Rural docs call on Zuma to work with them
Rural doctors have invited President Zuma to shadow a rural doctor for a day, adding that if he ignored them it could mean he didn’t care about the people they serve.
Chairperson of the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDASA) Dr Karl Le Roux said that government officials needed to be made aware of the difficulties rural doctors worked under daily.
‘As rural doctors, we are at the coalface of healthcare delivery to the Nation. On a daily basis, we are confronted by poverty, illness, suffering and unnecessary death, but also by the hope and dignity of our patients. We believe that all politicians have something to learn from the people that we are privileged to serve, and hope that many will take up this invitation,’ said Le Roux.
The Rural Health Advocacy Project which includes the Aids Law project, Centre for Rural Health and RuDASA said Zuma’s state of the nation address speech reiterated government’s intentions on improving health care.
They said while equity, quality, efficiency and expenditure control seemed to be at the core of government’s health strategy there continued to be decisions made that hindered the quality of health care received by the 43% of the population living in rural areas.
‘It is unfortunate that rural patients who make up a large part of the poor always receive the worst care across board,’ said Le Roux.
The coalition said that caution was required if government was to succeed in the goal to provide quality and equal health care to people. They cited the closing of colleges in rural hospital and the Occupation Specific Dispensation shambles as some of the examples of well intended decisions that have had a detrimental effect on the country’s public health system.
Le Roux said the invitation was intended for all politicians especially those who were at the forefront of drawing up budgets and allocating funds.
He said it would be good for politicians to see firsthand the terrible conditions that staff working in rural hospitals ‘ they are mostly understaffed because of frozen posts, inadequate facilities and an influx of often very ill patients.
‘We hope that by exposing government officials to the conditions rural doctors work under they will be better informed when they allocate funds for hospitals. One of the reasons why there are budget cuts and frozen posts are that politicians don’t know how much the people at the bottom are suffering,’ Le Roux said.
The first issue of Rural Health in Focus, a publication which addresses the successes and the challenges within rural health, recorded that poorer and underserved populations received less funding than that for health care in the wealthier and urban districts.
Le Roux said problems in rural hospitals will not all be solved by money alone. ‘We need support from government. If the president does not heed to the call it would mean that he does not care what is happening to the people on the ground. He doesn’t care about the quality of care that should be received by those in the rural areas,’ he said.