DA welcomes the appointment of administrator for Mental Health

The Democratic Alliance welcomes the announcement by Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi that government have finally acted on the Health Ombudsman’s recommendation to appoint an administrator to oversee Mental Health in the Eastern Cape.

The Democratic Alliance has been calling on Eastern Cape MEC Helen Sauls-August to implement the findings of Professor Malegapuru Makgoba since the release of his report in August.

The fact that the Minister had to step in and act is yet another sad indictment on the Eastern Cape Department and its apparent disregard for the people of this province.

The Democratic Alliance welcomes Professor Dan Mkize as the new administrator. He has a huge task ahead of him, and one that is not going to be resolved in his initial six-month appointment.

It is also disheartening that for the first two months, a third of his initial tenure, he will only be available to assist the province three days a week.

It will be no easy task to turn the boat around. The Eastern Cape Department of Health has systematically neglected Mental Health for years and has repeatedly failed to implement its mental health care plans.

We urge Professor Mkize to implement the recommendations of Professor Makgoba’s report with haste, which are to:

  • Ensure the provincial health department corrects systemic failures identified in his report;
  • Establish a new directorate of mental health and substance abuse as recommended by the national mental health policy framework; and
  • Oversee the implementation of policies that will deliver mental health services.

While this is a welcome step for the province’s healthcare system, only real change at the ballot box will fully build a health system with sufficient and compassionate medical professionals, adequate medication and excellent support mechanisms. Mental health sufferers deserve no less.