The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in KwaZulu-Natal has urged the minister of health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to prioritise the province, especially oncology, in his plans of fixing the country’s ailing health system.
The party’s KZN MPL, Ncamisile Nkwanyana, said the province’s health system had deteriorated under former KZN MEC for health Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo. Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has since replaced Dhlomo.
The IFP, as well as the Democratic Alliance in the province, had been critical of Simelane-Zulu’s appointment to the portfolio due to her lack of experience in the sector, a matter which KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala defended.
Nkwanyana said in a statement on Thursday that Dhlomo and former minister of health Aaron Motsoaledi had failed dismally to address issues facing the KZN health facilities, especially oncology.
“They both suffered from denialism of reality, and this is what led to the unnecessary death of many cancer patients. We advise the newly elected minister and MEC to avoid this grave mistake and address all issues with diligence instead of obsessing with denying the intensity and severity of problems faced by our people in public health facilities,” Nkwanyana said.
The IFP MPL said Dhlomo’s tenure had been beleaguered by many challenges, with the department claiming at the time to have tried countless incremental fixes such as attacking fraud, reducing errors, enforcing practice guidelines, making patients better “consumers”.
“But none have had much impact. Efforts to reform health care have been hobbled by a lack of clarity on the goal implementation, or even by the pursuit of the wrong goal. Other problems included poor working conditions and lack of effective and regular assessments of health workers’ satisfaction,” Nkwanyana said.
She said it was time for a “fundamentally” new strategy.
“A dire health worker shortage in South Africa’s national health programmes is adversely impacting the quantity and quality of health care and posing a serious barrier to achieving millennium development goals to improve population health,” Nkwanyana said.
Nkwanyana added that if Minister Mkhize is serious about turning things around, he must visit all KZN hospitals and review working conditions and resources, but most importantly, he must visit the Addington Hospital which has experienced serious challenges about oncology machines.
“He must ensure that the KZN provincial department of health deals with oncology issues, waiting times, shortage of staff, shortage of ambulances and staff attitude. He must work with the KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala to ensure that the KZN MEC of health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu doesn’t repeat the same mistakes that happened under former MEC Dr Dhlomo, which resulted in the deterioration of the health system under his watch.”
The party believes that there should be an extensive investment in the health sector to ensure the country’s citizens are provided with the highest attainable standard of service.
“The party believes that the government should increase funding for the health sector, while at the same time cultivating healthcare partnerships with multilateral institutions and the private sector. It will be incumbent upon KwaZulu-Natal to make the necessary investment in health to achieve these goals. Even more important will be the investment of political goodwill followed by concrete words beyond the rhetoric. The only true measures of quality are the outcomes that matter to patients.”
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)