During an oversight visit to the Kopanong Hospital in Vereeniging, the FF Plus came upon shocking signs indicating that Covid-19 equipment, which is essential for saving lives and probably amounts to millions of rand, is going to waste.
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health is currently paying oversight visits to hospitals across the country.
Equally shocking were the large quantities of medical waste, which are reportedly contaminated with the Covid-19 virus, that are accumulating at the Hospital because the contractor that is supposed to dispose of it has allegedly not been paid and is owed approximately R16 million.
Buildings that were supposed to be erected to accommodate and treat Covid-19 patients were left half built and there are no signs that any work is currently being done on them.
All the photos depicting the aforementioned and accompanying this statement were taken by the FF Plus on the afternoon of 11 June 2021.
Personnel informed the FF Plus that the large quantities of new equipment and protective gear were received last year as part of the healthcare sectors’ preparation for the first wave of Covid-19. It is, however, still lying unused in a large hall at the Hospital while South Africa is on the verge of the third Covid-19 wave.
It is no secret that healthcare personnel have been struggling due to serious shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and it is quite possible that many had to pay for it with their lives.
It is also probable that many South Africans, whose lives could have been saved, died as a result of the apparent shortage of equipment, of which there is an abundance at this Hospital, still entirely untouched and, thus, going to waste.
When the FF Plus enquired about the life-threatening medical waste accumulating in heaps around the Hospital, the response was that this situation is a common occurrence at provincial hospitals across Gauteng.
There is no doubt that this is creating a serious health crisis and if it is indeed the case at other hospitals as well, then action must immediately be taken to implement alternative measures to dispose of the waste.
The Gauteng Department of Health must provide answers to the questions raised by the unused equipment and the non-payment of the contractors responsible for disposing of the medical waste.
The FF Plus is holding the national Department of Health accountable for this as well seeing as the national Department is supposed to fulfil an oversight role over the nine provinces.
The FF Plus will put pressure on the government to take action against such wasting of taxpayers’ money as well as the mismanagement and maladministration at all state hospitals as it is endangering people’s lives.
What is happening at Kopanong is a shocking transgression and violation of human rights. It poses a risk to the lives of everyone at the Hospital and the FF Plus will get to work immediately to determine what the situation is at other hospitals.
The matter must be thoroughly investigated and the persons guilty of serious misconduct must be duly prosecuted and even imprisoned. People guilty of such transgressions must not get off scot-free.