The Democratic Alliance is dismayed with the commentary given by the Department of Health spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, to the release of the Humans Rights Watch report on maternal health care and mortality rates in South Africa which highlights the Eastern Cape as the worst of the worst.

The maternal and infant mortality rates seen in the Eastern Cape would have shocked officials even several decades ago and the assumption can be made that the department of health is allowing health care in this province to regress to that of the Middle Ages!

In the media Mr. Kupelo states that this report comes as the department is “turning the situation around”, yet reports from the ground indicate that things are only getting worse. He alludes to the new administration of Health MEC Sicelo Gqobana as being more hands-on. MEC Gqobana is only one man…what is wrong with the competence of the rest of the department? They were there during the failed MEC Masualle administration. Why does it take an interventionist MEC to start the wheels turning, albeit very slowly?

Maternal and infant mortality rates are of the easier health care issues to “fix”. Holding nurse and health care officials accountable for their actions, implementing strict hygiene policies and ensuring adequate supply of even the most basic medication and consumables will have an immediate reductive effect on mortality rates. These are all things that are already supposed to be happening, yet the department is still just talking about it. We need less talk and immediate action.

I will be submitting parliamentary questions to the MEC to ascertain exactly how the department is holding nurses accountable as to how they are treating patients, how the Saving Babies, Saving Mothers-campaign is being implemented and what the immediate plans are to eradicate these clear human rights injustices.


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