Poor standards of hygiene, shortages of staff and a surge in Covid-19 cases in the Eastern Cape sparked concerns among the public and opposition parties who called for the provincial health department to be put under administration.
The Eastern Cape has the third-most Covid-19 deaths and infections in the country.
On Wednesday, health minister Zweli Mkhize said there was no need to put the department under administration as he was assured by the provincial management that issues would be addressed. He visited Livingstone Hospital and is expected to conclude his two-day tour at Dora Nginza Hospital.
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Recent media reports have laid bare the harrowing experiences of staff and patients at the Dora Nginza and Livingstone hospitals. Shortages of resources, hygiene and insufficient staff are some of the issues that have been highlighted.
On Thursday, Mkhize told the SABC that poor waste management and hygiene in hospitals were being addressed.
“The MEC in the past two days has brought in a company to clean up the place. As we go about, we see that they still have to do a lot of work because we’ve been to some of the places and they need a lot of cleaning up, maintenance and repairs.”
Sunday Times reported that these issues were witnessed by a team of health-care experts who visited various hospitals in East London and Port Elizabeth over 12 days. They were sent to compile a report on the state of preparedness of health facilities.
A R10m project to acquire medical scooters meant to transport Covid positive patients was canned after Mkhize said the scooters did not meet the basic criteria required to be used as ambulances.
He said the government had not been consulted about the scooter specifications and that the Eastern Cape government had committed to launching an investigation into the bid adjudication committee.
The system is not completely broken
TimesLIVE reported that the minister said he was not convinced that there is a complete collapse in the management of the province’s health-care system, and it will not be put under administration.
He said he was assured by health MEC Sindiswa Gomba that they would address areas of concern. He said the government “is still comfortable” that the provincial leadership can do its job, which is to save lives amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Declaration of deaths
The minister told Gomba to follow the process of tracking Covid-19-related deaths and ensure that numbers are accurately updated daily to prevent distortion.
DispatchLIVE reported that there was a delay in reporting deaths in Nelson Mandela Bay.
On Tuesday, it emerged that the city had 96 unreported deaths which had occurred since the beginning of July.
On Thursday, the Eastern Cape had a total of 1,345 deaths and 49,938 recoveries.
On Thursday, DispatchLIVE reported that Dr Lokuthula Maphalala from the Dora Nginza hospital told the minister that the death rates among diabetic patients with Covid-19 was almost 100%. She attributed the deaths to lack of staff.