While citizens gear up to cast their votes, some lie in hospital waiting areas hour after hour in dire need of quality care. For some, a trip to the hospital may seem like a breeze, but for others, particularly in the rural Eastern Cape, a hospital visit can be a herculean task.

Despite years of intervention at Holy Cross Hospital in Flagstaff, Eastern Cape, there is still a long way to go. Though government emergency interventions have made some impact, for Holy Cross a much more permanent solution is needed. Interventions in 2013 and 2017 have created a plaster over the issues, but the single bucket filled with water in the hospital’s waiting area tells a different story. Holy Cross Hospital highlights the systemic failures of the rural public healthcare system – it will take much more than a bucket and a plaster to fix.

Ahead of the 2019 elections, Spotlight and Health-e journalists worked together to see if anything had really changed at the hospital after the interventions in 2013 and 2017. Although our journalists were denied permission to formally visit the hospital by the Department of Health; patients and community members outside the hospital premises were willing to speak.

The main entrance to Holy Cross Hospital, 23km from the centre of Flagstaff, Eastern Cape. (Picture: Kathryn Cleary/ Spotlight).