The Eastern Cape Department of Health (DoH) needs to stop the rot before the money comes. The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the fact that the DoH is no longer in denial that it is on the verge of collapse in the province (Daily Dispatch, 23 May 2012). Finally it can work towards recovery be taking the right steps instead of keeping it under wraps.

Admitting the problem is the first stage towards resolving it, but now comes the hard work. The current Health budget of R15.1 billion not only needs an “injection” of R9 billion to fill the 27 000 vacant critical clinical vacancies, but a further booster shot of at least R5 billion to even start working down the R19.9 billion infrastructure backlog.

One must not forget that the existing funding was not covering salaries of present doctors and nurses and medication throughout the province.

Realistically, the department needs to seek a bailout of at least R15 billion over and above its existing allocation. However, no problems are solved by simply throwing money at it. The rot needs to be cut from the department before any bailout is received.

Health spokesman, Sizwe Kupelo, says that the department’s financial woes are not because of corruption or maladministration, when in fact it is just that. He blatantly ignores the report of the SIU that states how thousands of DoH officials are defrauding the department and the State.

This rot needs to be cut from the department immediately. The following measures need to be taken, bailout or not:

• Cases of corruption and fraud need to be investigated;

• Disciplinary action needs to be taken;

• The disciplinary process must be streamlined so that we don’t have corrupt officials sitting at home drawing full salaries;

• The bloated administrative arm of the DoH needs to be streamlined;

• Civil servants must be barred from doing business with the government; and

• Proper planning measures need to be put in place to ensure that this does not happen again.

If these actions are not taken, no matter how much money is flung at the problem, it will only get worse.