Data provided by McGregor BFA
All data is delayed
Loading...
See More

Probe and improve

Dec 07 2012 07:45 *Mzwandile Jacks
Hospital room

(File) (Shutterstock)

Related Articles

Loss of true leader

Get used to strikes

Out of step with Africa

SA at the abyss

The absence of honesty

Zuma's Nkandla blunder

 

BEFORE his newly-acquired ailment, Vanayedwa Ndungwane was a jovial man with a calm conduct. 

The former computer programmer enjoyed nothing more than his weekend strolls into his township and meeting friends for a Friday shebeen drink, listening to jazz and discussing sports and politics. 

A couple of months ago, he felt very scared and humiliated. He had gone to the local hospital after he was referred there by a medical practitioner. 

The hospital had to use the high quality scanners at their disposal to check why he had lost his voice. He had suffered a mild stroke earlier this year. 

As is the pattern nowadays with South Africa’s public hospitals catering for the poor, he was shouted at and disparaged and scolded for having attended the hospital instead of going to a clinic near to his home. 

This happened shortly before he was told that the equipment that was supposed to check his throat had broken down. He was told to go home and no specific date was given to him to come back. 

Basically he was being sent home to die – that was if the sickness was serious. Nurses did not care whether the cause of his problem was serious or not. Luckily he survived. But his voice has gone very weak and his health has deteriorated a bit. 

There are many similar cases in South Africa. What reminded me of this particularly sad story was the news this week that hospitals were now being blamed over cancer deaths. 

According to a Johannesburg-based daily newspaper, two of Gauteng’s largest state hospitals stand accused of delaying the treatment and diagnosis of hundreds of desperately ill cancer patients because of broken machinery. 

The paper said Barnett Fine, a patient at Steve Biko Academic Hospital, died a painful death because the hospital didn’t have the proper medication and the health system had failed to treat him for cancer. 

Fine died in September this year and has now become the face of the campaign, which is demanding better care for cancer sufferers. 

Fine’s daughter, Hanna Neuhuis, wants her father’s experience to help in the fight for better treatment. 

Fine was diagnosed with throat cancer in December last year. In the seven months it took him to die, he was turned away from Steve Biko Academic Hospital because of waiting lists and broken radiation machines. 

The newspaper claims that when he was close to death, he was prescribed Panado syrup instead of morphine because there was no stock. 

I believe these things happen because little is done to investigate these cases. And therefore the scale of this problem keeps widening. 

Anywhere in the world, when there is a plane accident, even a slight one, it calls for a thorough investigation. 

And the outcome is often that the misfortune often produces critical messages for the industry. Then everybody in the industry learns how to do their jobs more safely. 

The state of South African public hospitals is far deadlier. Mistakes such as the one that killed Fine are a daily occurrence throughout South Africa. 

But these mistakes go largely unnoticed by the country’s politicians, and it looks like the medical community rarely learns from them. 

Politicians take an oath that they will serve the country truthfully. But on their job they soon soak up another tacit rule: to neglect the errors of other civil servants. 

The hospital’s bad behaviour is massive. Old aged patients are admitted and allegedly left to die because nurses claim “they are going to die anyway.” 

It does not have to be this way. A new generation of public hospitals needs to try to ensure that our health-care system does not cause people to die but saves their lives. 

I encountered a disturbing closed-door culture at two of government’s facilities I recently visited. When you complain about bad service, you are going to be given a run around, the worst service and might even not be assisted. 

This is bad and sad at the same time. During the apartheid era, you knew that the white person behind the counter could be rude to you and you conditioned yourself. But now the black person behind the counter does not want to help you at all. 

What do you do about that?

I hope that after Mangaung President Jacob Zuma will bring a new cadre of political leaders that will address these issues quite seriously and try to solve them. 

 - Fin24

*Mzwandile Jacks is a freelance journalist. The view expressed are his own.

 

 

 


Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest

healthcare
NEXT ON FIN24X

Hard times ahead for ANC

2014-04-18 08:07

 
 
 

Read Fin24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Company Snapshot

We're Talking About: Small Business

Standard Bank is looking for 12 entrepreneurs to participate in a 10-part TV series. They could win a R1m investment into their dream.
 
 

Numsa prepares for life after Cosatu

Numsa has not only reiterated its call for President Jacob Zuma to resign but it is also preparing for life outside of Cosatu, a report states.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters

Money Clinic

Money Clinic
Do you have a question about your finances? We'll get an expert opinion.
Click here...
Loading...