline set for June this year.

In the face of these harsh realities, we commend the work done by the SAHRC to apply pressure to remedy the situation at the hospital.

To that end, the completion of the refurbishment of the nursing college side of the hospital is a testament to the power of external oversight and serves as a glimmer of hope for the future.

ActionSA will continue to fight for the rights of the vulnerable and marginalized members of our communities. We will continue to demand accountability from those entrusted with providing social and public goods mandated by the state and the people of South Africa.