Health care must be new Joburg officials’ priority
The province’s hospitals have been left to rack and ruin. When will government realise lives depend on its support?
“The worst that can happen is that we will be fired.” These are the desperate words of a doctor speaking out (https://select.timeslive.co.za/news/2021-12-05-death-trap-charlotte-maxeke-hospital-still-limping-months-after-fire-havoc/) about the appalling conditions at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg. “Patients are silent because they are sick, scared and desperate for just a Panado.” His tales are hair-raising, ranging from anything to burst pipes repeatedly causing wards to flood, to the emergency ward remaining closed after a fire in April. This is all happening against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, with Gauteng the epicentre of the fourth wave.
The domino effect of Charlotte Maxeke, the second largest tertiary hospital in the southern hemisphere, not operating at 100% is staggering. The Cancer Alliance (https://select.timeslive.co.za/news/2021-12-05-worse-than-life-esidimeni-hospital-backlogs-see-cancer-patients-sent-home-to-die/), a group of non-profit organisations, has compiled a list of patients awaiting treatment — at least 1,000 prostate cancer patients are waiting for radiotherapy, 500 are in need of breast cancer treatment and another 300 women need cervical cancer treatment. The approximate wait is four to six months. Those requiring palliative care have to wait for treatment between two to four weeks. It’s criminal. The backlogs have been likened to a situation “worse than Life Esidimeni”, in reference to the deaths of more than 140 mental healthcare patients who were neglected during transfers in 2016.
The surrounding state hospitals, already overburdened on a good day, have to deal with the overflow from Charlotte Maxeke. These hospitals are also falling apart. Their infrastructures are crumbling. A doctor at Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg recently lamented that surgeries had to be postponed because it had no water. Doctors are trying their utter best to help patients, but their hands are chopped off without basic services being delivered to the institutions...