SAHRC finds rotting food in Limpopo hospital

SAHRC finds rotting food in Limpopo hospitalPhoto: Limpopo Health MEC at the launch of new menu at Mokopane Hospital. Photo: Ndivhuwo Mukwevho / Health-e (File Photo)

Limpopo’s health care facilities face the scrutiny of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) – and falls short.

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Health services in Limpopo are undermined by both medication and staff shortages, says SAHRC chairperson, advocate Bongani Majola. 

He is in the province till July 26 to assess the state of public health facilities. “What informs the visit is generally the poor state of health services reported in many parts of the country, including this province,” Majola says. “It warrants the commission [because]… service delivery with regard to health care is not where the Constitution expects it to be.”

He says commission will be meeting with provincial government to deal with issues at a policy level to find out what will be done to address these urgent challenges.  

‘We are not pleased at all’

Majola says he is disappointed with what he’s seen thus far, such as rotting food in Messina Hospital, and a high vacancy rate of 54 percent. 

“We are not pleased with the findings, we were not pleased even before we came here because of the report we got from our own offices and the media.” 

He continues: “I must say there is [some] good work that people are doing… but there are other challenges that they are facing, for example, shortage of staff and medication, long queues and so forth.”

The situation, he says, is not ideal.

“The 54 percent vacancy rate impacts services negatively because [those] who use public health care services don’t get such services. One person cannot do everything.”

“One practical example is what we witnessed [at the Messina Hospital] kitchen –it was dirty, and some food was expired. We also found rotten fruits. The [person who works there] said, ‘But I’m alone here, I cannot do all these things.’ If you [have] the full staff complement, it would have been a different story,” Majola says. 

Problems aren’t unique

He says these problems aren’t unique to Messina Hospital. “We have visited other facilities and we have found that the main problem is with human resources. This is why we like to go around to all provinces and discuss [these matters] with provincial authorities.”

Provincial health spokesperson Neil Shikwambana says the department is unable to comment till the SAHRC’s official report is released. “We haven’t received any report of that nature from the SAHRC so we can’t comment on rumours. As far as we know, everything is well at the hospital and we will respond fully when the commission releases its findings.”

The SAHRC hospital visits are in line with its constitutional mandate to promote the protection of human rights, monitor, and assess the observance of human rights in the country. Health-e News

An edited version of this story was published by IOL, The Citizen and Cape Argus.