Health advocacy organisations are up in arms over the deteriorating state of the Eastern Cape’s public health system. The Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition, which includes groups such as Section27, the Treatment Action Campaign and the Rural Doctors Association of South Africa, will deliver a memorandum of grievances to the province’s health MEC Sicelo Gqobana as part of their “right to health” campaign, which was launched in Johannesburg and East London on Wednesday.
Vuyokazi Matiso of the Treatment Action Campaign in the province said access to health is “being made to look like a privilege” because many people don’t get the medical care they need.
“Patients are being turned away from health facilities without essential drugs and there have been cases of people going to test for HIV and being told that there are no test kits available,” she said.
“This is a crisis and it has been going on for some time now.”
The coalition first investigated essential drug stock-outs in the province’s Mthatha depot between September 2012 and January 2013. The investigation found that over half of the facilities served by the depot had run out of HIV and tuberculosis medication.
The investigation resulted in a report that included suggestions of how these problems could be solved being delivered to Eastern Cape health authorities. A follow-up investigation released at the National Aids Conference in June this year showed that not much had changed. The report noted that “continued staff shortages and lack of management” at the depot contributed to the stock-outs of