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Fires at two state hospitals in one day proves that South Africa is not ready for NHI

The fires that recently broke out at two state hospitals serve as further proof that medical infrastructure is collapsing, and that South Africa is not ready to take on the enormous challenges that the National Health Insurance (NHI) will pose.

The fires broke out at the Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria and the Vredendal Hospital in the Western Cape.

The cause of the latter fire is still unknown. At Steve Biko, a wooden house used as a temporary storage unit for Covid-19 medical waste caught fire.

The FF Plus is concerned about the apparent negligence with the storage and disposal of medical waste at state hospitals over the past year, and the fact that infrastructure is collapsing at an increasing and alarming rate.

Less than a year ago, the FF Plus discovered a large quantity of Covid-19 medical waste at the Kopanong Hospital in Vereeniging, which was simply heaped up outside.

It came to light that the contractors responsible for disposing of the waste were not paid.

In 2016, the party paid a visit to the Steve Biko Hospital as well after medical waste was also not removed but was dumped in the corridors, because the relevant contractors had also not been compensated for their services.

Such conduct amounts to gross negligence, it is dangerous and cannot be tolerated at hospitals.

The FF Plus is warning the government not to blindly proceed with the NHI seeing as the current state of affairs at state hospitals and clinics is a clear indication that the healthcare system's poor infrastructure, administrative shortcomings and incompetence cannot handle something of the NHI's magnitude.

Patients' lives are also endangered by the implosion of infrastructure, and it makes it all the more difficult to provide effective medical treatment and care to patients.

It is one thing to make a nice bed in a consultation room for a photo session to portray the NHI in a positive light, but it is quite another to implement such comprehensive legislation.

Now is not the time to put the NHI on the statute book, and the ANC government must be removed to enable state hospitals to once again offer effective service delivery of exceptional quality.

 

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