John Cupido, Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Health handed over a memorandum to Dr. Thabo Sibeko, DDG: Corporate Strategy of the Department of Health in Bhisho on Tuesday, 29 May, as part of a rolling picket campaign for the week. Cupido was accompanied by Patricia Kopane (MP), DA Shadow Minister of Health.

The DA began a week of rolling pickets this morning outside Health Department offices in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo. The protests across two provinces are in solidarity with those suffering as a result of the healthcare meltdown in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.

The memorandum submitted in both provinces demands –

• The uninterrupted supply of all basic and life-saving medication to healthcare facilities

• That adequate numbers of doctors and nurses are available to care for patients in public facilities

• That properly managed and budgeted infrastructure plans be put in place to address equipment and building deficits

While people suffer without the most basic healthcare, the ANC is demonstrating its narrow focus on internal politics ahead of Mangaung as it marches against freedom of expression today.

The DA’s protests this week are aimed at putting the focus on the governance crisis affecting the health of thousands of South Africans who rely on public healthcare in these two provinces.

In both provinces poor planning has led to tons of medication being destroyed while people go without basic life-saving drugs in clinics. Limpopo recently tried to sell off tons off expiring medicine and the Eastern Cape was forced to destroy tons of old stock.

There are also basic infrastructure and equipment shortages that could be prevented. At least 27 x-ray machines are urgently needed in the Eastern Cape where people are travelling hundreds of kilometres now for the most basic of tests. In Limpopo, a recent DA visit to Gakgapane hospital revealed the lack of not only x-ray machines, but also beds and maintenance to buildings.

Severe shortages of doctors and nurses and problems in their payment have led to many patients being unable to receive basic treatment at healthcare facilities. The Eastern Cape, for instance, has over 16 000 nurse vacancies but due to maladministration has placed a moratorium on hiring new medical professionals – leading to urgent calls for national intervention.

From tomorrow, pickets will be dedicated to resolving one of each of the three major crises in public healthcare in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. The DA will release one solution every day based on how we would resolve the crisis if we governed if these provinces – medicine shortages; nurse and doctor shortages; and infrastructure deficits.

The solutions we are demanding to be put in place in these provinces will be based on successful strategies for public healthcare where we govern.

Pickets outside Health Departments will begin at 9am each morning and continue throughout the week. We must not allow the Limpopo and Eastern Cape governments to escape from their responsibilities toward the health of all South Africans relying on public healthcare.