DA bemoans 'glorified wheelbarrows', calls for EC health dept to be placed under administration

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it will write to Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize to request that the Eastern Cape department of health be placed under administration due to the increasing Covid-19 case numbers in the province.

In a statement, DA MP Siviwe Gwarube said the matter comes in terms of section 100 (1) of the Constitution.

"In the past several weeks we have seen a province with a broken health system miserably failing to deal with the rising infections of Covid-19," he said.

Gwarube said reports indicated that on Friday during Mkhize's visit to the province, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane admitted that the province was unprepared for the next coming weeks.

"The province continues to fail at testing, tracing and tracking which brings into the question the validity of the confirmed infection numbers, according to Mabuyane. Other reports also indicated that 359 healthcare workers have tested positive for Covid-19 in the province while there are massive issues with the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE)," he said.

The MP said Mabuyane had admitted that healthcare workers in the province were never adequately trained to deal with the pandemic spread.

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"There was also an admission that the province is ill-prepared to deal with the demands of the pandemic with their projections showing that they will likely run out of beds in the next coming weeks.

"While various provinces will start to reach their peak at different stages as the Western Cape infections showed, the capacity of provincial health departments will determine how devastating the effects of Covid-19 will be in those provinces," he added.

Gwarube further said the Western Cape has led the way in terms of testing, provision of additional bed capacity, management of PPE supply and consistent community interventions despite its high Covid-19 cases.

He argued that the Eastern Cape did not have a functioning health system in comparison to the Western Cape.

"The Covid-19 pandemic found the provincial department in disarray, the infrastructure of health facility in tatters, massive vacancy rates that render the system ill-equipped to roll out health services and poor leadership from the MEC of this department.

"Looking at the quality of the urgent interventions that the province is rolling out, it is clear that thousands of people will die if no drastic action is taken.

"The province recently launched EMS patient transport which are essentially glorified wheelbarrows, an indication of a flailing department. Left to its own devices, the province will preside over a humanitarian crisis. That is why national government should place the province under administration as a matter of urgency," he continued.

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The MP added that the relevant section of the Constitution stated that a province or department could be placed under administration when it was unable to fulfil an executive obligation.

"As per the Eastern Cape Premier's own admission, the province more so the department of health, does not have the capability to fulfil its constitutional obligations of providing adequate healthcare to all in the province.

"It is important that the national health department establishes a team that will take over operations in the province in order to save lives. Failure to do so will place thousands, including healthcare workers, in mortal danger."

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