Pressure to have conditions improved for both patients and staff at Tonga Hospital in Mpumalanga increased on Wednesday morning when the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) embarked on a protest march against the hospital, Lowvelder reports.
A red wave of people moved through the area, waving placards. They handed over a memorandum of demands to the hospital’s management.
The demands echoed those of Tonga Hospital staff, who have been on a lunch hour picket over the past month.
Demands included the employment of more nurses and doctors.
The Department of Health said last week that it would hire medical staff to address the shortages in the province’s hospitals, after Themba staff who are members of Nehawu, also went on strike last week.
At Tonga, the staff want cleanliness in all wards, maintenance of the hospital building, more ambulances that will cater to the whole community using the hospital, and fully functional laundries and theatres.
The EFF also demanded that the hospital has running water 24/7 and working geysers. The admin fee of R40 must be scrapped and nepotism in hiring processes stopped.
The EFF’s regional coordinator for Ehlanzeni, Vusi Gwebu, explained that they are collecting data and building a case study of all the hospitals in the district and the challenges faced, with the aim of presenting these findings to parliament.
“The right to health is fundamental to the physical and mental well-being of all individuals and is a necessary condition for the exercise of other human rights, including the pursuit of an adequate standard of living.”
The memorandum was handed over to and signed by Thandazo Ndzamba, Tonga Hospital’s matron. The party demanded that a written formal response be sent to it within 14 days, otherwise it would embark on a violent strike.
Ndzamba said some of the demands in the budget were new, but that it was a wake- up call for the hospital to improve.
“We are only going to do things that are in our power. Things that need a budget will be channelled to the provincial office so we can get funds.
“We will give the EFF a response according to what we managed to do as an institution, for other issues we defer them to the higher office.”
The EFF also organised a march to Tintswalo Hospital in Acornhoek on Thursday.
A spokesman for the Department of Health, Chris Nobela, told Lowvelder that it intended to advertise 20 posts that have been vacated at the hospital.
“We had a picketing from Nehawu on April 11 at which a memorandum of grievance was submitted. Currently, everything is back to normal and the grievances have been attended to.”